Hands on: Moto One Action Review

First Impressions

While I am not necessarily convinced Motorola’s plan of releasing multiple phones that each have a headline aspect is the right way of doing things (why not put them all into one really good device?) I do like what I have seen so far of the One Action. It’s an affordable Android One device with some nifty camera tricks that set it apart from the budget crowd. 

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £219
  • Triple camera, including one for wide angle video
  • 6.3-inch FHD+ display
  • Exynos chipset, 4GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Headphone jack

Instead of releasing just one Moto One device that ticks all the boxes, Motorola seems to be building an entire range of One phones each specialising in one distinct area. We’ve previously had the One Vision and now we’ve got the One Action.

With a name like Action you’d be forgiven for thinking this phone was a rugged device in the same vein as Samsung’s Active range. It’s not. Instead, Action refers to Moto’s wish for this phone to replace a GoPro.

Camera – Could the Moto One Action replace your action cam?

The headline feature on this well-designed £219 smartphone is a 117-degree wide-angle camera specifically made for video. Essentially this lets you shoot widescreen FHD 60fps (frames per second) video while holding the phone vertically, rather than horizontally. Moto reps told me this camera can fit four times more video into the frame than the other Moto One device. There’s also some extra software-based stabilisation to avoid too much shaky video.

Moto One Action

It’s a neat trick that worked well during my short time with the phone and makes it much easier to shoot when you’re holding the phone up with one hand – whether it’ll convince someone to choose this phone over something else remains to be seen.

As it’s a wide-angle lens you get a slight fisheye effect on the video and this will be familiar to anyone who has used previous generations of GoPros or other action cameras.

There are three cameras on the back: a 12-megapixel main sensor for stills, then a 5MP and 4MP one too. That main sensor has quad-pixel tech too, supposedly for allowing more light into the sensor and improving low-light performance in the process. 

Inside the camera app you’ll find the same AI-infused software as the One Vision, allowing for tricks such as removing colours from certain parts of a snap and automatically enabling the portrait mode when you’re pointing the phone at a face.

Design and specs – Plenty of storage, mid-range internals

Camera aside, this a good-looking phone. It’s fairly narrow, if quite tall, and feels nice to hold thanks to rounded edges. Even though it’s made out of plastic it doesn’t feel cheap. There’s a headphone jack sitting on top, a USB-C port on the bottom for 10w fast charging the 3500mAh battery, and a fingerprint sensor cleverly disguised inside the Motorola logo on the back. The 6.3-inch display on the front packs a FHD+ resolution and avoids a notch by popping the front camera inside a circular cutout on the left-hand side. 

Moto One Action

Inside the phone, there’s an octa-core Exynos 9609 chipset, 4GB RAM and a decent 128GB storage. I’ll save proper performance tests for the full review, but nothing here sticks out as being underwhelming.

Performance should be helped by the Android One software, which eschews bulky skins for a slimmed-down version of Google’s OS. It uses Android Pie out of the box, with an update to Android Q arriving later. You’ll get monthly security updates, and there are unlimited uploads to Google Photos.

Moto One Action – Early verdict

While I am not necessarily convinced Motorola’s plan of releasing multiple phones that each have a headline aspect is the right way of doing things (why not put them all into one really good device?) I do like what I have seen so far of the One Action.

It’s an affordable Android One device with some nifty camera tricks that set it apart from the budget crowd. 

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 every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features 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.

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