In the smartphone world, the mid-range segment is the fastest growing segment right now. But this growth doesn’t come easy. For, along with being the fastest growing, the sub Rs. 15,000 segment is definitely one of the most competitive price bands out there. And the two most prominent contenders in this fight are Xiaomi and Moto (Lenovo). These two brands are now pretty much synonymous with this price bracket and constantly fight for the number one place on the charts. And today we are looking at another battle between these two – that between the latest phones from these two brands. These two smartphones are priced at almost exactly the same price and also have a lot in common. That said, they are about as friendly as a bull and a matador. Yes, we are talking about the Xioami Mi A1 and the Moto G5s Plus (4 GB / 64 GB).
Both the smartphones have similar prices, the same processor, dual cameras and even the same UI. With so many similarities, which one has that something special which will make it the king of the mid-segment kingdom?
They look different, thank God!
We think it is time we stopped complaining about the similarity of design of smartphones falling in this price range. For some time now, companies have been pleasantly surprising us by venturing beyond the oft-repeated (and safe) design. This is one such case, or rather two. Because both Moto G5s Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1 do not look like they belong in this segment. Both the phones are pretty distinct, and both have a very premium look to them.
We have the Moto G5s Plus in grey color while the Mi A1 is in gold. They are both chalk and cheese in terms of looks. That said, neither is disappointing. Both the devices come with a 5.5-inch full HD screen which dominates the front. When it comes to brightness, we think the A1 takes it home although the difference is not much. In the era of bezel-less displays, both the devices have pretty thick bezels around their screens, but the Xiaomi A1 has bigger bezels. This not only makes it a bigger device in terms of sheer size but also takes some points away from its appearance.
But it is not the front that wins the day. We turned the two devices around, and the backs definitely stand out in both cases. We all know that Moto phones have been pretty distinct in terms of looks and there is hardly any chance that a Moto device would be mistaken for any other. The circular protruding camera unit, with LED flash, has pretty much become a Moto stamp. And because it is the special edition Moto, the famous Moto dimple is also back on the device.
All that said, we think even Xiaomi has stirred the design pot well and has brought out something different. Instead of going with the same antenna band on top, antenna band on the bottom, dual camera in the corner with the flash which seems to be the “go to” design for the phones in this segment, Xiaomi has definitely made the A1 more premium. The dual cameras are accented with a golden metallic ring, and the antenna bands on the edges instantly reminded us of the gold version of the OnePlus 5 – and we think that is a very good thing as OnePlus 5 is definitely one of the finest looking devices. And is much more expensive.
Both the devices are distinct, and their designs will definitely make you feel like you are holding a premium phone, but we prefer the Moto G5s Plus over the Xiaomi A1 in terms of overall look and feel. The back of the G5s Plus is more curvy, fits in better, and we cannot ignore the front, which is why this round goes to the Moto G5s Plus.
Winner: Moto G5s Plus
Same specs, very different performance
In terms of sheer numbers, both Moto G5s Plus and Xiaomi A1 are sailors of the same ship. Both the devices sport 5.5-inch full HD displays, run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 paired with 4 GB RAM, and have 64 GB internal storage, which can be expanded using a memory card (up to 256 GB in the case of the G5s Plus and 128 GB in the case of the Mi A1). Finally, both run on stock Android (Nougat).
These two devices are running on the platform, have the same processor with exactly the same RAM, so many might say that these two phones should perform equally well, but unfortunately, this was not really the case. The two smartphones share the same spec sheet, but there is a huge difference in terms of performance.
The Mi A1 did well in casual gaming, but as we moved to high-end gaming, we witnessed lags and stutters, but the main problem was how the device behaved while we used it for our daily tasks. We faced quite a few lags, and the transition from one screen to another seemed slow, and sometimes the screen even froze. Some basic texting and social media apps like WhatsApp and Facebook crashed for no apparent reasons at times which was really disappointing.
The Moto G5s Plus not only did well in the casual gaming zone but we did not face any major lags while playing high-end games like Asphalt Xtreme or NFS No Limits. The frames did drop once in a while, but this did not take away much from the experience. The same story continued in the multitasking department as well. The phone was consistent and performed well. The only place where we thought the G5s Plus was a little behind the Mi A1 was in taking and processing images in the depth enabled mode. Both the phones have a small lag where the screen goes black when you open the camera app, but the G5s Plus does take a couple of seconds more even to process the images at times.
All said and done; we think the Moto G5s Plus has a definite upper hand in terms of performance. It even has a slightly higher score on the Antutu Benchmark, although we do not advocate following benchmark scores blindly.
Winner: Moto Gs Plus
The dual camera duel
The camera is one of the major USPs of the two devices. Both come with dual primary cameras but have different set-ups. The Moto G5s Plus comes with the 13-megapixel dual camera where one is an RGB sensor, and other is a monochrome sensor, whereas the Mi A1 comes with a 12-megapixel dual camera with PDAF where one is a standard lens, and the other is a telephoto lens, offering you 2x optical zoom.
This was a very close call (check our detailed camera comparison). Both the devices performed well, but one of the two just had the edge over the other. The Moto G5s Plus scored well in the detail section but lacked in terms of colors as the colors reproduced by the sensors were leaning more towards being saturated. The case was a little different in the A1’s story. The A1 reproduced colors beautifully and had great detail as well, but it just was a step or two behind in details as compared to the G5s Plus. The Moto G5s Plus managed to take better pictures in low light as compared to the A1. There was noise in pictures taken by both the smartphones, but the pictures produced by G5s Plus had a bit more detail.
Moving on to one of the most hyped bits, the bokeh mode; the Moto G5s Plus has the depth enabled feature while the Xiaomi A1 has the stereo mode and even tilt-shift (software based) for it. In this department, the A1 beat the Moto G5s Plus. Not only was the A1 more snappy, but it also created pictures with deeper and sharper bokeh while the G5s Plus’s bokeh seemed inconsistent in many cases.
While both the phones run on Stock Android, the camera app of the two devices is quite different. The Xiaomi A1 comes laden with different features and is pretty much the camera app that you find in most Xiaomi devices. There are a number of modes and filters to choose from. On the other hand, the Moto G5s Plus has a pretty basic camera app with only four modes and a few settings to play around with, although there is a special depth-enabled mode and editor for those bokeh shots.
In this battle, we prefer the Mi A1 over the Moto G5s Plus. The A1 produces better color, the bokeh mode is better on this device, and the detailing is not that bad either. And the Mi camera app is definitely a cherry on top.
Winner: Mi A1
How long…battery blues
It has been a neck to neck competition so far, and the story continues in this segment as well. The Moto G5s Plus comes with a 3000 mAh battery while the Mi A1 comes with a 3080 mAh battery. This may come as a disappointment to Xiaomi fans because Xiaomi generally offers bigger batteries in phones at lower prices but this does not mean that the phone does poorly in the battery department. The Moto G5s Plus can easily last for 10-12 hours under heavy usage and can see 24 hours if used moderately. The Moto G5s Plus comes with turbocharger which can give you a couple hours of battery life in around 15-20 minutes and comes with micro USB port. However, the Mi A1 has proved to be better in this regard and can easily see a day of heavy usage and can last for over a day easily under moderate usage. It also comes with fast charging and has a USB Type C port, although with no support for fast charging.
Winner: Mi A1
U(and)I in this stock Android world…
When it comes to UI, the world knows which route is Moto going to take but this time Xiaomi surprised the world by choosing stock Android over MIUI. Both devices are running on Stock Android (the A1 on 7.1.2 while the G5s Plus runs on 7.1.1) and while the experience remains largely the same, we do not think stock Android has gone down well with Xiaomi. Like we mentioned in the performance bit, the phone acted funny and not in a hilarious way – there were lags and stutters in the A1. Both the smartphones were bloatware free and had a clean UI. Having said that, the MiA1 came with a highly tweaked camera app which may not go down well with the Stock Android fanboys.
In terms of connectivity, both the phones sport with 4G, Wi-fi, Bluetooth FM and GPS. While the Moto G5s Plus comes with NFC and the Xiaomi A1 comes with an infrared port. In terms of general performance as well, as we stated earlier, we think the Moto G5s Plus performed better. We faced no call drop issues while there were some network issues with the A1.
Winner: Moto G5s Plus
And we have a winner…
In this battle of the two super strong budget warriors, the Moto G5s Plus has won the fight with a score of 3-2, winning three rounds out of a total of five. That said, the Xiaomi A1 gives the Moto G5s Plus tough competition. The Xiaomi A1 has won the camera and battery rounds which are two crucial rounds in any smartphone comparison. Both smartphones have a lot of things in common which makes the fight even more intense. All said and done, there is no denying that the devices are pretty much the best in the sub Rs. 20,000 range. So, it really boils down to what you are looking for in a smartphone. The Moto G5s Plus (4 GB/ 64 GB) is available for Rs 15,999 while the Mi A1 comes for Rs 14,999. Neither is going to disappoint you, although we would favor the G5s Plus just in terms of sheer usability.