Holding a rig containing a GoPro, DJI Osmo Action, and Moto One Action

Just How “Action” Is the Motorola One Action?

Motorola wants to be your go-to action camera. To that end, it designed the Motorola One Action with the adventurer in mind. You get a 16MP video camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a 117 degree field of view alongside a 12MP main sensor and 5MP depth sensor. The idea is that you can use your phone in situations that would normally call for an action camera, like skiing, climbing, running, or wherever else your adventures take you.  

Interestingly, Motorola also built the phone so that the action camera sensor is turned 90 degrees, which means to shoot landscape video, you need to hold the phone in portrait orientation. It’s a little weird, but overall, we like the idea. Holding the phone in portrait orientation gives you a more natural and stable way to hold the phone while performing the kinds of tricks an action camera is meant to record.

Action is what this camera is built for, so we put it to the test against the leaders in this field. We pit the Motorola One Action against a GoPro Hero 7 Black and a DJI Osmo Action camera.  We built a rig that allowed us to record with all three cameras simultaneously. With the rig, we took them out for walks and runs to see if the Motorola One Action could keep up with the leaders in the field. For the purposes of this article we only look at the video capabilities of the action cameras, because curiously enough, Motorola didn’t give us the ability to snap photos with the action camera. Here’s what we found.

Color Reproduction

Both the DJI Osmo Action and the GoPro Hero 7 have really good color reproduction. The GoPro tends to be a little darker, so overall the best color reproduction came from the Osmo. The Motorola One Action was quite a bit brighter, but a little washed out compared to the other two. The greens, browns, and yellows of the field came out more yellow or orange. Overall, it’s not a great look, but if you’re looking for naturally brighter action camera footage, it definitely has that going for it.

Clarity

Clarity is quite important when it comes to an action camera, the GoPro Hero takes the crown in this category.  The Osmo isn’t far behind and the Motorola One Action is definitely last in this category as well. Blades of grass, which showed up as crisp in the footage for the action cams was not nearly as well defined in the Motorola. The footage simply isn’t as sharp as it is from its other two competitors. 

Smoothness

The DJI Osmo Action has the smoothest video.

It’s no surprise here that the Osmo comes out ahead in the smoothness category.  DJI designs cameras that fly in high winds, so they know a thing or two about stability. A close second is the GoPro Hero, and once again, the star of our testing – the Motorola One Action – takes last place.  While the smoothness isn’t bad on the One Action, you can definitely identify hand shakes and other movements from the rig, while the other two cameras handled the exact same conditions with aplomb. 

Sound

None of our competitors do a very good job in the sound category, but if we had to pick a winner, the Motorola One Action would come out on top. The sound captured by the One Action is more natural, though certainly it was the worst when it came to wind. On a clear day, we would much prefer the sound captured here than by the DJI which has some odd compression artifacts. Meanwhile, the GoPro is quite susceptible to picking up shake noises, which are fairly standard in most GoPro recordings. 

Verdict

Close up of the Motorola One Action cameras

At the end of the day, the Motorola One Action simply isn’t a very good action camera when compared to its competitors. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good phone. It’s the best phone of the bunch! After all, you can’t make phone calls or watch Netflix on a GoPro.  

There’s a lot to like in this device. The 21:9 aspect ratio is comfortable to hold and use, the colorway is quite striking, and Motorola’s software add-ons make the phone a joy to use. Plus, the Motorola One Action costs 50 to 100 dollars less than the others we compared it to. If you’re in the market for an action camera, this is not the one for you. But if you need a phone and an action camera at the same time, this might fit the bill.