Moto G5S Plus review: one of the best budget Android smartphones you can buy

The excellent, affordable Moto gets a full metal jacket and a bigger screen to boot

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T3 Verdict

The Moto G5S Plus is superb value for money. It delivers serious bang for not many bucks.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Really good value

  • +

    Solid metal case

Reasons to avoid

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    Camera is slow

The Moto G5S Plus is the replacement for the same firm’s G5 Plus, and while the RRP is slightly more expensive at £259 (AU$430, US$340) we’re already seeing heavy discounting. That makes it a serious contender among affordable Androids: it’s a big-screen phone with a big specification for surprisingly little money. Just make sure you buy the right one: the differences between the G5S Plus and the G5 Plus aren’t dramatic, and many places sell both models. Its main competitor is the Honor 9, which we called “the bargain of the decade”.

Moto G5S Plus review: design

We’ve always liked Moto’s core design, which is functional rather than flashy but perfectly pleasant to look at. This time around it’s metal, not plastic, and it feels and looks much more premium than its predecessor’s plastic-with-a-bit-of-metal did. On the back you’ll see the new dual camera, and of course you’ll notice the bigger screen. It’s up 0.3 inches to 5.5 inches. 

We think this is the best-looking Moto yet.

Moto G5S Plus review: features and usability

Moto G5S Plus review

NFC is back – it was dropped from the G5 – and while there’s no USB-C connector you do get fast charging. It should be splash-proof too, although it isn’t IP67/68 rated. The screen isn’t UHD but at 1080p it’s hardly horrible to look at either, and while it’s not as vivid as an OLED display the IPS LCD delivers good colour reproduction.

Moto doesn’t mess around with Android too much, and the version here is a largely untouched Nougat, aka Android 7.1.1. The main difference is that Moto goes with the same interface as Pixel phones instead of the usual Android, so instead of tapping an icon you need to swipe up to get the apps menu. In a nice touch you can karate-chop the phone to turn on the torch or twist it to take a photo. You can also use gestures to put the phone into silent mode or reject incoming calls. If you find you’re triggering them by accident you can turn them off.

Moto G5S Plus review: performance

The Moto G5S Plus isn’t going to go toe-to-toe with a Samsung Galaxy S9, but then the Samsung is three times the price. The difference isn’t as dramatic as you might expect. The Moto has a Snapdragon 625 with a respectable 3GB of RAM and it feels perfectly nippy in everyday use. It’s only if you really start to hammer it that you’ll notice any slowdown. The exception to that is the camera, which takes decent enough photos and 4K video but feels sluggish and laggy compared to other, pricier Androids, and the fingerprint scanner, which is slow to bring the phone out of standby. The battery is a solid 3,000mAh that copes with normal days quite happily.

Lenovo promises an Android 8.0 Oreo upgrade at some point, which may improve performance: it’s a more optimised Android and runs very quickly on other devices.

As a budget media or gaming phone, it’s perfectly decent without any major frame rate issues. The big screen helps, and while the speaker is mono it’s surprisingly loud and boomy for its size. There’s also an FM radio. Ask your dad.

Moto G5S Plus review: verdict

Moto G5S Plus review

Don’t pay the RRP: the Moto G5S Plus is widely available at discounted prices, which makes it superb value for money and a better bet than the similarly named but less premium-feeling G5 Plus. It’s not one for the spec sheet willy wavers but it delivers solid performance and a decent screen. Our only real niggle is the laggy camera. The Honor 9 may be slightly better, especially for games, but it’s also a lot more expensive.