Mobile Technology

Motorola One Action review: Another budget superstar

Motorola One Action review: An...
The Motorola One Action is a low-cost, good-looking budget smartphone
The Motorola One Action is a low-cost, good-looking budget smartphone
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The Motorola One Action is a low-cost, good-looking budget smartphone
1/8
The Motorola One Action is a low-cost, good-looking budget smartphone
The Motorola One Action comes in "denim" blue or white
2/8
The Motorola One Action comes in "denim" blue or white
You get a 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,520 pixel display with the Motorola One Action
3/8
You get a 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,520 pixel display with the Motorola One Action
Around the back of the Motorola One Action is a triple-lens camera
4/8
Around the back of the Motorola One Action is a triple-lens camera
With good light, the Motorola One Action camera can produce some eye-catching results
5/8
With good light, the Motorola One Action camera can produce some eye-catching results
The Motorola One Action camera copes well with different types of shots
6/8
The Motorola One Action camera copes well with different types of shots
Like a lot of budget cameras, the Motorola One Action starts to struggle in lower light
7/8
Like a lot of budget cameras, the Motorola One Action starts to struggle in lower light
Low light photos from the Motorola One Action are noisy, but they're still usable
8/8
Low light photos from the Motorola One Action are noisy, but they're still usable

In recent years Motorola has carved out a reputation for making decent value, low cost Android phones and the Motorola One Action follows in that trend – it has enough in the way of style and features to make it worth considering for your next budget buy.

After all, do you really need the highest-quality materials, the fastest possible specs, and the largest screens on the market? First of all we should say the Motorola One Action looks the part, with only a slightly thick chin bezel an indication that you're not shopping at the premium end of the market here.

The 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,520 pixel screen is interrupted only by a small hole punch notch up in the top left-hand corner. The display is LCD rather than the richer, higher contrast OLED, but it still manages to pack a punch, with crisp colors and sharp text. Around the back the triple-lens camera system is neatly arranged, though the phone is something of a fingerprint magnet (blue and white are your color choices). The fingerprint sensor is on the back too rather than under the display.

While the phone does have a plastic feel to it, especially on the back, it's still a well-built, decent-looking smartphone – it's light (tipping the scales at 6.21 oz or 176 g) and comfortable to hold in the hand.

Inside the phone you've got a distinctly mid-range Exynos 9609 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage space, but we didn't notice any serious slowdowns in terms of performance. Obviously it's slower than the top-end flagships in terms of apps and games loading, but not so much that it'll ruin your day – we were jumping between apps and browser windows quite easily.

Even the most demanding mobile games can run on the Motorola One Action, though maybe not at the highest quality settings (and perhaps after a few more seconds of loading time). This smooth performance is helped in part by a close-to-stock version of Android: Android 9 comes on board and you can expect Android 10 soon as well. It's a refreshing change from the bloated Android skins on some of the other phones out there.

As for the rear-facing camera, Motorola has stuck a triple-lens 16-MP + 12-MP + 5-MP snapper in here, but don't expect too much in terms of photography (you also get a single-lens 12-MP camera on the front). Photos and videos are satisfactory, but not really much more than that, and low light shots tend to feature quite a bit of noise.

You get a 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,520 pixel display with the Motorola One Action
You get a 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,520 pixel display with the Motorola One Action

One neat trick the Motorola One Action brings with it is letting you film video in landscape mode while holding the phone in portrait mode. In other words, it's easy to hold upright for recording video, but you don't end up with one of those annoying vertical video clips when you come to save or upload it.

Battery is another big consideration for any smartphone purchase, and the Motorola One Action doesn't particularly impress here. Its 3,500 mAh battery seems to be good for a day, just about, though if you're really pushing the battery with GPS or video then you might be reaching for a charger before bedtime.

In our video streaming test that we ran for an hour on maximum brightness and mid-level volume, the Motorola One Action went down from 100 percent to 86 percent as far as battery life was concerned – so you're going to get about 6-7 hours of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video viewing out of this with the brightness maxed out.

We are talking about a budget phone here. You don't get any waterproofing (it's only rated as "splash resistant"), and wireless charging isn't an option. The single speaker isn't particularly clear, but you do get a 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as the now-standard USB-C port.

This is a well-built, well-performing smartphone that's going to do everything you need it to – we like the Android Pie software on here, and the way it handles apps and games, and the display. Camera and battery performance aren't quite as impressive, but they won't let you down most of the time.

As with any smartphone purchase, you need to weigh these pros and cons against the price. US pricing has yet to be announced (it goes on sale sometime in October), but the UK RRP of £219 converts to around US$270 – Motorola won't use a straight currency conversion, but whatever the price is, it'll be very affordable.

Put the camera, battery, design, and all-round performance up against that price, and you're definitely getting plenty of bang for your buck with the Motorola One Action – as well as a cool video filming trick as well. If you don't have much to spend on your next upgrade, this will get you a lot of phone in return for not much cash.

Product page: Motorola

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