Motorola One 5G Ace review: a big phone that doesn’t check enough boxes

The Motorola One 5G Ace at $399.99 makes a rather convincing impression that it is a more expensive phone. Strictly speaking, even if it’s not true, it feels like a flagship. It’s relatively heavy, according to the wisdom of Jurassic Park’s least fortunate lawyers, which means it’s probably expensive. Of this shining. I was holding it so my friend could see it 6 feet away and he described it “smooth like an old iPhone”. And, of course, there is 5G, which (until recently to some extent) was reserved for premium devices.

The first impression is good, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice the lack of sophistication of a high-mid-range or flagship phone. The processor staggers with heavy work, the large screen lacks the resolution or faster refresh rates commonly found on high-end devices, and the camera can’t compete with the best. As is often the case, you get what you pay for.

It’s $400 cheaper for the 5G phone standard, but it’s still more expensive than anything else that isn’t 5G. Ace costs $100 or $200 more than other possible budget options. Some options also offer 5G. The question is, as always, what compromise has Motorola made to offer this phone for $400, and is it an acceptable compromise for anyone considering it?

Motorola One 5G Ace hardware

The One 5G Ace has a generous 6.7-inch screen. Depending on what you think of a big phone, it might be one of the best selling points for this device. The battery is another strength. The Ace is equipped with a 5,000 mAh battery (which is likely to be the cause of its large size), which is a head and shoulder that exceeds the 4,000 or 4,500 mAh capacity commonly used in budget and mid-range phones.

The ace is a bit big for my convenience, but the mileage may vary.

Ace is a large phone that advertises itself. You will not forget, for example, in your pocket. The hair is larger, wider and 1mm thicker than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It is heavier at 212g due to the battery. I found the size a little awkward. I feel like holding my phone in one hand and stretching my thumb across the screen. I also fumbled it a few times and picked it up so quickly and forgot how much it weighed. But this is very likely a problem for me. My husband finds it comfortable to hold it with one hand.

The screen is a 1080 x 2400 LCD panel with a standard 60Hz refresh rate. It is bright and visible even in direct sunlight, but the contrast of the OLED is lacking. Viewed from a slightly off-angle view, the contrast drops and the color changes slightly. On this size screen, the resolution is slightly thinner, and if you have had a high-resolution phone before, you’ll notice that it isn’t very sharp.

The ace is only 10mm thick.

The same goes for the refresh rate. The fast scrolling motions and animations are a bit choppy, especially if you used a 90Hz or 120Hz screen. If you are no If you switch on a phone with a better resolution or faster refresh rate, you won’t feel like you’re missing anything, and you’ll see what a very large and easy to use screen is.

When used in moderation, you can usually use Ace’s huge battery for two days. Playing games or watching a lot of videos can reduce that, but it’s hard to imagine a real-world scenario where at least a day passes and some are fully charged. A 15W quick charger is included in the box.

Ace uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G chipset. I had no problems dealing with my day-to-day scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, and in general, cruising through Zillow and starting the camera felt pretty quick. I struggle with certain heavy tasks like using certain JavaScript functions (e.g. image sliders on this site) on a web page.

The Ace still has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Ace offers 4GB RAM/64GB storage or 6GB RAM/128GB storage, both of which can be expanded via a microSD card. I tested the 6GB RAM variant. Overall, it seems that the $400 phone has decent processing power. As a bonus, the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is fast and mask-friendly, and the Ace includes a 3.5mm headphone jack.

And there is 5G. Notably, Ace only supports Sub-6GHz 5G, which is a widespread variety “nationally”. We still have complex feelings about the state of 5G in the United States, but carriers are devoting resources to expanding and improving existing 5G products. In that sense, choosing a phone that supports it now means you can be prepared for the future 5G will bring in the years to come. But don’t expect the difference between day and night yet.

Rear camera bumps include wide, ultra wide, macro and flash.

Motorola One 5G Ace Camera

Motorola put three rear cameras on the Ace. It is a 48 megapixel standard wide, 8 megapixel ultra wide, 2 megapixel macro camera that shoots 12 megapixel images. There is a 16 megapixel selfie camera on the front.

Motorola also offers useful software features. There is an optional screen level, which I appreciate as a person who takes pictures that are serially crooked. You can use the main camera to select a very wide format image and turn the entire screen into a huge viewfinder. This is a fun and creative exercise. There is also a Pro mode if you want to control more settings. I haven’t used it much. In part, I was stressed out because of the claim that it should display live Kelvin color temperature values.

Like most of the others in this class, Ace takes great pictures in good lighting conditions. I like the color and white balance processing. The food looks delicious and handles mixed lighting well. Overall, Ace can take very nice pictures when staying in the lane.

Unfortunately, Ace doesn’t always stay in the lane. Often you try to do too much with too little. In some ultra-wide-angle shots with high contrast, I saw a lot of noise trying to raise the shadows. Notable color noise that I haven’t seen since reviewing the point-and-shoot camera [redacted] Many years ago. Night vision mode produces very bright images that look strangely artificial and overcooked. Ultra wide photos that are smaller than bright outdoor lighting will look very smooth due to noise reduction.

It also has a noticeable shutter lag, which will definitely annoy anyone who wants to shoot moving subjects like children. It was a minor annoyance in certain use cases for sleeping cats and street scenes.

Even images taken in standard picture mode with the default camera seem overworked if you look closely. The camera captures a fair amount of detail, but it can be aggressive and crunchy for sharpening. Photos of the sunrise in the backyard were damaged by a noticeable halo around dark subjects in the foreground. It would have been fine if the ace just exposed to the sky and cast a shadow!

To be clear, it’s not a problem that a $400 phone can’t do everything Ace is trying to do. You shouldn’t try it in the first place.

Motorola One 5G Ace software

Ace comes with Android 10 and an update to 11 has been promised. This is the only major platform update you will receive. From then on, Motorola will deliver two years of security updates through January 2023. Unfortunately, Motorola is lagging behind by offering only one major update for budget devices.

Motorola includes customizable home screen fonts, icon shapes and colors for Android, along with some annoying pre-downloaded apps that can be hidden but cannot be removed. I love Moto’s lock screen notification handling, or “peek notification” when called. It helps without being disturbed.

The Ace doesn’t have as much direct competition as the $400 phone with 5G, but it will change soon.

“You get what you pay for” is a proper takeout here, which means in a caution and complementary sense. Despite the slight resemblance, this isn’t a $1,000 phone and you won’t get the $1,000 experience. But for $400, you should expect a phone call that will allow you to spend a day without problems. You need to do what you need. need That’s what you need to do. And I’ll see you for at least a few years.

One 5G Ace meets all these requirements, even if it doesn’t fall short of a good mid-range and high-end device. It is possible, but the processor cannot perform at its best. The camera is a little awkward. The screen is big enough and bright enough, but it doesn’t offer the rich viewing experience of competing devices that use OLEDs.

Currently, Ace has no direct 5G support competition for $400, but it will change quickly. If you plan to continue using your phone in the years to come, we recommend choosing the 5G model now. A little bit more, the $460 Google Pixel 4A 5G has a good camera, a better screen, and a slightly better processor. Or you can save a bit and get a 90Hz screen and a better camera that’s about the same size as the OnePlus Nord N10 5G for around $300. If it’s an option, you can wait for months. More affordable 5G devices are coming.

No problem recommending the Motorola One 5G Ace. if — A large screen and a good battery come first. But if you think you’ll want a better camera or a better screen, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Photo of Allison Johnson / The Verge

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