Hands on: Motorola One Vision Review

The Motorola One Vision is the latest Android One mid-range smartphone from the veteran smartphone maker behind the Moto G. It aims to offer buyers top-notch camera tech coupled with the inherent benefits of Android One, which guarantees it will be updated to new Android versions for some time to come. But with other stellar mid-range phones on the horizon, including the OnePlus 7 and Galaxy A80, it's likely to have some pretty stiff competition.

First Impressions

The Motorola One Vision doesn't have the wow factor of its arch-rivals, but from what we've seen it gets nearly all the basics right and could be one of 2019's best mid-range smartphones as a result.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £269
  • 6.3-inch LCD 21:9 FHD+
  • Android 9 Android One
  • Samsung Exynos 9609 2.2GHz
  • 4GB RAM 128GB (microSD)
  • 160 x 71 x 8.7mm
  • 180G
  • 3500mAh 15W TurboPower charger
  • 48-megapixel (OIS) + 5-megapixel depth f/1.7 rear camera
  • 25-megapixel f/2.0 front camera

In the market for a great value-for-money Android smartphone, such as the newly unveiled OnePlus 7 or the Samsung Galaxy A80? Well, you may want to hold your horses and check out the Motorola One Vision before parting with your hard-earned cash.

The Motorola One Vision is the latest mid-range handset in Motorola’s lineup of smartphones. This is a big deal: while the One series doesn’t have the brand recognition of Motorola’s Moto G line, for me it’s far more interesting for one key reason – One phones are part of Google’s Android One initiative.

This is a key factor that guarantees the handset will run a pristine, nigh untouched version of Google’s OS and receive updates to new Android versions as long as its hardware will handle them. You’re not going to get that guarantee with any other £269 smartphone.

The only reason that past One-series phones such as last year’s Motorola One didn’t get Trusted’s hallowed 4.5 or 5 star rating was because of their slightly mediocre hardware. But that’s changed with the Motorola One Vision, which features upgraded parts across the board, including a move to use the same spiffy camera sensor seen in the OnePlus 7.

This combination of factors makes the Motorola One Vision, on paper at least, a stellar mid-range smartphone. Following a few days using the device, I feel the Motorola One Vision could be one of 2019’s surprise hits – and a contender for best mid-range smartphone.

Here’s why.

Related: Best smartphone

Motorola One Vision back 3

Motorola One Vision camera: OnePlus 7 rivalling tech

Camera tech is currently the primary battleground in the flagship smartphone market. This is great since it’s seen a wealth of top-end camera features begin to trickle down to the mid-range market. The Motorola One Vision is a good example.

Motorola has loaded the One Vision with a dual-sensor rear camera setup that combines a main 48-megapixel, with OIS (optical image stabilisation), Sony IMX sensor with a 5-megapixel f/1.7 secondary depth sensor.

The setup is very similar to the one found in the regular OnePlus 7, which uses the same primary Sony IMX main sensor with a secondary 16-megapixel secondary sensor.

Check out our OnePlus 7 review hands-on

The sensor isn’t the top player in Sony’s current line – but, based on our past experience, it’s still a solid performer. The main reason for this is its “quad-pixel” tech, which makes the camera intelligently shoot and combine four photos into a single 12-megapixel snap every time you hit the shutter button. In theory, this will help remove noise and improve low-light performance.

The tech also features on the Motorola One Vision’s 25-megapixel sensor, which captures giant 1.8um pixels – a factor that on paper should let you take usable selfies in low light.

In addition to the above, Motorola has added its own camera app to further improve image quality. It follows the AI trend Google started with its Pixel line of phones and is one of the only additions, aside of Moto actions, to the One Vision’s software. It includes a nifty AI feature that’s designed to help improve lighting in portrait shots and bokeh effects using machine learning tech.

I’ve only had a brief chance to test the cameras, but so far I’ve found the One Vision’s unit is a clear step up on the Moto G7 Plus, performing admirably well against the more expensive OnePlus 7 we tested yesterday. Images in regular light look sharp, display reasonably accurate-looking colours, and are free of the over-processed look I’ve seen on competing “AI” cameras such as the ZenFone 5.

The only minor annoyance I’ve experienced is that the autofocus feels a little laggy. Although fine in general, I’ve noticed a fraction of a second delay when switching subjects. I’ll be curious to see if the issue repeats with more thorough testing.

Related: Best camera phone

Motorola One Vision held

Motorola One Vision design: Clearly inspired by the Galaxy S10

Elsewhere, it’s pretty much business as usual, especially on the design front. Being honest, these days if the branding were removed from any smartphone, most punters would struggle to determine whether the device is a  Galaxy, OnePlus, LG or Huawei phone.

Every 2019 flagship, and many mid-rangers, sport similar metal and glass designs. The One Vision’s design does feel very by-the-numbers; it’s clearly taken much inspiration from the Galaxy S10 – it even has the same, ugly hole-punch design front camera.

Up close there are a few design differences that make it moderately more interesting than most competing mid-range phones. The biggest is the 6.3-inch LCD, FHD+ screen’s custom 21:9 aspect ratio. The Motorola One Vision isn’t the first phone to feature a 21:9 aspect ratio – we saw this on the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus earlier this year – but it’s still a rarity in the phone market.

The theorised reason for the custom aspect ratio is to offer up more screen real estate when scrolling through apps such as Twitter, also making movie watching more immersive. Many modern movies are mastered in 21:9.

I’m not convinced about the need for movies, though. This is because most modern movies don’t take advantage of the aspect ratio when streamed on Netflix, Google Play or Crunchyroll. The extra space does let you see an extra tweet or two in Twitter, though, which is nice.

The screen also looks pretty good to the naked eye. Although I’ve yet to have the opportunity to benchmark it with a colourimeter, colours don’t look oversaturated and black levels are solid, albeit not as deep as the ones you’ll find on OLED screens. My only minor qualm is that whites are a little dirtier than I’d like. But you’re never going to get a perfect screen at this price.

Performance, too, is solid. I haven’t tested many phones using the Samsung Exynos 9609 CPU, which generally appears on non-UK phones from the likes of Meizu. However, over the past few days I haven’t had any issues performing tasks from web browsing to 3D gaming. I’ll be interested to see how it performs with more thorough testing.

Battery life is another key factor I’m yet to test. If my past experience with Android One phones is anything to go by, then the clean Android install and moderately sized 3500mAh should easily last at least a day of moderate use.

Related: Best mid-range smartphoneMotorola One Vision back 2

Motorola One Vision early verdict

The Motorola One Vision may not have the wow factor of competing mid-range flagships, such as the OnePlus 7 or Google Pixel 3a, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s a stellar smartphone that gets nearly all the fundamentals right.

Early testing suggests the camera isn’t a flagship killer, but it certainly feels cut above what you’ll find on most other sub-£300 Android phones. This, plus the inherent benefits of Android One, makes the Motorola One Vision feel like it could be one of the best mid-range handsets to the arrive this year.

Hopefully, the Motorola One Vision will make good on its opening promise when we more thoroughly put it through its paces.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test each product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare things properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.