In the mid-range smartphone market, the three recently launched phones are going to be the toughest competitors, thanks to not what they offer but also for their origin. Lenovo has been making decent phones in this price range in the recent past and now, changing the UI to stock Android makes the phones even smoother. Motorola is neck-to-neck with Xiaomi in this segment already and thus, the newly launched phones from them too are a bang for the buck.
But out of the three phones here, i.e. the Xiaomi Mi A1, Lenovo K8 Note, and the Moto G5S Plus, which phone seems better on the paper? Let’s find out.
Build quality, Hardware
All the three phones are solidly built, with metal back on each of them and with the design, it has always been more of a personal preference than what looks better than the other. Each of them have the same screen size, resulting in a similar body size as well. To be fair, the most comfortable to hold is the Moto G5S Plus, thanks to the chamfered edges and the bump due to the camera that gives it a lock in the palm, while that raised camera area otherwise can also be prone to scratches, but that is the case with all the three phones.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Lenovo K8 Note have a LED notification light on the front while the Moto G5S Plus lacks that. On the other hand, it is only the Mi A1 that comes with the IR blaster for the smart remote functionality.
All the devices have the basic inclusions like the 3.5mm headset jack, the speaker grill in the bottom, and also a secondary microphone for the noise cancellation but with regards to the connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi A1 has the USB Type-C port while the other two have a MicroUSB port in the bottom.
While it is the Lenovo K8 Note that seems to have a very symmetric design with the two grills in the bottom and the camera being placed exactly in the center vertically on the back of the device, it is still the Moto G5S Plus giving a better hand feel. Also, the fingerprint sensor is located on the front of the device only on the Moto G5S Plus.
As said earlier, it is a personal preference when it comes to the looks of the phone but I personally like the Xiaomi Mi A1 for the design, followed by the Moto G5S Plus and the Lenovo K8 Note.
Winner – Xiaomi Mi A1 / Moto G5S Plus
The screen size of 5.5-inch has become quite a common inclusion because the users, most of them have started adjusting to that even though they might have used a smaller phone earlier. The three phones that we are comparing here have the same screen size, and even the resolution is the same, i.e. 1920 x 1080 pixels.
While Xiaomi didn’t mention which version of Gorilla Glass the Mi A1 has got, it could be the Gorilla Glass 3 because it is said to be scratch-resistant. The same protection is offered on the displays of the other two devices.
The actual display quality seems better on the Moto G5S Plus if you are a fan of displays being aggressive in putting out the colors. Otherwise, the Xiaomi Mi A1 has a very natural tone to how content appears on the display. If we have to rate them, the Mi A1 or Moto G5S Plus would get our vote over the K8 Note.
Winner – Xiaomi Mi A1 or Moto G5S Plus
The hardware, interface, and performance
Again here, the Moto G5S Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1 have the same chipsets powering the phones. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core chipset clocking at 2.0GHz along with Adreno 506 GPU is the combination seen here, while the Lenovo K8 Note comes powered with the MediaTek Helio X23 deca-core processor clocking at 2.3GHz and that is supported by the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.
While the Mi A1 has a single variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, the other two phones have a similar combination offered – either with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, or 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.
Interestingly enough, we are looking at three phones having the same UI. Surprising it may seem but Lenovo used to have the Vibe Pure UI that is now ditched to have the stock Android interface on its phones, and the case with Xiaomi Mi A1 is that it is an Android One device, thus you aren’t looking at the MIUI interface. And as expected, the Moto G5S Plus also has the stock Android interface with some Moto-only features included.
With regards to the smoothness of the UI, there is no big difference noticed. We have reviewed the variants with better RAM and storage capacities, and thus it is easier to say that both with the UI responsiveness and the RAM management, the phones are quite the same.
Now, talking about the actual heavy performance where we usually take a look at how good the camera response is and how well does the devices perform while gaming – it is simply the order of Xiaomi Mi A1 followed by Moto G5S Plus and then the Lenovo K8 Note. Now, let me explain why is that – The two phones in the list are excellent in gaming and there is no lag noticed at any time on any high-graphic game, but after a certain amount of time, the G5S Plus tends to heat up faster and to an extent where the Mi A1 doesn’t go. The Xiaomi Mi A1 has an extra layer of Dual pyrolytic graphite sheet that helps in keeping the phone colder by about 2-degree and that was well noticeable. Now, the third phone in the list, the K8 Note doesn’t do so bad with the gaming and the chipset as well speaks all for it, but we still noticed enough difference from the two phones in comparison. During the initial gaming tests, the phone didn’t fare as bad but with time, the heating became prominent.
Winner – Xiaomi Mi A1
The dual-lens cameras
I’ll take away the dual-lens camera tag from the Lenovo K8 Note, and almost the same for the Moto G5S Plus as well. At least for now. The dual-lens camera combination doesn’t mean much with the K8 Note because the blurring is too artificial, making you feel that there is no point of doing it and it could have been easily done with a software itself. If the company is going to do something about it by tweaking the software and making the camera work better, it should be good later but for now, the dual-lens combo is no good on the K8 Note.
Now, for the single camera that the phone has got, the captures are decent but they are not the best of the three phones here. In fact, even though we had mentioned earlier that the rear camera of the K8 Note was so good that it could compete well, the entry of Mi A1 and the Moto G5S Plus changed things quite a bit.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the clear winner when we talk about the dual-camera functionality because the depth sensing and application to the captures is a lot better and it doesn’t look artificial at all. As for the camera performance in low light conditions, the Moto G5S Plus did a little better job when compared to the other two and even though the Mi A1 seemed to work on pushing some light, a lot of noise is noticeable in the captures taken with the rear camera in low light conditions.
As far as the video recording is concerned, all the three don’t have any stabilization and thus, shakes while the video is being recorded are commonly noticed. Though, for someone wanting to capture videos for a long run, it is worth noting that the Lenovo K8 Note cannot capture 4K videos while the other two devices can do that.
Note – We will have the camera samples put up on a video that is coming soon.
Winner – Equal score for Mi A1 and Moto G5s Plus
The front camera
One of the aspects where the Lenovo K8 Note does a very fine job is the front-facing camera. While the resolution is higher, that is not the only spec where it best the other two but having a soft flash light also helps when there is no adequate light available around while taking selfies.
Winner – Lenovo K8 Note
The battery life
Another area where the Lenovo K8 Note genuinely takes over the other two is the battery life. A little higher though, with the screen-on time offered and when comparing the other two devices, both seem to offer similar battery life with the Moto G5S Plus getting a couple of hours of extra usage on average. All in all, it is the Lenovo K8 Note that is giving a better battery life even though the chipset in comparison has a better battery efficiency.
Now, the charging time here. The K8 Note with a higher battery capacity, almost 25% higher than the Moto G5S Plus and Mi A1, has got the similar charging time as the other two, i.e. about 120 minutes. We did face an issue while putting the G5S Plus to charge, which was drained down to zero but as soon as the Turbo charger was connected, the device showed 37% battery at once.
Winner – Lenovo K8 Note
Some factors to consider
- The Mi A1 has a USB Type-C connectivity while the other two have MicroUSB connectivity
- There’s an IR blaster that helps in the quick remote functionality on the Xiaomi Mi A1, and it is present only on this device.
- A dedicated music key is offered as a shortcut for music controls and it can be customized for other functions.
- The fingerprint sensor on the Moto G5S Plus is located on the front, if that matters.
- The Moto G5S Plus and Lenovo K8 Plus have the FM radio functionality with an app pre-installed but the Mi A1 doesn’t have the radio functionality and support as well.
Final Verdict – Which is the best phone of the three?
There is no phone in these three that beats the other two in all the categories. While the build and performance seems better on the Mi A1, the Moto G5S Plus gives it a tough fight with the camera (in low light) and the display. The Lenovo K8 Note takes away the title with then battery life and the selfie camera performance.
Now, to add up all these, it would depend on what gives the users a good experience in the end. After using all the three phones for a considerable amount of time, I’d choose the Xiaomi Mi A1 over the Moto G5S Plus and Lenovo K8 Note. The reason for that is the performance to begin with, where the other two aren’t any bad but the smoothness of the UI and the control of temperature have made it an easy choice.
The portrait mode is much better on the Xiaomi Mi A1 when compared to the one on the other two phones, which are no good because the captures look too artificial with the blur around the object in focus. In the end, you might want to even look at things that matter, such as the dedicated storage slot, FM radio, etc. if you are looking for a phone for a long-term usage.