Moto G5s Plus Review


(Sam Solomon) #1

I have spent the last month with the Moto G5s Plus and can say that it is an exceptional phone. It’s fast, has a decent camera and the best battery life of any smartphone I’ve seen. The phone has it’s flaws, but it is difficult to imagine a better option for the money.

Update October 11, 2018 - Navigation Issues: I’ve had the phone about a year, and it’d been pretty solid. I am having more and more issues with the navigation though. Either the GPS cuts out completely or the GPS always faces exactly north. I have a feeling this might be hardware failing. I tend to only keep my Moto Gs for a year, but it is pretty disappointing that this is happening. It is very dangerous to deal with while trying to drive somewhere.

Update December 28, 2017 - Camera Update: Motorola seems to have pushed a software update correcting lag when taking photos. Except in very low light, the camera takes pictures instantly—as it should.

Update October 24, 2017 - Phone Cracked: My phone just had it’s first drop. It fell out of my pocket when I was getting out of my car at the grocery store. Unfortunately there is now a crack in the corner of the screen. No serious damage, but looks like I ordered my case one day late. damn.

Update October 21, 2017 — Case Ordered: I feel awkward placing the phone on a table screen up with the camera bump. I decide, it’s probably better to go ahead and order a case anyways. A combination of cost, limited options and positive reviews lead me to the TUDIA Moto G5s Case.

Update October 5, 2017 - Phone Arrives: New phone arrived. My first thought was that it feels a lot heavier despite having a near-identical profile to the Moto G4. The transition from the Moto G4 to the Moto G5s is seamless.

Table of Contents

  • Specs and Configuration
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Camera
  • Display
  • Battery Life
  • Software
  • The Competition
  • Other Things
  • Final Thoughts (TL:DR)
  • Sources

Specs and Configuration

The Moto G5s Plus comes in two different configurations. One has 3GB RAM and a 32GB hard drive while the other has 4GB of RAM and a 64GB hard drive. Given that it has a microSD slot, storage can be added to this phone. I'm not sure that there is much incentive to get the more expensive version.

NFC tech doesn’t make an appearance in this year’s Moto G. I don’t think this will be a deal breaker for most consumers. If you’re moving from a phone that has Google Wallet or Apple Pay, you won’t be able to use those services. Also, services like Sequr use NFC tech to unlock doors.

The phone splash resistant, but not water proof. That means don’t try and take it into the pool. I think this is kind of a bummer given the older Motorola phones were water resistant. Perhaps, this is a trade-off for a metal body?

I think it’s important for phones to work across various carriers. The Moto G5s Plus hits the mark as it’s universally unlocked and works on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers.

Design

The Moto G5s Plus looks and feels like a flagship phone. It has an all metal unibody design. This is a change from the previous G5, which was partly metal, but contained plastic bezels.

Coming from the Moto G4, I immediately noticed that the power and volume button locations have switched places. I don’t think that changes anything, but it was something new.

There is one noticeable design flaw and it’s driving me crazy. This phone has the biggest camera bump I’ve seen. I read in other reviews that the phone had a noticeable camera bump. I thought so what? So did the G4.

Admittedly it is much more pronounced than the on the G4. According to the specs the phone body is 8.0 mm thick with the camera bump adds an extra 1.5 mm onto that. That’s not an insignificant amount.

You really notice it when it comes to putting your phone down. If you lay it on the camera, the phone doesn’t sit evenly. It’s almost become a habit for me to place my phone face down.

Furthermore, I worry what happens to the outer rim of the camera over time. I actually ordered a case so I don’t have to fret about how I set my phone down.

Performance

Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU and 650 MHz Adreno 506 GPU. The phone is fast.

I haven’t had any lag within applications or switching between application. Even if there are tons of applications running, the phone has no performance issues.

Admittedly, I don’t play many phone games. Slack, Gmail, Instagram, Audible, Twitter—these are most of the applications I use. I do have Roller Coaster Tycoon classic installed for the occasional flight, but have never had issues.

Of course that is just my opinion. For a more objective comparison I ran Geekbench CPU and GPU benchmarks and compared them to other phones. Here were my results:

The specific breakdown of the CPU scores are as follows.

Moto G5s Plus Single-Core Scores

Benchmark Score
Combined Single-Core Score 835
Crypto Score 565
Integer Score 976
Floating Point Score 491
Memory Score Score 1103
Moto G5s Plus Multi-Core Scores
Benchmark Score
Combined Multi-Core Score 4225
Crypto Score 3050
Integer Score 6165
Floating Point Score 3400
Memory Score Score 1393
If you're interested in these exact tests, numbers for the CPU and Compute performance are available through Geekbench.

Of course the CPU and Compute scores don’t matter in a vacuum. How does it compare to other phones on the market? Below you can compare the phones that most closely match the Moto G5s Plus.

Comparing Multi-Core CPU Phone Performance

Phone Multi-Core CPU Score
Samsung Galaxy S7 5213
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 5203
Moto G5S Plus 4225
One Plus 3 4015
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 3948
Comparing Compute Phone Performance
Phone Compute Score
Motorola Nexus 6 3482
Samsung Galaxy S7 2766
Moto G5S Plus 2631
Huawei Nexus 6P 2628
Samsung Galaxy S6 1963
On the performance spectrum the Moto G5s Plus is an improvement over the Samsung Galaxy S6 phones, but just behind the previous generation S7 phones. Considering the Galaxy S7 phones still cost north of $500, I'd say this phone is punching well above it's weight.

Camera

The camera on the G5s Plus is interesting. It has dual 13 megapixel rear f/2.0 cameras and an 8 megapixel front-facing camera. This is the first time I've seen dual cameras on a sub-$600 phone.

The dual cameras on the iPhone and other devices generally tune one lens for optical zoom. It also uses depth of field information from that lens to generate background blur using software—that is not what Motorola has done with this phone.

Instead the phone has one traditional lens and one monochrome lens. This helps determine the edges of an object in focus, which helps with the manual depth of field blur, which is can be applied afterwards.

So is the Moto G5s Plus camera any good? Here are a few pictures I’ve taken with it.

The photos above are unedited. Overall I think the photos tend to be a bit washed out. They also lack that sharpness that photos with most flagship cameras have.

If you’re coming from the Moto G4 where the camera was downright terrible in everything but perfect lighting, it’s fantastic. If you had a previous generation flagship phone I think you’ll find the quality good, but unremarkable.

That isn’t to say you can’t take take good pictures with it. Here are the same few photos with a bit of editing.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Moto G5s Plus camera, check out my Instagram.

In good lighting the photos are solid. The phone comes with a low light setting for photos, but I’ve found that the photos still have a good bit of noise. It’s an improvement, but don’t expect much from your nighttime photography.

When this phone shipped the camera was incredibly laggy. Even in perfect lighting it would take a second or two to capture a picture. As I expected, this was a software issue.

The good news is that Motorola shipped a fix sometime in December. The camera is now quick to take photos in perfect and normal lighting. It is still a bit slow in low light, but much improved. I don’t expect DSLR quality photos from a phone that is under $300.

Other than the camera bump, my biggest gripe is the lack of support for RAW photos. Granted, very few people—only those wanting to do post work would need this. Unless you were planning on editing camera photos in Lightroom or Capture One Pro you don’t need to worry about camera RAW. Shooting in RAW adds more data to the photos, which means that you can manipulate shadows and highlights easily. In short it makes taking picture much more forgiving.

Leaving out RAW isn’t a bug. I doubt Motorola will be adding it via a software update (although that would be a nice surprise). I do hope that the feature makes it into future versions of the Moto G line, however.

What about video?

The phone does shoot 4k video at 30fps. If you would rather shoot at 60fps, you’ll have to go down to 1080p quality. Like the photo quality, if you have good lighting the videos will turn out well.

I’ve also noticed that the 4k videos appear a bit grainy and prefer to shoot 60fps at 1080p. Your milage may vary.

Summing it up—the camera is a solid improvement over previous models, but it isn’t the Pixel 2 or iPhone X.

Display

The Moto G5s Plus display feels like a huge improvement over the Moto G4. The screen measures 5.5 inches with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, or 401 pixels per inch.

The colors on this phone are rather good. Tom’s Guide had some interesting numbers comparing the color accuracy.

Color accuracy proved to be the G5S Plus' greatest strength. In our testing, this phone's screen registered a Delta-E rating of 0.29. (Numbers closer to 0 are better.) That not only outperforms the G5 Plus' score of 0.94, but it's on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S8's 0.28. Few smartphones, at any price, come close.
The display is sharp—especially compared to other phones in this category like the Nokia 6. It is one of those places where the phone feels more flagship than mid-tier.

In previous Moto G models I found brightness to be an issue. It wasn’t terrible, but on a sunny day the screens definitely looked a bit dull. That issue no longer exists. Even in Mid-day the phone get plenty bright.

Battery Life

I'm one of those people that keeps shouting about bigger batteries, while phone companies continue to shave millimeters off of phones. Quite frankly, many phones are now so thin that they are uncomfortable to hold.

The good news is that the Moto series has always been at the top of the pack for battery life. My Moto G4 would easily last 1 to 2 days. It was great. I never worried about being stranded because I couldn’t call a Lyft or Uber.

The Moto G5s Plus has a 3000mAh battery and blows every phone out of the water. The last phone I remember lasting this long was my old Nokia brick. This phone easily lasts two days and I’ve had it last as long as 4 days. Granted, I’m not a salesperson. If you’re constantly talking on your phone, your mileage may vary.

Once again, here is the Geekbench Benchmark for battery life. Here are the results of a partial discharge test with the phone consistently using 70 percent processing power.

It took 2 hours and 46 minutes of fairly heavy and consistent power usage to reduce the battery 30 percent. Had I done a full discharge, it probably would have taken about 9 hours. That falls about inline with what I would expect.

The battery score bests those of every flagship phone and currently only looses out to tablets. Here is the Moto G5s’ closest competition.

Battery Life Comparison

Phone Compute Score
Moto G5s Plus 3574
Samsung Galaxy S8 3505
iPhone 8 Plus 2796
iPhone 8 2641
Samsung Galaxy S7 2430
iPhone 7 Plus 2138
Other than being at the top of the pack for battery life, the phone comes with Motorolas TurboPower quick charge feature. The claim is that it takes about 15 minutes of charging to get 6 hours of power. That seems about inline with my use. The phone will generally charge to full power in about an hour.

I don’t do ratings, but if I did this phone gets a 10 out of 10 for battery life. Seriously, this phone has the best battery life I’ve seen in any smartphone.

Software

The Moto G5s Plus comes with vanilla Android 7.1.1, commonly known as Nougat.

One of the top requirements I had for purchasing a phone was it had to be as close to stock Android as possible. OEM versions of Android are horrible. Samsung makes some incredible hardware, but Touchwiz is garbage. They are often slower, less intuitive and come with a ton of bloatware.

The only modification Motorola has made to Android is the addition of the Moto app, which you can see below.

Moto Display simply reduces blue light on your phone screen at night. This is essentially f.lux for your Android. It also has a feature that doesn’t wake the phone, but peeks notifications on a dark background without showing the lock screen.

Moto Actions adds gesture-enabled features. There are a few of these actions that I really love. I use the chop for flashlight pretty frequently. Two other actions that I have enabled are Pick up to stop ringing and Flip for Do Not Disturb (not pictured above). Pick up stops the phone from ringing once you pick it up. Flip to Do Not Disturb will silence the phone when it is face down. It’s helpful for when I’m in meetings or need to focus at work.

Unlike previous versions of the Moto G, you can’t uninstall the Moto app. It’s a bit of a bummer, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. I’m a fan of the value it provides without changing Android.

Final Thoughts (TL:DR)

How do I sum up this review? The Moto G5s Plus is a good phone—a very good phone. It provides a vanilla Android experience, the longest battery life and solid performance for under $300. I don't think there's a better smartphone for the money.

After several months of use most of my gripes have been solved. Motorola shipped an update that fixed the camera speed. I bought a case that makes the awkward camera bump a non-issue.

I am still waiting for camera RAW support. However, unless you’re editing your photos in Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro you can ignore this. For casual users the camera is solid.

View on Motorola.com

Sources

  1. Adam Ismail, Moto G5S Plus Review: Great Galaxy S8 Alternative for $500 Less, Tom's Guide, September 29, 2017
  2. Matthew Miller, Moto G5S Plus review: Get creative with the dual camera for $300, ZDNet, October 4, 2017
  3. Geekbench, Geekbench Android Benchmarks, Geekbench Browser, retreived January 19, 2018
  4. Geekbench, Geekbench iOS Benchmarks, Geekbench Browser, retreived January 19, 2018

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