It seems a lifetime ago when the now Lenovo-owned Motorola was competitive in the Indian market. The unending supply of powerful, affordable phones from the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme and others. Motorola's response to this flood is Moto One, a series of phones that each attempts to carve its own niche with one standout feature in each.
You have the Moto One Vision which focuses on a cinematic 21:9 display, the Moto One Action which offers an ultra-wide action cam, and then you have the Moto One Macro, which, as the name suggests, packs in a macro lens in a phone under 10k.
I can tell you right now that the macro lens is great, but not everything else is. Does it work as a package though? Let's find out.
Clean and minimalistic design
The Moto One Macro has a stellar build quality and its unibody polycarbonate material makes it an extremely sturdy device. It's polished back does attract fingerprints, but it's thankfully not slippery. Its 186 g weight might seem like a problem, but in my pocket, I never noticed the heft. As is standard for a lot of smartphones these days, the device happens to have a gradient finish on the back with a subtle blue and black finish which looks very nice.
Talking about ports, Motorola has always taken the unconventional route of putting the headphone jack on the top instead of the bottom, and we see that trend follow on the Moto One Macro as well. We do get a Type-C port at the bottom and the Moto logo at the back doubles as a fingerprint reader. Beside that sensor is the triple camera setup, and ToF sensor and flash units.
A decent display
The 6.2-inch display isn't the best but it's not too shabby either. It's disappointing that Moto opted for an HD+ display when most others are offering an FHD+ unit, but it's otherwise not that bad. If it's any solace, the Rs 70,000 iPhone 11 also offers an HD+ display. That being said, the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) costs about the same and has a better, more saturated display that also happens to be more pleasing to the eye.
Brightness levels need a mention here. In my first impressions, I mentioned that I had a problem reading text under bright sunlight, but I later found out that the phone’s adaptive brightness was a bit faulty as it never lets the phone reach its peak luminescence. Turning the feature off allowed me to use the max manually allowed brightness setting and text legibility was fine.
The phone has a waterdrop notch and an unusually large chin.
Macro mode is good, but not much else is
While Motorola calls the Moto One Macro a quad-camera device, the reality is that there are only three cameras and a laser autofocus (AF) unit. You get a 13 MP primary camera, a 2 MP depth sensor and the star of the show: a 2 MP macro system.
The macro camera really does work and gets you to within 2.5 cm of your subject. Its closest competitor is the Realme 5 Pro, but that only managed to get within 4 cm of the subject and was also not very good.
(Click on the photos to view them in high resolution)
There does need to be a tonne of light to pull off usable shots, but with enough light and once focussed properly, macro shots look great.
The rest of the camera is unimpressive. When you're drowned in sunlight, any half-decent camera at any price will produce good images, and so does the Moto One Macro. Images are good and while the cameras do struggle with dynamic range at times, the issue isn't a deal breaker.
It's in lower light that the issues crop up and the One Macro has issues aplenty, as do most other cameras in this range. The lack of a night mode also doesn't help.
There is an AI scene detection feature, but there doesn't appear to be a mode for low light. Gimmicky feature like Cinemagraph (shoot 10-sec looped videos) and Spot Color (enhance a particular colour while muting others) exist, but they are just that, gimmicks.
The Portrait mode does, in fact, work quite well and manages good background separation. Overall, the camera quality is not bad but Redmi and Realme phones do offer useful features that are lacking in the Moto One Macro.
The front camera has an 8 MP sensor and is quite unremarkable. It does take sharp photos but the dynamic range is all over the place. It also comes with a feature called smile detection, which detects if you are smiling to take a selfie automatically. It's not a bad feature to have but it's also not very useful.
You can shoot slow-motion video, time-lapse and macro videos from the phone, but that’s about it.
(Please click the Flickr link below to view all photos in high resolution)
Performance is only average at best
Given that it's powered by the MediaTek Helio P70 chipset my expectations from the Moto One Macro were low. Benchmarks bore that out with scores that were significantly lower than those from its competitors. The Redmi Note 7 Pro in particular appears to offer 1.5x the performance of the One Macro. Thankfully, you don't notice the shortcomings in regular use.
Switching between apps was fast, but the 4 GB RAM meant that background apps would shut down at times. At this price though, this is expected.
PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile defaulted to the medium settings and there was no option to increase the frame rate. For a budget phone, the Moto One Macro ran the graphics-intensive games well for over an hour. Heating was, of course, a minor concern.
Call quality via the earpiece was up to the mark and the mic did a good job of picking up my voice.
The speakers are slightly tinny but overall, you can hear the sound clearly from the other end of a quiet room. Face unlock and the fingerprint reader were fast enough for my liking.
No Android One but software still up to the mark
Moto's policy of sticking to near stock Android is a good one, but the Moto One Macro isn't part of the Android One program which in turn means that timely updates aren't guaranteed. The Macro will get Android 10, however, and I expect it'll see an Android 11 upgrade as well when the time comes.
Battery gets your day-to-day work done
Battery life is par for the course in this bracket. The 4,000 mAh battery supports 10 W fast charging and does take 2 hrs to charge, but once charged, it'll easily last you a day. I have half a dozen apps constantly pinging me and when I'm not messaging, I'm either browsing the web, watching videos or playing PUBG Mobile. Despite this, I could get through a full day of use with a little juice to spare.
Is it worth buying?
As a budget phone, the Moto One Macro does tick some of the right boxes. Near stock Android is nice, battery life is decent and the Macro camera is great. The rest of the cameras are also not too bad and performance shouldn't be an issue for the average user, especially not one who's considering the Macro for its macro lens.
The display could have been better and I'd have loved to see a dedicated night mode, but again, these issues aren't deal-breakers.
The thing is, the Moto One Macro is indeed a sensible and interesting phone to buy, but its problem is that it still isn't competitive when you look at phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Moto needs to up its game a bit.
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