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Motorola Moto G5s Plus Review: Mid-Range Power Shooter

by Duey Guison  October 18, 2017

We review the Motorola Moto G5s Plus!

 

Dual-camera phones are slowly becoming the norm lately, and it is not surprising for brands to follow suit. For Motorola, this resulted to releasing three dual-camera smartphones: The Moto Z2 Force, the Moto X4, and the Moto G5s Plus.

As of this writing, the Philippines only gets the Moto G5s Plus, and its quite interesting: aside from using stock Android, the Moto G5s Plus does the dual-cam approach differently: It uses an RGB + Monochrome setup, both being 13-megapixel with a f/2.0 aperture.  

Also interesting is its price: At Php 14990, the Moto G5s Plus is one of the most affordable dual-camera smartphones that uses a RGB + Monochrome setup. For a bit of context: Most dual-camera smartphones under the 10k-15k category are either primary camera + depth camera setup (like in Huawei’s Gr5 2017) or primary camera + wide angle (like in ASUS’ ZenFone 4 Max). Add to the fact it uses the same megapixel resolution and aperture for both sensors, the Moto G5s Plus is an interesting mid-range offering for those who are serious about their photography. But does it live up to expectations? Let’s take a quick look at its specs:

 

Motorola Moto G5s Plus Spec Sheet

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5-inch Full HD IPS display, Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of expandable storage
  • Dual 13-megapixel f/2.0 rear cameras with AF and dual LED flash
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, fingerprint reader, water-repellent coating
  • 3000mAh battery with TurboPower
  • Android Nougat

 

Design: Moto Z2 Force, is that you?

Like what we pointed out in our quick review, the Moto G5s Plus does look like its more expensive sibling. From the rear camera placement to the unibody layout, it’s easy to mistake the Moto G5s Plus as a Moto Z2 Force on first impression. The main difference would be the absence of ports for Moto Mods on the Moto G5s Plus. Other than that, the Moto G5s Plus uses an aluminum unibody shell, which is the same with its predecessor, the Moto G5 Plus.

On the rear, you have a microphone on top of the camera unit, and the Motorola logo below it. The camera unit houses two 13-megapixel camera, one being RGB, and the other being Monochrome. Right below the cameras, you have a dual-tone LED flash. Above it, you have a depth sensor, which is crucial for the Moto G5s Plus’ Depth Mode.

 

For the front, you have a crisp and clear 5.5-inch Full HD display, along with an 8-megapixel camera and LED flash on top of the screen. Below the screen, you have your lone button: Aside from being a fingerprint scanner, the Moto G5s Plus’ home button has multiple functions, just like its predecessor. In spite of its size and multi-touch capabilities, it is a smooth performer, and we did not have any difficulties using it.

The button and port layouts are typical: On the left, you have your hybrid SIM Tray. On the right, you have your power and home buttons. The headphone jack can be found on the top, and you have your MicroUSB port, speaker, and another microphone at the bottom.

Great Display

While you don’t get a fancy 18:9 display, the Moto G5s Plus sticks to what works with its 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display. It’s a great screen that renders colors nicely and is a pleasure to use especially while playing games or watching Full HD videos.  To keep things protected, Motorola used Gorilla Glass 3 for the Moto G5s Plus’ screen. It is not as smudge-prone compared to other smartphones we’ve handled in the past, so you don’t need to be cleaning the Moto G5s Plus often, which is a nice thing.

 

Impressive mid-range performance

Sporting the user-favorite Snapdragon 625 processor, along with 4GB of RAM, the Moto G5s Plus is a smooth and powerful performer. With a score of 65325 on Antutu, the Moto G5s Plus joins the number of phones that make people be a fan of the Snapdragon 625: It is powerful, yet not as expensive as its Snapdragon 800-series siblings. Multi-tasking and gaming on the Moto G5s Plus is a breeze, and our sessions of Playing Asphalt 8, NBA 2k17, and Marvel Future Fight at high settings support the claim. Check out the performance data we have gathered using GameBench:

With NBA 2K17, the Moto G5s Plus manages to reach a median FPS of 56.

 

Running Asphalt 8 is a breeze on the Moto G5s Plus.

 

Marvel Future Fight has multiple elements going on in-between games, and most phones struggle to render all of them at once. On the Moto G5s Plus, it managed to do a commendable median FPS of 32.

Vanilla Android is the best Android

Among the main selling points of the Moto G5s Plus is its use of an unadulterated version of Android Nougat. It keeps everything stock as much as possible. In fact, the launcher of the Moto G5s Plus is similar to the launcher used by the Google Pixel. Want the Pixel 2 launcher instead? It is possible on the Moto G5s Plus, and it looks amazing as well.

Read: How to port the Pixel 2 Launcher to your Non-Pixel Android Smartphone

Using a UI similar to Google’s Pixel, you get your app drawer by swiping up. Accessing the app drawer, all apps are neatly laid out in a 5 column array, with the topmost portion housing your frequently-used apps and an app search bar.

As much as we love its vanilla Android OS, there are a few strange quirks: For one, you don’t have an option to show battery percentage on the status bar. We don’t know why Motorola removed this, but we presume that it’s because its Clock home screen and screensaver widget have a visual indicator (and percentage indicator for the screensaver) of how much battery you have left. Still, we do hope Motorola brings back the battery percentage option should the be upgrading the Moto G5s Plus to Android Oreo in the future.

Nonetheless, with how clean (and free of bloatware) the Moto G5s Plus is, this mid-range smartphone is probably the next best thing to an Android One smartphone, which is not available locally.

 

Battery is efficient, despite its size

People were scratching their heads upon knowing that the Moto G5s Plus comes with a 3000mAh battery. Most consider it undersized, given that it has a 5.5-inch Full HD display. As to Motorola’s claims that the Moto G5s Plus can last a day, their advertising is fairly accurate: On PCMark’s battery test, the Moto G5s scored 9 hours and 8 minutes of battery life—which is pretty impressive considering the battery size.

As for real-world tests, it is roughly the same as what we got from PCMark: We used the Moto G5s Plus on LTE and WiFi the whole day, playing games once in a while and answering emails in between while browsing through our usual social media pages. Just to give you a perspective, we fully charged the Moto G5s Plus at 8AM (approximate time when people usually start their day), and by 8PM, the Moto G5s has around 5% juice left, which is still enough for around 30 minutes to an hour of use before the battery gets fully drained.

Since it uses a Snapdragon 625 processor, the Moto G5s Plus has support for quick charging with Motorola / Lenovo’s TurboPower charging tech. You can juice up the phone from 5% to full charge in a little under two hours using the supplied TurboPower charger.

Cameras can still be optimized further

We have talked about the RGB+Monochrome dual camera setup of the Moto G5s Plus in our first shots article, and we were quite impressed at what it can do, especially when you put that Depth Mode (and Depth Editor) to good use. Since we got hold of the unit, Motorola issued two software updates for the Moto G5s Plus’ camera (it is called camera tuner on the Google Play store), so there were a few improvements since then.

Here are the photos taken after the software update:

Among some of the improvements we noticed since the two updates are improved detail rendition on the highlights, and better contrast in photos. In addition, focus speed has improved a bit; however, shutter lag remains noticeable in spite of the software updates. We think that this is a software-related issue, so we expect Motorola to issue updates to improve the Moto G5s Plus’ camera speed in the future.

Another point for improvement in the Moto G5s Plus’ camera is its lackluster Professional mode: Aside from not having support for *.DNG files, shutter speed is limited to 1/4 seconds. We hope Motorola also updates this to support longer shutter speeds in the near future as well but other than that, the Moto G5s Plus’ camera is a definite upgrade from its predecessor and is quite impressive for its price range.

 

Motorola-exclusive functions are a sweet touch

On top of Vanilla Android, Motorola added a few personal touches to the Moto G5s Plus with Moto Functions and Depth Editor. The former gives gestures to the G5s Plus, while the latter expands the Moto G5s Plus’ dual camera capabilities. With the Moto Functions, you get gestures for opening the camera and flashlight, along with the nifty one button nav. Motorola’s one button nav is the best Moto function, as you only use the fingerprint sensor to navigate through the phone (swipe left for apps, swipe right for back, and tap center to go back to the home screen). We wish that other brands that have front-mounted fingerprint scanners make use of Motorola’s nifty gestures.

As for the Depth Editor, the Moto G5s Plus has a couple of interesting features, which include Selective B&W and Replace background, on top of the usual Selective Focus feature. While it may sound a bit gimmicky, Selective B&W and Replace background does get the job done most of the time, in spite of being in beta. It’s tricky at first to use these two Depth Mode features, but once you get a hang of it, the Moto G5s Plus can potentially work as a pocket creative studio for budding photographers.

As it is in beta mode, we expect Motorola to issue new updates to its Depth Editor to improve the algorithm further.

 

Verdict: It’s a pretty impressive phone, but can be optimized further

For its Php 15k price, the Moto G5s Plus offers great value for money. Aside from having vanilla Android on board, its powerful-yet-efficient processor keeps the whole device running for at least a day in spite of having a smaller-than-average battery. The thought of an RGB + Monochrome dual camera setup does deliver, but concerns regarding its UI (like its shutter lag) might turn off potential users.

Since Motorola makes an effort in issuing updates to optimize the G5s Plus’ camera, concerns about its sluggish shutter should be addressed in the future. Since the two software updates, there have been improvements with how the G5s Plus process photos, as evident with the second set of photos published in this review.

Overall, while the Moto G5s Plus’ camera is a work in progress (software-wise), it is still a value-for-money midrange phone. Should you want to experiment with your photos, or experience using pure Vanilla Android right now, the Moto G5s is a viable choice.

 

 

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    “This mid-range smartphone is probably the next best thing to an Android One smartphone, which is not available locally.” – Xiaomi A1, better option.

    just got one.. the shutter lag is real (1 second at least)… and the audio quality from the 3.5 mm is poor. so is the bottom firing speaker. it does have adoptable storage, so if you have a UHS-1 and up card, you can expand the memory. there’s no way to switch all downloads to the sd card when it’s set in portable storage mode

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