Motorola Moto G5S Plus Review: Excellent mid-range value

Alex Kidman 1 November 2017 NEWS

Motorola's Moto G5S Plus hits the sweet spot between price, style and features, making it an excellent phone for cash-strapped buyers.

Quick Verdict
With a solid metal body design, clean Android interface and robust battery performance, the Motorola G5S Plus poses a significant challenge to every other mid-range handset on the market today.

Buy now

The Good

  • Great design for a budget phone
  • Good battery life
  • Dual lens camera
  • Quick fingerprint sensor

The Bad

  • Middling app performance
  • Focus effects only on dual lens
  • Camera can be slow

Motorola has launched a lot of phones in 2017. It doesn't feel like it was all that long ago that the Lenovo subsidiary was launching the Motorola Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, and already we're at a stage where they're being superseded by new models.

As the name suggests, the Motorola G5S Plus is an upgrade from the existing G5 Plus that's been on sale in Australia for a few months now. However, unlike some point upgrades, Motorola's actually done quite a bit of work to differentiate the G5S Plus from its predecessor.

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Design

The difference is immediately apparent when you take the Motorola Moto G5S Plus out of the box. Motorola has shifted from plastic bodies on its budget G line phones to full metal, and while that's no style revelation in the premium space, it's quite rare for lower-cost phones.

You could very easily fool folks into thinking that the Moto G5S Plus is a more expensive handset than it actually is simply from the build quality alone, which is superb. I don't generally like gold handsets (call it a quirk if you must) but the Moto G5S Plus' take on gold is one that's undeniably eye-catching.

The standard Motorola rounded edges style is very much present here, so you can tell it's part of the same design family as the Moto E4 or Moto X4 phones. It's just that with the Moto G5S Plus, it's scaled up somewhat.

That's because the Motorola Moto G5S Plus differentiates itself from its predecessor with a jump in screen size. Where the G5 Plus had a 5.2 inch display, the G5S Plus features a 5.5 inch Full HD display. There's no water resistance at play, although like predecessors, it features a water repellant coating that should handle a little light rain.

The Motorola Moto G5S Plus measures in at 153.5 x 76.2 x 8 mm with a carrying weight of 168 grams. While top and bottom bezels are very much in effect, the minimal side bezels mean that it's a pleasant phone to hold and use for most tasks.

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Camera

Dual lens cameras used to be the sole province of premium handsets, but we're seeing more and more devices in the budget and mid-range space incorporate multiple lenses. In the case of the Motorola Moto G5S Plus, it features dual 13MP rear sensors, along with a front-facing 8MP selfie camera.

Motorola's approach to that dual camera is one that we're fast becoming familiar with in the budget phone space because it's broadly very similar to that found on the four-camera-toting Huawei Nova 2i, in that you don't actually access each lens separately. Instead, they're combined for portrait-style focus effects, with a slider to modify focus intensity. It's a nice enough tool to have for highlighting specific parts of your photo, but it's also a definite feature gap away from dual lens cameras that feature different angle or colour effects.

The Motorola Moto G5S Plus' camera performance was generally good, but never exactly great. The largest problem I had with it while testing was a simple speed issue. It's not terribly fast to focus, nor is it particularly swift to process photos once taken. Again, that's somewhat to be expected on a phone at this kind of price point, and I've certainly tested worse cameras. Don't expect anything super-sharp or super-fast, and you'll do fine. Here are some sample shots from the Motorola Moto G5S Plus:

MotoG5SPlus_SamplePhoto5_738MotoG5SPlus_SamplePhoto4_738MotoG5SPlus_SamplePhoto3_738MotoG5SPlus_SamplePhoto2_738MotoG5SPlus_SamplePhoto1_738

Performance

How do you produce a phone at a mid-range price with a larger display and more cameras than the previous model? If you're Motorola, you do that by throwing in the same essential beating heart as the last model, in the form of the somewhat ageing Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC. Motorola pairs this with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM, depending on where you source it from.

The results in a benchmark sense are relatively predictable. Here's how the Motorola Moto G5S Plus compares against similarly priced competitors using Geekbench 4's CPU test:

Handset Geekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
OnePlus 5 1976 6506
Oppo R11 1616 5895
Motorola G5S Plus 843 4288
Moto G5 Plus 842 4180
Motorola X4 865 4087
Samsung Galaxy A7 771 3998
Huawei Nova 2i 918 3331
Nokia 5 662 2833
Nokia 6 664 2832
Oppo A57 662 2810
LG Q6 536 2005

Here's how it compares using 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited test:

Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
OnePlus 5 39497
Oppo R11 24525
Motorola X4 16763
Moto G5 Plus 13753
Samsung Galaxy A7 13629
Motorola G5S Plus 13163
Huawei Nova 2i 10308
Oppo A57 9516
Nokia 5 9483
Nokia 6 9435
LG Q6 7779

It is worth noting that we tested with the 4GB variant of the Motorola Moto G5S Plus, as sold directly by Motorola in Australia on its website. Pick up a G5S Plus in a store and you'll pay a little less, but you'll also only get 3GB of onboard storage to play with as well. As a result, expect those performance figures to dip a little.

As always, benchmarks are only part of the story, especially because of the way that Motorola treats Android on the vast majority of devices. Simply put, it doesn't do much at all to pure Android beyond a few simple key gestures and tiny software tweaks that you might not even notice if they weren't actively pointed out to you.

If you miss the days of affordable clean Android Nexus devices, I reckon Motorola's Moto approach might just be your next best thing. The Moto G5S Plus certainly isn't a powerhouse phone, but it's definitely one that will meet the power needs of its mid-range buying audience.

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Battery

Another aspect of the Motorola Moto G5S Plus' design that it owes to its predecessor is its charging mechanism, via the older micro USB standard. That feels a little dated, although it's really only an annoyance if you forget and try to plug the Moto G5S Plus in the "wrong" way.

Motorola puts a 3,000mAh battery in the Motorola Moto G5S Plus, which is a solid quantity of power to match up with what is, after all, a low power processor. Pitted against that is the larger display of the Motorola Moto G5S Plus, so I was keen to see how it would perform. Using Geekbench 3's older battery test, here's how the Motorola Moto G5S Plus compared:

Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score
Motorola X4 12:42:00 7515
Samsung Galaxy A7 12:40:30 7603
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 11:15:40 6756
Motorola GS5 Plus 11:08:40 6686
Huawei Nova 2i 9:37:10 5771
OnePlus 5 9:33:30 5735
LG Q6 8:44:40 3498
Nokia 5 8:42:30 5044
Nokia 6 8:19:10 4833
Oppo R11 7:52:30 4725

The Motorola Moto G5S Plus isn't the king of the mid-range hill when it comes to battery life, and there's clearly a small price to pay for that larger screen relative to the G5 Plus. That being said, single day battery life is definitely feasible, and my own testing backs this up.

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Verdict

You're utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to mid-range phones in 2017, with many different value approaches. The Motorola Moto G5S Plus stands out for its robust physical design and good battery life performance, as well as the lowest cost dual lens camera we've seen on a mid-range phone to date. That makes it a very good option for those who want to buy a phone outright.

However, you do have choices. For the performance-centric, it's impossible to overlook the OnePlus 5, but equally tough to actually source one in Australia right now. Motorola's own Moto X4 is a little more pricey but even more nicely built, and Oppo's R11 has more photographic flexibility, as does LG's Q6.

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Motorola Moto G5S Plus: What the other reviewers say

Site Comment Score
The Verge "The G5S Plus probably isn’t the budget king for most people if your main priority is saving a bit of money." 7.5/10
TechRadar "The Moto G5S Plus is one of the best big screen budget phones around." 4.5/5

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Pricing and availability

The Motorola Moto G5S Plus is available directly from Motorola's website for $459 with 4GB of RAM onboard. It's also available via direct retail from JB Hi-Fi for $429, but that model ships with only 3GB of onboard RAM.

Buy the Motorola Moto G5S Plus

Buy the Motorola Moto G5S Plus from Amazon AU

The Motorola Moto G5S Plus strikes a compelling balance between price and performance, making it one of the best mid-range smartphones currently available. Buy it now from Amazon Australia.

View details

Motorola has had some phones offered through carriers in the past, but it has stated to finder.com.au that there are no plans to offer any of the G-series phones through telcos in Australia at the current time. That means if you do want the Motorola Moto G5S Plus, you're going to have to buy it outright.

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Specifications

Product Name
Motorola Moto G5S Plus
Display
5.5in
Resolution
1080 x 1920 pixels
ppi
401ppi
Software
Android 7.1
Storage
32GB
RAM
4GB
Battery
3000mAh
Front camera
8MP
Rear camera
Dual 13MP
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Size
153.5 x 76.2 x 8 mmmm
Weight
168g

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