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Hands on: Motorola One 5G Ace review

Motorola's cheap 5G phone for 2021

What is a hands on review?
Motorola One 5G Ace
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Motorola One 5G Ace features lesser specs than its predecessor, but the price has also dropped allowing for more people to make the use of 5G connectivity.

For

  • 5G capable at mid-range price
  • Decent camera options

Against

  • Slightly lower specs than predecessor
  • Drop in storage

The Motorola One 5G Ace is a new version of last year's Motorola One 5G, which has been announced alongside several other phones at CES 2021. While it doesn’t have as high specs as its predecessor, it does come in at one of the cheapest prices we’ve seen for a 5G phone.

This fits the Motorola One line, which Motorola introduced to experiment with new features it could later fold into its G-series (and now Edge) phones. The One 5G Ace is certainly a mid-range 5G phone, with decent specs and cameras for a lower price than many other 5G-capable handsets.

The One 5G Ace does make some compromises to get to a lower price: it uses a Snapdragon 750G chipset instead of the slightly more powerful Snapdragon 765G, starts at 64GB of storage instead of 128GB on the older One 5G, and loses out on a macro lens.

Motorola One 5G Ace price and release date

The Motorola One 5G Ace release date is set for January 14 in the US, and you're able to pre-order the phone now in the country from major retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon. Major US carriers will then start offering the phone later this year.

We've yet to hear whether the Motorola One 5G Ace will be available in the UK and Australia, but we've asked Motorola for the latest information so we'll update you further here when we hear more.

The One 5G Ace costs $399 (around £294 / AU$514), which is a touch cheaper compared to the older One 5G’s $444.99 (£349, about AU$635). The specs are slightly less here though, so it makes sense the company has dropped the price.

Motorola One 5G Ace

(Image credit: Future)

There’s plenty that’s stayed the same since the last Motorola One 5G handset: the same large 5,000mAh battery, 6.7-inch Full HD (2400 x 1080) 20:9 ratio display, 16MP selfie camera, and triple-rear camera headed by a 48MP main shooter with an 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro cameras all return.

The One 5G had dual selfie cameras and a 16MP ultra-wide shooter, but it's largely the same contingent of cameras.

Motorola One 5G Ace

(Image credit: Future)

Design-wise, the One 5G Ace is mostly unchanged from the One 5G. It’s still a middle ground between the budget phones and the flagship Motorola Edge and Edge Plus, with a design that retains the best parts (solid build, punch-hole selfie camera, 3.5mm headphone jack) with a few compromises. 

Motorola One 5G Ace

(Image credit: Future)

Most noticeably, it’s ditched the lock button-and-fingerprint-sensor, splitting them into a lock button and a rear mounted sensor, much like the layout of other budget phones. The One 5G Ace also switched from a glossy to matte plastic rear cover, which is somehow still a fingerprint magnet, though there’s a neat checked gradient with a rainbow under the cover. 

The prismatic houndstooth-like pattern combined with a quad-camera block filled with smaller camera nodes makes the phone look a bit classier than the One 5G, if we’re being honest. 

Motorola One 5G Ace

(Image credit: Future)

It should be noted that the software has gotten some improvements. Yes, it will launch with Android 10 rather than the still-new Android 11, but the interface has gotten some touch-ups.

For example, the photo app that has a refined interface that brings nearly all the controls into finger’s reach (especially the essential zoom increments), as well as the new Moto Action to split the screen in twain to run two apps at once.

Early verdict

Otherwise, it’s much the same smartphone that we saw in the Motorola One 5G – a phone we’d likely set against the Google Pixel 4a and iPhone SE 2020 for its features and value, while noting that neither of the latter two have 5G capabilities. 

While we haven’t seen much that’s new compared to the prior phone, it’s still a capable handset that we’re eager to put through paces to see how it compares.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.