I’ve been using iPhones exclusively since my late teens, when I ditched the numerous Nokia phones I’d dropped in rivers and toilets.
I was a terrible phone mum until I spent an entire pay cheque or two on an outdated iPhone model and treated it like it was my own human baby.
Since then, I’ve gotten used to Apple OS’s streamlined interface and haven’t really looked back.
So, when I was asked to review the Motorola One Vision, operating on the Android One, I hesitated a bit. Was I really ready to learn a whole new OS? Would I finally figure out how to exit apps, my primary weakness on Android? I decided to find out.
The Google Pixel 3 was a contentious handset when it launched last year. A good phone to be sure, but the price was a touch high for incremental upgrades to what the Pixel 2 was already packing. But Google wasn't done. Last month it came in hot with its lite version of the device. Not only are the specs ridiculously similar to its bigger siblings, so is the camera. Oh and the battery is better. In one fell swoop Google fucked the mid-range phone market. In fact, it may have even fucked the high range one. It redefined what consumers should expect for $650 and thus threw the phone landscape into glorious chaos. And I for one worship it.
As technology progresses, screens get bigger, cameras get more powerful but the price tag gets more and more ridiculous. Thankfully, telco companies are responding to this gap in the market by creating new offerings that squeeze in as many tech features as possible in a reasonably affordable package.
But before we dive in to whether my brain allowed me to understand both systems, let’s take a look at what the One Vision is packing in the trunk...
Gimme The Specs
- Display type: 2.5D Gorilla Glass
- Screen: 6.34" FHD+ 21:9
- Size: about 157.3mm x 74.9mm x 9.1mm
- Screen resolution: 1080 x 2520
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 9609
- RAM: 4GB
- Memory: 128GB
- Battery: 3,500mAh
- Sensors: Proximity Sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnometer, Gyroscope, Sensor Hub, e-compass
- Cameras: 48 megapixel (main camera), 25 megapixel (selfie camera)
What’s Good About It?
The first thing I noticed was how loudly it yelled to inform me it was on. The second thing was how well this mid-range handset performed. After nearly a fortnight of using it and loading up all my heavy apps on it, it barely blinked.
It runs on a Samsung Exynos 9609 chip, which pumps out up to 60 fps and can clock up to 2.2GHz helping it tick along smoothly.
Running Android One, the One Vision ditches all the bloatware offering a simple interface, which was great seeing as I was on Android training wheels. It’s also incredibly responsive to touch, given its almost bezel-less screen (more on that later), so it reacted quickly (and sometimes frustratingly) to anywhere my clumsy fingers touched.
I got pretty excited when I heard the rear camera was 48-megapixels and the 25-megapixel selfie camera was fitted with an AI-powered ‘Beauty Mode’. Sadly, this mode did not make me look like a striking model, instead somehow making me paler than I usually am. But hey, the primary camera delivered the goods.
There was also portrait mode giving you option to adjust the aperture to create a bokeh effect on the background. It took about 30 shots to get my model to stay still but even in poor lighting it was able to capture his true self.
I took most shots on an unusually warm winter’s day and was surprised by how well the camera was able to capture colours and shadows in direct sunlight. However, it did its best work in balanced lighting.
Sometimes images appeared like someone had turned the saturation or white balance up a tad too much, primed for the ‘gram but most I took had captured the day’s vibrancy naturally.
In terms of night sight, it handled things pretty well for a mid-range device. I tested it from my balcony and in Night Vision mode, it was able to capture things I couldn’t actually see with my eye. It worked best when there was a bit of light to work with rather than pointing it at the night sky, which I quickly learned.
Strangely, the size of images captured was in 4:3, which looked a bit odd when scrolling through the phone’s gallery, given the phone’s 21:9 display size.
Overall, while it’s not going to replace your mirrorless camera any time soon (or a high-end camera phone), it’s ability to capture some impressive shots on the fly is a huge selling point for rookies like yours truly.
In terms of what else is on the market for this price, it exceeds its competition. Coming closest is probably the Oppo Reno Z, which is a bit of a unicorn too.
Perhaps the most unique difference for the One Vision compared to other similarly priced offerings is its size. It’s a slim and tall boi, which fits well in my small hands. I could easily touch anything across the width of the screen with just one hand, but only the bottom two-thirds were within reach.
For that top third, unless you have long and nimble fingers, you’ll need to deploy your second hand. But this is pretty standard for an industry which keeps increasing phone sizes across the board.
As a sidenote, props to the Gorilla Glass, which was able to withstand me dropping the phone a few times thanks to clumsy fingers (sorry, Motorola).
What’s Not So Good?
While I didn’t mind its slim, tall build in terms of holding the phone, the screen wasn’t always a fun time. Many things like images, and even Netflix, didn’t fit the width of the screen and required a digital bezel to keep the ratio correct.
My OCD also acted up when only a slither of the majestic pre-loaded landscape wallpapers could be displayed. It’s really only a minor frustration if you start to notice them while watching shows but during a quick scroll of your photo gallery, it might mean double tapping to zoom into all your shots.
I wasn’t using the phone extensively during work and it seemed to maintain its battery fairly well. But on days I gave the camera and social media apps a workout, the phone’s charge seemed to slip through the digital drain faster than it should have.
The battery is supposed to have a 3,500mAh capacity to help it run all its cool features but it just wasn’t holding a safe level of charge when I really went to town on it. Even idling in my work desk, it lost around 20 per cent of charge over the day with all background apps closed.
Thanks to a fast charger, Motorola claims you'll get seven hours of power after a 15 minute charge. From my experience, this is a bit of an overstatement with a 15-minute charge delivering around 20 per cent battery power.
It's possible 20 per cent of battery could last seven hours if you didn't look touch it but if you're charging your phone because you'd like to use it, I'd hedge my bets it's not likely to last that long.
It’s not a huge dealbreaker, it just means you’ll likely need to keep a charger on you for phone-intense days.
Should You Buy It?
I, an iPhone user, had a fun few weeks using the Motorola One Vision. I learnt how to close apps and use widgets and I feel I'm a better person for it.
It’s a pretty great entry point for someone looking to escape your fruity overlords (Tim… Apple…) or get yourself a respectable upgrade if you’re struggling to read your text messages through the 37 cracks on your screen. Plus, you won't exhaust all your savings on it.
The Motorola One Vision is far from the perfect phone but at $499, but it's not a bad price at a time where smartphones cost more than your first car.
That being said, now that the likes of of the Google Pixel 3a ($649) and Oppo Reno Z ($499) are in market with their ridiculous specs for the same price, or a little bit more, Motorola may need to to think about beefing up its next-gen mid-range offering.