Moto G5S Plus review

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For a long time, the Moto G line of budget smartphones was considered excellent. Not just at Tech Advisor but around the world we expect a lot of phone for little money when the latest comes out.

There are only two real differences between the older G5 Plus and this newer G5S Plus – the larger screen and the dual cameras.

Thankfully, the Moto G5S continues the trend and is the best Moto ever made. It costs a little more than you might expect, but it’s worth the extra money for a phone that offers dual cameras, decent battery life with fast charging, a slim design, and great performance.

price and availability

The Moto G5S Plus is available direct from Motorola in the UK for £259.

It’s also available for slightly less at £249 from Carphone Warehouse.

In the US, the 32GB version is $279 and the 64GB version is $349.

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design and build

We prefer the design of the G5S Plus over the rest of the G5 family of phones, including the G5S. The antenna leads are more prominent but look better than the older design where you could see the gaps between the parts used.

Now you have a unibody metal finish that feels far more premium than the price would suggest and a far cry from the plastic-like builds of older Moto G phones.

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The design of the G5S Plus has smart beveled edges that give it a premium feel and easier handling. While it’s not the thinnest of phones, it’s easy to hold, although almost uncomfortable in one hand given the larger 5.5-inch screen.

It has relatively large top and bottom bezels, but that’s to be expected for the price. They’re not wasted, however, with a decent fingerprint sensor at the bottom and a front-facing camera and flash at the top.

The back is plain except for a circular camera bump that houses two cameras and a flash, with the Motorola logo sitting in a small indentation that you could roughly put a finger in when holding the device.

The plastic Moto G phones were great, but that aluminum feel is much better.

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features and specifications

More important than looks, however, is the performance of a cheaper phone. Is it so cheap that it’s actually useless?

Luckily not here.

The G5S Plus has a larger screen than the G5 and G5 Plus at 5.5 inches. It’s a 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS LCD with 401 ppi and a regular 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s protected from drops and scrapes by Gorilla Glass 3, but it shatters like most other phones if you’re not careful.

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The screen is pleasantly vibrant and bright for an LCD (as opposed to a more expensive OLED panel) and the content looks good. There aren’t many compromises here, even on a phone that costs twice as much.

Text, video and games look great, with punchy color reproduction, but if you scroll quickly the text blurs a bit until you stop. This is particularly noticeable with black text on a white background, but it’s a feature common to all displays of this type and price range.

Processor, memory and RAM

The Moto G5S Plus features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, a mid-range chip known for its excellent energy efficiency. It offers excellent battery management as well as above-average processing speeds for most people.

This is preferable to the weaker Snapdragon 430 in the G5 and G5S, and the performance boost in the G5S Plus is incredibly welcome.

In our testing, gaming, multitasking, video streaming, and photography were all excellent, with just a touch of lag here and there – to be expected on a Snapdragon 625, but nothing to detract from usability.

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The phone has a barely passable internal storage of 32GB, but it can be expanded up to 256GB with a microSD card. This version has 3GB of RAM, more than enough for most tasks aside from high-intensity games.

A different version with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM is available in some regions, but this affects the asking price.

cameras

The most noticeable upgrade of the G5S Plus is the dual cameras. For the first time on a Moto G Series phone, you can take portrait mode bokeh effect photos – a feature of the £700 Moto Z2 Force on a phone that costs £259.

The sensors are both 13Mp with an aperture of f/2.0. They deliver excellent shots in full daylight, but struggle with detail and color reproduction in low light. As long as you stay outdoors and are a casual phone photographer you won’t mind, but you should buy the G5S Plus if you’re looking for the best possible camera experience on a phone.

The 8-megapixel front-facing camera is spotty at best, but it’s adequate for Snapchat selfies and Skype video calls. Check out some images taken with the rear dual camera below.

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The image above shows the pleasingly good portrait mode of the G5S Plus

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It copes very well with direct sunlight

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benchmarks

Our benchmarks delivered the expected results. The internals of the G5S Plus are identical to the older G5 Plus, but thankfully the G5S Plus’ larger display doesn’t impact performance – the results are identical.

We’ve compared the G5S Plus to the current Moto G family of phones (confusing names and all), alongside the Moto Z2 Play versus the Snapdragon 626 and the HTC U11 Life versus the 630. The differences are negligible, and you don’t lose out by going for the G5S Plus.

Everything else

You get NFC for mobile payments via Android Pay, which is great, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 and ac Wi-Fi connectivity. Battery life is also good with the non-removable 3,000mAh battery, which is fast-charging with the included TurboCharger.

The fingerprint sensor is also excellent, fast and responsive. We like that you can also lock your phone with one touch, a feature not found on many other phones.

There’s even a built-in FM radio, something budget phones are more likely to have than flagships these days.

It’s a bit of a shame to see the older Micro-USB port on the phone instead of the new USB-C standard, but it’s no reason not to buy the G5S Plus.

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software

The phone will ship with Android Nougat 7.1, but given the relatively unchanged nature of Moto’s Android skin, it shouldn’t be long before the phone will receive an update to Android Oreo – although that’s not confirmed at the time of writing.

The skin-over-stock Android is thoughtful and unobtrusive. Unlike other budget manufacturers like Honor, no unnecessary changes are made.

You can use the fingerprint sensor to unlock and lock the phone, or use a swipe-and-press navigation button in settings to perform all sorts of actions. It takes a little getting used to, but good if you want to ditch the on-screen navigation buttons.

Apps sit in the drawer swiped up from the home screen like Google Pixel phones, while notifications and settings are all familiar and pleasantly untouched. Using the Moto G5S Plus is a fresh, uninterrupted Android experience.

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specifications

Moto G5S Plus: Specifications

  • Android Nougat 7.1.1
  • 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS touch screen, 401 ppi

  • 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625

  • Adreno 506 graphics

  • 3/4 GB RAM

  • 32/64GB storage

  • microSD slot up to 256GB

  • Two 13-megapixel cameras, f/2.0, two LED flashes

  • Video 2160p@30fps

  • 8 MP front camera, f/2.0, LED flash

  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n

  • Bluetooth 4.2

  • Nano SIM

  • GPS NFC for payments 3,000 mAh non-removable battery 153.5 x 76.2 x 8 mm 168 g

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