The Moto G5S Plus is one of the most balanced phones Motorola has on offer and it’s selling at a really attractive price. Now that we finally got round to reviewing it, that is. Oh well, our timing isn’t spot on but the package and the price are.
Let’s get to it then. The G5S Plus is in the same family as the original Moto G, which offered amazing value for money when it came out in 2013. This one’s set to bring more of the same. It’s the 5th generation, with the S there for Special edition (it’s even printed on the box). Generation 5.5 if you will. There’s a smaller Moto G5S too, so the Plus moniker is supposed to distinguish the 5.5-inch model we have here from the regular 5.2″ handset.
On the other hand, compared to the prior Moto G5 Plus of six or so months back, the G5S Plus brings a larger screen and a whole lot of cameras. It’s now a dual 13MP setup at the back, though the Special edition has lost the dual pixel AF of the older, single 12MP shooter. There’s a new 8MP selfie cam in place of the old model’s 5MP unit.
The rest of it isn’t all that Special. Snapdragon 625 is pulling the strings, and the Moto G5S Plus comes in 3/32GB and 4/64GB trim levels with a microSD slot to expand the built-in storage (a hybrid solution on the dual SIM models).
- Body: Aluminum unibody, Gorilla Glass 3 front.
- Display: 5.5″ IPS LCD, 1,920×1,080px resolution, 401ppi.
- Rear cameras: Dual 13MP, f/2.0 aperture; autofocus; dual LED flash; 2160p video recording.
- Front camera: 8MP, f/2.0 aperture; fixed focus; LED flash; 1080p video recording.
- OS/Software: Android 7.1 Nougat, scheduled to get Oreo.
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625: octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 506 GPU.
- Memory: 3/4GB of RAM; 32/64GB of storage; hybrid microSD slot.
- Battery: 3,000mAh Li-Ion (sealed).
- Connectivity: Single SIM and dual SIM versions, market dependent; Cat. 7 LTE (300Mbps/150Mbps); microUSB 2.0; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS, GLONASS; NFC (market dependent); Bluetooth 4.2.
- Misc:FM radio, 3.5mm jack, bottom-firing single speaker, front-mounted fingerprint reader.
- Significantly improved all-metal shell
- Front fingerprint scanner
Last time around, Lenovo tried to trick us a bit with the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. They were metal phones, but only just. A significant part of the frame was plastic, particularly on the smaller Moto G5.
Lenovo has fixed this in the Moto G5S Plus. Every part of the shell apart from the antenna lines on the back and the glass covering the display and camera is aluminum. There’s no sneaky plastic anywhere.
The build is a full league above that of the previous phones and this is comfortably the best-looking Moto G phone to date, much as we have a serious soft spot for the original all-black Moto G. It feels great too.
There are some neat extras too. The Moto G5S Plus has a reasonably fast fingerprint scanner in the bezel below the screen, and a microSD slot in the SIM tray to let you add to the 32GB of storage.
Its scanner can also be used to replace the on-screen soft keys. A left swipe is ‘back’, a right one brings up recent apps. This is just an option, you can turn it off.
Like its predecessors, the Moto G5S Plus has a micro USB socket rather than a USB-C one, a move that seems a little out of date and will be positively archaic by the time the phone slips off shelves.
- Large and sharp 5.5-inch 1080p screen
- Customizable color profile
Like the last few generations of Moto G, the Moto G5S Plus has a 1080p screen rather than an ultra-high resolution one. However, in person it’s sharp despite the large 5.5-inch size.
Color is very good too, although the IPS LCD panel isn’t able to deliver the sort of super-saturated tones you’ll see in an OLED phone. It’s no great loss if you prefer accurate color, and there are two modes to let you tweak the tone.
Movies, music and gaming
- Large screen is perfect for media
- Solid speaker
- No extra media software
The Moto G5S Plus’s screen makes it one of the best budget candidates for gamers and mobile media fans. Lenovo has not added any apps for this, though, leaving Google’s apps suite to the task.
However, when you first boot-up the phone you’re given the option to install from a selection of popular apps, including favorites like Netflix.
Google’s Music and Movies apps are perfectly fine if you don’t know where to start. They let you play your own content as well as streaming from Google’s own library.
Movies come in the form of outright purchases or rentals, but the music side is a little closer to Spotify, letting you stream 40 million tracks for a $9.99/£9.99/AU$11.99 a month subscription. You can buy albums too.
For the old-schoolers out there, the Moto G5S Plus also has an FM radio. We can’t imagine many people will use it at this point, though.
Performance and benchmarks
- Mid-grade performance
- Snapdragon 625 with 3GB of RAM
Like its predecessor, the Moto G5S Plus has a Snapdragon 625 CPU. This is a mid-range chipset, and one of the best options for a lower-price 1080p phone.
It has eight Cortex-A53 cores, and is paired with 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM rather than the faster LPDDR4/LPDDR4X kind. This is typical for a more affordable phone.
In Geekbench 4 the Moto G5S Plus scores 4,312 points. This is, confusingly, much better than the 3,824 points the Moto G5 Plus scored, despite having the same core hardware. However, it’s within the normal bounds for phones with the Snapdragon 625 chip.
A Snapdragon 625 chipset is nothing to get too excited about at this point, but it’s the right pairing for this phone. And doesn’t struggle with games as some MediaTek chipsets at this level do.
- 3,000mAh battery charges fast
- Easily lasts over a day
The Moto G5S Plus has a 3,000mAh battery, one you don’t have any access to. This is a head-scratching spec when the smaller Moto G5S has the same capacity cell.
However, in real use we’re perfectly happy with the phone’s stamina. One day, for example, we streamed a couple of hours of podcasts, took it out for a day in London shooting some photos and still ended up with almost 40% charge by bed time.
A 90-minute video played at maximum brightness takes 16% off the battery level. That’s more than the 12% of the Moto G5 Plus, but that’s no great surprise when this phone has a larger screen.
The Moto G5S Plus also has fast charging, using Lenovo’s TurboPower technology. It ramps-up the voltage to up to 12V, to get you six hours’ use in 15 minutes.
As ever, the fastest charging happens when replenishing the first 60% of the battery, but it’s quick after that too. You’ll see the percentage creep up by just over a point each minute until the very end.
- Good mid-tone dynamic range enhancement
- Passable night photos
- Disappointing shutter lag
The Moto G5S Plus is the first of the Moto G phones to have two cameras on the back. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 7 Plus have a second camera to let you zoom in with less quality loss than normal digital zoom. However, this dual 13MP array is more conventional.
You can simply take depth of field photos with the Moto G5S Plus. This is where the background is blurred for an arty effect, emulating the look of a wide-aperture DSLR lens.
It’s not as good as the Huawei or Apple versions of this idea, though. It can’t deal with complicated subjects well and there’s often ‘outlining’ of even simple ones. However, it’s still worth using and can produce some good results. Some of our best photos were taken using it.
The one problem with the Lenovo Moto G5S Plus camera is that it suffers from significant shutter lag. We used the phone alongside the Moto G4, and it is much faster to shoot than this new phone. We’re talking around a 0.5 second lag per photo, even after focus has been achieved.
That’s bad. However, it’s so uncharacteristic for the series we’re almost convinced Lenovo will fix it with a software update.
This aside, the Moto G5S Plus has a very satisfying camera for a lower-mid-range phone. You’ll get more detail out of the Sony Xperia XA1 though and you need to be careful about the exposure level to get a good shot.