Price (RRP): $499
Motorola One Vision is at worst an experiment and at best a remarkable mass-market phone with features that found on a much more expensive one.
I say Motorola One Vision is an experiment because it already has its safe, dependable, reliable, typically Motorola pedigree g7-series paddling in the same mass-market pool. These have become the darling of enterprise fleet phones and sell very well online and via Officeworks and Good Guys. But as good as the g-series are there are now solid challengers offering better specs and sexy colours.
The Motorola One Vision is an experiment as it uses a Samsung Exynos 9609 processor (good choice) instead of Qualcomm SD; 6.3-inch 21:9 screen (huge screen real-estate for this category); a massive 48MP, OIS, quad-pixel/5MP depth camera and a 25MP selfie; Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.0, NFC, USB-C quick charge; and a 4/128GB/microSD to 256GB. It is also exclusive to JB Hi-Fi (Bronze colour) or via Motorola’s online store.
And it is an experiment because it Motorola/Lenovo do not make it in their factory (as the g and z-series are) but shopped to an ODM to get the maximum economy of scale. Motorola wanted to challenge what a mass-market phone could offer.
We have analysed the Motorola One Vision, poked and prodded from top to toe and for the price it is superb.
Our opinion – it is helped to redefine the <$500 mass-market category – like Nokia, OPPO and Samsung have all done lately.
Spoiler alert – Motorola One Vision is everything you need for your daily drive.
How we rate smartphones
We develop paradigms – what they need to do – and slot them into market segments.
We review against different paradigms for each category.
- Foldable $2500+
- Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
- Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of sales)
- Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last year’s flagship at run-out price)
- Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
- Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
- Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the market – good for pre-paid and children)
For example, a mass-market phone typically has micro-USB, 12MP ‘social media’ cameras, older/slower processors, etc.
Buy here – or you will regret it
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine Motorola One Vision model XT-1970-1 with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Telco carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.
Buying genuine is pretty simple – the AU version is in Bronze Gradient and only available from JB Hi-Fi or Motorola on-line.
International models with a suffix other than -1 are not for Australia. Nor is the P50 China-only model. Also the Blue colour is not for here.
DO NOT SHOP ELSEWHERE AS INTERNATIONAL MODELS OFTEN LACK THE ALL-IMPORTANT LTE BAND 28!
Motorola One Vision Model XT-1970-1 4/128GB, Dual Sim, AU version firmware
Australian Website here.
In the box
- Australian pin charger 5V/3A, 9V/2A and 12V/1.5A (18W) – Motorola calls this 15W TurboPower.
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- 3.5 mm/USB earbuds and mic
- Clear plastic bumper case
The first impression
Tall 21:9, slender (8.7mm); big 7mm O-hole on the left; bright, flat 2.5D screen with reasonably sized bezels; do not mind the Bronze Gradient (chocolate brown) colour; 3.5mm jack; Batwing logo fingerprint reader; and dual camera bump on the back.
The name Motorola One Vision refers to the fact that it uses Android One. It is a pure Android system with any additions allowed only as apps. So, it can get regular security updates for three years, and Android OS updates for two years straight from Google. My advice – if you are going to buy a mass-market device, make sure it is ‘Android One’.
Yes, it is a glass slab, albeit a very tall one – no frills. Forgive my jaded soul, but in a world of smartphones, there is nothing that screams Motorola except the fingerprint reader. When you walk into JB Hi-Fi, you may be tempted by other phones with sexy, sizzling colours and it may be easy to overlook this.
A word of advice – don’t!
|Size: 6.3-inch |
Resolution: 2520 x 1080 x 55Hz
Type: LTPS IPS LCD
Colour depth in bit/colours: 16m
Brightness: 450 nits (typical), 550 (average), 630 (max)
Contrast: typical 1200:1 and maximum 1,500:1
Colour gamut: not stated but apparently 90.6% sRGB*
Notch: 7mm O-hole on left
|Screen protection: type: Toughened glass from NEG|
|Daylight readability: Average. Brightness is a little low|
|Off angle viewing: Good colours to about 80°|
This screen has good brightness specifications. The uniformity was a little off – the centre, bottom centre and O-Hole were brighter and the edges lower. It was not bad, but it was noticeable.
Screen colour controls are natural, boosted and saturated. Hidden in Developer Options is sRGB mode – find it!
We do not expect good Delta E or good colour gamut on a mass-market device. It measured very close to 100% sRGB* coverage (amazing), but the Delta E was 6 (below 0-4 is best), so you have a cool-blue tint.
It was also flicker-free – again unusual for this class.
Gamers may be a little disappointed with nearly a 50ms G-T-G response time, but otherwise, the GPU is quite capable of
21:9 means tall and narrow. Most video content is not optimised for this, and some apps black out the top and bottom of the screen.
|Processor||10nm Samsung Exynos 9609 |
4x A73 (2.2GHz) and 4 x A53 (1.6Ghz)
|GPU||ARM Mail-G72 MP3|
Vulkan, DirectX 12 and OpenGL ES 3.2.
|RAM||RAM: 4GB LPDDR4X|
Storage: 128GB UFS 105GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 256GB (noter 512GB in some literature)
We are really impressed with the new Samsung Exynos range that, along with its camera sensors and memory/storage, it is starting to sell to competitors. The Motorola One Vision is the first to use an Exynos.
The 9609 has vision image processing (DSP), neural network engine and deep learning that is particularly suited to post-processing images and adding the AI features found on more expensive smartphones – particularly the [email protected] video. The slightly faster 9610 is in Samsung’s latest A50 smartphone.
At idle the four A53 cores were at 400Mhz, and the four A73 were at 936Mhz indicating power-efficient use.
GeekBench single/multi-core is 1611/5388 – impressive at this price and close to the original Google Pixel with a Qualcomm SD821 or a Galaxy S7-series. Overall compute index is 4958. To put that in perspective it is far faster than the mid-range Qualcomm SD6XX or Huawei Kirin 7XX series.
The Mali-G72 GPU uses a second-generation Bifrost architecture that supports the latest graphics APIs and diverse processing techniques such as MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing) for great details and ASTC (Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression) and AFPC (Arm Frame Buffer Compression) for efficient graphics rendering by reducing memory bandwidth usage. It is suitable for most mobile games.
We did notice some throttling over a 15-minute test starting at 141,779 GIPS and gradually reducing to 103,498 GIPS. This is 76% of its maximum performance.
Interestingly the 1.6GHz A53 were all rock-solid, and the 2.2Ghz A73 cores were the ones that throttled. I suspect that this is more about heat control. Heat load at 100% topped out at 40°, which is warm but not uncomfortable – especially in winter.
|Wi-FI||Wi-Fi 5 (AC), dual-band, 2 x 2 MU-MIMO|
Wi-Fi 5GHz signal strength is -49dBm compared to our reference Galaxy Note9 at -48 (lower is better). That means it has excellent Wi-Fi connectivity. It achieves a maximum of 866Mbps at two metres from our reference D-Link AC5300.
|LTE||Cat 12/13 – 600/150Mbps |
|Sim||Dual or hybrid with microSD|
|Other||One sim can be VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier|
Signal strength was -87dBm and picked the next nearest cell up at -113. Our Galaxy Note9 has -96 and does not bring up the adjacent tower, so it reflects later technology.
|Sound||3.5mm audio jack|
Mono: down firing
Buds type: 3.5 combo standard
It has Dolby Smart Audio that automatically adjusts the speaker characteristics to content. You can also select music or movie. Our tests were on Smart settings.
Maximum ringer volume is 88dB – very loud. Music/voice is 75/78dB – also very good.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – nil
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – almost nil creeping in at 180Hz
- Low-mids: 200-400Hz – building
- Mids: 400-1000Hz – flat
- High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
- Treble:4-6kHz – flat
- High Treble: 6-1kHz – flat
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – good to 16kHz
This is a bright vocal sound signature – good for clear voice but a little harsh for music. We did test selecting Dolby Audio Music mode, but it made little difference – it is hard to change the natural characteristics of a small speaker.
In hands-free, it was excellent – loud and callers could hear me clearly.
The phone supports BT 5.0 but no high res codecs. We tried with a pair of Sony WH-100XM3 headphones, and the results were commensurate with that type of codec.
We tested the 3.5mm buds – themselves a curiosity these days and the sound was, as expected, with weak upper-mids and treble. It appears to support 4-ohm buds and headphones, and you may expect lower volumes with 8/16/32-ohm headsets.
GPS and e-compass
As expected, the rear fingerprint sensor was reliable. Face Unlock is software-based and took about a second to activate in good light. Forget using it in low light.
We took it for a drive to test out the GPS functions. It was perfectly adequate for turn-by-turn navigation.
|Charger||USB-C/USB-PD 2.0, 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (18W) |
Quick Charge: 15W Turbo – 7 hours use for 15 minutes
Approx recharge time: under two hours
The battery is slightly above average size for this class of device. 15W turbo charge is excellent and ensures a full battery in around 1.5-2 hours or under four hours with a standard 5V/1A charger. USB-C/USB-PD is rare on this class of device.
Some days I had 20% left at 10 PM and others 50% for what were very similar use. It could stretch for two days with moderate use. However, Android Pie battery management takes several weeks to kick in so we would expect some improvement over time.
- 1080p Video loop, 50% brightness, Airplane mode nearly 14 hours
- Under 100% load, maximum brightness and everything turned on – four hours
Given typical use we expect this to run for 24+ hours between charges.
UI: Pure Android
Android One is pure Android and should receive at least two OS upgrades and three years of patches and security updates.
Pie has loads of features, including AI, to learn about your use and adapt the phone to it. In the test week, we started to see minor improvements, especially in the over-aggressive adaptive brightness setting. What is more exciting it that a mass-market phone will get Android 10 and 11 – unheard of.
Moto Actions are useful and are more about gesture control – chop twice (for the flashlight), attentive display (stays on when you look at it), twist wrist twice (for the camera), three-finger screenshot etc.
|Colours||Bronze Gradient (Blue is not for Australia)|
|Build||Toughened front glass|
Gorilla Glass 4 back over a plastic frame.
Slippery – use the bumper case
|Dimensions||160 x 71.2 x 8.7mm x 181g|
Excellent build quality. IP52 means ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment. The ‘2’ means vertically dripping water for up to 10 minutes shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position, e.g. light rain.
|Missing||No notification LED|
Motorola One Vision camera
|Rear Camera 1|
|MP: 48MP (quad pixel binning means 12MP image) – no option for 48MP|
Sensor brand/model: Samsung SK5GM1 ISOCELL Plus, Tetracell ½” sensor
Pixel Size: .8um (binned to the equivalent of 1.6um)
Focus type: PDAF
Zoom: Digital (not stated – appears to be up to 8X)
AI scene recognition
Flash type: dual
Saved images: RAW or JPEG
Video: [email protected]
Google Lens: Yes
|Camera features||STILL: Burst shot, Auto HDR, Timer, ZSL, High-res zoom, Cinemagraph, Portrait mode, cut-out, 360-degree Panorama, Manual mode, Active photos, Spot colour, Best shot, Watermark Night Vision, Live filter, smart composition, portrait lighting, auto smile capture|
VIDEO: Slow motion video, Time-lapse video, Hyper lapse video, YouTube Live Stream
|Rear Camera 2||5MP (depth and rear bokeh only)|
|Selfie 1||25MP (binned to 6.2MP image)|
.9um (binned to equivalent of 1.8um)
Portrait mode, spot colour,
No stabilisation or fill flash
Why the detail?
I hate, repeat hate euphemism like ‘extrapolated’ or ‘interpolated’ (Alcatel we are looking at you) and now the 48MP saga (not just Motorola – at least it is honest about binning).
Like Sony’s 48MP IMX586 sensor, the Samsung sensor 4-to1 pixel bins from 48MP to 12MP. Yes, that offers some ‘artificial’ post-processing advantages (if the SoC can handle it and the Exynos can), but it is no better than a straight 12MP sensor camera.
What One Vision offers
Tetracell not only improves image quality in both bright and dark lighting conditions, but it also improves HDR performance in high-contrast environments.
Tests – all auto
Daylight shots are excellent; colours are natural and bright – a feature of pixel-binning as it tries to produce a brighter image. I could not fault it. Digital Zoom, like any brand, is a disaster, but OIS enables you to make the best of it.
Summary – 48/12MP and a 5MP depth camera produces great images.
Indoors Office Light (400 lumen)
Office lighting can be tricky as it can cast a yellow (fluorescent) or cool blue (LED). So, we test in natural light between 400-500 lumen.
This is a good shot picking up the detail in the toy dog’s fur. But the colours are ever so slightly washed out. The Sudoku book is a brighter red and the appliances in the background a little more vibrant.
Low light (room with less than 100 lumen)
It has a normal mode and night mode.
Normal mode gets maximum light from what is a darkened room and colours are acceptable. You can see where pixel binning comes in handy.
But turn on night mode, and it works on brightness and colours are more saturated. I would not say it is a better shot – just a brighter one.
25/6.2MP has heaps of colour, but details are softer. There is no screen or fill flash, and fixed focus means hold it at arm’s length and still.
The rear camera has a dedicated 5MP depth camera and its perfect for bokeh. The front camera uses post-processing and can lack sharpness around the foreground face image.
4k is more than acceptable, but you need a steady hand. 1K is almost perfect. You can shoot and live upload to YouTube.
GadgetGuy’s take – Motorola One Vision is a class-leading mass-market
It is one of the more accomplished mass-market phones offering some specifications found for a few hundred dollars more. It is up against the Oppo Reno Z, Nokia 7.1 and Samsung A50 – all worthy competitors. I suspect the Motorola name may pull some weight here.
It offers a good, all-around camera, processor and Pure Android One performance. But its lack of any one outstanding design or performance feature could see you overlook it – don’t. I have been more than impressed in two weeks of testing and use.
My only nit-picks are the average screen (could be better) but perhaps I expect too much from a $499 device. And the camera is capable of so much more. I suspect Motorola could improve both of these by a firmware update.
As an experiment Motorola One Vision has worked well
Possibly to the detriment of the good, old, reliable, almost bulletproof, g7 series – but hey things change so let’s see what the g8 brings. GadgetGuy has reviewed the g7 Power here and was impressed with a 5000mAh battery for a paltry $349. The g7 and g7 Plus are $399/499 and are reviewed here and scored 4.9-out-of-5 for the mass market.
The One Vision is as good but in
Price Motorola One Vision
At $499 and it is up against the Nokia 7.1 ($449), Samsung Galaxy A50 ($499), OPPO Reno Z ($499), and Huawei P30 Lite (more on that another time).
If I were spending $499, I would be sorely tempted by the OPPO Reno Z if only for the AMOLED screen and 8/128GB ram/storage, similar 48/5MP camera and 4000mAh fast charge battery. But the lack of a MicroSD slot and its Color OS 6 User Interface would strongly sway me back to the Motorola.