The Moto G5 and G5 Plus were launched only in March this year, but in a surprising change of ways, Motorola has decided to introduce a mid-cycle refresher to the range. Perhaps it is driven by the need to keep innovating and remain relevant, and I can’t even be mad about the concept of the mid-cycle upgrade anymore. With the kind of competition brands face and frequently changing technological trends, it’s now important to keep up with the curve. As a result, for Lenovo-owned Motorola, the now six-month-old Moto G5 Plus is no longer good enough to keep it relevant in the highly competitive sub-Rs 20,000 space.
As a result, we now have the Rs 15,999 Moto G5S Plus. While pricing for its predecessor started at 14,999 for the variant with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and went up to Rs 16,999 for the 4GB/32GB option, the Moto G5S Plus comes in a single variant, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is a good move by the company. The other key change is the dual-camera setup at the rear, which adds some new features to the photography capabilities of the phone. We’ve gone into the details in our review, so read on to find out what we think about the new Moto G5S Plus.
Not much is different, and that’s okay
The Moto G5 Plus was among the first major smartphones to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, and offered competition to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. While the latter initially had availability issues, the Moto G5 Plus could be purchased fairly easily online, and was often considered the strongest alternative to it, despite the price difference. The Moto G5S Plus is powered by the same chipset and has the same 4GB of RAM as the higher variant of the G5 Plus, along with Moto’s now iconic and well-received use of near-stock Android software. ALSO READ: Moto G5 Plus Review
While the screen resolution remains the same (both phones have full-HD screens), the Moto G5S Plus is slightly larger at 5.5 inches and weighs a little bit more as a result of the size difference. The rest of the specifications remain the same, including the 3,000mAh battery which will get you through close to two days on a full charge. You also get’s Moto’s Turbo Power charging, which quickly charges the phone from zero to full in just over an hour. One difference that is a bit disappointing is the use of a hybrid SIM-slot, which forces you to choose between storage expansion and dual-SIM connectivity.
Performance, battery life and day to day usage are pretty much identical to what we saw on the Moto G5 Plus, and considering how good the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC is, we have no reason to complain. The build of the phone is significantly better on the Moto G5S Plus, thanks to the all-metal unibody casing and chamfered edges. The Moto G5S Plus is therefore a subtly better smartphone than its predecessor, and changes only just as much as is needed and expected from a mid-cycle refresh. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A1 Review
Dual-camera setups are in fashion
Smartphones tend to have trends, and manufacturers strive to make their smartphones adhere to those trends. While the fashionable thing for premium smartphones right now is the wide-screen and edge-to-edge display concept, the budget and mid-range segments are currently seeing the dual-camera setup gain attention. While some manufacturers are going with the dual-camera setup at the front, others are using it at the back. The Moto G5S Plus adheres to this new trend, sporting a two-sensor arrangement at the back.
(Camera samples shot with the Moto G5S Plus)
The phone uses an RGB + monochrome sensor arrangement with two 13-megapixel sensors to take photos, which also enables depth-of-field information to be captured. This should theoretically ensure better photos in low-light conditions, as the monochrome sensor should capture light information more effectively. However, the lack of capabilities in Moto’s camera app means that there’s not much you can do with the camera beyond taking basic photos and videos, as well as depth-of-field shots that add bokeh effects. There’s surprisingly no native monochrome shooting mode (it can be added through filters later), which to some extent denies users full control over the hardware. ALSO READ: Honor 8 Pro Review
(Camera samples shot with the Moto G5S Plus)
While the camera can shoot video at up to 4K resolution and 60fps at 1080p, as well as 120fps slow motion video, there are some flaws in the system. The largest of these is the excessive shutter lag, which is nearly a full second long. This effectively changes the picture you hope to take, and is particularly bothersome when you’re shooting objects in motion or are in motion yourself. Hopefully, this should be fixable in a firmware update though.
Another key flaw is when you’re using the depth-of-field mode. Shutter lag or processing delays in this mode are entirely forgivable, but what can be particularly annoying on the Moto G5S Plus is the frame lag on the viewfinder. The depth-of-field mode isn’t too bad for the price, but doesn’t quite achieve the same results you’d see on premium phones. There are some flaws in portrait images, with the sensor failing to always accurately detect depth information. Additionally covering the monochrome sensor and shooting with only the RGB sensor also has very little effect on the pictures, which effectively negates the benefits of the technology. ALSO READ: Nubia Z17 Mini Review
Leaving aside all of these factors and just looking at the pictures themselves, the Moto G5S Plus takes decent images for the price. You usually get well-composed pictures that get the colors, brightness and details right, but you do have to consider for the shutter lag in order to get those good pictures. The front camera gets a slight resolution bump to eight megapixels, and pictures taken are decent enough. On the whole, the camera is a slight disappointment over the Moto G5 Plus.
The Moto G5S Plus is exactly what you would expect from a mid-cycle upgrade. It’s essentially a slightly boosted version of the Moto G5 Plus, bringing a bit more storage, a slightly larger screen and the currently in vogue dual-camera setup at the back. It does this with a slight drop from the initial pricing of the Moto G5 Plus, so on the whole, there’s very little to complain about here. It’s a capable phone for the price and does most of its job efficiently.
However, the key new feature doesn’t quite work as well as expected. There’s significant shutter lag on the camera, no access to native monochrome shooting, no visible change in quality offered by the monochrome sensor and a depth-of-field mode that is best classified as ‘meh’. While pictures themselves are decent enough, and some (or all) of these issues could well be fixed with a firmware update, for the time being, the Moto G5S Plus’ camera doesn’t quite deliver the expected results. That aside, the Moto G5S Plus remains an excellent alternative to the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.