It was hardly a secret that Motorola's first quad camera phone, the Moto One Zoom, was due to launch at IFA 2019 - the largest tech show in Europe.

And here it is, in all its purple-tinted glory (an Amazon exclusive with Alexa built-in, that colour), to join the recent Moto One Action and Vision handsets. So how does it differ and why would you want to buy one?

Design & Screen

  • 6.4-inch Full HD (2340 x 1080) OLED panel, 18:9 aspect ratio, notch
  • Colours: Electric Grey, Cosmic Purple (Amazon exclusive with Alexa)
  • Measures: 75 x 158 x 8.8mm / Weight: 190g
  • Moto logo illuminates with notifications
  • Under-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Seven-layer glass design

First thing's first: the Zoom does not follow the 21:9 aspect ratio screen convention of its Action and Vision cousins. Instead, this phone's 6.4-inch panel is a more conventional 18:9 format, meaning it's wider and not as elongated overall. There's also a notch in the display - that tear-drop-like opening where the front-facing camera lives - rather than a punch-hole solution. In short: the Zoom is a total departure from the rest of the One family.

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This wider format makes more sense for photography, especially with that large raised unit needing space to live on the rear. Indeed, the format probably makes better sense for all phones. But it does make us think that the Zoom has been in development for longer than the series' other two models, given its nod to some design solutions that aren't as up-to-the-minute, such as the notch - although we've never been a massive fan of the huge punch-hole notch that Motorola is using, so perhaps that's been shelved while its engineers work some magic for a second-gen solution.

The Zoom's screen also comes with a built-in under-display fingerprint scanner; again, a departure from the rear-positioned scanner of its other One cousins, but a higher-end solution that we think makes a lot more sense. It also means the Moto 'batwing' symbol to the rear has taken the opportunity to be used in a different way: it now illuminates white from an LED light when notifications come in (there's some degree of customisation here, such as which notification/charging options will permit the illumination - or it can all be switched off if you'd prefer). It's not a full colour LED array like the Razer Phone 2, but then this Moto isn't punching at such high levels really.

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The purple model showing in these photos (there's the grey one above, for comparison) is an Amazon exclusive, too, with built-in Alexa voice control from the off. It's a subtle purple, not quite as 'Cosmic' as its name might suggest, but we think it's a lot more fun than the boring black would be. The finish, which is layered glass, has a horizontal-run visual texture through it, to add greater interest.

Performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, 4GB RAM
  • 4,000mAh battery, 15W TurboPower charging
  • 128GB storage

Having only handled the Zoom for a short time, we can only give first impressions on how it performs. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 675 processor, which isn't the flagship form that you'll find in something like a similar-price Xiaomi Mi 9, but isn't a low-spec as 630-series that you'll see in cheaper Moto G series phones either.

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The thing that really helps this phone run smoothly is the Android software. Oddly, however, this isn't Android One, as the namesake of the other One series phones would suggest. Anyway, all that Moto adds to the software beyond Google's usual operation is one app - called 'Moto', unsurprisingly - which handles Actions, Display and Voice for physical action-reaction controls, always-on and notifications (which we think the illuminated batwing logo should appeal in - but doesn't), and Google Assistant-like voice control.

That 600-series processor is a lot more capable than something like the 400-series that you'll find in the HTC Desire 12S, which means the Moto should be fine to run some casual games without issue, helped along with its 4GB RAM.

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Pairing such a processor with a capacious 4,000mAh battery ought to make for long life per charge, too, while the USB-C port handles 15W fast-charging for top-ups.

Cameras

  • Quad rear cameras:
    • 48MP main (f/1.7, OIS), Quad Pixel technology
    • ultra-wide angle (117-degrees, 16MP)
    • depth sensor (5MP), portrait mode
    • 3x optical zoom (8MP, OIS)
  • 25MP (f/2.0) front-facing selfie camera

But the real deal with the Moto One Zoom is, of course, its quad camera solution. This is similar to the Huawei P30 Pro in its aspirations, marrying a standard, wide, optical zoom and depth sensor into one package. Well, it's more Mate 20 Pro-like, given the Moto's optical zoom is a 3x.

There's some quality stuff in the camera arrangement here too. The main lens is the 48MP Samsung-sourced sensor that Moto uses in the Vision, which uses four-in-one pixels for quality 12MP output. There's also a multi-exposure Night Mode for hand-held shots in low-light or night conditions to bring out more detail and exposure.

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Importantly this sensor is optically stabilised, as is the 3x optical zoom sensor which joins it. This longer zoom isn't the quickest to focus in the app, while the 8MP output from that extended view - which makes farther-away subjects look closer in shots - can't provide the quite the same high-level of quality (from what we could see from pinch-zooming results anyway). Still, it's none too sad for a mid-level phone.

The wide-angle, which is becoming more commonplace in phones, opens the angle of view out by considerable proportions, squeezing in four times more than the higher-resolution standard lens. Great for wide scenes, even if the corners will blur somewhat.

Last of the four is the depth sensor, which is used to inform software about how far subjects are within a frame, which aids the portrait mode to separate backgrounds and blur them for a more pro-looking shot. It works ok, but not perfectly, as is typical of such cameras.

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Given the near-to-£400 price point of the Zoom, offering such a wide variety of cameras is going to be a real attraction. Plus the front-facing sensor's 25-megapixel resolution also uses four-in-one output for 6-megapixel snaps at greater quality (full resolution capture is possible if you'd prefer).

First Impressions

Cameras, cameras, cameras - that's what the Moto One Zoom is all about. And given its near-£400 price point, that combination of 48MP main, matched with a wide-angle, 3x optical zoom and depth sensor, will be highly appealing.

The phone is otherwise a well-functioning mid-range handset, largely thanks to the smooth software experience and ample hardware to keep things ticking along. There's even Alexa voice-control integration if you buy the Amazon-exclusive purple model. 

There are some oddities, such as the different screen and notch solution compared to its cheaper cousins, plus the drop-away from Android One software, but the Moto One Zoom is accomplished and - while it's not going to knock the Huawei P30 Pro off the top spot - its price tag will help sell it aplenty.

This article was first published on 5 September 2019 and has been updated to correct an error stating it ran Android One software