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September 2, 2018

Motorola One and Motorola One Power hands-on: Definitely not an iPhone X

by John_A

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Notches and flat backs highlight what are generally pretty basic devices with little advanced design.

We had quite the run-up of banter around the launch of the Moto P30, particularly around how the device has a striking resemblance to the iPhone X. The global variants of the device, the Motorola One and Motorola One Power, are built on the same basic platform and have very similar design cues … but it takes just a few moments to see that these are hardly iPhone X lookalikes.

The “iPhone X clone” similarities really come down to just a couple areas: the One Power’s camera pod, the One’s shiny flat back and gently curved corners, and both phones’ bottom edges and display notches. You’ll notice that each of those areas is a detail of the design, not a design element or theme itself. Yes when you add them up it’s pretty easy to see some design inspiration, but nobody’s going to hold or see either of these phones in person and actually think it’s a ringer for an iPhone X. The similarities really don’t go beyond a handful of easy-to-mock details.

Motorola typically offers different versions of devices for different parts of the world, and these are no exception — the Motorola One, which most of the world will see, is physically different from the India-specific One Power. It’s somewhat misleading to call these the “same” phone, and many of the design cues that were pointed out in the Moto P30 are split between the two.

These are distinctly different designs, and neither is particularly inspiring.

The standard Motorola One is smaller, with a 5.9-inch display, and with a shiny flat plastic back. The frame of the phone is consistently curved with a casual rounding of the corners that, when paired with the shiny back, definitely has hints of iPhone designs. Interestingly, the One looks more iPhone-like in many aspects than the One Power, but the latter is the one with the iPhone X-style oval dual camera system — the standard One has its cameras separated into their own stacks. Build quality is typical mid-range Motorola, very similar to what I saw in the Moto G6 earlier this year. It’s solid and built true to its materials, but you’re not fooling anyone in thinking it’s a Moto Z-level device.

The One Power has the size and massive battery to be very popular in India.

The larger 6.2-inch One Power honestly looks nothing like the iPhone X from the sides or back. Yes there’s the elongated camera pod in the top-left corner … but it’s sitting in a gently-curved metal back that’s segmented out at the top and bottom where it joins with the frame. With the larger screen and ridiculously big 5000mAh battery, the One Power is really heavy — but the Indian market values the larger screen and battery. Unlike the regular One, the One Power really feels like “specs over everything else” in terms of hardware. The casing is extremely generic with little grab your attention.

People are going to have to come to terms with the fact that there’s a difference between following industry trends and “copying” a phone design. The iPhone X, along with a couple other pioneering phones, set a trend with design decisions that have caught on across the industry. At some point, we have to stop comparing every phone with a notch and softly rounded corners a copy of the iPhone X — the phone’s been out for a year, and dozens of high-profile phones have been released since then with many of the same cues. Inexpensive phones, like the Motorola One and One Power, have always had simple hardware with little visual flair that’s cheap to implement — the difference now is that this particular design has reached the point of being cheap.

The One Power’s display looked much nicer than the 720p panel on the One, which makes sense considering its higher resolution and positioning as the better device. Though the One didn’t particularly grate on my eyes — I could just tell it was similar to a display from a Moto E5 or G6 Play. Yup they both have a notch at the top, and it’s a pretty darn wide one at that — big enough for a camera, flash and a large speaker, with room to spare. But with an 18:9 aspect ratio it doesn’t bother me; I’m far more annoyed by the sizable Motorola logo blessing the bottom bezel.

These slot right in the Moto E5 and G6 lines … with minimal differentiation.

If the Motorola One and One Power weren’t running Android One software, there wouldn’t be anything that would truly differentiate them from Motorola’s recent release of mid-range devices. Though both of these phones have merits as mid-range phones with modern looks, a solid build and good specs, it’s tough to pick out much in the Motorola One or One Power that isn’t available in Motorola’s current range between the Moto E5, G6 or X4 series.

As always, Motorola will likely find a place in its lineup where it can slot these phones in specific markets to complement the entire range. And as we’ve already discussed, the more modern design helps differentiate from the rest of the competition just that extra bit in the cutthroat mid-range market.

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