Motorola One Action review: the action camera of smartphones

Published on February 11, 2020
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Flex your smartphones have always gotten the most attention thanks to their cutting-edge specs and new features but the mid-range segment has actually gotten a lot more interesting as of late newer devices like the Motorola one action take a different approach delivering great value with a unique twist looking at the Motorola one action doesn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary the phone features a plastic frame sandwiched between a 6.3 inch display up top and a plastic back which has a tendency to show off every smudge imaginable the fact that this is a $300 smartphone is made painfully obvious by the rear fingerprint sensor the fact that it only has a single speaker and that you barely get a splash resistance rating that being said you do get a headphone jack with Dolby Atmos audio and an FM radio and I was also pleasantly surprised by the phone’s haptic feedback which feels a lot better than what you get on most flagship devices the phone’s mid-range Exynos 96 onine chipset is significantly underpowered when compared to most other high-end devices these days but it’s essentially a tweaked version of the 10 nanometer chip that Samsung used on its Exynos powered Galaxy s8 this means that there’s more than enough power to play high end and even fast paced games like fortnight or call of duty mobile without any issues the experience won’t be as good as what you get on se Aiye Samsung Galaxy Note 1000 when you factor in the price if you’re a heavy multitasker the phone’s limited 4 gigabytes of RAM can be felt from time to time now I didn’t have any issues with the phone dumping regular apps from memory but if I tried jumping back into a game after 10 to 15 minutes it would often need to reload from scratch before I could resume playing the good news is that things are much better on the storage front with 128 gigabytes of internal storage and a micro SD card slot if you want to expand it even further the phones at 3,500 milliamp hour battery is mediocre at best only getting about 5 hours of screen on time in our test on a single charge it’s enough to get you through a full day but not quite as good as what Motorola had to offer with the g7 and the g7 power circling back to the 6.3 inch display you’re looking at a 21 by 9 aspect ratio panel which honestly is ideal for watching movies or TV shows but if you take a closer look you’ll notice that extra large hole punched out of it for the front-facing camera which kind of detracts from the whole experience fortunately the screen actually is pretty bright and there really isn’t any noticeable color shift at extreme angles quad HD resolution display would have been preferable at this size but it definitely wasn’t feasible at this price point so far the Motorola one action is a respectable mid-range smartphone but we haven’t even gotten to the feature for which the phone is named in addition to its 12 megapixel main camera and five megapixel depth sensor Motorola has equipped the phone with a unique 16 megapixel action camera on the back which features a 14 millimeter ultra wide lens which can only capture video the sensor uses electronic image stabilization which is actually pretty good and the other unique feature here is that the sensor is mounted at 90 degrees which means that you can record horizontal video while holding the phone vertically personally I hate vertical video so forcing people to record horizontal video while holding the phone upright is a stroke of pure genius the only real issue with that is that it’s a lot harder to see what you’re recording sense of the shrunk down in size on the screen the quality of the video that you get out of this is really good even though it’s limited to 1080p at 60 frames per second and when compared to some high-end flagship devices that have triple camera systems with an ultra wide angle lens many of those don’t allow you to record video making this an ideal option if you’re looking for an alternative to a GoPro the only real downside here is that this camera can’t actually snap pictures only record video though you can snap a screenshot once you hit the record button not really sure who thought that was a good idea when it comes to recording video in low-light situations the results are actually much better than what you would expect that’s because Motorola is using a sensor with 2 micron pixels the same size is what we saw on the ultra pixel camera HTC used back in the day if you do want to record 4k video you can do so but you’ll have to switch over to the standard 12 megapixel camera the video quality out of it is pretty good but it’s still a step below of what you would typically get from a $500 smartphone when it comes to taking pictures with the main camera I was honestly surprised by the results when you use the default settings the images can turn out just a little bit dull but when you switch on auto HDR the images come to life just a little bit more but don’t be surprised if you notice some inconsistencies from shot to shot if you want just a little bit more control than what you get for the auto settings Motorola has even included a manual mode in the camera app giving you full control over the camera settings and even allowing you to capture RAW images something that’s pretty rare for a budget device like this the 5 megapixel depth sensor really only comes into play when taking portrait shots the settings for this mode are a lot more intuitive on here than they are on most other devices giving you control over the blur and different lighting effects without having to dig too far into the menus the final results aren’t going to blow you away by any means but they are a great option if you’re looking to take a photo with a little bit more drama the 12 megapixel front-facing camera is good as well offering a portrait mode and a group selfie mode which stitches multiple images together like a panorama shot so that you can fit a large group in when all is said and done the Motorola 1 action may not come close to competing with a flagship smartphone but not everyone has 800 dollars or more to spend on a new device every few years this phone’s unique camera allows it to stand out making it’s a perfect fit for someone who’s been eyeing an action camera to simply record more video or for someone who wants the vlog allowing them to shoot edit and even post their videos directly from the device of course not everybody’s gonna fall within that category but if you’re looking for something similar and don’t mind spending roughly $50 more the Motorola 1 hyper may actually be a good alternative for you it’s a little bit more powerful and a much sleeker looking device it just won’t have that ultra wide camera which makes the Motorola 1 action so unique.
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