When we saw the original Moto One it was one of those mid-range phones that filled a gap. Yes, it was fine, it was harmless, but it wasn't really all that exciting. Enter, then, the Moto One Vision and it's a whole different game.
Motorola's second-generation Android One launch takes a bash at the elongated 21:9 form-factor - something only Sony has dabbled in thus far with its Xperia 10 range - adds a hole-punch front-facing camera and a clever four-pixels-in-one 48-megapixel rear camera to up the ante.
All this is just £269, pitching the Moto One Vision to undercut its Sony competition, offering more for less, while leaving a sensible gap between itself and the wider-format Moto G7 Plus. Is it a long shot, or a long screen design that truly pays off?
Design & Display
- 6.3-inch, 21:9 aspect ratio 'CinemaVision' LCD
- Full HD+ resolution (2160 × 1440)
- Hole-punch front-facing camera
- Finishes: Sapphire / Bronze
- Fingerprint scanner to rear
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Curved glass design
The idea behind a 21:9 display has some sense: you'll find some movies in such an ultra-wide format, meaning they'll fit perfectly to such a screen with no borders. Problem is, there's also a whole lot of content that's made in 18.5:9, 16:9 and other skews, which will mean the less wide screen backfires in its intentions.
It's not all about Hollywood content though. The Moto One Vision's width makes it very easy to hold; that 6.3-inch screen might sound absolutely huge, but it's just tall. You'll want long fingers to get those high-up 'x' boxes to close adverts though.
So there's two schools of thought to the 21:9 display: it's the future, here to support our content viewing habits; or its over-elongated nonsense that backfires for most regular content and doesn't make any sense. Our view? We think a slightly wider form-factor makes more sense, but the Vision isn't absurdly narrow - there's still ample room to read text and engage no problems.
Unlike the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, Motorola has also been a fair bit more considerate when it comes to bezels too. The Moto One Vision doesn't have a massive 'chin and forehead', as it were, as it's opted for a hole-punch camera solution - that's why there's a free-floating circle to the top left of the screen and no other notch to be seen anywhere. It's the way a number of companies - including Samsung and Honor - are going when it comes to front-facing camera solutions.
Thing is that hole-punch notch is the largest that we've ever seen. Moto says this is for stability, but we think end-users will find it more distracting than they would like; it's certainly larger than the one found on the Honor View 20, for example.
Elsewhere the Vision is fairly complete for a mid-range phone. It offers a 3.5mm headphone jack, so no compromise there, while the fingerprint scanner can be found nestled in the Moto 'batwing' symbol to the rear, recessed nicely so that it's easy to find and use.
Finishes are restricted to just two - Sapphire and Bronze to give their full marketing names, meaning 'blue or brown' to the rest of us - with the blue gradient delivering a well-considered deep tone to the only slightly reflective glass rear. It's curved glass too, multi-layered to give that effect, which catches plenty of fingerprints but hides them well on account of its dark finish. It looks good.
- 2.2GHz octa-core processor (Samsung Exynos 9609)
- 3,500mAh battery, 15W TurboPower fast-charge
- Google Android One software
- 128GB storage (UFS)
Under the hood and Motorola has taken an interesting turn with its choice of chipset: it's Exynos, from Samsung, not the typical Qualcomm or MediaTek choice. In this instance, the octa-core 2.2GHz processor is the Exynos 9609, which is a tweaked version of what you'll find in the Samsung Galaxy A80.
This is actually rather good news, as the One Vision should produce enough clout to handle day to day tasks and beyond without venturing into flagship levels of performance. That's ideal for a mid-range phone - but with Moto underpowering some of its lesser G series handsets on Qualcomm's platform, we suspect the future will be rather Exynos shaped throughout the range.
Elsewhere the 3,500mAh battery is fairly considerable for a phone of this size, so ought to cut through a day with no problems, while the 15W TurboCharge means fairly nippy top-ups at the plug. There's no wireless charging, but that's to be expected at this level.
We'll be using the One Vision as our day-to-day phone to find out if there are any blips in performance and will bring our full and final updated review update to this very page in the future.
- 48MP main sensor, 1.6um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture
- Quad Pixel technology (outputs 12MP images only)
- 5MP depth sensor for portrait mode
- Night Vision mode for night shots
- AI Shot Optimisation suggestions
- Optical image stabilisation (rear)
- 25MP front-facing (6MP output)
- 4K video capture
Although that punch-hole front-facing camera doesn't look the greatest, it sets the mark in terms of what to expect: over-sampling technology to produce not the biggest image results, but the best quality.
The same is true to the rear: the main camera, which is a 48MP unit sourced from Samsung (before Samsung is even using it in its own phones, funnily enough), uses what Motorola is calling Quad Pixel technology. In simple terms it uses four pixels to produce one, using all that data to over-sample colour and detail to produce a better result at a quarter of the size. Which, in this case, is still a perfectly decent 12-megapixels.
Now, the idea of quad-sampling isn't a new one. The other 48MP sensor on the market is one of Sony's IMX offerings, which performs in much the same way in its Honor and Xiaomi implementations. You point and shoot, but don't get an unnecessarily massive file - you get a manageable 12MP shot instead.
What's perhaps more impressive is that this technology isn't found in many phones around this price point. The One Vision is cheaper than Moto's own G7 Plus, which certainly gives the One a lot to shout about. Compared to Sony's Xperia 10 Plus, Moto has kicked that camera offering to the side here.
There are a whole heap of modes available in the cameras too. The rear is dual lens, with the second used for depth reading - useful for blurred background and lighting effects in portrait mode as you'll find on, well, just about every current phone these days. Beyond that, the One Vision has auto smile capture, face-tracking for up to five faces, auto scene recognition, a host of colour-isolating and animation captures and more.
Of them all its the shot optimisation artificial intelligence which is interesting. In a similar way to Huawei, Moto's AI will judge a scene and then auto-apply the most relevant shooting mode. Point the camera at food, it'll show you food mode, with a toggle on/off button to the bottom should it be inaccurate or you just don't want it in action. The camera will do the same for portraits, other subject matter and lighting conditions as it sees fit. That's good going for a sub-£300 phone.
Even low-light is tackled in an interesting way, thanks to Night Vision. You might have heard about Google's own Night Sight mode on its Pixel handsets, which is close to magic when it comes to pulling unseen detail out of nighttime or low-light scenes. The Moto One Vision works on similar principles: it captures multiple images extremely rapidly, the optical stabilisation ensuring this is possible hand-held, analyses the data it can use from them, then uses algorithms to assess the lighting conditions and pull everything together in a flash. From what we've seen it's not quite Google's own Night Sight, but Moto's solution is rapid and let's not forget this is a mid-range phone. That might give Pixel 3a buyers to-be something to consider.
When we've used the camera more fully for our final review we'll be able to reveal just how good all this tech is in the real-world. So watch this space for an updated review before the end of May 2019.
The Moto One Vision isn't just another mid-range phone with no personality, it's a well-priced and specced handset with unique appeal; nowhere else will you get a 21:9 aspect ratio paired with a hole-punch front-facing camera. Plus, Moto has gone to town on the cameras front, delivering technology that would usually be found in much pricier phones thanks to the 48MP Quad Pixel Samsung-sourced sensor.
That said, the 21:9 aspect ratio simply won't suit all tastes. It's an elongated format that isn't well matched to a variety of content, just as we said of the Sony Xperia 10 series. But with that Sony in mind, this Moto undercuts it on the price front while out-speccing it too. Now that's reason enough to take a second look at this quirky new take on the mid-range sector.
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Sony Xperia 10 Plus
The other 21:9 mid-ranger to launch in 2019, we thought Sony's attempt made it a loveable rebel. If you've been looking at this phone, however, then the Moto trumps it in every major department - especially as it's cheaper and has the better camera.
Google Pixel 3a
It's pricier, but Google's mid-range Pixel phone is a perfect size and has a superb camera setup for the money. The extra £130 at launch might put it entirely out of reach though - which goes to show how well priced this Moto device is.