Moto G series of phones have always been one of the most popular budget smartphones in the market. With its G-series of phones, Motorola has set a gold standard for the budget smartphones, and any company which wanted to survive in this segment, found itself competing against it. Many things changed since Lenovo acquired Motorola back in 2014, but the G-series of phones kept on coming. This in itself is a testament to the Moto G-series’s success. Like clockwork, a couple of months ago Lenovo launched the newest addition to its G-series lineup; Moto G5 and G5 Plus. However, what caught consumers by surprise was the launch of enhanced versions of these phones; the Moto G5S and the G5S Plus. The new models come with a ton of enhancements and a new price tag. Today we are going to take a look at the bigger of the two phones; the Moto G5S Plus. We will see what has changed, and find out if it deserves that extra cash it asks or not. So sit back, relax, and enjoy our in-depth coverage of the phone in our Motorola G5S Plus Review:
Moto G5S Plus Specifications
Before we get to the meat of the review, let’s just quickly go through the obvious things. Below mentioned is the Moto G5S Plus’s specification which should give you an idea of what this smartphone has to offer us, well, at least on the paper.
|Dimensions||153.5 x 76.2 x 8 mm|
|Display||5.5 inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen (1920*1080)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core (2.0 GHz | Cortes-A53)|
|Dual 13 MP with f/2.0 aperacture, Autofocus, and Dual-LED flash|
|8 MP with f/2.0, LED flash|
|Battery||Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery (Non-removable)|
|Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Sensors||Front-mounted Fingerprint senor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, and proximity|
|Connectivity||Dual Nano-SIM with dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fi ( a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.2 and microUSB|
What’s In the Box
Moto G5S Plus comes wrapped in plastic and the box contains all the usual accessories which you would expect to come along with a smartphone. A gadget’s unboxing experience is very important for me and this one was average to say the least. The phone ships in a cheap cardboard box which you will want to throw away as soon as you take out the products it is housing. I know unboxing experience is not much important for most of the users out there, but I wanted to point it out, for those who do care about such stuff. Okay, let’s see what we get inside the box.
- Moto G5S Plus Smartphone
- Cheap plastic earphones with integrated microphone (Supports Calls)
- USB to Micro-USB cable
- Power Adapter (Supports 5V/9V/12V))
- SIM ejector tool
- Quick start guide and paperwork
Design and Build Quality
Moto G line of phones have always been more about functionality than form. However, with G5S Plus, the form has become a little more important than it was in the years before. Moto G5S Plus sports a full metal body with a really nice finish. This is a welcome departure from its earlier models which used Polycarbonate shells as their body. The phone has got a good heft to it and feels solid in hand. The front sports a 5.5 inches of full HD (1920*1080*) IPS LCD screen. The screen is flanked by a good old head and chin at the top and bottom. The fingerprint scanner as always is at the bottom, with earpiece and camera at the top. A surprise addition is the inclusion of the front facing flash. Now your selfies will look good even in the low light.
Coming to the sides, there’s nothing much going on the left side. The top is housing the 3.5 mm headphone jack while the bottom houses the microphone, the micro-USB charging port and a single speaker grill. The right side has both the volume and the power button, both of which give out a very tactile feel. The back is a metal sheet with visible plastic antennas. The centre of the back panel is adorned by the classing Motorola dimple. The dual camera setup with the dual-LED flash lives inside a round housing at the top.
As I mentioned earlier, the device is solid with the metal feeling great in hand. But everything is not right here. There are quite a few quirks which I found with the design. Firstly, the chin of the device is big enough to house a capacitative back and recents button, still Lenovo has gone with the on-screen buttons. To me, that just feels like a lazy design choice. Secondly, I welcome the inclusion of the metal body, but I would have preferred it, if they didn’t do it just for the sake it, which is what it feels like in its current form. Although the metal body feels right in hand, the chamfered edges make it hard to hold the phone for a long time. They are sharp, and it feels like they are cutting against your skin.
I also don’t like the power and volume button placement. By placing it on the same side, Lenovo has ensured that users will hit the either one accidentally. If they had to put the buttons on the same side (due to some constraints), at the least, they should have accented one of them. Lastly, I don’t understand the exclusion of the “notification LED”. Raise to wake is good and all, but notification LED allows me to customise the notification colours for every app. So, by just seeing the colour, I know whether to pick up the phone or not. Now, don’t get me wrong, the phone is really well built, but it lacks the finish. It feels like something which was put together at the last minute, and hence, they didn’t have time to smooth out the edges (quite literally).
As mentioned earlier, Moto G5S Plus sports a 5.5 inch, full HD (1920*1080*)IPS LCD display. That gives it a PPI of around 401 which is fairly good for normal usage. The texts look sharp and the viewing angles are great. The display also gets bright, and in my last week of using it, I have never had a problem with viewing it even in the direct sunlight. The display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 which is a bit of a bummer. I would have loved to see the Gorilla Glass 4, but it’s not such a big deal. Most of us will slap a screen protector anyway. The colour reproduction is good, however out of the box, the display does seem a little cooler. But that is a purely subjective preference. Anyway, you can always go into the settings and calibrate the display as per your liking.
We are at that section of the review which you know is going to be positive. Motorola is one of the few companies which ship Android the way it should be shipped. You won’t find any extravagant features or bling here. Motorola’s take on Android has been pretty clear from the start, keep it simple, and add only those features which enhance the experience, without unnecessarily complicating the user interface. So needless to say, you are going to get an unadulterated Android experience here. One added advantage of shipping this version of Android is that you also get updates faster. Motorola phones are always the first ones to receive Android updates after the Pixel and the Nexus. This is one of the best reasons to invest in this phone.
When it comes to interacting with the phone, you will feel at home here. You can just raise the device to wake it and use the front mounted fingerprint centre to easily unlock your device. The launcher on this device feels similar to the Pixel launcher which is a good thing. You can swipe up to get to the app drawer, swipe right to get to the Google Now page and long press on the virtual home button to get to the Google Assistant. A little side note, if you are someone who doesn’t use the Assistant that much, I would urge you to invest a little time into it, it will make your life so much easier.
Our favourite Moto actions are here too. Just like before you can double-chop to activate flash lite, double-twist to activate the camera, pick up to stop ringing, and so on. My favourite Moto action has always been the camera launching gesture. It is easy, intuitive, and incredibly fast. Motorola has also included a comparatively new Moto action called the “One button nav”. This essentially allows you to navigate your smartphone by just using a single button i.e, the fingerprint sensor. This is how it works. You tap once to go home, swipe from the button to the left edge to go back and do the opposite to get access your recents apps. The concept is good and it even works most of the time, but it still is not ready for prime time. The biggest challenge is carrying out the swipe gestures on such a big and bulky phone. Sooner or later, it will cause the device to slip out of your hand. So, right now it’s an experimental feature at best.
To conclude, the user interface of Moto G5S Plus scores full points as there is literally nothing to dislike here. You are getting a pure Android experience with some enhancements which increase the usability of the phone by making things faster and easier.
Let me just come out and say it, the day to day performance is solid, and you won’t find this phone lagging behind your inputs. The general performance is pretty good which was expected as it is running the Snapdragon 625 Octa-core processor which has proven its mettle in the past. In my one week of usage, I never found this phone to lag on me and I threw everything on it. Even the demanding games such as Asphalt 8 played really smooth. The only time the phone feels a little slow is when loading up the games. Once the game is loaded, it will play without any hiccup. The phone does get a little warm while playing, but that is normal.
The model I am testing comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. I am surprised by the RAM management here as the phone is able to keep most of the opened apps in memory. Needless to say, performance won’t be an issue with this one. I don’t like to run benchmarks as they can never show the full picture. However, since some people love to see the numbers, you can find both the AnTuTu and the Geekbench scores below.
Lenovo is marketing the G5S Plus as a camera phone which allows you to take professional photos. So let’s see how they truly perform, shall we? Firstly, let us get the specs out of the way. The primary camera housing sports a dual-camera sensor. Both the sensors are 13 MP and have f/2.0 aperture. The only difference is that one is a monochrome camera (only shoots black and white). The dual cameras also get dual-LED flash to improve the low light functionality. The secondary or the front-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor also with f/2.0 aperture. The secondary camera also gets its own flash, however, it is a single LED flash. When it comes to the app itself, it is pretty simple to navigate. There is also a full manual mode for those who like to control the various aspects of photo capturing. The double-twist to launch the camera works like a charm and has never failed me.
With that out of the way, let’s focus on the image quality itself. Photos in bright light come out to be pretty good. They have good dynamic range and all the areas get optimum exposures. In bright sunlight, the brightest area does get overexposed sometimes, but you can tinker with the manual mode to get the required result. Low light performance is not that bad. There’s still some noise in the photos but that is to be expected from a phone at this price range. However, the shutter does lag a little bit while capturing the photos, which is another one of those annoying quirks.
The story is the same with the front facing camera which works well in bright light but fails miserably in low-light conditions. This once again shows that megapixels are not everything. As I mentioned before, the G5S Plus sports a dual-camera setup which can produce bokeh effect similar to that of iPhone 7 Plus or OnePlus 5, at least on paper. In reality, the bokeh or the portrait effect is sub-par. In bright light, the background fades but the subjects boundaries are also blurred. In low light, the portrait mode fails horrendously and should never be used.
Also, remember the shutter lag that I was talking about. In portrait mode, the lag is amplified and it takes at least 4-5 seconds to capture a single photo, which is just unacceptable. Jumping to the video quality, the smartphone does support 4K recording but I would ask you to stick to 1080p recording. The reason why I say this is because at 4K the EIS doesn’t seem to work and the footage comes out to be pretty shaky. The phone also gets pretty warm while recording in 4K. At 1080p the EIS works and the footage comes out comparatively stable. The front camera can also record in 1080p, so it is really good for video calling or live vlogging.
You might think, I am being pretty hard on the Moto G5S Plus cameras, and you are not wrong in thinking that. However, since Lenovo is marketing the camera heavily, I am required to put these through their paces. Also, I don’t like half-baked features at all which are just there for the namesake. The dual cameras on Moto G5S Plus feel the same. It feels like that Lenovo included the dual-camera setup just to get on the band wagon, as the implementation is far from perfect. I would have preferred if Lenovo included a single camera setup with OIS, then at least the videos would have come out nicely. To conclude, the cameras are pretty good for its price range, but they are just that. There is nothing exceptional here just because they included the dual-camera sensor. Don’t buy this phone just for the dual-camera sensors.
When it comes to audio quality, the phone does well in every department if you leave the speaker out of the equation. The call quality is good and the voice was clear on both the sides. The noise cancellation could be a little better, but that’s not a big problem as it works well in normal situations. I am also happily surprised by the audio quality coming from the headphone jack. But, for listening to good quality audio from this phone, you will have to ditch the earphones that come with it. It is a piece of garbage and shouldn’t have been included in the box.
You will have to buy a good pair of earphones to truly enjoy the audio. Good quality earphones are even more important as it has a sub-par speaker. The mono speaker at the bottom is average at best and should be avoided as much as possible. I have used many phones with mono speakers and none of them sound good, so I didn’t have any expectation from the start. To sum up, you should ditch the included earbuds, buy a good pair of headphones, and stick to headphone audio for all your audio consumption.
The Moto G5S Plus is a dual-SIM device allowing you to use two SIMs at a time. One of the SIM card slots is a hybrid slot. You can either use a nano SIM and a SD-card or two nano SIM cards. I love this approach, and believe that every smartphone manufacturer should do this. I have already mentioned the call quality in the previous section. It is good for both the sides. The plastic antenna bands allow the phone to get a clear network reception, and hence that is not a problem. The phone supports most of the LTE bands, so you are good to go even if you are traveling abroad.
It also supports dual-band 802.11 WiFi (a/b/g/n) which is a standard. I love the fact that they included Bluetooth 4.2 which is more power efficient and has a higher range. However, I don’t like the inclusion of the micro USB (2.0) port which is used for charging and data transfer. I really wish they included the USB-C. It is the new standard which is smaller, faster, and easier. If it was up to me, I would have gladly traded one of the dual-cameras for USB C. But, that’s just me, I would love to know your thoughts on the subject.
The G5S Plus includes a 3000 mAh Li-Ion battery which is not bad. The smartphone has an exceptional standby time. Overnight, it never dropped more than 5% of the charge in my one week of usage. When you are using it, you will get an average battery life which should last you the whole day. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your usage. I consider myself as a medium to heavy user. My average day consists of an hour of gameplay, an hour or so of YouTube, a little bit web browsing and reading articles on Medium, and an hour and half of calls with other things in between. The phone easily saw me through the day most of the time with 15-20% of charge still left.
It died on me just one day, but that has more to do with me pushing its limits than with its battery life. On an average, you should get around 4:30-5:00 hours of screen-on time. When it comes to charging, the G5S Plus supports Motorola’s property Turbo-Charging technology. Lenovo claims that it can give you 7 hours of usage with 15 minutes of charge. Now, I can neither confirm nor deny that, however, I can tell you that your device will reach from 5% to 100% within 90 minutes. All in all, the battery is good and the fast charging makes it even better.
Moto G5S Plus: Don’t Buy It Just For The Cameras
We have reached the end of our review and I think the heading explains it succinctly. Moto G5S Plus, just like its predecessors is a really great phone in its price range. The value for money that it offers is still one of the best in the market. It has an excellent full-metal body which makes it feel both sturdy and safe. The chamfered edges along with the camera hump do feel a little annoying, but everything else is on point. The display is a gorgeous full HD IPS panel with excellent viewing angles and crisp texts. The performance is really good for its price range. The Snapdragon 625 chip along with 4GB of RAM will get most things done without a hiccup.
However, I cannot justify the inclusion of the dual-camera system. They are there just for the namesake. The portrait mode effect fails every time with blurred boundaries. Add the shutter-lag to that and you are getting a sub-par dual-camera system. I think Lenovo should have stuck with a single camera and made it better by including Optical Image Stabilisation. Not only that would have helped in video capturing, but also improved the low-light performance. As I mentioned earlier, I was harsher on the G5S Plus’s camera because Lenovo was touting the smartphone as a camera phone, which clearly it is not.
However, if you are not in this just for the cameras, you are in for a treat. The stock Android experience is better than ever. This makes the phone run buttery smooth. With this, you will also be one of the first in line to get the Android Oreo (8.0) update. I just hope that they start giving out the Android security updates on time, which has been delayed in the past. Other hardware features including the headphone jack, the power and volume buttons, and the fingerprint scanner work like they should. The only weak thing is the built-in speaker, but that is the case with most of the 2017 phones. The call quality is good as the phone is capable of getting good reception. Both the WiFi and the Bluetooth also work without fail.
In this price range, it’s hard to find a smartphone with so many merits. Motorola G5S Plus does what it does best. It has a full metal body, a good screen, a powerful and efficient chipset, quick and fast fingerprint scanner, and an unadulterated Android experience. As you can see, there are a lot of things which go in its favour and I would recommend you to buy it. However, as the heading says, don’t buy it just for the cameras. Plus, there is great competition from the Xiaomi Mi A1 as well, which arguably has a better camera but we are yet to test the device, so we can’t say for sure.
- Full metal body
- Powerful and efficient processor
- Near stock Android
- Decent battery life with Turbo Charging
- 4GB RAM with good RAM management
- Dual-cameras are not up to expectation
- Front-facing camera fails in low light
- No notification LED
- Chamfered edges make the phone uncomfortable on longer usage
SEE ALSO: Doogee Mix Review: Style Over Substance
Motorola G5S Plus Review: A Great Phone With A Few Annoying Quirks
Moto G5S Plus is a great smartphone but it has a few annoying quirks. The absence of the notification LED, the placement of the volume and power button on the same side, the chamfered edges, portrait mode failure, and the shutter lag are the main culprits. If you can get past these annoyances, you are going to fall in love with this device. The phone is fast, solid, and has stock Android. These three features should be enough for most of you to make the decision in its favour. Read the review, compare the pros and cons, and then let us know; does Moto G5S Plus gets your approval or not? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below.
Buy the Moto G5S Plus here