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Motorola One Smartphone Review

We review the Motorola One which is an affordable smartphone that's part of a new range, looks great and has some promising features.

| Motorola One in Camera Phones

Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One | 1/80 sec | f/3.8 | 32.0 mm | ISO 320

Quick Verdict

The Motorola One is a reasonably priced smartphone that offers interesting features such as Android One and a Dual Rear Camera but with its habit of not getting the exposure correct in photos and other smartphones, at a similar price, offering better camera specs (and often image quality), it may not be the first choice for photography fans. However, if you want a smartphone that from a day-to-day basis works well, can produce decent images (in the right light) and where price is an incredibly important factor, you may have a liking for the Motorola One. 

+ Pros

  • The price 
  • Nice design
  • Android One
  • Pro Camera Mode 
  • Interesting Camera Features

- Cons

  • Better cameras built into competitor smartphones
  • Has a habit to over/under expose shots 
  • Auto HDR can be a bit strong 
  • Portrait Mode is hit and miss 


The Motorola One is a new budget-friendly, mid-range smartphone that features premium styling, an impressively-sized screen, dual rear camera set-up and Android one (for you Android purists out there). It's not replacing any of the Motorola smartphones already on the market, instead, it's a brand-new range that offers great value for money without skimping on features. 

Standout features include the 5.9-inch display HD+ (720x1520) 287PPI, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, USB-C and a dual rear camera. Plus, the camera app has a portrait mode where you can control bokeh levels as well as a Pro mode and a few other creative features such as a spot colour mode. 

On paper, it lines-up to be a reasonably priced smartphone some photographers may be interested in but with the likes of the Honor 8X and Nokia 7.1 sitting in the same category and not costing much more, can the Motorola One stand up against the competition? Let's find out. 


Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One | 1/100 sec | f/3.8 | 32.0 mm | ISO 200

Motorola One Features

The Motorola One has quite a few camera features that are worth a mention but before getting onto them, let's have a look at some of the smartphone's design features which include a 5.9-inch screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio, 3000mAh battery (not great but not rubbish, either), 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, SnapDragon 625 CPU (a little older than the CPU found in the Nokia 7.1 and Honor 8X), Android One and a premium looking body. 

As for the cameras, on the back is a 13MP f/2.0 and 2MP f/2.4 set-up with Phase Detection Auto Focus available on the main 13MP camera and a single LED flash built-in. On the front, is an 8MP f/2.2 camera with a single flash. Video can be captured in Full HD or 4K (Ultra HD). Various creative modes are built into the camera, along with a Pro mode, and you can search what you see with Google Lens. 

The Motorola One is available now, via Amazon UK, for £269. 

Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One 2018 (2)

Key Features

  • Rear Camera - 13MP PDAF (f/2.0, 1.12um), Secondary: 2/MP (f2.4, 1.75um), Colour Correlated Temperature (CCT) single LED flash
  • Front Facing Camera - 8MP (f/2.2, 1.12um)
  • Screen - 5.9" HD+ (720 x 1520) 287 PPI, LTPS IPS, Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Single LED flash
  • Full HD or 4K Ultra HD video 
  • ISO 100-3200
  • HDR, Panoramic, Portrait Mode, Spot Colour Mode, Cinemagraph
  • Rear fingerprint reader
  • 4GB RAM/ 64GB Storage
  • 3000mAh battery


Motorola One Handling

Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One 2018 (7)

Look quickly and you could think that the Motorola One is, in fact, the new Apple XR smartphone. The top-notch, thin bezel and rounded corner design are very similar but the price, obviously, couldn't be further apart. The sides are constructed from aluminium and 2.5D Gorilla Glass can be found on the front and back which, as we always suggest, means it's a good idea to protect the smartphone with a case. Motorola does provide one but it's only a basic TPU case so if you want peace of mind, it's worth upgrading.

The curved edges not only make the smartphone look slick, but it fits the hand well and doesn't feel over-sized (as some modern phones do nowadays). It doesn't feel as heavy as some smartphones which, to some, might make it feel less expensive but Motorola certainly haven't skimmed any corners when it comes to the smartphone's overall construction. 

On the bottom, you find a USB-C charging socket along with the speaker and to the top if a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the sides are the usual volume and power buttons and the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot means the 64GB of storage can be expanded (if you so wish). 64GB of space for photos and video is actually double the size you get with the basic-level Nokia 7.1 but it's on par with the Honor 8X. 

The back is home to a dual-camera setup and as it's positioned in the top corner, there's no chance of you mistaking it for the fingerprint sensor (found centre-back) and getting marks on the lenses. The fingerprint sensor is positioned well and can be easily activated with your index finger without having to reposition your hand when holding the Motorola One.

The Motorola One shouldn't be damaged by the odd splash from water but it's not waterproof and doesn't come with an official rating so be careful with it. 


Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One | 1/80 sec | f/3.8 | 32.0 mm | ISO 200

As for the screen, it measures 5.9-inch and it's more long and thin than wide so it does look smaller than other smartphone screens out there. In fact, it's quite considerably smaller than the screen found on the Honor 8X and the screen resolution is much lower, too (720x1520 vs 1080x2340). The screen is a smidge bigger than the one found on the Nokia 7.1 (5.84-inch) but again, the resolution is lower (720x1520 vs 1080x2280). The screens on both the Nokia and Honor smartphones are slightly sharper than the Motorola but you have to look really closely to notice. 

Colours are great on the Motorola One screen, viewing angles are good and you can use the smartphone outdoors without bright light causing too many issues. 

The Motorola One has a 13MP PDAF (f/2.0, 1.12um) and 2MP (f2.4, 1.75um) camera set-up on the rear but the aperture on the main camera doesn't suggest low light performance will be excellent and the 2MP secondary camera is a little lacking in megapixels when you compare it to other smartphones with a similar price point. For example, the Nokia 7.1 has a 5MP secondary camera but it is on par with the Honor 8X which also offers a 2MP secondary camera but the main camera does have 20MP. 

Front-Facing cameras differ vastly at this price point and on the Motorola One is an 8MP f/2.2 camera - similar to the Nokia 7.1 (although, the aperture on the 7.1 is f/2.0 and ZEISS optics are built in). 

The camera app is easy to use and has some quirky, but fun features built-in. To the bottom of the app is where you find the shutter button, gallery and the selfie switch. Above these are options for capturing an image, video, panorama and extra photo modes which include spot colour (pick a colour and the rest of the image is B&W), cinemagraph (where part of the image moves), panorama (again), Slow Motion video, Timelapse and YouTube Live. As we've come to expect from modern smartphones, a Portrait mode where you can adjust how much 'bokeh' is in the background is also built in. 


Motorola One Smartphone Review: Motorola One | 1/80 sec | f/3.8 | 32.0 mm | ISO 320

You can choose if you want HDR to be on or not and you can access a manual mode where you can adjust the white balance, set the ISO, pick a shutter speed, use manual focus or set the exposure compensation. The Pro mode is a brilliant feature to see on a budget smartphone as some premium smartphones, such as the iPhone XS, STILL don't offer this. 

If you like quirky features, you can use gestures to switch the flashlight on and to also access the camera but it did feel like the smartphone could easily fly out of your hands when doing so. 

Battery life - The 3000mAh battery isn't the biggest we've seen in a smartphone at this price point but it's not terrible. With Geekbench, the Motorola One scored 868 single-core 4322 multi-core scores and its Antutu score is 81205, which is slower than the previously mentioned competition. 


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