(Pocket-lint) - Throughout 2019 Motorola had a busy, busy year. It's been a long time since we've seen the US brand release so many devices, but it most certainly went for it before the turn of the decade. The Moto One Hyper - which joins the Vision, Macro, Zoom, Action and plain ol' One (that last one from 2018), not to mention the G series refresh - brings the One series to six total, offering a whole lot of choice depending on your specific feature of interest.
The Hyper is the top model of the bunch in many ways, delivering the highest-resolution camera of any Moto phone to date, and the company's first pop-up camera (well, it depends if you count Lenovo - which owns Motorola - and its Z5 Pro slider phone). In the same year Motorola also revealed its Razr folding phone, a modern ode to the 20-year-old clamshell original, showing that it's reaching for the skies once again when it comes to innovation.
The One Hyper has some points that impress, but in one foul swoop it also makes the presence of some other One series phones somewhat questionable. Still, you won't care about that (unless you're some sort of peculiar phone collector), so how does the mid-range Hyper stack up in the real world?
Design & Display
- 6.5-inch LCD display, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, Full HD+ resolution (1080 x 2340)
- Dimensions: 161.8 x 76.6 x 8.9mm / Weight: 210g
- Finishes: Fresh Orchid, Deepsea Blue, Dark Amber
- Mechanised pop-up front-facing camera feature
- Fingerprint scanner to rear
- 3.5mm headphone jack
Motorola's design language subtly morphs with each iteration of the One series, giving each device its own point of distinction. In the case of the Hyper that means it's the largest of the lot, by a modicum at least.
The 6.5-inch screen gives this model all the height of many current flagships - it's even a little wider than the current trim aspect ratios, too - but it doesn't feel too thick or large, unlike some of those chunkier recent handsets, like the OnePlus 7T Pro.
The screen itself offers ample resolution - it's the same as a Full HD panel on the vertical, but as it's much taller it adds pixels on the horizontal to make up for the height - and while it's not higher-grade OLED, the LCD panel used here offers enough colour and brightness. No, it's not flagship bright - not nearly as much as our Huawei P30 Pro that we side-by-sided this handset against - but we've not found that to be an issue.
The real benefit of this screen is that there's no camera to interrupt its flow. No notch, no punch hole. There's not too much 'chin' and 'forehead' either, which gives a screen dominant stance. It works well, although the speakers and earpiece take a hit in quality. And with Android 10 on board, gesture control is encouraged (you can use the three virtual keys if you prefer by adjusting the settings).
The rear of the Hyper shows a shift in design language, too, with a dotted band leading up to the protruding camera unit. That unit is rather large, given the mechanised pop-up camera within, but it's not nearly as bulbous or unsightly as some.
We rather like the so-called Deepsea Blue shown here; the way the light catches it and implies a gradient from green to blue in colour depending on the angle is rather fetching without being garish. Want something simpler? Dark Amber is basically woody brown, while Fresh Orchid is pretty much pinky purple. No boring ol' black to be found here.
Unlike the trend that flagship phones are taking in ditching many ports, the Hyper comes complete with a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can plug in your own headphones. There's even a simple pair of in-ears included in the box, if you're desperate to get audio into your lugholes by any means (spoiler: they're not that good, but at least you get some).
Also on the rear is a circular fingerprint scanner, well positioned for a finger to slip over without struggling to locate it, for fairly rapid logins. We've had a largely successful time using this scanner, although it's not as advanced or exciting as an under-screen scanner, which is becoming more the norm.
Performance & Battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, 4GB RAM
- 4,500mAh battery, 27W TurboPower fast-charge
- 128GB storage, microSD slot for expansion
- Google Android 10 software
- Moto app for Actions & Display
While the Hyper's screen size and display is perfectly decent, it still sometimes suffers the infamous Motorola auto-dimming. It's not as bad as some of the previous devices, but there have been times when, say, we opened Gmail only for the bright white background to drop to a washed-out grey as the phone massively adjusted for, well, we don't really know what - the reflection of such white light output? It's not a constant problem, but an occasional bother, although in this handset it seems like an intentional battery saver, so sometimes when the handset sees you're trying to use it that brightness will suddenly 'jump' back to usable.
Sitting at core of the Hyper is a middling chipset, Qualcomm's SD675 processor, paired with 4GB RAM. We're not too harsh on specs these days because, frankly, even middle-weight setups such as this work perfectly well. There's a little more wait with loading apps, Wi-Fi take a little longer to download than a more premium handset (we did a side-by-side download against that Huawei P30 Pro), but in isolation none of this you'll notice at all.
In performance terms, that Snapdragon processor is perfectly good enough to run apps and games, even with others open in the background. As ever, we've been playing South Park: Phone Destroyer with no notable stutter, lag or dropped frames. Sure, your PUBG: Mobile experience might not be as fluid as a 90Hz version on the OnePlus 7T Pro, but it'll still be playable.
Where the Moto One Hyper really wins is with its battery life. The use of that processor and the same battery capacity as found in the long-lasting One Macro makes for very long innings indeed. With gameplay, juggling email and other apps, we've been getting a full two-day experience of two 15-hour days. That's fairly ridiculous. And 27W fast-charging (offered in Europe) brings with it rapid top-ups at the plug.
Part of that could be to do with software optimisation. After all, the One Hyper ships with Google's Android 10 (known as Q) as its core system, with little Motorola interference beyond that - there's a Moto app for Display and Actions - which means new features like Dark Mode are available, bringing more black and less white to backdrops and resulting in less unnecessary brightness output for even greater longevity.
Those Moto app functions handle 'peek notifications' - where icon previews pop-up on the screen when not in use - and physical actions, such as karate chop and flip, to perform certain results, respectively. Useful and all entirely user controllable if you don't like any of the possible shortcuts.
- Dual rear camera
- Main: 64MP main sensor, f/1.9 aperture
- Ultrawide (13mm equiv): 8MP, f/2.2
- Quad Pixel technology (outputs 16MP images only)
- 4K video capture to 30 frames per second
- 32MP pop-up selfie camera
- 26mm equiv., f/2.0
- 8MP default output
The big sell of the Hyper is, but of course, its pop-up camera. Open the camera app, hit the flip-around selfie button and this unit protrudes at relatively rapid pace from the top of the phone. It makes a little noise as it does so, as all of these kinds of phones do, Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro included, which is quiet enough to be of no bother.
The selfie camera sells itself on resolution, offering a 32-megapixel main sensor. But wait, the images output at 8MP? That's Moto using a four-in-one sampling method, meaning a smaller result, but as a Full HD TV panel isn't much off 2MP, you're still getting a close-up of your face that's four times that sort of scale and detail, and more-or-less 4K in resolution. Which is no bad thing.
The rear camera unit also offers a particularly high resolution, at 64-megapixels. Again, however, Moto uses a four-in-one process, to deliver 16MP images. That's still huge, plus there's the benefit of squeezing in extral detail thanks to this oversampling. Shoot in good daylight, such as our shot of an old Volkswagen Camper, and there's oodles of detail in the hubcaps and surrounding houses' brickwork. Good light, as ever with a camera, sees this Moto phone at its best.
It's not all brilliant news, though, as the second camera, an ultra-wide (0.5x) really blurs the image corners and edges to excess. The quality is also nowhere nearly as good as the main camera in general. While this is typical of many ultra-wide cameras, we don't feel the Hyper's one lives up to our level of expectation. And it's wide only - there's no zoom available in this phone.
Use the main camera, however, and there's plenty of other options to keep you happy. The Night Vision mode, for example, does a decent job of sampling mutiple images in low-light conditions and delivering a detailed result. It's no perfect - the softer edges struggle to relinquish detail and, in the process, end up over-enhancing artefacts that become visible squiggles when you look up close - but in the centre of the image things look fairly clean and precise. It makes hand-held low-light shooting possible, that's for sure.
On the video front, this camera can shoot up to 4K at 30fps. However, it doesn't use the full sensor size when doing this, which makes for a rather heavy crop. So if you set up shot with the normal camera, expect to lose 50 per cent of that outer frame as this camera chops away the outermost part of the sensor to make it easier on processing.
If you want a little extra from your cameras then the Moto One Zoom is a four-camera phone solution with greater versatility.
There are now a whole host of phones in the Moto One series. Is the Hyper worth getting hyped about? It's a solid offering in many departments, with a clean software experience, great battery life, notch-free screen, and ample power to boot.
But while the camera is ultra-high resolution, its ultra-wide offering doesn't quite cut it. The pop-up selfie camera also isn't embedded within the body in the most elegant of ways either, something that other makers have managed slightly better, we feel. And if cameras are your all then the Hyper isn't top of the selection either, the One Zoom offers more versatility in that department.
Motorola has been exploring every avenue of innovation of late, from pop-up cameras, to folding phones, and the One Hyper shows some of those fruits in a well executed and fairly affordable phone. It has some minor irks, but compared to competition - such as the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro and its rather fussy software solution - this Moto is a solid offering.
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro
The Xiaomi nestles that pop-up camera into the body proper, thus the design is neater overall. This is also a far more powerful device if you're in the game of spec craving. But the software is nowhere nearly as clean as the Motorola offering.