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Hands on: Motorola One Zoom review

A high-end smartphone at a mid-range price

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict

If you're looking for a phone with a great camera, and you're trying to save some cash, the Motorola One Zoom might be right up your alley. It's not the most elegant device in the world, but you could do a lot worse for your cash.

For

  • Excellent camera
  • Seemingly clean installation of Android
  • Feels good in the hand

Against

  • Large bezels
  • Notch

Motorola has been releasing some excellent budget smartphones over the last few years, but with the Motorola One lineup - which now includes the Motorola One Zoom, - it now has a strong mid-range offering too.

Not only does the Motorola One Zoom pack solid mid-range hardware from Qualcomm, but with four cameras strapped to the back of this thing it will be a wonderful companion for any photo lovers out there. 

While the Motorola One Zoom isn't the return of Motorola to the high-end – this phone isn't here to challenge the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or the iPhone XS Max – there's enough new features here to make it worth a look, especially if you're out to save some cash on a smartphone.

(Image credit: Future)

Pricing and availability

The Motorola One Zoom will be available starting September 5, and you'll be able to get your hands on it for $449 (£379, about AU$660). And, if you're in Europe, you'll be able to get your hands on an Amazon exclusive version of the Motorola One Zoom with Amazon Alexa compatibility. 

Now for a phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 and just 4GB of RAM, this might seem like a slightly high price, but really, you're paying for that quad camera on the back of the device.

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Design

The Motorola One Zoom might not be what would traditionally be described as a premium device, but it sure feels like one. The phone has a clear amount of heft to it, along with a glass back. 

In the upper middle of the back of the phone, you'll see the camera, with four lenses: one for high-res optical zoom, an Ultra-wide angle lens, a 5MP depth lens and the main 48MP shooter. With this range of cameras, you're going to be able to capture some fantastic photos, especially when you consider the price of this device. 

And, the selfie camera is nothing to shake a stick at, either. Located in a notch in the upper bezel of the display, the front-facing shooter features a whopping 25MP of image-capturing power. This may just be the phone for photo addicts on a budget. 

There are drawbacks, though. On any device in the mid-range, nothing's perfect, and it's the same here. Bezels around the display are much thicker than a lot of devices you'll find these days, and paired with that, you also got a notch. 

It's essentially the worst of both worlds, and we wish Motorola just made the top bezel a little bigger to fit the shooter without affecting the way the screen looks. 

As for ports, they're all on the bottom of the phone: you have USB-C for charging and data, which we love, along with a headphone jack – a feature that's disappearing in far too many devices.

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

Because the Motorola One Zoom is equipped with just a Snapdragon 675, this phone isn't going to be at the top of any performance lists. However, while we didn't really get a chance to run any rigorous tests on the phone, we can say that it didn't have any problems opening apps quickly.

The camera app, which will likely be the star of the show either way, was incredibly quick to load. Switching between different modes was quick and easy and the photos we were able to take looked colorful and crisp. 

At the end of the day, you're getting a mid-range chip, so you can expect mid-range performance. But, if all you care about is the camera – and we know there are plenty of people who do – this phone will be more than fast enough to get you through your daily life with minimal fussing. 

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

The Motorola One Zoom is far from the fanciest smartphone on the market, but it doesn't need to be. 

At $449 (£379, about AU$660) the devices mid-range specs just make sense. And, if you're on the market for a phone with a great camera, you really can't go wrong here, as the phone is rocking four of them

We would have liked to see Motorola either narrow the bezels down or get rid of the notch, but ultimately that's something you'll get used to in time. Notches are here to stay, after all, and the Motorola One Zoom is a mid-range smartphone that embraces that trend. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.