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The Motorola One Action Wants to Be a GoPro Smartphone

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Motorola essentially invented the cell phone and wowed everyone with the Razr in the early 2000s, but it’s had a harder time innovating in the smartphone era. There have been super-slim Moto phones, customizable phones, and modular phones, but some of the company’s most successful are the safer mid-range devices like the newly announced Motorola One Action. The gimmick with this phone is its built-in “action camera.”

At first glance, the Motorola One Action looks a lot like most of Moto’s recent One-series phones. It’s your standard glass sandwich design with a hole-punch front-facing camera instead of the display notch in other Moto devices. The bottom bezel is a bit larger than the top because of the decision to stick with a cheaper LCD panel — OLEDs can bend back at the bottom to save space on display connectors. This is a 6.3-inch 1080p screen with an extremely tall 21:9 ratio like some of Sony’s recent phones. 

The big selling point is the camera setup. There’s a regular 12MP camera and a 5MP depth sensor, which is pretty standard. The twist is the 16MP wide-angle sensor for 1080p video capture. Unlike the other sensors, this one is rotated 90-degrees. So, you can hold the phone vertically and shoot video in landscape. 

It used to be taboo to shoot portrait video (Google’s camera app even used to nag you about it), but apps like Snapchat have made it acceptable. And admittedly, holding your phone in portrait orientation is more comfortable for one-handed use. Motorola pitches the sideways sensor as a GoPro-like action camera in your phone. Although, the field of view isn’t as good as many standalone action cams — it’s just 117 degrees. 

Inside, the Motorola One Action runs a Samsung Exynos 9609 processor (an unusual choice) and 4GB of RAM. You also get 128GB of included storage (using the faster UFS standard) and a microSD card slot. It runs the Android One build of Android 9 Pie, but it might not be the same in all regions. 

The Motorola One Action launches today in select markets like Brazil and Mexico. It’s also out in several European countries. Pricing starts at €259 ($ 287). It will come to the rest of Europe, along with Latin America and Asia, later this month. The US and Canada will get the Motorola One Action as well — some past Motorola One devices never launched in either country. US and Canadian buyers can buy the Motorola One Action unlocked in October, but there’s no official pricing yet.

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