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Motorola One Hyper hands-on: All the megapixels $400 can buy

Motorola One Hyper
Motorola One Hyper (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The Motorola One phone strategy lately seems to revolve around releasing nice-looking but largely generic designs that iterate in minor ways over previous versions. It's a deliberately different approach to what's going on with RAZR, which is wholly unique and, though not without controversial designs, extremely exciting.

Here at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii this week, Motorola brought us behind closed doors to show off yet another entry into its Motorola One lineup, the pop-up-camera-sporting Hyper, which is available today for $400 on Motorola.com (opens in new tab).

Like all the phones in this quickly-growing segment, the Hyper is, well, hyper-focused on the camera experience, this one sporting a 32MP pop-up selfie camera along with a 64MP main sensor on the back. The embedded pop-up camera also gives Motorola the opportunity to give its first phone an unobstructed border around the 6.5-inch display, which the company is calling Total Vision.

So the phone exists alongside four other One-branded phones, differentiated by only a few notes on a spec sheet. Does that mean you shouldn't buy it? Not at all — it actually has a lot of things going for it, and may be one of the better $400 devices you can buy right now.

The screen is really, really big

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Hyper is easily the biggest of the Motorola One devices, though only by a few millimeters in either direction over the One Zoom. Still, its 6.5-inch LCD panel is the star of the show, and though the resolution is only 1080p, it looks and, more importantly, feels really nice to use.

It runs Android 10 out of the box...

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

This is the first Motorola phone to run Android 10 out of the box, replete with Dark Mode and the official, superior gestures to what Motorola offers with One Nav on its current phones (don't @ me, One Nav lovers).

I had a chance to use the build for a bit and I'm genuinely excited to get it on my other Motorola phones (eventually). It feels super fast and fluid, and is exactly the speed boost these mid-range chips need.

...but it doesn't run Android One

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

One of the biggest head-scratchers around the Motorola One series is how it started in 2018 as a way for the company to showcase the "pure" version of Android that many people were increasingly looking for from manufacturers in the budget space. Nokia had transitioned all of its phones to Android One and Motorola likely felt some pressure to follow suit.

But with the Motorola One Zoom, and in the U.S. the One Action, the "One" moniker stopped meaning Android One, though visually the software builds were indistinguishable. But when manufacturers contract with Google to load Android One on their phones, they agree to a number of stipulations, including two platform version updates and two years of monthly security patches, as well as a commitment to endorse a clean, bloatware-free version of Android.

Motorola said that feedback from its early Android One user base wasn't entirely positive. Many people didn't like the cadence of monthly updates, and big-ticket changes with platform updates — Android 10's gestures, for example — often annoy more than delight the average consumer. I'm not totally on board with that explanation, but it makes sense given that many of Motorola's phone users are just looking for a phone first, smartphone second, and don't really want the software experiences that come with it.

The hardware is fine for the price

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Like most of Motorola's mid-range phones, the One Hyper is powered by a relatively cheap Snapdragon platform, the S675, along with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That's fine, but not especially powerful — the GPU is particularly underpowered for 2019 — but it does the job.

There are a couple of exciting things about the hardware, though. The phone supports 45W charging, though in the U.S. for cost reasons there's only an 18W charger in the box, which nets 42% charge in 10 minutes. There's also a 4,000mAh battery and a headphone jack.

The camera is the star of the show

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Everything else about the phone is pretty par for the course, but the 64MP Samsung sensor is the highest-resolution the company has ever shipped. It's a quad-pixel sensor by default, so it combines four pixels together to produce a 16MP shot with more detail (similar to the way Sony's 48MP IMX586 does it on the One Zoom).

There's no optical image stabilization, which is a bummer, but it's got a wide f/1.9 aperture along with an 8MP ultrawide shooter with a 118-degree field of view.

You can only use it on AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The Hyper wasn't really designed for a U.S. audience, but after the relative success of the Motorola One Zoom, it decided to bring the Hyper to the west. That means it won't work on Verizon or Sprint, or any of its MVNOs, but there are plenty of people who just want an unlocked phone that works on GSM carriers around the world.

It comes with a free Moto G6

Motorola One Hyper

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Maybe suspecting that interest would be relatively low for a $400 unlocked phone in the U.S., Motorola is throwing in a free Moto G6 or G6 Play with the purchase of every Motorola One Hyper, a gesture that bargain hunters are sure to appreciate.

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

22 Comments
  • Sounds like a great phone. I'd love to have it at some point but if it won't play nice with Verizon I have to pass. By the way mid range phones aren't supposed to be remarkable just work great.
  • Amen!!! I'm not leaving Verizon for any freaking reason!!
  • Verizon's got a terrible strategy with two tiers of unlimited; I was on the lower one and got terrible service despite good signal. It's why I switched to Fi. Much better now! As for the phone, it's quite the looker! I'll wait for reviews and, if they make a fully Fi-compatible version, I'll jump on it. As it is, it's only compatible with the T-Mobile side of Fi's spectrum.
  • I bought it this morning and plan on giving the g6 to my ten year old to play games and listen to music on. The only downside to this is getting a case for this phone. All of them are shipping from China and will take weeks to get here.
  • It's a Moto phone so, they should have a cheap clear one in the box to tie you over.
  • That is great news. Thank you.
  • Dear Motorola,
    Please do not make my phone more secure with monthly updates.
    Sincerely, BS
  • People aren't worried about security, especially since security issues are rarely realized on Android. Security updates end up just annoying users who want their phone to "just work".
  • Security patches annoy users? TF are you on about???
  • I was shopping for a new phone and thinking about going back to Motorola as I got the Moto X4. The only reason why I got it was because it was a Android One phone because everybody knows that Motorola is very very very very slow on any updates. Now Motorola has given me not one but two reasons not to buy any more of its products. No more Android One program and it doesn't work on Verizon. Now I'm looking at Nokia. *No more Moto!!
  • Wait, I thought Nokia was GSM only?
  • Nokia IS GSM only.
  • Same here. Loved my x4 android one edition and prior phones. Really liking the new phones from Motorola but won't be buying due to software updates, or lack thereof.
  • But no band 71 for T-Mobile. That's a pretty big deal if you want to keep a phone for a while since T-Mobile keeps expanding 600mhz.
  • It's baffling that this accepts 45 W charging (even more than my 1+6T!!) yet doesn't include it in the box. What were you thinking Moto?!
  • So, nothing on how good the camera actually is?
  • Guess we should assume the pics are no good...
  • Why would anyone not like the piece of mind in getting security updates? Must have been paid Moto shills. Only ignorant and ill informed people who don't understand the importance of security updates would have this attitude, I'm thankful I choose OnePlus which is near stock Android like Moto but with a far better software experience and a better update policy than Moto which is one of many reasons why I'll never buy a Moto phone, all their Android One phones were rubbish anyway as Nokia makes better phones than Motorola.
  • Love how the GPU is underpowered but gets the job done. So I guess it has adequate power.
  • "Getting the job done" is quite a bit different than doing it well. My old iPhone 6S gets the job done, but jittery movement and sluggish controls do not make it a happy experience, especially after getting used to silky smooth and responsive on a flagship.
  • Sounds like they resurrected the PE.....No stabilization maybe once the g7 dies..
  • i'm really disappointed with Motorola. i initially went with Moto for the quick updates which became slow updates which became NO updates.
    Android One gave me a reason to look their way again but now thay've dropped it so i will be sticking with Nokia, though i wish they'd give the North American market more choices.