With a long display, 48-megapixel camera and Samsung’s mid-tier chipset, the Motorola One Vision is a nearly brilliant mish-mash
- 21:9 design
- Android One support
- Battery life is decent
- 48-megapixel camera is disappointing
- Display accuracy could be better
Motorola has somewhat pigeonholed itself in recent years as a firm that focuses its efforts on wallet-friendly alternatives to pricey four-figured handsets. Despite the potentially negative connotations that come with the category, Motorola has deservedly cornered the low-end of the price scale with its excellent G-series lineup, earning awards and recommendations with each new iteration.
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But here comes the new Motorola One Vision. It’s years since Motorola has made a serious assault on the mid-range market, but this phone ushers in the firm’s newfound commitment to doing just that – breaking out of its budget comfort zone and taking on Sony, Xiaomi and Samsung at a slightly higher price level.
Motorola One Vision review: Key specifications, price and release date
- 6.3in FHD+ (2,520 x 1,080) LCD screen
- Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9609 processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage (microSD up to 512GB)
- Dual SIM
- 25MP f/2.0 front camera
- Dual rear cameras: 48MP f/1.7 (wide); 5MP f/2.2 (ultrawide)
- 3,500mAh battery
- 160 x 71 x 8.7mm
- Android 9 Pie
- UK price: £269
- UK release: 30 May 2019 (available to preorder today)
Motorola One Vision review: What you need to know
From the get-go, it’s clear that the Motorola One Vision is a radical departure from its otherwise budget-priced stablemates. It’s already shaping up to be Motorola’s best-looking smartphone to date and is fitted with an intriguing 21:9 aspect ratio screen – a first for Motorola.
Perhaps most interesting of all is that the One Vision is equipped with the same 48-megapixel sensor (using what Motorola calls “Quad Pixel” technology) as a few of its pricier alternatives, including the Vivo V15 Pro and newly-announced OnePlus 7 Pro. This sensor is expected to deliver better quality images than the rest of Motorola’s phone output.
Intriguingly, you’ll find a Samsung chipset powering the phone. The octa-core Exynos 9609 CPU makes its first-ever appearance on a non-Samsung phone and is clocked at a reasonable 2.2GHz. The One Vision also comes with 4GB of RAM and a healthy 128GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a further 512GB via microSD. All told, this a fiercely formidable smartphone and a notable improvement on last year’s Motorola One.
Motorola One Vision review: Price and competition
At £269, the Motorola One Vision hits exactly the same price as the Moto G7 Plus and the existing Motorola One, placing it firmly on the border between the budget and mid-range categories. There’s a lot on offer for a relatively small amount of money here, but it’s still important to consider some similarly priced alternatives.
The G7 Plus is arguably its biggest challenger. It misses out on the fancy camera unit of the One Vision, but still offers a similar flagship-like experience in a nicely tied up, well-rounded package.
Perhaps the more dangerous threat, however, is the Xiaomi Pocophone F1. Dropping drastically in price since launch last year, Xiaomi’s flagship-killing phone is powered by a superior Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and costs just under £300. Sony’s Xperia 10 also offers a similarly stretched-out screen for the same money.
Motorola One Vision review: Design and key features
Without a doubt, the Moto One Vision is a better-looking phone than the lot of them. It’s certainly not as yawn-inducing as its predecessor, with a contoured “4D” glass rear that shimmers nicely in the light and is slightly curved on all four sides of the phone.
You don’t need to perform any finger gymnastics when holding it in one hand either, despite that elongated screen. It might peer out of shallow pockets, but the One Vision fits snugly in the hand and the various physical elements, including the right-mounted power and volume rocker buttons, are easy to reach.
The left edge hosts the nano-SIM card slot, which is also where you pop in your microSD card if you want to expand the phone’s 128GB of internal storage. You’ll find a USB Type-C charging port on the bottom of the phone, which supports charging speeds up to 15W, and a 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top.
The design of last year’s model felt rather disjointed, as if the seams hadn’t quite been pressed together correctly. Thankfully, the sides don’t feel as ragged this time around and meet much more cleanly. Nor is the front of the One Vision spoiled by an obtrusive iPhone-like notch, with the selfie camera embedded in an in-display pinhole notch in the top left corner of the screen. I much prefer this method to all of the other phones I’ve tested recently, as it generally looks neater and doesn’t get in the way as much.
Motorola One Vision review: Display
As for the quality of that stretched-out screen, well, its specifications are far from industry-leading. After all, this is an IPS panel, meaning you won’t get the same sort of top-shelf viewing experience as its OLED-fitted competition, and its Full HD+ (2,520 x 1,080) resolution is hardly worth screaming about, even if it is an improvement on last year’s 720p effort.
In technical tests, the One Vision’s screen proved to be pretty decent for the price. It managed to produce 90.6% of the sRGB colour gamut, with a total gamut volume of 93.4% on the phone’s “Natural” colour profile. This is pretty much expected for a phone at this price point, with decent-looking colours across the palate and only a few instances of oversaturation with red and light-green tones.
The screen’s contrast ratio of 1,226:1 is also pretty good, although it’s not quite as pin-sharp as the screen on the Motorola One, which produced a greater vibrancy to images. This might have something to do with the fact that it isn’t quite as bright, with a measured peak luminance of 429cd/m².
As for the One Vision’s intriguing 21:9 aspect ratio, there simply isn’t enough content that’s viewable in this format at the moment. It’s certainly nice to squeeze a bit more of your social media feed onto the screen, but other than that, this elongated ratio isn’t being used to its full potential. Give it a little while and I’m sure the likes of Netflix and Prime Video will add to its content offering, especially as the stuff you can watch in 21:9 format is terrific, lacking those intrusive black bars above and below the screen when watching in landscape mode.
Motorola One Vision review: Performance and battery life
Move past the phone’s weirdly tall and thin look, and you’ll spot something equally unique inside. Strangely enough, rather than sticking with the Qualcomm standard, the One Vision is powered by one of Samsung’s mid-tier processors. This certainly doesn’t happen very often in the smartphone world.
What’s more, this is the first time we’ve ever seen this processor, including in Samsung’s handsets. Coming in close to the Exynos 9610 (which powers the Galaxy A50), the octa-core Exynos 9609 chipset is clocked at a slightly-slower 2.2GHz and is built using a 10nm fabrication process. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Now that I’ve had the chance to fully benchmark the phone, I can tell you that the Motorola One Vision is a nippy little handset, although it doesn’t achieve barnstorming results. According to the Geekbench 4 single- and multi-core CPU benchmark, Motorola’s latest handset reached scores of 1,608 and 5,443 respectively. Rest assured that the One Vision doesn’t seem to stumble, even in processor-heavy applications.
It also doesn’t have any glaring problems when running graphically intensive games, either. In fact, it beat the majority of its similarly-priced competition in the GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 on-screen and off-screen tests, with scores of 21fps and 24fps. Anecdotally, the One Vision successfully ran PUBG Mobile and Fortnite without any game-ruining frame rate hiccups.
Battery life is another area that’s quite good, despite the larger display. In our video rundown test, with Flight mode engaged and the screen set to our standard brightness of 170cd/m², the Moto One Vision managed to last 14hrs 26mins before needing to be plugged into a wall socket. That’s not the longest I’ve seen recently, but you shouldn’t run out of juice when you’re out and about.
Motorola One Vision review: Software
Unsurprisingly, the Motorola One Vision is running the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 9 Pie. This is pretty much a stock Android experience, adding welcome features such as an app-limiting “digital wellbeing” mode and simpler navigation tools.
What’s particularly special is that the Motorola One Vision includes Android One, which is a special software standard that ensures the phone receives important security updates on a monthly basis for at least two years after the phone’s release.
Essentially, this means that the Vision will be updated to at least Android 11 (whatever they decide to call it) in its lifetime. If you’re searching for a phone that’s as future-proof as they come, this is it.
Besides Android One, Motorola has also included a handful of gesture-based features to its software. You can shake your phone to activate the torch, for instance, or flip it to capture what’s on screen. I question how useful these gesture controls are, however, especially as I’m always hesitant to fling my phone about.
Motorola One Vision review: Camera
Despite the multi-camera trend well and truly taking a foothold, you’ll only find a pair of camera sensors on the back of the phone. That might sound boring, but the main camera unit is particularly special, bringing a 48-megapixel sensor to the low-end for the very first time.
We’ve seen this sensor pop up a few times – most recently in the OnePlus 7 Pro – but it’s certainly a nice surprise to see it make an appearance on a phone this cheap. Motorola also made a big deal about its proprietary “Quad Pixel” technology at the launch, which combines four pixels into one large 1.6μm pixel, supposedly delivering four times the light sensitivity for brighter low-light photographs.
The main rear camera is backed up by a five-megapixel depth-sensing lens for blurred background portrait photos. I would have much preferred a telephoto or wide-angle lens instead, as I don’t find these depth-sensing units to be all that useful, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless.
Unfortunately, photo quality isn’t quite as good as I’d hoped. It’s a similar story to what we saw recently in OnePlus’ high-megapixel camera, with the 48MP sensor failing to deliver somewhat – what looks like a heavy-handed noise reduction algorithm reduces the quality of the images. Pictures looked fine, of course, but they can’t reveal the same amount of fine detail as those taken using the Moto G7 Plus.
Thankfully, you won’t encounter these problems if you drop the resolution down a bit, although this is unfortunate considering Motorola is resting on the One Vision’s much-touted 48-megapixel photographic capabilities in its marketing materials.
Despite singing its praises at the launch event, the Moto One Vision’s “Night Vision” shooting mode also doesn’t seem to offer much, actually making images worse in some instances. Generally speaking, low-light pictures seemed to have more visual noise with this setting switched on and it didn’t really brighten things up.
If you’re the slightly vain type who posts pictures of your face on the internet, the selfie camera is significantly better, capturing oodles of detail and lovely Bokeh-effect portraits. Video is also very good, with well-judged exposures and rock-solid stabilisation at 60fps at Full HD resolution.
Motorola One Vision review: Verdict
These camera woes are such a major disappointment because, otherwise, the One Vision is a phenomenal mid-tier offering. In fact, it did so well in all of the other areas that I had it on track for a certain recommendation, so it’s a shame to see it fall at the final hurdle.
Of course, the One Vision’s camera faults could be addressed in future software updates, but as it stands, I’m going to suggest holding back. It’s a solid phone, of course, but chances are you’re reading this review because you’re curious about its massive 48-megapixel camera – the one element that, sadly, under-delivers.
In the meantime, if you aren’t willing to wait for potential updates, the Moto G7 Plus remains our favourite budget buy. Its camera is much better, performance is just as solid and, crucially, it’s the exact same price.