Once a dominant smartphone brand, Motorola lost its market share as other Chinese brands saw a sudden surge and challenged its monopoly in the budget and midrange smartphone segment in India. But now, with back-to-back launches, the company seems to have somewhat got its mojo back. After earlier launching the photography-centric Motorola One Vision (review), Motorola, now owned by Chinese electronics major Lenovo, on August 23 launched the videography-centric Motorola One Action (Rs 13,999) in India.
The Motorola One Vision and Motorola One Action are similar in design, features and specifications, but they have different sets of optics for different audiences. As the name suggests, the Motorola One Action aims to replace your action cameras by providing a dedicated ultra-wide sensor for videography. We reviewed this phone to see if it can really replace action cameras like GoPro, and how it fares in comparison with the Motorola One Vision, especially in imaging performance:
The Motorola One Action packs a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 12-megapixel primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture with phase detection autofocus (PDAF), a 16MP ultra-wide angle sensor stacked in 90 degrees, and a 5MP depth sensor. By comparison, the Motorola One Vision has a dual-camera set-up on the back — a 48MP primary sensor of an f/1.7 aperture with PDAF and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a 5MP depth sensor.
Speaking of the Motorola One Action’s ultra-wide angle sensor, claimed to be an action camera, its 90-degree stacking helps capture an ultra-wide field of view (FoV) in the portrait orientation. Unlike other smartphones with ultra-wide angle cameras to record videos in the landscape mode, the one in the Motorola One Action allows video recording in portrait, without the need to tilt the phone to landscape. Thought the sensor lacks OIS, it supports electronic image stabilisation (EIS), which reduces motion shakes and allowed stable video recordings — but this is at the expense of a cropped field of view.
In the action camera mode, the phone supports video recording in up to fullHD (1920 x 1080) resolution at 60 frames per second in a 16:9 aspect ratio. There is also an option to record videos in the 21:9 aspect ratio, but it is limited to 30fps only.
In terms of performance, the ultra-wide angle videos recorded in the action camera mode come out with plenty of details and the EIS works fine to reduce motion jerks and hand trembles. Though the action camera is good for daytime video recording, it struggles to capture details in lowlight conditions. Unlike most full-fledged action cameras like the GoPro Hero 7 Black (review), which has a ProTune feature to manually tweak camera settings based on scene requirements, the Motorola One Action offers only the basic options — enable or disable stabilisation and change exposure value while recording.
Besides the action camera mode, the Motorola One Action also records videos through its 12MP primary camera. However, like any other phone, the primary sensor records videos in the landscape mode. It supports video recording in up to 4K resolution (in both 16:9 and 21:9 aspect ratios). The primary camera also supports fullHD video recording in a 16:9 aspect ratio at 60fps.
In terms of photography, the Motorola One Action manages to impress with decent daylight imaging, but fails to perform in lowlight conditions. It lacks the night mode and the OIS (both of these were there in the Motorola One Vision), so it slacks in low light conditions.
Except for optics and a plastic build, the Motorola One Action is identical to the Motorola One Vision. The phone has a 6.3-inch fullHD+ IPS LCD screen stretched in a tall 21:9 aspect ratio, which is both functional and stylish. With a Widevine L1 certification, the phone is capable of streaming high-definition multimedia content from over-the-top platforms like Amazon Prime Videos and Netflix. The phone is powered by the Samsung Exynos 9609 system-on-chip, mated with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage – expandable up to 512 GB using a microSD card. The phone’s performance is satisfactory. It handles day-to-day operations with ease and gives no trouble while performing processor-intensive tasks. However, the phone’s gaming performance is mediocre. Graphic-intensive games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 Legends run at medium graphic and show lags during in-gaming sessions.
From calculators to audio players, smartphones have over the years integrated features from diverse product categories. In time, they might replace action cameras, too. The Motorola One Action is a capable smartphone that will be remembered as the phone that introduced the concept of action cameras in smartphone. However, it is not the phone that can replace the action cameras. Besides recording ultra-wide videos in portrait orientation, there is precious little that is special about the phone’s video recording capability. Also, the phone does not have any ingress protection rating for water and dust resistance which further diminishes its utility as an action camera device.