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Alcatel Idol 5 vs. Lenovo Moto G5S Plus: Clash of the budget smartphones

Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
The budget phone market is seriously heating up, and while there was once a time when buying a budget phone meant settling for something that could barely handle Facebook, these days most budget handsets are capable of almost all day-to-day tasks and may even have a decent camera. We’ve reviewed dozens of budget phones in the past few years, but there’s one lineup that seems to stand above the rest — the Moto G series, and most recently, the Lenovo Moto G5S Plus.

Of course, it’s not the only budget handset worth looking at. Another great device is the new Alcatel Idol 5, which, unlike naming conventions suggest, was launched at the same time as the Idol 5S. But which is better: The Moto G5S Plus or the Idol 5? We put the two handsets head to head to find out.

Specs

Alcatel Idol 5

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Size 148 x 73 x 7.5mm (5.83 x 2.87 x 0.30-inches) 153.5 x 76.2 x 8mm (6.04 x 3.00 x 0.31-inches)
Weight 5.47oz (155g) 5.93oz (168g)
Screen 5.2-inch LCD 5.5-inch LCD
Resolution 1080 x 1920 (423ppi) 1080 x 1920 (401ppi)
OS Android 7.1 Android 7.1
Storage 16GB 32GB, 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 256GB Yes, up to 256GB
NFC support No Yes
Processor MediaTek MT6753 Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
RAM 3GB 3GB, 4GB
Connectivity GSM/HSPA/LTE GSM/CDMA/HSPA/EVDO/LTE
Camera 13MP rear, 5MP front Dual 13MP rear, 8MP front
Video 1,080p 2,160p
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass Accelerometer, gyro, proximity
Water resistant No No
Battery 2,800mAh 3,000mAh
Ports Micro USB Micro USB
Marketplace Google Play Google Play
Color offerings Metal Silver, Metal Black Lunar Grey, Fine Gold
Availability Cricket Wireless Amazon Amazon
Price $180 $240
DT review 3 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

These two phones may both be considered budget handsets, but they offer slightly different specs. That makes sense considering the slight price difference.

For starters, the two phones boast different processors. The Alcatel Idol 5 offers the MediaTek MT6753 chipset, while Lenovo has stuck with Qualcomm to offer the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. Along with those processors, both phones offer 3GB of RAM in the base model, though the Moto G5S Plus offers 4GB of RAM for those that want it, as well as extra storage. So how does that translate into performance? Well, the phones performed more or less the same in our tests. On AnTuTu the 4GB RAM model of the Moto G5S Plus scored 63,802, while the Alcatel Idol 5 scored 62,869. The G5 Plus also performed better in Geekbench 4, making it the slightly more powerful option.

There’s also storage to take into consideration, and that could be a big point of difference here. The Alcatel Idol 5 only has 16GB of storage — while the Moto G5S Plus offers 32GB in the base model, and 64GB for those willing to spend a bit of extra.

Considering the fact that the Moto G5S Plus is slightly faster and has more storage, it’s the winner here.

Winner: Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Design, display, and durability

Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

Budget phones don’t generally offer cutting-edge designs, and these two devices are no exception to that. That’s not to say they look bad — just that they’re a little basic. The Moto G5S Plus looks pretty much exactly the same as its predecessor, the Moto G5 Plus. It still has a Micro USB port rather than a USB-C port, which is a little frustrating, and on the back you’ll find that signature large camera modular characteristic of Moto phones these days. That makes sense considering the phone now has a dual-lens camera, but we’ll go into that in the camera section.

The Alcatel Idol 5 is a little more unique in its design, and we appreciated that. There are dual front-facing speakers located in small metal protrusions on the top and bottom of the phone, and the back features a nice minimal look. Overall, we think it’s the better-designed phone of the two.

The display, on the other hand, is a bit tough to judge. Both phones feature LCD displays with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. The difference between them, however, is that the display in the Moto G5S Plus sits in at 5.5-inches, while the Idol 5’s display is 5.2-inches. With a smaller display, however, Alcatel is able to achieve a slightly higher pixel-density. We don’t really think that slight change in pixel-density will be noticeable here — so we prefer the larger size of the display in the Moto G5S Plus.

Neither of the two phones offer any special features when it comes to durability. They’re not waterproof at all, so keep them away from pools and the bath. Both phones feature heavy use of metal in their build, so you’d expect them to survive small drops and bumps.

The Moto G5S Plus features the slightly larger display, while the Idol 5 combats that with a better design. This one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Battery life and charging

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

The Lenovo Moto G5S Plus and Alcatel Idol 5 offer very similar battery sizes, though the Moto has the slight edge. While the Alcatel Idol 5 offers a 2,800mAh battery, the battery in the Moto G5S Plus sits in at 3,000mAh. In the real world we found that extra capacity does translate to better battery life, so you can expect the Moto G5S Plus to keep ticking for longer.

Both of the phones are compatible with slightly different versions of fast charging. The Lenovo Moto G5S Plus boasts compatibility with Lenovo’s TurboPower technology that will get you six hours of use in 15 minutes of charging, while the Alcatel Idol 5 is compatible with fast charging tech that Alcatel says will fully charge the phone in 100 minutes.

If battery life is a big bugbear for you, then the Moto G5S Plus will serve you better.

Winner: Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Camera

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

The cameras on these two phones are pretty different. While the Lenovo Moto G5S Plus offers a new dual-sensor camera, the Alcatel Idol 5 sticks with a single-sensor camera. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We found that the Moto G5S Plus was very capable when taking standard photos, but using the second lens yielded very mixed and often poor results. The Idol 5, on the other hand, produced vivid and bright shots in good lighting, though it didn’t offer any extra tricks with its single-lens.

When it comes to specs, both phones offer 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, and they both have an aperture of f/2.0. That means neither of the two is likely to do all that well in low-light tests. The front-facing camera on the Moto G5S Plus offers an 8 megapixel sensor, while the sensor on the Alcatel Idol 5 sits in at 5 megapixels.

This one’s a little tough to judge. On the one hand, the Moto G5S Plus has more tricks and its standard photos are fine too. The Alcatel Idol 5, however, takes better standard photos, and does away with the tricks. We think that companies should start with a camera that shoots great photos, then add features from there — so we’re awarding this one to the Alcatel Idol 5.

Winner: Alcatel Idol 5

Software

Alcatel Idol 5 review
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

Both of these devices are Android phones, and they both ship with Android 7.1 Nougat. Neither phone ventures too far from stock Android, but we prefer the extras offered in the Moto app on the G5S Plus to the bloatware on the Idol 5. Both of them will get an upgrade to Android Oreo, but we imagine that Lenovo will support updates on the Moto G5S Plus longer than Alcatel will support them on the Idol 5. Lenovo isn’t perfect with updates, but it has been pretty consistent in getting them out to aging phones eventually.

That’s important for security too. Lenovo is likely to be better at pushing security updates out to the Moto G5S Plus, keeping the phone nice and secure. We’re awarding this one to the Moto G5S Plus for that reason.

Winner: Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Price and availability

The Lenovo Moto G5S Plus and Alcatel Idol 5 have been pretty head-to-head so far — but they’re actually slightly different when it comes to pricing. While the Moto G5S Plus starts at $240 for the 32GB/3GB version, or $300 for the 64GB/4GB version, the Alcatel Idol 5 comes in at only $180. That’s a pretty great price, but there is a catch — you can only get it from Cricket Wireless if you’re in the U.S. The Moto G5S Plus is available from Amazon, Best Buy, and so on.

In other words, the Alcatel Idol 5 is cheaper, but it’s less available. Still, the big price difference is enough to make it the winner here.

Winner: Alcatel Idol 5

Overall winner: Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Both of these phones are great, but they’re great for different reasons. The Moto G5S Plus offers more storage, better battery life, a bigger screen, and will likely get updates quicker and for longer, but the Alcatel Idol 5 is cheaper and has a better camera for most situations. So which should you buy? If you’re simply looking for a device to handle day-to-day tasks, capture a few shots every now and then, and you don’t mind switching to Cricket Wireless, then go for the Alcatel Idol 5 and save a few bucks. Everyone else should choose the Moto G5S Plus.

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