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Motorola One Zoom review: a good smartphone with a problem

Motorola One Zoom review: a good smartphone with a problem

Motorola once again treads the paths we have walked before and leaves behind some confused, but also sometimes enthusiastic testers. Why the Motorola One Zoom can inspire you, but also drive you crazy again, you will learn in this full review.

Rating

Good

  • Chic design with luminous logo
  • Good photography allrounder
  • Very good battery life

Bad

  • Irregular software updates
  • Strong competition

Motorola One Action release date and price

In the middle class or better-said premium for all, Motorola wanted to win back old fans with the internal restructuring at the Lenovo Group. But Motorola also wants to open up new target groups and for this reason they created the One series. Actually the complete series was delivered with Google's Android One before the presentation of the One Zoom, but with the One Zoom the US manufacturer makes a U-turn. Instead of Android One, Motorola reinstalls its own interpretation of Android on the premium mid-range smartphone with four cameras.

The Motorola One Zoom with an RRP of €429 is priced in a segment where Google with the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL is becoming more and more popular. In addition to Google itself, more and more Chinese manufacturers in the same price segment want to encourage buyers to change. First and foremost Xiaomi with its Mi 9T Pro. Motorola's One Zoom must stand out from the sheer mass of smartphones. In terms of design, the US brand with its Chinese parent company is already beating the competition in terms of design.

A modern look with luminous Batwings

How can you actually give a rectangular product like a smartphone a beautiful dress? There's no room for creativity on the front, but there's plenty of room for the designer on the back. I think Motorola's One Zoom has created a coherent look that doesn't look like a copy of an Apple, Samsung or Huawei smartphone. One could almost say that Motorola has conjured the small rectangular into the large rectangular.

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The Motorola One Zoom's camera hump / © AndroidPIT

Inside the small rectangle, Motorola has installed not only the four cameras, but also the Motorola logo , affectionately called the Batwing by connoisseurs, and provides it with a design element that has hardly been found in any smartphone to date: an illuminated company logo. During the day, the logo is inconspicuous, but as soon as it gets dark, the illuminated Motorola logo is a visible sign. It's just a shame that the logo neither changes the brightness nor can it be used as a notification LED. So it's just a wow effect to impress your friends. If you have had enough of the glowing Moto logo, you can at least deactivate it completely in the settings.

But not only the camera accommodation and the illuminated Motorola logo inspire me, but also the frosted glass, which pretends to be aluminum. But it's not only visually very appealing, but it's also less prone to fingerprints in everyday life and has an even better grip.

AndroidPIT Motorola One Zoom Speaker
Unusually, the loudspeaker sits on the upper side of the phone / © AndroidPIT

When the question of IP certification comes up, it has to be answered negatively. All Motorola One smartphones, at least to this day, do without it. Nevertheless, Motorola says that the smartphones have a P2i coating to protect them from splashing water.

A small and subtle idea from Motorola's design department is also the transfer of all necessary product labels and logos from the back to the bottom edge of the smartphone. Although the frame around the USB-C port looks very unsteady, no CE mark or other legally prescribed markings interfere with the back of the smartphone. Will the positive impression also continue on the side of the smartphone that users most often stare at?

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Unusual again, the type designation and markings are affixed to the lower edge of the frame / © AndroidPIT

Big and beautiful

The short answer is yes! The 6.4-inch AMOLED display 'only' achieves a Full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, but the displayed image is sharp and rich in contrast. If you want to criticize the display a bit, then it's the lack of possibilities to adjust the color temperature. Personally, I would wish that you could not only choose from the three presets from the manufacturer, but that you could also adjust the color temperature to your own taste.

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The display of the One Zoom is nicely large and, thanks to OLED technology, also color-intensive / © AndroidPIT

The preview display of the Motorola One Zoom is chic. This is the Motorola term for the Always-on Display. Notifications are typically displayed as icons, but with the Peek function, when you tap on the icon and hold it you get a preview. So you can take a quick look at the messages from the Always-on Display and decide if the message is so important that you need to unlock the One Zoom and read the message completely.

AndroidPIT Motorola One Zoom Gif
By tapping on the notifications you can sneak a peek at the content of the notification / © AndroidPIT

The Motorola One Zoom is the first smartphone from the One series to install an in-display fingerprint sensor. This is fast enough and the recognition rate is quite good. Alternatively, facial recognition can be used or parallel to the fingerprint sensor.

Nothing new about the software, which is good

When it comes to software, Motorola plays a strange game with its customers. Instead of the series name, the Motorola One Zoom doesn't use Android One like the rest of the line. It can be assumed that Motorola has decided to install Android 9 Pie with its own near-stock interface to be able to offer an Amazon exclusive smartphone with Alexa the digital voice assistant.

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Alexa pre-installed on the exclusive Amazon Motorola One Zoom / © AndroidPIT

Of course, Motorola has adapted some things in the operating system and added some apps like the one for the camera. Bloatware? No, at least not on our test sample.

Motorola One Zoom UI
Motorola installs a special UI very reminiscent of Stock Android on the One Zoom / © AndroidPIT

It's just a pity that no security patch has found its way to our Motorola One Zoom yet, because the current patch is still from July 1, 2019. In general, Motorola's update policy has become a bit more economical. Security patches are promised and a major software upgrade is guaranteed. But it is unclear whether the major software upgrade means that the upgrade to Android 10 will be available in the near future, or whether Android 11 will not be included until 2020. Here Motorola should return to its former strength and simply deliver the updates and upgrades faster and more consistently.

Motorola One Zoom Moto App
The Moto App allows you to activate and adjust many interesting features of the Motorola One Zoom / © AndroidPIT

Equipped for everyday life

Inside the Motorola One Zoom, Motorola again relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The Snapdragon 675 is an eight-core processor consisting of two 2.0 GHz Kryo 460 Gold and six 1.7 GHz Kryo 460 Silver. The GPU is an Adreno 612 plus 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which is expandable.

Motorola One Zoom benchmark comparison

  Motorola One Zoom Google Pixel 3a XL Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro 
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 1971 1680 5647
3D Mark Sling Shot Vulkan 1061 1560 4208
3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 1113 1801 5617
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0 24158 29946 62327
Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi) 505 / 1569 353 / 1326 630 / 2564
PassMark Memory 25973 19413 26939
PassMark Disk 65785 62867 75020

The Motorola One Zoom can match Google's Pixel 3a XL through from Paroli for pure power. But Xiaomi's Mi 9T Pro shows that you can already buy a top smartphone for around €430. In all respects, the One Zoom stays behind this Chinese bombshell.

In terms of network performance, the Motorola One Zoom supports LTE Cat 12 with a maximum of 600 Mbps in the download. All this should make the Motorola One Zoom a solid companion for everyday use. In everyday use, however, the One Zoom performs well. Only if you shoot photos and want to view them immediately after taking them in the gallery app, will you notice that the hardware is not extremely fast. Often the software needs a second to load the portrait or night mode photo.

With four eyes you see better

As a smartphone designed primarily for photography, the One Zoom has a total of four cameras on the back. These are as follows:

  • 48-megapixel Samsung with Quad Bayer Mask, f1.7, OIS and PDAF
  • 16-megapixels ultrawide-angle lens with 117-degree field of view
  • 8-megapixel, 3x optical zoom telephoto lens with OIS
  • 5-megapixel, depth camera

On the front, Sony has installed a 25-megapixel camera that, like the main camera, can bundle four pixels into one to deliver better images in poor lighting conditions. Such night shots are then taken with 6.25 megapixels.

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These four eyes are supposed to make the One Zoom a camera star / © AndroidPIT

Well, actually there are only three cameras plus one camera for depth of field information. But the fact that the sum of cameras does not necessarily mean the best photos, as proved by Google's Pixel 3a XL, which has only one main camera. 

But back to the Motorola camera. As long as there is good daylight, the Motorola One Zoom shoots good sharp and colorful photos with good contrast values. If you take a closer look you might notice that the sharpness is a bit too aggressive.

Camera UI Moto One Zoom
The camera app offers many settings options / © AndroidPIT

Practical on the Motorola One Zoom are, as on some other competitor smartphones, the additional cameras. An ultrawide-angle camera is especially handy for large panoramic photos. The quality is good, but details are rather blurred, especially if you compare the picture with the same shot from the standard wide-angle camera. 

The telephoto camera brings distant objects closer. With the latter, the One Zoom offers a 3x optical zoom that increases to 10x in hybrid mode. In this mode, Motorola combines the image information from the 48-megapixel main camera with that from the telephoto sensor. The result is quite respectable.

Night Vision and Portrait modes

The three different focal lengths of the cameras partly also help with special recording modes. For portraits, Motorola's One Zoom combines images from the ultrawide angle with the normal main camera and enriches the image data with depth information from the depth camera. The result is quite impressive. The Motorola One Zoom even separates problematic fences for other smartphones well. 

In night mode, the Motorola One Zoom has to compete with the Google Pixel 3a XL in terms of price and doesn't hold up badly. The result, if you have a steady hand, is quite good. But on closer inspection, the Pixel 3a XL tickles out more details with less noise at night.

Still, it's very good what Motorola has achieved with the photo quality on the One Zoom.

More than enough battery

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The battery of the One Zoom is quickly charged at 15 Watts / © AndroidPIT

.In the  One Zoom Motorola uses a battery with 4.000 mAh. That's 500 mAh more than in its One siblings. And the battery life is excellent. In our benchmark test, the One Zoom achieved a full 13 hours and 50 minutes with 50 percent display brightness and active Wi-Fi and inserted SIM card. In real everyday life with intensive use, I had to be plugged in again after one and a half days. Great Motorola! It's just a shame that the battery is quickly charged with only 15 watts, Other manufacturers have already gone further.

Big promise, but there's a tough opponent

With the Motorola One Zoom, the US manufacturer has delivered a great product that takes great photos for the price, is very durable and slim and does without bloatware. The wow effect is provided by a chic design and the glowing Motorola "M" on the back. But the biggest problem for the Motorola One Zoom is not in the smartphone itself, but in the competition. The Google Pixel 3a XL and its stunning night mode easily turns off the One Zoom when it comes to photography. Or when it comes to performance, the Xiaomi Mi 9T, available at the same price, is a flagship smartphone despite its mid-range price. But despite the very strong competition, the Motorola One Zoom is a smartphone I'd recommend.

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4 comments

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  • Motorola One Zoom

    I'd trade in my Motorola G7 for this if it came with Android OS 10 (sorry if I'm biased against anything from Honor / Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo - I've had bad experiences with zero customer service with regards to replacement when broken).


  • Thank you for an excellent review, and the comparison with the Pixel 3a XL. When zooming in on the cat's whiskers on both photos, individual whiskers in the Pixel 3a XL photo appear, whereas the Moto One Zoom messes it up.
    Although both Moto One Zoom night photos look clearer on first inspection, the Pixel 3a XL produces more colour and detail with less noise when enlarging the images.


  • Another decent one at a reasonable price


  • storm 2 months ago Link to comment

    I'm not the target market for this one.

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