Motorola put together a value smartphone that can handle day-to-day usage without breaking the bank.
WINNER: Motorola Moto G5S Plus
2017 was the year of the "Value" smartphone or Budget Smartphone, with many of the flagships pushing the price of a smartphone closer to the $1,000 mark, many smartphone makers had to make what would normally be a mid-range smartphone, even better. Of course, the Moto G lineup has really dominated this space in the past few years, and Motorola did it again with the Moto G5S Plus. This value smartphone from Motorola is pretty impressive and is actually a mid-year upgrade from the Moto G5 Plus that was announced in the first half of 2017. The Moto G5S Plus really stands out for its build quality, it's one of the few smartphones in this price range that has an all-aluminum build, of course, the Honor 7X does also have one, but they are some of the only ones, especially at this price point. The Moto G5S Plus does have that camera bump that most phones have embraced at this point, but that is for good reason. Motorola has dual 13-megapixel sensors here.
Dual-cameras became a big deal in 2017, after a few manufacturers had tried it in previous years and had varying degrees of success. Motorola debuted its dual-camera setup on the Moto Z2 Force during the summer, and a short while later, it debuted it on a slightly cheaper device, the Moto G5S Plus. Now every manufacturer uses these cameras differently, some use a telephoto lens for better zooming capabilities, some use a lower-megapixel secondary sensor for grabbing background data and some use the second as a monochrome sensor, but Motorola decided to stick with two 13-megapixel sensors here that are virtually identical. This allows one to grab more data to use in post-processing. And by doing this, it allows you to achieve a better bokeh effect if you are taking a macro or a portrait shot. It also allows you to get a clearer shot when shooting in low-light conditions. The Moto G5S Plus also has unparalleled battery life, something else that the Moto G line has been known for since it debuted in 2013.
Of course, you can't talk about the Moto G5S Plus without talking about the software experience. This is something that the Moto G line has also done well since its inception, which is offering a great software experience. Motorola offers up what is basically plain old stock Android, and adds on some Motorola features on top to better the experience. Things like Moto Display, and Moto Actions, which allow you to double-twist the device to activate the camera. This allows Motorola to use lower-end internals and still provide a great experience, which keeps the price low for consumers. The Moto G5S Plus also benefits from having stock Android by getting faster updates, better performance, and superior battery life. Most importantly, and this might be the biggest feature of the Moto G5S Plus, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack. A feature that many smartphones that cost two, three even four times as much as the Moto G5S Plus, are getting rid of.
Runner-up: Honor 7X
While Honor calls the Honor 7X the "Best Budget Smartphone of 2018", we're giving it runner-up for the "Best Value Android Smartphone" in 2017, since it was released in December of 2017, it does have a leg up on the competition, being able to utilize the latest specs and software. And it does that pretty well. The biggest selling point besides the price (just $199, unlocked), is the rear camera. Now unlike the Moto G5S Plus, the Honor 7X actually sports a 16-megapixel sensor and then a 2-megapixel sensor. That secondary sensor is really only used for gathering depth information, which helps the smartphone output even clearer images, and allows you to open up the aperture all the way to f/0.95 for even blurrier backgrounds (which in this case, is a good thing). A wider aperture (which is a lower number), allows you to get a more blurry background, also known as "bokeh", and the camera does do up to f/2.0 naturally, the rest is done via software. The Honor 7X is also the first smartphone in this price range to sport a 18:9 display. It's still full HD, but a bit more pixels, with a resolution of 2160x1080, which does lead to good battery life, thanks to the 3340mAh battery that is inside here.
Honor 7X Should be on Amazon on Dec 15th
Honorable Mention: OnePlus 5T
The OnePlus 5T is the most expensive value smartphone here, which is why we are giving it an honorable mention. That's not because this is a bad smartphone, that's definitely not the case, it is a great value device. If you want a smartphone that will stand toe-to-toe with the Samsung, LG, and Apple's phones in the next few years, the OnePlus 5T is where to go, and still under $500. The OnePlus 5T isn't much of an upgrade over the OnePlus 5, in fact the biggest change here is the display going to a 18:9 aspect ratio and the fingerprint sensor moving to the back of the device. The OnePlus 5T has some monster specs, including a 6-inch full HD+ display, a Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage. The OnePlus 5T also has a large 3300mAh battery inside. Not to mention the fact that its software is similar to stock Android, though not as similar as what the Moto G5S Plus has, seeing as Oxygen OS does make quite a few more changes to the operating system on the OnePlus 5T. But you are getting a pretty impressive smartphone on both the software and hardware front. There's also a dual-camera setup here. Sporting a 16-megapixel and a 20-megapixel camera, and the OnePlus 5T will switch between them depending on the lighting in the room. So a low-light situation will force the OnePlus 5T to move to the 20-megapixel sensor and provide a better looking image.