Motorola One first look: A steal for £269?

Key Features

  • 5.9-inch,19:9, HD+ ((720 x 1520), IPS display
  • Snapdragon 625 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage, microSD
  • 3000mAh battery with TurboPower charging
  • 13-megapixel / 2-megapixel dual camera
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Motorola One: An early look at one of the UK’s first Android One phones

The Motorola One was unveiled at the IFA trade show in Berlin at the start of September. It doesn’t have the wow factor of an iPhone XS, but it caused quite a stir nonetheless due to the appearance of Android One.

For those that missed it, Android One was unveiled by Google in 2014, but it’s only just beginning to make headway into the Western market.

It’s not separate version of Android, instead its a series of standards set by Google that aim to improve and unify the OS’ user experience. In the real world this means it brings with it a variety of benefits.

The biggest of these is that any Android One phone has to be completely unskinned. This means it’ll be blissfully free of bloatware and should be able to get patched and updated to new versions of the OS faster.

This is a key reason the Motorola One is being pitched by the company as “one of the first phones set to run Google’s new Android Pie software”, which is set to launch later this year.

The only questions we had around the Motorola One at launch were first, if it’d ever be released in the UK and second how much it would cost. Thankfully Motorola’s just answered both these questions. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Motorola One.

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Motorola One – Price and release date

The Motorola One will be available in the UK at  John Lewis, Amazon and Argos with a £269 RRP.

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Motorola One  – Specs and features

For a £269  smartphone, the Motorola One has some impressive hardware and design features, those you’d traditionally see on more expensive devices. For starters, like nearly every flagship, it has a mixed metal and glass design that’s clearly been influenced by the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Apple iPhone X.

Like its more expensive siblings, it’s almost bezel-free. It features an atypical 5.9-inch, 19:9, HD+ (720 x 1520) IPS display, complete with its very own notch. Although the design isn’t exactly original, it does make the Motorola One look significantly more premium than most phones at this price.

I didn’t dare drop-test it, given the glass back, but build quality felt solid enough. The back offered little to no flex when pressed.

Although it isn’t the sharpest around, the screen too generally looked decent considering the price. Blacks aren’t the deepest I’ve seen, but colours didn’t look oversaturated and icons and text were uniformly legible.

The only compromises you’ll discover are beneath the surface. The Snapdragon 625 CPU and 4GB of RAM running the show aren’t the worst combo around, but neither are they the best. The Honor Play runs a slightly faster Huawei Kirin chipset, with an upgraded 6GB of RAM option and boasts a special “GPU-boost” mode for gaming. While I’m not convinced that the GPU boost will be that useful, the specs are a cut above the Motorola One.

The camera is also slightly different. The dual camera setup pairs a 13-megapixel, f/2.0 lens with a secondary 2-megapixel f/2.4 sensor. Motorola claims this will be capable of replicating the bokeh and monochrome effects that are popular on competing flagships.

During my brief hands-on I found the Portrait mode looked fine when viewed on the-screen, with the subject looking reasonably sharp against the blurred background. However, I’m unable to sensibly comment on photo quality until I’ve checked the captured images on a monitor.

My only concern is that the camera app appeared to slow down when pushed to take photos in rapid succession. Being fair to Motorola, this was a pre-production sample, plus most phones at this price will struggle with the same test.

The cheaper Honor Play, which will retail for around £279, once again matches the Motorola One on specs, featuring a similar dual camera, but with a high 16-megapixel primary sensor.

I’m also a little concerned about the Motorola One’s battery life. While I haven’t had long enough with the Motorola One to gauge its stamina, 3000mAh is a little on the small side. Thankfully, it does feature turbopower support, allowing you to top up on the go, if battery life is an issue.

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First impressions

Minor hardware quibbles aside, on paper the Motorola One shows plenty of promise. For your money you get a variety of features traditionally reserved for more expensive phones, neatly contained in a premium-feeling, mixed metal and glass chassis.

The allure of a truly unskinned version of Android is also impossible to ignore, adding an element of future-proofing that’s often missing on most other affordable handsets.

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