There are a plethora of choices for any kind of a smartphone buyer out there today. With manufacturers concentrating on the build quality and features across categories more than ever before, even some of the budget oriented devices have started to look almost drool-worthy.
Case in point, the Redmi Note 5 and the Moto G5S Plus. The former is a latest device from Xiaomi in the lower mid-range segment while the latter is a known performer in the same category. The Redmi Note 5 starts at Rs 9,999 which makes it cheaper than the Motorola. That is an advantage. It is only natural that the two devices are pitted against each other to see if Xiaomi has any more plus points over the G5S Plus other than the price.
WHAT DO THE SPEC SHEETS SAY?
Both the Redmi Note 5 and the Moto G5S Plus are powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of inbuilt storage. The processor is coupled with the Adreno 506 GPU. On that front, the two devices are a direct match.
The Note 5 sports a slightly bigger 5.99 inches of Full HD+ display (1080p x 2160p) compared to G5S Plus’s 5.5 inches of Full HD display (1080p x 1920p). As far as the OS is concerned, both phones are currently running the Android Nougat (with MIUI 9 in Redmi Note 5). In the case of batteries, the Redmi Note 5 has an upper hand with the humongous 4,000mAh battery whereas the Moto G5S Plus does away with a 3,000mAh unit.
The numbers above are marginally in favor of the Redmi Note 5. The phone, according to those benchmarks, shall provide better gaming as well as day-to-day performance.
However, the same numbers above are also an ideal example that the benchmarks do not necessarily translate to actual performance, as we are about to find out below.
PURE ANDROID vs CUSTOM UI
When two smartphones are so closely matched in terms of specifications and the software, it becomes a matter of curiosity to observe the performance and the level of optimization achieved in each handset.
An interesting thing about Android is, because it is open source, phone makers are free to do their own customization over the stock operating system. In the case of the Redmi Note 5, Xiaomi has bundled the stock Android Nougat with MIUI 9 and it looks and feels noticeably different from the stock OS. Not that it is heavy like Samsung’s TouchWiz, but it is clearly differentiable.
On the other hand, Motorola has gone for a completely stock (or pure) Android with some pretty useful ‘Moto Assist’ features. For example, the physical Home button (which doesn’t have a pronounced tactile feel) can be assigned the functionalities of the 3 Android function keys (Back, Home & App Switcher). So, swiping to left on the Home button performs the Back function, swiping to right brings up the App Switcher and simply tapping on the Home button takes the phone to its Home screen. Doing this removes those digital Android keys that are otherwise present on the bottom part of the display. This also leads to a more clean and complete look of everything that is present on the screen.
Which form of Android one prefers is totally a matter of personal choice. I like the look, feel and functionality of the stock Android more than any kind of customization. At the most, I would install a Launcher if I would want some extra functionality or different way of operating the OS, but then, that I can uninstall anytime I want. That is an advantage of a Launcher which doesn’t come with a company’s custom UI.
REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE COMPARISON – including GAMING
Comparing the two devices – Redmi Note 5 and Moto G5S Plus – brought forth more or less expected results along with some interesting observations.
Daily Usage – how differently would the two phones, with closely matched specifications, really perform? As it turned out, the difference in performance is noticeable enough especially over a period of a few days as it gives enough time and exposure towards realizing the true performance potential of a device.
When it comes to day-to-day tasking like making calls, exchanging messages through native and downloaded apps, listening music, watching a few videos, clicking pictures, spending time on social media and internet, the Moto G5S Plus provides a noticeably smoother experience. There are virtually no lags experienced with usual operation in the G5S Plus. This experience continues when switching between multiple apps running in the background.
It is, quite clearly, one of the best performing handsets in its price range if not the best. We would say that the Xiaomi Mi A1 would be an equal match with respect to daily use experience, but the same cannot be concluded for the Redmi Note 5.
Here, we would like to highlight the aspect of optimization between the hardware and the software. Motorola has managed to provide an almost seamless teamwork between the hardware and the software, and we are sure that the pure Android is a key factor in that regard. Xiaomi, on the other side, hasn’t been able to achieve that level of smoothness in its operation and that is largely due to its custom UI – MIUI. Xiaomi simply needs to put more effort into polishing its customized user interface.
Gaming – when it comes to gaming, things become more balanced between the two handsets. While the G5S Plus was quite clearly ahead of the Note 5 in normal functionality, gaming keeps the two handsets at an equal level mostly.
While maximum handsets (baring the most cheapest smartphones) would run any simple game like the Subway Surfer absolutely fine, the real test is done when a graphic-heavy game like the Asphalt 8 (car racing) is brought into action. Neither handset was satisfactory playing such a game. While there was no instance of either handset going completely unresponsive, there were regular stutters or momentary lags during gameplay as if the handset was struggling to cope with the framerate requirement. These lags were quite pronounced during various in-game menus and navigating between them. Both handsets displayed almost equal levels of jittery gaming experience. As for the battery consumption, the G5S Plus was a little bit more efficient as it used 8% of battery compared to Note 5’s 10% drop.
Also, playing such a heavy game also leads to rising temperatures quite quickly as both devices became noticeably warm in about 15 minutes of gameplay. However, it never became worrisome.
CONCLUSION – WHICH ONE TO PICK?
Making a decision between the two smartphones is not really difficult unless the budget is really tight and one cannot consider spending couple of thousand rupees more. The Moto G5S Plus is a better device than the Redmi Note 5. Not just because I personally prefer pure Android, but also because in daily usage, the G5S Plus gives out a consistently smooth performance something which the Note 5 is unable to match. As far as gaming is concerned, both are almost on par so the Redmi Note 5 does not really gain any advantage in this aspect either. Anyways, neither handset is good for heavy gaming.
Secondly, the Moto G5S Plus is better built and feels better to hold. Lastly, being a mid-range Motorola device (and running pure Android) means it is bound to receive faster updates compared to the Redmi Note 5. The Moto G5S Plus can be had at around Rs 14,500 (give or take couple of hundreds) for the 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage variant while the Redmi Note 5 is priced at Rs 11,999 for similar specifications. Even with a difference of Rs 2,500 in favor of the Redmi Note 5, we would say that the Moto G5S Plus is a better choice and worth the extra money.