The Motorola One 5G Might Be the Best New Phone for Under $500

Illustration for article titled The Motorola One 5G Might Be the Best New Phone for Under $500
Photo: Motorola

Motorola has really been pumping out phones in 2020 including the Moto Razr, two models of the Moto Edge, and a seemingly endless string of various Moto G phones. But out of all those, the new Motorola One 5G almost certainly packs the best bang for your buck.

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For the One 5G, Motorola’s goal was to deliver on its promise of making a sub-$500 5G phone, and while Moto hasn’t decided on a final price just yet it, even if the One 5G comes in at the very top of that range, it’ll still be extremely well equipped.

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Not only does the One 5G feature a large 6.7-inch full HD display, but the screen also sports a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a feature that has almost exclusively on been available on premium devices up until now. The Motorola One 5G also features dual selfie cams and four rear cameras, including a 48-MP main cam, an 8-MP ultra-wide cam, a 2-MP depth camera for helping with portrait mode effects, and a macro cam.

Even when it’s off, you can see the ring light built into the circular housing around the One 5G’s macro lens.
Even when it’s off, you can see the ring light built into the circular housing around the One 5G’s macro lens.
Photo: Motorola

But that’s not all, because built into the macro cam’s housing, Motorola has installed a little ring light designed to help give your macro shots nice even lighting. This is a pretty clever addition as the big problem with macro cameras on so many other smartphones is that the phone usually blocks your main light source, which causes the device to cast shadows on your subject when trying to shoot macro photos, often making the entire inclusion of a macro lens feel like a gimmick. So even though personally I would still prefer a zoom cam instead of a macro cam, it’s really nice to see Motorola taking steps to make smartphone macros a bit more usable.

Elsewhere, the Motorola One 5G also comes with a handy side-mounted fingerprint reader, and unlike some of its less expensive siblings, the One 5G also supports NFC, so you can use payment services like Android Pay. The One 5G even retains a feature that nowadays is usually only reserved for budget phones: a 3.5mm headphone jack.

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Illustration for article titled The Motorola One 5G Might Be the Best New Phone for Under $500
Photo: Motorola

And inside, the One 5G’s specs are solid too, with the phone sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of base storage, microSD card slot, and a huge 5,000 mAh battery. Despite not having an IP rating for water-resistance, Moto says the One 5G does come with a water repellent coating that should help prevent damage from things like rain or accidental spills. And like all recent Motorola phones, the One 5G comes with a practically stock build of Android (in this case Android 10), augmented slightly by Moto to support its typical assortment of Moto actions and a few extra features like a dedicated low-light camera mode.

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However, as good as the One 5G’s specs and features are, it does suffer from a couple of minor shortcomings. The first is that while Motorola says it will provide two years of security updates, the One 5G is only slated to get one major software upgrade to Android 11. That’s a real bummer because while support for 5G should give the One 5G some additional future-proofing, such a short timetable for Android OS upgrades means it owners might not be as inclined to hang onto it for quite as long.

Illustration for article titled The Motorola One 5G Might Be the Best New Phone for Under $500
Photo: Motorola
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The other potential issue is that the One 5G will not be available unlocked and instead will only be available from AT&T and Verizon, which means T-Mobile customers are sort of out of luck.

Still, even if it barely squeaks in under its $500 limit, the Motorola One 5G will still be quite a deal, and if Motorola can push that price down closer to $450 or less, it’ll be one of the best value picks on the market. The Motorola One 5G is expected to go on sometime later this fall.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

I’m getting tired of these Android phone makers only providing 1 major OS upgrade and a few years of security updates. Apple can support their hardware for 5-6 generations and major OS upgrades, what the hell is wrong with these Android phone makers? I know Apple only makes limited numbers of phones each year but that’s the same with most Android OEMs as well, they have a high end phone, a midrange phone or two, and their bargain bin phones. I can understand the bargain bin phones not getting more than 1 major OS update and a few years of security updates but not a phone costing $400 or more. Apple’s $400 phone will get OS upgrades for at least 5 years and possibly more. 

PS: And that 1 major OS update usually comes months or years after initial release. Android is such a shitshow for updates and always has been.