Big, affordable Android phablets aren’t for everyone, but they often prove popular when paired with a low price. The 6-inch Motorola Moto E5 Plus offers solid overall performance, fantastic battery life, and a minimal Android skin. Unfortunately, its $ 288 price on Sprint makes it less desirable than the $ 199.99 unlocked Moto G6 Play, which still has a sizable battery and works on all the major US carriers.
Design, Features, and Display
The Moto E5 Plus is a hefty slab of glass and metal that follows the same design language as the Moto G6 and G6 Play, though
Port and button placement is the same as the G6 Play. A clicky volume rocker and power button are on the right side, a micro USB charging port is on the bottom, and a 3.5mm headphone jack is on top. The left side has a SIM/microSD card slot that recognized a 256GB card. The back of the phone has a fingerprint sensor.
The big selling point is the large 6-inch, 1,440-by-720-pixel IPS display. It has an 18:9 aspect ratio to minimize bezel on the sides, but it still has a sizable bottom lip with Motorola branding. The resolution works out to 268 pixels per inch, which is similar to what we’ve seen on other phablets in this price range. Viewing angles are fairly good and
Network Performance and Connectivity
The E5 Plus is available on Sprint. Unlike the rest of the phones in Motorola’s E and G series, you can’t get it unlocked. It has network bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/14/17/25/26/29/30/38/41/66, which should theoretically allow it to work on carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, but we couldn’t get it to activate when we tried different SIM cards. The Sprint model didn’t even work on Boost, even though they use the same towers. We saw average network performance where we tested on Sprint in midtown Manhattan.
Additional connectivity protocols include Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 for audio. There’s no NFC, which isn’t unusual for phones in this price range.
Call quality is fine. The earpiece doubles as the speaker, making for good call volume. Transmissions are clear aside from the occasional pop, and noise cancellation does a decent job of blotting out most background noise.
Processor, Battery, and Camera
Under the hood, the E5 Plus has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor clocked at 1.4GHz. With 3GB of RAM, it’s capable of a fair amount of multitasking and can run apps like Facebook, Google Maps, and Uber without issue. In the PCMark benchmark, which measures overall system performance, it scored 3,701, slightly higher than the Moto E5 Play (3,368), but quite a bit lower than the Snapdragon 450-powered G6 (4,583). Don’t count on being able to play any high-end games.
The main reason to buy this phone is
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Camera quality is slightly below average. The 12MP rear sensor isn’t as good as the 13MP shooter on the G6 Play, let alone the dual-sensor setup on the standard G6, but it takes clearer shots than the 8MP E5 Play. On bright days, it takes reasonably color-accurate photos with minimal noise, but it lacks the finer details you get on higher-end phones. Taking photos indoors and in lower light doesn’t go quite as well. It locks onto subjects fine thanks to both phase detection and laser-assisted autofocus, but shots manage to look both noisy and muddy at the same time.
There are manual controls to let you bump up certain settings like ISO, but doing so adds a lot of artifacts, so it’s better to leave things set to default. The 8MP front sensor is fine for taking selfies, though it’s unsurprisingly blurry in low light.
Like other Motorola phones we’ve tested, the E5 Plus has a very minimal skin running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. There is little in the way of visual changes, however, because this is a Sprint phone you get a bit of carrier bloatware. Preloaded you’ll find an Amazon shopping app, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, Lookout, and a Sprint account, Caller ID, and Voicemail app. There’s also a Motorola app that lets you enable gestures like chopping the phone twice to turn on the flashlight, or twisting it to launch the camera.
None of the preinstalled apps are removable, and out of 32GB storage, you have 23.73GB available for use. That’s a decent amount of space for more apps and photos, and as with all the other recent Motorola phones we’ve tested, you can use a microSD card if you need more storage.
The Moto E5 Plus has a lot going for it. It has a big bright screen, a massive battery, and generally solid performance. It’s simply priced too high for what you get. For $ 200, we’d probably give this phone our Editors’ Choice on Sprint. For nearly $ 300, however, you’re better off buying our unlocked Editors’ Choice, the Moto G6 Play, which has similar specs at a much more reasonable price.