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Moto G5S Review - Affordable Little Brother of the G5S Plus

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We like the Moto G5S Plus because of its design and robust camera features so we were hoping the G5S offers the same value but more affordable!
Moto G5S Review - Affordable Little Brother of the G5S Plus
Moto G5S review

It is one of the few phones in its price range that offers a full aluminum body and curved glass display.


Let's find out in our full review.

Display Quality

The 1080p screen
The 1080p screen

It carries the a 5.2-inch FHD IPS 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ Gorilla Glass 3 protection at 423 ppi.

It gets relatively bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight with vivid colors and good resolution. The 1080p is more than enough for the price and with the wide viewing angles, there isn't much to complain about.

The display is a 10-point multi-touch display that makes it versatile for apps and games that make use of multiple touch points at the same time. It is accurate, quick and responsive and never have we felt that it misread our taps and/or gestures.

Audio Quality

There is a single bottom firing speaker at the bottom that gets loud enough. It isn't loud enough to be audible in a noisy open environment but it is loud enough to fill a large bedroom.

It does get muffled easily when covering the speaker grill.

The audio signature has decent details and separation. The mids and highs are balanced while the bass is slightly more prominent. 

The RHA S500i however provides a better experience given that it is a third party alternative.

The sound produced is noticeably louder and is more defined with a decent sound stage  that gives a somewhat immersive experience. Like the speakers, the mids and trebles are balanced while the bass is slightly stronger.

The microphones are clean and clear that we had no problems or concerns for calls and recordings. We never had an issue or a caller comment that our voice had concerns during calls.

Battery Life

The PC Mark battery benchmark we usually used kept crashing. In our daily usage with messaging, calls, texts, YouTube streaming and web surfing, we were getting 6 to 7 hours of usage with LTE. Without LTE, it would go up to 8 to 9 hours.

Okay-ish performance!

Our daily routine of unplugging it at 8AM and get home at 8PM with 10 to 15 percent left in the battery.

It has the standard battery saving modes where it lowers performance and background tasks to improve longevity. It includes a regular power saving mode that will darken the screen and disconnect you to WiFi, data or Bluetooth and smart-saving that consumes less power.

Charging time is under 2 hours.

Camera

Single cam
Single cam

The 16MP f/2.0 w/ PDAF and dual tone LED flash at the back is a decent daylight and lowlight shooter.
Manual mode
Manual mode

The camera UI of Moto has changed slightly with the camera, video and slow motion now easily accessible by swiping up or down to each mode. The shutter button, switch camera button and preview are on the bottom while the HDR, flash, timer and auto/manual mode is on top.

In the manual mode you can adjust focus, white balance, exposure compensation, shutter speed and ISO. Shutter speed can go from 1/4000th of a second to 1/2 a second while the ISO can go from 100 to 3200.

The autofocus struggles in very dark situations. The images in day light are good, sometimes spectacular. The colors are vivid and sharp enough with decent contrast.

In low light, grain kicks-in and it reduces the sharpness of the images. There is some minor magenta color cast but the images are good enough to be usable. It also tends to over expose light sources in low light. The sharpness, colors and contrast remain decent compared to the competition.

The dual tone LED flash is there for the main camera if you need it. It is strong enough to illuminate any subject within 5 feet.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight
Close-up
Close-up
Indoor
Indoor
Lowlight
Lowlight

On the other hand, it carries the secondary camera is a 5MP f/2.0 w/ LED flash. 

The modes are the video, camera, and slow motion. YES, selfie slow motion!

It has manual mode for selfie too! It has the same customizable settings (like the ISO, shutter speed, etc) like the rear camera.

There is an 8 level beauty mode. it works from level 0 to 8 and can be turned off. We prefer it turned off or up to level 2 otherwise the images become cartoonish.

The lowlight images are good. There is some noticeably more grain than the rear camera but it still retains good sharpness, vivid colors and decent contrast.

Both the lowlight and daylight selfies tend to be on the warmer side so it can be a good thing or bad thing depending on your preference.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

Both selfie and rear cameras can take up to 1080p 30fps with LED torch while recording video but only the rear camera has stabilization and HDR video. 

You can use tap to focus and adjust exposure compensation. There is no face detection on both sides as well.

The footage from the 1080p 30fps rear camera is sharp with minimal noise. The color is accurate and the contrast is good. We do wish it had a 1080p 60fps though. We do like that the HDR mode makes the dynamic range even better as well but trades sharpness by a noticeable margin.

The video on the selfie camera is sharp but grainy especially in low light but because of the great sharpness/resolution, the video is good enough. The colors are accurate but not vivid and the contrast is decent.

The slow motion is there but as we said before, it becomes really grainy and honestly, like the Samsung Galaxy S9, it is kind of gimmicky.

Performance

Okay performance!

It is powered by the 1.4GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with Adreno 505 GPU plus 3GB of RAM. From specs alone and in our actual usage, it confirms that this phone can handle everyday tasks like messaging, e-mail, web surfing, texting, calling with less hitch.
PUBG smooth on low
PUBG smooth on low

In games, it can run PUBG smoothly on low and don't expect the graphics to be top-tier. It also gets warm quickly but never hot enough to ruin the handheld experience.
Near stock Moto skin
Near stock Moto skin

It is equipped with Moto's own version of Android 7.1 Nougat with added Moto software tweaks that make it easier to interact with your phone that we've seen in older Moto Phones.

The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate. We've never had an instance where it misread our registered finger. There is no Face Unlock.

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. The LTE drains the battery quickly though. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that works well with out a concern.

Pros - Solid build quality, camera is decent for the price, near stock Android
Cons - Gets warm with intensive tasks with LTE, battery is average

Verdict

The Moto G5S is a decent mid-range phone with solid build quality and great near stock Android experience that takes good pictures for its price point.

It isn't perfect though and it gets warm when under intensive tasks coupled with LTE. The battery is average and falls short under a long day of LTE use.

So if you are looking for a good mid-range phone that is fast reliable, and you do not need LTE all of the time, the G5S may be for you.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.75
Camera - 4
Performance - 3.75
Average - 3.95/5
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