Lenovo's Moto G series has long stood for great value, and has seen tremendous sales in the Indian market. Since 2014, 7 million Moto G units have been sold in India alone. The fifth-generation Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus were launched here just a few months ago, and while they may still be available, Lenovo has decided to introduce refreshed special editions of both phones.
The new Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus were launched in India late last month. Both promise new features and upgrades that will help Moto stay competitive. The company has been on a launch spree this calendar year, bringing new Moto E, Moto C, and Moto Z devices to the Indian market, plus the Moto X4 internationally. The reason for the rapid refresh of the G series, according to Lenovo, is that the Rs. 15,000 and above segment is seeing a steady rise in demand, and there has been a change in consumer spending. Will this strategy work this time around for Lenovo? Let's try to find out.
Moto G5S Plus and Moto G5S design
For Lenovo, Moto G devices are more about providing value for money rather than promising top-notch specifications at dirt cheap prices. In terms of design, these models have been functional but not always the most attractive. The fifth-generation Moto G models finally introduced metal rear panels, and now the special editions take this to the next level.
The Moto G5S and G5S Plus have all-metal bodies with a nice finish, which is a huge improvement from the polycarbonate used on the previous models. The Moto G5S Plus in particular now feels quite premium.
Recent Moto devices have all had a similar design language which isn't a bad thing. It has become easy to recognise Moto-branded devices in a crowd. Both new phones have fingerprint readers at the front which work flawlessly. Both have almost identical front panels with similar placement for the front cameras, flashes sensors, and earpieces.
There's an old-style Micro-USB port on the bottom of each phone, along with a speaker grille and microphone. The rear panels have raised circular bumps for the cameras and flashes, and the iconic batwing Moto logo. The antenna bands are still pretty visible. Overall, the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus look refreshingly good compared to their predecessors. Both phones also boast of a water-repellent nano-coating for protection against accidental splashes.
Compared to the Moto G5 Plus (Review), the Moto G5S Plus is slightly wider and isn't very easy to use with one hand because of its large chin. At 168 grams, the weight is manageable. The Moto G5S, on the other hand, feels more ergonomic and is better suited to one-handed usage. At 157 grams, it feels light for a metal-bodied phone.
The 5.5-inch full-HD screen on the Moto G5S Plus appears bright, and both text and images appear crisp. The colours really pop on this screen, and we had no real issues with it. Viewing angles and brightness seemed good too.
The 5.2-inch full-HD screen on the Moto G5S was good enough for daily use with decent brightness, but we found it too reflective for our liking. Under direct sunlight, we found ourselves struggling without pushing the brightness all the way up. It has good viewing angles but we found outdoor use a little difficult.
Both phones ship in playful green retail boxes with "special edition" printed on the front, confirming that these are upgraded versions of the fifth-generation Moto G phones. You can find a Turbo Power charging adaptor, Micro-USB cable, SIM ejector tool and headset in each box.
Moto G5S Plus and Moto G5S specifications and software
The Moto G5S Plus features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080x1920 pixel) IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core SoC clocked at up to 2GHz, coupled with 4GB of RAM.
One of the most marketed features of the Moto G5S Plus is its dual rear cameras. There are two 13-megapixel sensors with f/2.0 apertures and a colour-correcting dual-LED flash. At the front, it sports an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, wide-angle lens, and an LED flash.
The Moto G5S Plus has 64GB of storage which is expandable using a microSD card (up to 128GB). This is a hybrid dual-SIM phone with two Nano-SIM slots, one of which is a shared microSD slot. Connectivity options on the smartphone include 4G, Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The smartphone is backed by a 3000mAh battery, and the TurboPower charger can provide up to 6 hours of battery life with a 15-minute charge. It weighs 168 grams and measures 153.5x76.2x8mm.
Coming to the smaller sibling, the Moto G5S features a 5.2-inch full-HD display, also with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The Moto G5S is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core SoC clocked up to 1.4GHz, coupled with 4GB of RAM. Much like the Moto G5S Plus, the company is marketing the camera capabilities of the Moto G5S as well though there's only single camera. It sports a 16-megapixel sensor with PDAF, an f/2.0 aperture, and LED flash. On the front, there's a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, wide-angle lens, and an LED flash. The Moto G5S has 32GB of storage which is expandable using a microSD card (up to 128GB). Connectivity options on the smartphone include 4G with VoLTE, Wi-Fi n (dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth v4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The smartphone runs on a 3000mAh battery and has the same TurboPower charger. It weighs 157 grams and measures 150x73.5x8.2mm.
Both, the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus, run on Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box which isn't the latest available version for Android devices. Similar to other Moto devices, the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus have software enhancements from Motorola.
There are Android 7.1 goodies like the ability to perform quick actions by long-pressing the icons of supported apps. There's also split-screen multitasking. Both phones offer a near-stock Android experience with some very minor tweaks from Motorola such as Moto Actions and Moto Display. Under Moto Actions, you can activate One-Button Nav which allows you to navigate using only the fingerprint sensor. A double-chop motion can activate the flashlight, and you can twist your wrist to launch the camera app. You can also swipe down from the centre to the bottom left or right corner to shrink the display area on the screen, which makes one-handed use easier. Under Moto Display, users get a Night Display mode which reduces blue light, and makes notifications fade in and out while the device is in standby.
Moto devices are generally some of the first non-Google ones to receive new Android security updates, so you should be covered for the foreseeable future in terms of software. There is also barely any bloatware on the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus.
Moto G5S Plus and Moto G5S cameras
The Indian market is filling up with dual-camera smartphones, and the Moto G5S Plus is the latest to join the club. It perfoms well enough, though it did take some effort to get shots right. Unlike the Xiaomi Mi A1, the dual cameras on the Moto G5S Plus took some used to getting to. You can refine shots with post processing but it still requires some effort. Depth shots in good light appear to have nicely blurred backgrounds, but the edges of the foreground subjects aren't always defined well. On the other hand, the Moto G5S Plus seems more capable when it comes to low-light photography. We were able to capture some decent depth shots in low light with good amounts of detail and well-controlled noise.
Tap to see full-sized Moto G5S Plus camera samples
Regular shots in good light have natural colours and textures. Landscapes are exposed well and colours are accurate. The HDR mode does a good job of maintaining highlight details in shots that have uniform lighting, but we did notice overexposure at times in shots with differently lit areas.
We believe that the Moto G5S Plus does better in low light than most of its current competition. Some low-light shots were a little under-exposed, but were still were far from the worst we've seen.
Tap to see full-sized Moto G5S camera samples
The Moto G5S offers phase detection autofocus (PDAF), and locks focus quickly. Details are preserved well in outdoor shots, though highlights can get overexposed with this phone too. The Moto G5S does a great job with macro shots and we were able to get some highly detailed close-up shots, some even better than what the Moto G5S Plus could deliver. Landscapes are passable with details suffering. The Moto G5S isn't as impressive when it comes to indoor shots either, and we could see details lacking in dark spots. In low light, the Moto G5S suffers badly and there was noise in many of our samples.
Moto G5S Plus and Moto G5S performance
The Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus are good for most jobs and we were barely left wanting for more power under the hood. The Moto G5S Plus does well in graphics-heavy games and handles multitasking with ease. We had a great time with the device as it has a better screen compared to its smaller sibling. The 5.5-inch display is good for watching videos and playing games on. However, faced heating issues with this phone. Even with just the camera app left running for a while, we found the phone getting quite warm. This is surprising considering that many other devices including Xiaomi Mi A1 and Mi Max 2 (Review) use the same processor and don't get as warm in use.
The Moto G5S Plus's speaker is loud enough for a small room though the sound distorts at maximum volume. The headset shipping with the Moto G5S Plus is average, and don't expect them to impress you a lot. We were also surprised to see this phone missing out on VoLTE (voice over LTE) support at the time of writing this review. We were able to make calls using a Reliance Jio SIM only after installing the Jio4Voice app that allows VoLTE calls.
The Moto G5S is slightly better when it comes to managing heat. It does get warm, but only after a very long session of gaming or watching videos. The phone handles everyday tasks smoothly, and doesn't feel like a slouch. It does support 4G with VoLTE, and call quality was decent. In terms of multimedia, the Moto G5S feels slightly inadequate because of its reflective screen. We had to adjust the brightness a few times to get comfortable. The loudspeaker has amazing clarity and is also loud. Unfortunately, the bundled headset is below par in quality.
During our review, we also noticed that both the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus got warm while being charged - something we don't see with every device.
The Moto G5S Plus managed 64,639 in AnTuTu, 20,899 in Quadrant, and 21fps in GFXBench's T-Rex test. The Moto G5S, on the other hand, managed 30,450 in AnTuTu, 18,450 overall in Quadrant, and 16fps in GFXBench.
Moto G5S Plus and Moto G5S battery life
The Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus both pack 3000mAh non-removable batteries, which is odd considering that larger phones generally have space for bigger batteries. Consequently, the Moto G5S with its smaller screen lasted longer in our tests. It managed roughly 18 hours with heavy usage, while the Moto G5S Plus could only run for 14 hours which was disappointing. In our standard HD video loop test, the Moto G5S ran for 12 hours and 35 minutes, while the Moto G5S Plus ran for 11 hours and 15 minutes.
The good thing is that Lenovo ships TurboPower adapters with both models. The Moto G5S gets fully charged in roughly 60-70 minutes while the Moto G5S Plus takes slightly more time.
The smartphone market in India changes rapidly, and Lenovo's decision to launch special editions of the fifth-generation Moto devices seems like a great move - except for buyers of the originals. Both the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus offer enhancements that help the company stay fresh and take on recently launched competitors. The dual cameras on the Moto G5S Plus will be a good selling point, especially against the Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review), though the experience still requires some polishing from the company's end. Stock Android is generally always a good thing though it's becoming more common now and less of an advantage for Lenovo. Fast charging support is also a big plus.
The Moto G5S is a good improvement over the Moto G5, though it faces a stiff challenge from the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review) which sells at a lower price and offers better hardware. The Moto G5S Plus has to take on the Xiaomi Mi A1 which is also very similar and costs a bit less.
If you are a Moto fan then the Moto G5S Plus or Moto G5S should surely appeal to you as they look great and offer all the bells and whistles one expects at their prices. We hope Lenovo will roll out support for VoLTE on the Moto G5S Plus soon, especially considering that Airtel has started rolling out its network in addition to Jio.