Moto One 5G Ace Review: Solid 5G Phone, Battery Life Champ

Moto One 5G Ace: This $399 5G Handset Keeps On Going, And Going, And Going

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One positive trend in 2020 was that of affordable mid-range 5G-capable smartphones, with devices like the OnePlus Nord, Moto One 5G, Pixel 4a 5G, TCL 10 5G UW, and Realme 7 5G, all costing less than $500 and packing decent specs -- including reasonably quick SoCs, multiple rear cameras, and even high refresh-rate displays. Thankfully, 2021 is looking even more promising, and January isn’t even over yet.

The OnePlus Nord N10 5G ($299, Snapdragon 690) recently landed in the US, and Moto just launched the Moto One 5G Ace ($399, Snapdragon 750G), a detuned and unlocked variant of last year’s AT&T and Verizon-exclusive Moto One 5G ($445, Snapdragon 765). So, how do the Moto One 5G Ace and Moto One 5G differ? Is the Ace as good as its model naming suggests, despite being even cheaper? Read on for our review.

Motorola Moto One 5G Ace Hardware And Design

Put the Moto One 5G Ace and the Moto One 5G side-by-side and the family resemblance is obvious. In the back, you’ll find a similarly rounded square camera pod and similarly dimpled texture under its faux glass surface. Our review unit came in a Frosted Silver hue which produces lovely rainbow reflections in direct sunlight. If that’s too much excitement for you, a more subdued Volcanic Gray color is also available.

The Moto logo in the back of the Ace isn’t just a stencil. It’s home to a capacitive fingerprint reader, unlike the One 5G, where the power / lock key doubles as the fingerprint reader. In front, both have 6.7-inch displays, but different aspect ratios and punch hole layouts. At 166.1 x 76.1 x 9.9mm, the Ace (20:9) is a couple mm wider and shorter than the One 5G (21:9). It’s also one mm thicker and slightly heavier (212g vs. 207g).

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Instead of two punch holes in the top left corner, the Ace has a single opening in the top middle of the screen. This also means it only features one selfie camera, which is the same 16MP main front shooter as on the Moto One 5G. Likewise, bezels are reasonably small, but there’s a more pronounced chin at the bottom of the display. The Ace also shares the One 5G’s plastic build with a faux-metal mid-frame and faux-glass back.

Despite the overall shape of the camera bumps being similar, with four circles in a square layout, there are only three shooters in the rear of the Ace (vs. four on the One 5G) -- a 48MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro. The fourth circle is home to the LED flash instead of a dedicated depth sensor. Also missing from the Moto One 5G Ace is the One 5G’s unique light ring around the macro lens.

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The buttons and ports are arranged exactly the same way on the Ace as on the One 5G. You’ll find the volume rocker and ridged power/lock key on the right side, and the mono speaker, primary mic, USB Type-C port, and headphone jack along the bottom edge. The left side is home to the nano-SIM / microSD tray, and there’s a secondary mic on top. In all, the Ace looks and feels nice enough, and is IP52 splash resistant.

Here's an unboxing video to get you acquainted with Moto's latest value Android handset...

Moto One 5G Ace
Specifications & Features
Processing And 5G Platform Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
Display 6.7" FHD+ LTPS, 2400x1080 resolution, HDR 10
Memory 6GB
Storage 128GB + microSD
Rear-Facing Cameras 48MP f/1.8 Main PDAF - 8MP f/2.2 118º Ultra-Wide - 2MP f/2.4 Macro AF
Front-Facing Cameras 16MP f/2.0
Video Recording Up to 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps, 1080p slow-mo
Battery 5000 mAh
OS Android 10
Dimensions 166.1 x 76.1 x 9.9mm
Weight 212 grams
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1+LE, NFC, FM radio, USB-C, LTE, 5G Sub-6 Only
Colors Frosted Silver, Volcanic Gray
Pricing Find the Moto One 5G Ace @ Amazon, Starting at $399

Moto One 5G Ace Display Quality

Like the One 5G, the Ace comes with a 6.7-inch FHD+ LTPS screen and includes HDR10 support. But instead of sharing the One 5G’s 21:9 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate, the Ace features a more traditional 20:9 aspect ratio (2400 x 1080 pixels, 393ppi) and standard 60Hz refresh rate. Still, it’s a nice display, with punchy colors, good contrast, and decent viewing angles. It’s also bright enough for complete usability in direct sunlight.

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Moto One 5G Ace Camera Performance And Image Quality

Basically, the Ace inherits most of the One 5G’s cameras, including the 48MP f/1.8 0.8-micron main shooter (with PDAF), 8MP f/2.2 118-degree 1.12-micron ultrawide, and 16MP f/2.0 1.0-micron selfie camera. It drops the 8MP ultrawide in front, and the 2MP depth sensor in the back, however. The 5MP macro gives way to a 2MP f/2.4 1.75-micron macro lens (with AF). And overall, imaging performance is similarly compromised.

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The Ace uses 4-to-1 pixel binning on the main camera and selfies shooters, to reduce noise and improve low-light performance -- just like the One 5G. By default, pictures shot with the main sensor are 12MP, and images taken with the selfie lens are 4MP. While there’s a 16MP option for selfies, there’s no full-resolution 48MP mode for the main camera. In addition, night mode is only available on the main and selfie shooters. There’s no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera (2x zoom)

When it comes to capturing video, the Ace supports 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps with the main camera, and 1080p 30fps with the ultrawide and selfie shooters. Audio is recorded in stereo, and video is stabilized. The usual Moto shooting modes are available, including portrait, night, panorama, pro, macro (720p), cutout, spot color, cinemagraph, group selfie, filters, slow motion (1080p 120fps or 720p 240fps), and time lapse.

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Moto One 5G Ace ultrawide

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera (2x zoom)

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera (5x zoom)

If this all seems familiar, that’s because it matches what the Moto One 5G has to offer. The results are middling at best. Sure, the Ace sometimes manages to snap good photos, but most images lack detail and saturation. Noise is a problem in low light and pictures taken in night mode are oddly soft. Zooming is fine up to 2-3x, but anything beyond that results in grainy and blurry imaging. Macro shots are limited by the 2MP sensor, but the AF lens helps.

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera (auto)

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Moto One 5G Ace main camera (night mode)

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Moto One 5G Ace ultrawide

Selfies are pretty nice, though, so there’s that. And videos are decent, too. Ultimately, this camera system is typical Moto: it combines lackluster sensors (likely Samsung’s GM1 for the main shooter) with mediocre image processing. The Ace takes acceptable photos if you stick to the main lens (below 3x zoom) and the ultrawide, and give it enough light. Just don’t expect it to match the higher-end competition.

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Moto One 5G Ace macro

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Moto One 5G Ace selfie camera (portrait mode)

Next up: Moto One 5G Ace audio, performance, and battery life...

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