When it comes to the history of smartphone design and innovation, one name that ranks high is of Motorola. Over the past forty-five years, Motorola has been delivering phones with exquisite design aesthetics. Flip back to the time when flip phones were considered cool, the Motorola RAZR was the coolest of them all. Now, when foldable phones are high on hype, it is Motorola’s upcoming Motorola Razr Foldable that touts a stunning foldable concept.

When it comes to affordable smartphones, Motorola has a pretty strong line-up. With the Motorola One, the latest addition to the Motorola family, it’s all about going back to basics.

Motorola One

The One is an interesting, likeable Android One phone. The device is as simple as it can get, looks stylish and runs smooth.

Let us begin with the software, and the goodness of Android One.

Android One

There is always the debate between the merits of various Android skins versus stock Android implementations. With Android skin, OEMs need to finetune their customization with new software update. On the other hand, with pure Android One, the updates have to be simply passed onto users. With the Motorola One, one cannot go wrong. Motorola One offers pure Android One experience to its users. The device is free of bloatware, and is snappy. The Motorola One promises guaranteed, and rapid updates. At the time of testing, the software updates were upgraded until March 2019.

There are a couple of interesting customizations that Motorola has introduced in the One, that makes it distinctive:

The first one is the ‘Moto Actions’. One can activate the flashlight with a double karate chop action. It works really well, and is a quite useful touch. By twisting the wrist twice, one can get access to the camera.

The second one is ‘Moto Display’.  It helps one to get a quick preview of notifications and updates. Something akin to the Always-on Display found on premium smartphones. After previewing the notifications, one can tap and hold on the icons to “peek” at the new notifications you have received.

Performance

Android One on Motorola One translates into smooth performance. The One is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, an octa-core processor with trusty Cortex-A53 cores. The 625 is old, and less powerful, compared to the Snapdragon 660 seen in other, similarly priced devices.  That said, everything still works fine. For most of the time, the performance was smooth and snappy.

In terms of gaming performance, the hardware in Motorola One is, at best, okay-ish, and surprisingly smooth in some instances. While some games run great, other high-graphics intensive games suffer a bit. Beyond games, the Motorola One works fine on a day-to-day basis for everyday tasks, but not much beyond that.

The 3000mAh battery in the One performs fine. It lasts almost a day under normal usage, performing daily, routine tasks, with some gaming and social media usage thrown in. The good thing is that Motorola has put a TurboPower charger. So, when the battery juice is low, one can use the Turbopower to get swiftly to almost 40% in under 45 minutes, with full charge in around 2 hours.

Camera

The Motorola One comes with a 13MP main sensor, with a secondary 2MP  one for portrait photos. In good lighting, the camera churns out good, sharp pictures, with precise colours.

Motorola One

The HDR mode delivers good images under bright light conditions, while at times, it renders inconsistent images.

Motorola One

Motorola has gone with its own Camera app, instead of Google’s Camera app. There are some interesting features in here. Consider, for instance, the spot colour model. It allows one to shoot photos wherein, one can choose a particular colour in the view, while the rest of the image is churned out black and white.

Motorola One

Or, consider the Cinemagraph. It lets one create a GIF, by choosing parts of the image to animate. It’s a fun feature.

Shooting videos on the One is unexpectedly good. The device allows one to record videos in ultra high definition at 30FPS.

Motorola’s Portrait Mode is impressive, as it allows one to choose the level of blurriness in the background with a neat slider. The edge detection is accurate.

On the front, the One sports a 8MP sensor. It enables one to shoot decent photos in good lighting conditions. Yet, the One also churns out blurry details if the hands shook a bit.

However, low-light photography on the Motorola One is a bit of a downer. In low light conditions, the photos turn out either a bit blurry, soft or very grainy, and in other instances, with washed out colours.

All said, in the Camera department, the One packs a punch, but is up against some tough competition. Other devices have either better sensors, or sport some nifty features. Yet, as a daily driver, the One is good for everyday photos.

Design

The Motorola One is attractive to look at. The device has a glass-backed black glossy finish, with a vertical camera arrangement, and the iconic ‘M’ logo on the back now hosts a capacitive fingerprint scanner. The Motorola One comes with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass on the front and back, aluminium on the sides. It weighs only 162g and alongwith its 5.9-inch display, it is easy to handle and use. Lastly, Motorola has put a nice touch, by putting the phone in a simple silicone case inside the box.

In terms of display, the Motorola One comes with a 5.9-inch LTPS IPS LCD Max Vision display and a HD+ (1520×720) resolution.  The notch on the One is sizable, with a considerable chin at the bottom.  The bezels are thin, meaning one has a fair amount of screen estate.

The One sports a USB-Type C Port with Turbo Charge, comes with a headphone jack, NFC, and dual SIM, with extra slot for microSD card. While there is no IP-rating, the One is P2i-certified splash-proof.

In Conclusion

The Motorola One is a smartphone, with all the goodness of Android, some nifty touches by Motorola, and a pretty tasteful hardware design. It is likeable, and yet, it does have some inadequacies. The display on the One is not the sharpest, while camera experience is just okay. A slightly outdated chipset mars the experience.

All said, the Motorola One is a decent daily driver. In a hyper-competitive market full of smartphone choices with better cameras, and stronger processors, the One faces tough competition. Yet, while it may not match up with the best phone cameras and displays, the One does get the essentials right, and offers a good value proposition.

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