Lenovo, the parent company of Motorola, recently announced the launch of its latest devices, the Moto G5S and G5S Plus for the Indian market. These two devices are the 2017 upgrades to the G5 and G5 Plus. Both these devices are still considered part of the 5th generation and Motorola maintains that they are special versions of the G5 and G5 Plus. The company wants to ensure that they maintain their strong grip over the budget market in India with the highly successful G series.
With G5S at Rs 14,999 and G5S Plus at Rs 15,999, the company has priced the devices competitively. This puts both the devices in direct competition with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Mi A1 and Lenovo Z2 Plus.
When we reviewed the G5 Plus, we concluded that the device was great, but that build quality and camera needed polish. Motorola sent us the Moto G5S Plus, the more expensive of the two devices. The smartphone looks stellar and packs a dual camera setup, which is a first for the company at this price point. I used it as my daily driver for 10 days. I pushed the smartphone to its limits in terms of usage. After extensive tests and usage, the Moto G5S Plus leaves me impressed. Here’s why!
Build and Design: 8/10
Motorola has opted for a full aluminium unibody design for the G5S Plus. The device looks sturdy and solid in hand without any squeaking parts. The all-metal build quality gives a premium finish to this device, ensuring that the user feels confident while holding the device. The company claims that the body has been carved out of a single block of metal to ensure high build quality.
The front of the smartphone packs a speaker grill, proximity sensor, front-facing camera and a front facing flash on the top. The company has added an extremely responsive fingerprint sensor on the bottom. One thing to note here is that there are no physical buttons on the device.
Moving to the back of the device, you will find the antenna bands on the top and bottom along with a dual-camera setup towards the top.The volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the device while the SIM-tray is on the left of the device. Motorola has added the 3.5 mm headphone jack at the top of the device along with microUSB port and speaker grill at the bottom.
The company has changed a significant number of things in terms of the design to ensure that it looks like a new, streamlined and evolutionary design. Little details, like the antenna bands neatly running along the borders to integrate with the design, and the polished metal finish make a huge difference. The return of the ‘Moto’ logo along with a bump takes me back all the way to my experience with the Moto G2, which was the second Android device I ever owned.
The G5S Plus is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 clocked at 2.0 GHz along with an Adreno 506 GPU. It comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage and an option to expand the storage using an external microSD card up to 128 GB in size.
The G5S Plus packs a 5.5-inch full HD display with 1080x1920 resolution. The feature that makes the G5S Plus special is the dual camera on the back, a rarity at this price point. The camera setup sports Dual 13 MP sensors on the back with an f/2.0 aperture and an 8 MP camera module with wide angle lens, f/2.0 aperture on the front. Users will be able to shoot 4K video at 30 fps. The device runs Android Nougat 7.1 out of the box and comes with a 3,000 mAh battery with "Turbo Charge" support.
It comes with microUSB, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/q/n, Bluetooth v4.2, 3.5 mm headphone jack and Dual nano-SIM slots in terms of connectivity options.
The new Moto G5S Plus will feature a 5.5-inch full HD (1080x1920 pixels) IPS LCD display panel with a protection of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The LCD panel comes with a 401 PPI pixel density and a 70.1 percent screen-to-body ratio. These things remain largely unchanged when compared to previous Moto G devices or the Moto devices launched earlier this year.
The display looks bright and vibrant with good viewing angles with excellent colour reproduction. However, the colour reproduction does take a hit when viewed from an angle. The display is sharp and you can see all the details clearly without any haziness.
The only thing that Motorola needs to improve with the screen is its reflectivity. The display does not perform as desired in direct sunlight as there is a lot of reflection.
The Moto G5S Plus comes with Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box along with the June Android security patch. This is one of the few smartphones that is running Android Nougat 7.1.1, which is good because few companies are supporting the update. Motorola recently announced that G5S Plus will be upgraded to Android Oreo 8.0 and considering that the device is running stock Android, I won’t be surprised if Motorola is among the first to roll out the update. Users can expect the update to hit the device in coming weeks.
Bloatware in the OS is minimal. You get stock Android with 'Moto Device Help' and 'Files' apps as well as the standard Google apps. The LinkedIn and Outlook apps are the only real 'bloatware' on the device and also it is the first time when I have seen them bundled with Motorola software out of the box. Users can now use the ‘Moto’ app to access the ‘Moto Actions’, ‘Moto Display’, and ‘Moto Voice’ features that are part of the Motorola device experience. Each adds additional functionality to the stock Android experience to improve overall usability, I feel.
I did not face many problems when it came down to the operating system and the overall experience of the software. Everything was fluid, smooth and snappy. The company has added a ‘Depth editor’ in the camera app but I’ll talk about it in detail in the camera app.
Last but not the least, Motorola has added the Google Assistant nav bar animation that we've only seen on the Pixel so far.
The smartphone left me impressed when it came to performance as it ran through the tasks without breaking a sweat. I ran the smartphone through a number of benchmark tests and it scored decent scores. However, real-world performance is where the device shined. I did encounter a lag at one time while trying the ‘Depth’ mode as the camera failed to focus on a subject in front of the camera and got stuck in the scene. I am sure that it was a minor bug and will be fixed later in a software update as it never repeated itself during the length of my review.
Almost all the apps that I used ran perfectly well. Extended gaming sessions of heavy duty games like Modern Combat 5 ran at smooth 60 fps (the settings allowed for this) and similar performance levels were seen in games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, and Dead Trigger 2 as well.
The phone did not heat up and only got mildly warm during extended gaming sessions. The only time it would get a bit warm was after using the dual camera for some time, and the heat was focused on the camera bump.
There was no issue while placing cellular or internet calls using the Moto G5S Plus as the connectivity and voice clarity was spot on. The bundled earphones with the device did not pose any problems as the sound was clear with decent noise cancellation.
As mentioned earlier, the G5S Plus comes with an Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clocked up to 2.0 GHz. It is coupled with the Adreno 506 GPU to handle any graphically-intensive tasks on the smartphone. The RAM has been upped by 1 GB compared to last year and the internal storage has been doubled.
The Motorola Moto G5S Plus sports a dual 13 MP camera setup on the back with a f/2.0 aperture, colour balancing dual-LED flash and depth editing software, along with an 8 MP camera module with a wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. One 13 MP camera sensor shoots in colour while the other one shoots in monochrome for better image quality in low light conditions. Users will be able to shoot 4K video at 30 fps.
The pictures were good with a fair amount of detail and texture. Though, the pictures fell flat in that they looked like paintings at instances when we tried to pixel peep. Again, this is not limited to photos shot in low light but extends to the photos shot in sufficient daylight; as well as those shot in the HDR mode. Some amount of noise crept in, but that is completely fine at this price.
However, I would want the company to improve the low light performance of the camera as the photos turn blotchy when you shoot in darkness. Thankfully, Lenovo has added a professional mode that allows users to tinker with shutter speed, focus, white balance and the ISO settings of the camera. The professional mode does help with the noise but that means experimenting with the settings with makes it less than ideal for casual users. The front-facing camera of the smartphone is decent with no issues. The camera software feels very snappy in performance.
Moving towards the dual camera experience, the company has ensured that the feature is seamlessly integrated into the software. The company has added a dedicated 3D depth sensor to capture depth data so that users can edit the depth of the pictures after the picture is shot. Users can see the depth-effect in real time while clicking a photo and they can increase or decrease it with a slider on the right side of the screen, next to the shutter button. Though, I wish that the 'depth effect' was more realistic because right now, it is too artificial to my liking. Users can also apply actions like ‘Selective B&W’, ’Selective Focus’, or even ‘Replace background’ in the ‘Depth Editor' app. I had some fun while editing pictures using the ‘Depth Editor’ as it had the capability of easily creating fast and effective memes. These editing features are only available for pictures clicked in the ‘Depth’ mode.
The features, ‘Replace background’ and ‘Selective B&W’ are in beta, as mentioned in the app. This makes is somewhat alright to me if the ‘Replace background’ does not work perfectly. Though, it would be great if the company adds a manual selection software to refine the edges detected by the camera. However, one thing that bugged me was the comparatively longer waiting times while saving images.
The company has ensured that Moto G5S provided an impressive battery life. The smartphone lasted a day for me on moderate usage, which included gaming for an hour or so, three email accounts syncing, constant emailing, WhatsApp messages, 10-20 photos and listening to music for 30-45 minutes at a stretch. The device scored 8 hours and 48 minutes during the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 battery test, reaffirming that the battery performance in the device is decent.
However, it is nowhere as impressive as Xiaomi Mi A1 and in fact, it is lower than the 9 hours 1-minute time that its predecessor, Moto G5 Plus scored. I was expected more from the 3,000 mAh non-removable Lithium-Ion battery. Another thing that I was wishing was a Type-C port instead of a microUSB, but its alright. Motorola has packed a 15 W Turbo-Charger inside the box, which is a good thing. The phone took about 110 minutes to charge from 0 to 100 using the Turbo-Charger.
Verdict and Price in India:
Motorola has announced a compelling device in terms of the build quality while improving on the design to improve usability. While the dual camera setup did not impress me much, the unibody metal finish of the device made up for the ordinary camera experience.
Motorola is sticking to the winning formula that has worked for the company in earlier years. Stock Android, solid build quality and evolutionary upgrades in terms of hardware. The company has priced the device at Rs 15,999 and also slashed the price of Moto G5 Plus down to Rs 14,999 to make it easier for users to decide between the G5 Plus and the G5S Plus.
If you want to look at the competition, Xiaomi Mi A1 provides an equally stellar package for the same price. That smartphone packs Stock Android, great build quality and latest hardware, all three of which you'll find on the G5S Plus. You can look at Xiaomi Note 4 if you are looking for a change in the user interface. Other devices in the same price range do not provide much competition to Motorola and Xiaomi and the only device you can look to buy apart from options from Xiaomi is the Vivo V5 Plus.