The Motorola Moto G series has long been given the accolade as king of the affordable phone. For 2019, however, with a lot of competition hot on its heels - yes, Honor Play, we're looking at you - Motorola has diversified the G7 range more than ever before, with no less than four handsets available in the range (G7 Play, G7 Power, G7, G7 Plus). It's gunning for king, queen, prince, heck, even third removed cousin to the throne in its attempts to appeal to every possible avenue.

The Moto G7 Plus is the equal biggest of the lot (the 'standard' G7 is the same size, believe it or not), with the most power on tap (yep, the 'Power' model mentioned above has a massive battery, it's not got the best chipset). As the number of brackets in that last line suggests, we find the close proximity of each device a bit too similar to make total sense - it's quite confusing (but you can read our comparison guide here).

Nonetheless, Motorola has come a long way with the G series and the G7 Plus represents why it's still such a success. This particular generation puts design and features in-line with pricier competition like the OnePlus 6T, albeit with less power and a much smaller price tag. For many, therefore, it will be the perfect balance; the king for the everyman.

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Moto G7 Plus: Design and features

  • 3.5mm headphones jack
  • microSD support up to 512GB
  • Finishes: Deep Indigo, Viva Red
  • Rear-positioned fingerprint scanner
  • Water-repellent coating (not IP rated)
  • Measures: 157 x 75.3 x 8.3mm / Weighs: 176g

At the beginning of its life, the G series was a small, plasticky little phone. But times have changed and Motorola has evolved with it. Indeed, the G7 Plus doesn't remotely resemble its years-old siblings, it's gunning for a much higher-placed design aesthetic to keep it competitive.

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Compared to 2018's G6 Plus - read our full review of that phone right here - the G7 Plus might look fairly similar, but all the nips and tucks that have taken place make for a very different phone. The G7 Plus has a taller screen with more visible real-estate than before, the front-facing fingerprint scanner has been ditched for the far more sensible placement on the rear (where the "M" batwings logo resides), and the 'chin' and 'forehead' bezels have shrunk significantly.

Our only real moan about the design is Motorola's insistence to plonk its name on the front of the phone. Given the limited amount of bezel on display in the G7 Plus, that makes this logo look even more as though it's been shoe-horned in, when it doesn't need to be there at all. Pop it on the back, if it's needed at all (we think the "M" batwing logo is ample, really).

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Like its predecessor, the G7 Plus comes with some handy features: there's a 3.5mm jack for headphones (absent in too many flagship devices these days); microSD support means you can expand the on-board storage at minimal cost, which is great for media; a USB-C port makes for fast-charging and future-proofing when it comes to connectivity; and there's even some water-repellent coating (although it's still not officially IP-rated like so many competitors, which is a shame).

Moto G7 Plus: Display and notch

  • 6.2-inch, 19:9 aspect ratio, IPS LCD
  • 2270 x 1080 pixels (403ppi)
  • Dewdrop notch

It's Plus by name and sorta-is-sorta-isn't plus by nature. As we said up top, the G7 Plus has a 6.2-inch screen size - the very same as the 'standard' G7 - so you're not buying this phone for larger physical size, instead for its best-in-series power and improved cameras proposition.

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Anyway, back to the screen itself. Now, 6.2in might sound massive, but the elongated aspect ratio ensures that it's not unwieldy in the hand. Gone are the days of hard-to-handle iPhone 8 Plus-style thicknesses, which makes the G7 Plus feel perfectly at home in the hand. It's actually a whisker smaller than the G6 Plus from last year, all while bringing a greater screen-to-body ratio - which is a great move.

Moving with the times and trimming the screen bezels compared to its predecessor has meant the G7 Plus introduces a notch. But it's not a massive one, rather a 'dewdrop' or 'teardrop' notch, which, as its name suggests, looks like a droplet. We prefer the former name, as the latter makes it sound as though we want to cry about this notch - when, actually, its presence isn't that much of a bother at all, rarely getting in the way of key visuals.

Resolution is the same as 1080p in terms of vertical lines, with a number of horizontal lines extra (hence FHD+ terminology) compared to your Full HD telly at home (unless you're lucky enough to have a 4K UHD TV, which is far more resolute). As phones go, this resolution is perfectly fine - you won't be squinting, you won't be distraught at the number of pixels you can see with it crammed mere inches from your nose - and the LCD panel makes for ample colour and brightness.

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The screen's biggest problem, however, is how that brightness is handled. By default auto-brightness is active (as it should be) and, well, it's hypersensitive in its response to adjusting ambient light. Far too often this screen dips to being excessively dim, which needs a swipe down to manually boost it to acceptable levels. Sure, Motorola is trying to eke out the best of battery life, but we find this approach tiresome - it's probably the biggest 'con' about this phone, really.

Moto G7 Plus: Performance, battery and software

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
  • 3000mAh battery, 27W charger
  • Android Pie operating system
  • Moto app for Display, Voice, Actions

One of the biggest reasons this phone has 'Plus' in its name is down to hardware. However, the Qualcomm SD636 chipset at its heart is only marginally different to the SD632 in the 'standard' G7 model. It means the Plus has up to 2.2GHz clock speed (over 1.8GHz in the G7), so the difference is marginal - we'll be reviewing the G7 after this phone, where we'll point out any real-world points of difference.

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On the one hand this middling chipset is underpowered compared to the similar-price competition, like the Honor Play. On the other it's not a slow experience, so the choice of hardware isn't a massive bother. Compared to the flagship handset we were using prior - an Honor View 20, as it happens - the main difference with the G7 Plus is the 4GB RAM means loading apps is a bit slower than in beefier competitors.

Sure, top-spec games aren't going to run at best possible graphics and frame-rates might have to be held back, but from our playing of South Park: Phone Destroyer on a daily basis we've not found that to be an issue. No latency problems, no stuttering due to excess characters/sprites showing on screen, with decent sound output thanks to stereo speakers and Dolby Audio. In that regard - whether you're working, gaming or mucking about with some other apps - the G7 Plus is a perfectly palatable phone at a great price point.

There is a point of note when it comes to battery life, though. While the RAM and storage remain the same between G6 Plus and G7 Plus, the latter model has reduced its battery capacity to 3000mAh from 3200mAh. That might explain why the software is so keen to automatically dim the screen every chance it gets - as we said above.

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That said, that 3000mAh cell does a really decent job overall. We've been using the phone daily as our own for a week, where even 90 minutes of gaming thrown in among a full day's tasks sees the battery drop to around 35 per cent remaining after 14 hours of use. We've never had any urgent concerns that the battery won't last a whole day - sure, it's not a true two-dayer like the G7 Power model, but the Plus delivers a decent innings per charge.

If the battery does need a quick top-up then the 27W charger included in the box will juice the phone up about 30 per cent quicker than the 15W charger found in the G6 Plus's box. Even just 15 minutes at the plug will deliver hours more use, if you're in a rush to get out and about.

It's also worth putting in a word about software. Although, thankfully, there's nothing at all to moan about. Moto uses Google's Android Pie (9.0) operating system, making for a clean and clutter-free experience. It's familiar, it's fast, it's the way it should be.

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The only additional app you'll find is the Moto one, a hub where Moto Voice, Moto Display and Moto Actions can be accessed - used to control the Google Assistant-based voice app, the 'peek notifications', and physical actions, respectively. This app has been overhauled since its last generation, adding in more cutesy graphics and step-by-step suggestions throughout.

Moto G7 Plus: Cameras

  • Dual cameras to the rear: 16MP (f/1.7, 1.22µm pixels) & 5MP
  • Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) added to rear camera
  • Single front-facing camera: 12MP

Lastly it's onto the one area where the Plus model excels above and beyond its G7 cousins. The Plus is the only model with optical image stabilisation (OIS) on its rear camera.

Which makes for a rather fine camera at this price point. The 16-megapixel sensor is paired with an f/1.7 aperture lens, which means even shooting in dim conditions isn't a problem. You won't find the same ultra-fast autofocus here as in, say, a Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but we've not found the Moto to struggle.

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In good light there's a lot of detail. A close-up shot of a cushion reveals the stitch with finery, showing that even budget phones can deliver big when it comes to quality.

If you want to get aboard the blurred-background bandwagon then the G7 Plus tailors for this with its Portrait mode too. The second rear camera, at 5-megapixels, is designated for comparison and depth data, to help produce more accurate edges when the software blurs that background. It works rather well, we've found, with the adjustable aperture slider making for convincing faux bokeh.

However, don't expect total miracles in low-light situations. The G7 Plus copes well with dim interiors - in part helped along by HDR (high dynamic range) coping with highlight and shadow balance - but this is when details begin to lack somewhat. However, the stabilisation system will help you get a sharper shot - even when you're not thinking about it.

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Other features include Auto Capture (to shoot when a smile is detected), Smart Composition (which auto-crops a second image based on the rule of thirds), alongside manual mode, portrait mode and spot colour - the last three of which are available on the Moto G6 Plus - as found in the mode section via a swipe from left-to-right in the camera app.

Overall the Moto G7 Plus has a capable camera that's fitting of the price point. It's not the best camera on the market, it doesn't have any fancy Night mode, but throughout a variety of conditions it performs pretty well.

Verdict

Talk about evolution: the Moto G7 Plus represents Motorola at the top of its game, delivering true on an affordable, well-designed and capable handset with very little to complain about (auto-brightness aside).

But is it the true affordable phone king? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it offers everything that you'll need, with great software in a user-friendly experience, plus it's squashed almost every quibble we had with last year's G6 Plus. No, because the likes of the Honor Play offer more powerful innards for more-or-less the same price. And with three other G7 devices out there, the Plus's proposition becomes somewhat muddied (it's so similar to the G7 'standard' we wonder why that other model even exists).

If you're looking for an affordable phone that doesn't cost the earth then the Moto G7 Plus should be very high up your considerations list. It's not felt like a massive 'downgrade' compared to our usual flagship - and that goes to show just how strong an affordable device like this can be and why, therefore, it's easy to recommend. In the sub-£280 sector, nine times out of 10 we think the Motorola will reign supreme.

This review was first published as a preview on 7 February 2019 and has been updated with relevant information.

Also consider

Pocket-lintHonor Play review image 1

Honor Play

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The Honor offers a similar proposition to the Moto, albeit with far greater power under its hood for the same price tag. The software isn't nearly as clutter-free, though, so the Moto brand name may reign supreme for some.

Pocket-lintMotorola Moto G7 Power image 3

Moto G7 Power

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Battery, battery, battery. That's what the Power model is all about. Sure, it's a bit chunky and not as powerful (ironic, given the name) as the G7 Plus, but it's about £100 less and, if you're looking for a truly budget phone, it's as good as things get right now.