Motorola One Vision: best affordable smartphone?

With 300 euros in your pocket you can buy many good Android smartphones. Motorola hopes you choose the One Vision, a device with solid hardware and long-term software support. In this Motorola One Vision review we find out whether the midrange segment has a new king.

Motorola One Vision

Price €299,-

Colors Blue and brown

OS Android 9.0 (Android One)

Screen 6.3" LCD (2520 x 1080)

Processor 2.2GHz octa-core (Exynos 9609)

RAM 4GB

Storage 128GB (expandable with memory card)

Battery 3,500 mAh

Camera 48 and 5 megapixels (rear), 25 megapixels (front)

Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC

Format 16 x 7.1 x 0.87 cm

Weight 180 grams

Other usb-c, headphone port

Website www.motorola.com 8.5 Score 85

  • Pros
  • Android One Software (Policy)
  • Decent cameras
  • Smooth, complete hardware
  • Negatives
  • 21:9 screen ratio not ideal yet
  • Depth sensor has limited use
  • Large camera hole in screen
  • Disappointing battery life

The One Vision is the successor to the One that came out at the end of last year. With an iPhone-like design, a low-resolution screen, old processor and mediocre camera, this was a disappointing device. Motorola says it has learned and promotes the competitive price-quality ratio of the One Vision, which has a suggested retail price of 299 euros. How good is the smartphone?

Premium and solid design

In any case, we are very pleased with the exterior. The Motorola One Vision is made of glass and feels luxurious and sturdy. It has a nice speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port and is splashproof. On the back is a reliable and fast fingerprint scanner in the Motorola logo. In the left corner you will find a dual flash and a slightly protruding camera module. The latter ensures that the smartphone is not completely flat on the table, but it is not disturbing.

You can buy the Motorola One Vision in two colors: blue and brown. The manufacturer sent us the first version, which we think is very nice. Those looking for a less conspicuous device are better off with the brown version.

When you pick up the One Vision, you notice that it is longer than most other smartphones. Motorola has opted for a screen ratio of 21:9, which is longer than the usual 19:9 ratio. This makes the display higher and there are no bezels when watching movies. Also, more text fits on the screen. A disadvantage is that few apps and games are currently optimized for the 21:9 ratio, so that black edges are often visible at the top and/or bottom. This problem also affects new Sony smartphones, which also have a 21:9 display.

Remarkably long screen

The screen of the One Vision measures 6.3 inches and that is substantial. In combination with the elongated ratio, it is difficult or impossible to operate the smartphone with one hand. The LCD display itself is fine. Colors look nice, the full-HD resolution delivers a sharp image and the viewing angles are good. The maximum brightness will be sufficient on most days, but more expensive devices can clearly be brighter.

A design choice from Motorola that we are less satisfied with is the camera hole in the top right of the screen. It contains a 25 megapixel selfie camera. More and more smartphones, including the Honor View 20 and Samsung Galaxy S10, have such a camera hole instead of a thicker screen edge or notch. A good solution, if done correctly. On the Motorola One Vision, the camera hole is so large that it distracts and gets in the way of apps, games and movies. Competing smartphones have a smaller camera hole that is therefore less noticeable.

Hardware

Where most Motorola smartphones run on a processor from Qualcomm, the One Vision uses an Exynos chip from Samsung. That is special because Samsung mainly puts its chips in its own devices. The Exynos 9609 processor in the Motorola One Vision is a great unknown and is very similar in features and performance to the 9610 chip that is in exactly one smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy A50.

Unknown may make unloved, but the Exynos 9609 stands its ground. Together with a large 4GB of RAM, the One Vision runs like a charm and we have nothing to complain about the performance. Admittedly, the heaviest games can have some hiccups and the general speed is not comparable to a top smartphone, but the price is also worth it.

The internal storage capacity of no less than 128GB is striking. You can store a lot of apps, photos and games on it. Most competing devices have 64GB of memory, so the One Vision has an edge here. It is nice that you can increase the memory with a micro-SD card of up to 512GB if desired.

In terms of connectivity options, the smartphone is also well equipped. In addition to an NFC chip, there is support for the fastest WiFi standard, Bluetooth 5.0, an FM radio and dual SIM. So you can use two SIM cards at the same time.

One part that makes the Motorola One Vision less impressive is its battery life. The non-removable battery has a capacity of 3500 mAh, which is average for this type of smartphone. However, the battery life is a bit disappointing and you have to charge the device before going to sleep with intensive use. If you take it slower, you can save a full day without charging in between, but there's not more to it. That's a shame, because many devices can last from one to one and a half days without any worries. The Motorola One Vision also turns out to be less energy efficient in standby than the competition.

Fortunately, charging via USB-C is smooth. The included TurboPower charger has a power of 15W, which is the same as that of more expensive devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S10. The battery goes from 0 to 40 percent within thirty minutes, which is handy if you want to refuel. Fully charging the battery takes about two hours. Wireless charging is not possible and that is an understandable cutback on a midrange smartphone.

Cameras

The 25-megapixel front camera in the screen hole makes great selfies during the day. They are sharp enough, have good colors and the automatic HDR function improves the dynamic range. In the dark you can make the screen light up briefly and that is a useful addition.

A dual camera is placed on the back of the Motorola One Vision. The primary lens is a Samsung GM1 sensor with a maximum resolution of 48 megapixels. By default, however, it shoots in 12 megapixels and combines four pixels into one larger pixel, which should result in better photos. We also see this so-called quad-bayer technology on competing smartphones with a 48 megapixel camera.

The photo performance of the One Vision does not disappoint and that is partly due to the automatic HDR function that improves the image quality. During the day, the camera shoots sharp photos with accurate colors and a good dynamic range. What is striking is that the camera does not immediately take a photo when you press the shutter button. In moving situations, for example with pets, you sometimes get moving pictures.

In the evening, the camera clearly does less well, but you can still take usable pictures. To do this, use the special night mode. It takes a few seconds to take several photos and then combine them into one lighter image, although there is noise present, especially on the sides.

Motorola provides the camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), a technique that counteracts jittery photos and videos. OIS is not standard in this price range and therefore a nice addition. The camera films in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second or in Full HD at 60 frames per second. The image stabilization works best in full HD mode. With enough (day) light, the Motorola One Vision makes excellent videos.

The second camera on the back is a 5 megapixel depth sensor. This works when taking a portrait photo and blurs the background, while the object or person in the foreground remains sharp. You can set per photo how bad the blur should be in the camera app and it is fun to experiment with this. The portrait function works well, but is certainly not perfect. Especially with flowers, the camera sometimes goes wrong by blurring leaves if that is not the intention, or vice versa. It is a fun function, but in this price range there are also smartphones with a wide-angle lens that captures more image in the photo. We find such a lens more useful.

Android One software

The Motorola One Vision is – just like its predecessor – equipped with Android One software. This means that the smartphone runs a virtually unmodified version of Android and has a guaranteed update policy. Until June 2022 you will receive a security update from Google every month and you can also count on two Android updates. On the reference date of July 26, the smartphone ran the security update of June 5.

Because the device now runs on Android 9.0 (Pie), you will soon receive Android 10.0 (Q) and Android R next year. A third update may follow, but that is still uncertain. The lengthy and consistent update policy is comparable to that of much more expensive Android smartphones. If you – rightly – value good software support, but do not want to spend a thousand euros on a smartphone, it is best to buy an Android One device.

Incidentally, Motorola is not the only manufacturer that releases Android One smartphones, because brands such as Nokia and Xiaomi also offer various models.

Motorola has barely adjusted the Android software on the One Vision. Some colors and settings have been adjusted and two Motorola apps have been installed. One of these is Moto, with which you can set all kinds of actions to operate the smartphone. This app is available on all Motorola devices. Shake twice to launch the camera, twist twice to turn the flashlight on or off, and wave your hand over the screen in standby mode to see the time, notifications and battery percentage.

Conclusion: Buy Motorola One Vision?

If you want to spend a maximum of 300 euros on a new smartphone, you should definitely consider the Motorola One Vision. The device has a beautiful design, good screen, decent cameras and capable hardware. The battery life is a bit disappointing, but not bad. The large camera hole in the screen is also a downside, but some will have more trouble with it than others. A big plus is the Android One software, which ensures a pleasant user experience with a long-term update policy. Bottom line, the Motorola One Vision is one of the best affordable smartphones of 2019.

Interesting alternatives are the Motorola Moto G7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy A50, Nokia 8.1 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 (Pro).

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