Motorola One Zoom & Android - 28 days later

Updated: February 24, 2020

It has been a few weeks since I've embarked on my One Zoom adventure - which means I'm no longer using my fabulous Lumia 950, and my touch experience focuses primarily around Android. Now, this does not mean it's a tragic or a bad experience. Far from it. I'm quite pleased with how things have turned out. I was able to tame the operating system, reduce the noise and low-IQ features, the hardware behaves well, the camera is splendid, and all in all, Android delivered reasonable, better-than-expected results.

But that's early glamor. With a moon or two behind us, I had a chance to sample the phone in a series of real-life scenarios, things that you can't necessarily plan for or do in a restricted early testing set. Somewhat similar to what I've shown you with my Moto G6 and the Android road test. Now, let me share some more findings from the One Zoom usage.

Teaser

Performance, battery life

Good. The phone is quite speedy, and everything works smoothly. The browsing experience is excellent, thanks to Firefox with adblocking, which renders the otherwise unbearable Internet landscape sane and usable and quiet. Fewer cycles are wasted loading nonsense, which means pages show up faster, and there's less battery drain.

Speaking of battery, I'm really amazed. Now, my typical usage is fairly light - some browsing, some music, an occasional video or two, with Wi-Fi and mobile data turned on, including areas with bad reception, which means more strain. But this translates into real-life 7+ days in between charges, even when it's cold outside. Just some examples below - completely different weeks, mind.

Battery 1 Battery 2

So, it seems I use my phone 20 minutes a day. Sounds like a lot, no?

I wonder how much of this excellent battery life can be attributed to the tightened setup, with privacy tweaks, browser setup and all that, as in turning all the extra features and options I don't need off. Now, there's no magic, and the battery cells can only hold so much charge, but by using less, I'm definitely helping. The only question is, what's my part in the equation? What's my part in the great mystery of the universe?

Stability

No weevils in the works. The phone behaves quite all right. I did need to re-calibrate the Maps compass once, and for some odd reason, in between two charges, the phone showed negative value usage for the Phone app. Must be my light usage being so light, I straighten the bends in the time-space continuum. The rest of it was just fine. The problem disappeared eventually, not sure how or why.

Negative time

Annoyances

After I've configured the phone for reasonable, practical privacy, there will still some annoyances here and there. Mostly useless notifications from apps that shouldn't be notifying in the first place. I had to manually tweak these. Now, this is how you do this in Android: once you have a notification pop up, gently, slowly half-swipe to the right (not fast so it's cleared). This will reveal a cogwheel function to the left, and you can then configure whether you want to see notifications of that type again.

Notifications 1 Notifications 2

Another big annoyance - the News feed that shows if you swipe right on the home screen. Luckily, you can configure this, too. Under Home Settings, you can change what the Swipe Access gesture does - change from feed to nothing, and you won't be bothered with news you don't care about. Then, there were also a few other oddities - weather alerts, for instance.

Weather notifications News feed

I would occasionally see all sorts of messages in the Settings menu, mostly "gentle" encouragement to try different features and options. Again, the whole flow is a bit convoluted, so you need to dig around to figure out how to turn these off. But after a while, you can get a peaceful, quiet setup. Patience, diligence and a methodical approach are definitely required.

Annoyances in Settings

Another pseudo-science fad - night light.

Then, I noticed that Youtube shortlinks open in the Youtube app and not in the browser. All of a sudden, I was bombarded by ads and recommendations on using Instagram and other nonsense, and it was a complete sensory overload of the lowest order. So I realized that I haven't fully covered all the aspects of privacy that I could think of so far, because I've not launched the Youtube app once since having purchased the phone, and only used it through Firefox. I had to invest more time toggling things off, and there were so many of them.

Youtube annoyances 1 Youtube annoyances 2

There are actually 6-7 screens worth of changes - notifications, autoplay, watch and search history, recommendations, etc. You can also sign out of the app. Takes time and patience, but be strong!

Initially, I praised the auto-brightness feature. But after some prolonged use, me must conclude that the feature isn't that amazing. However, if you manually tweak the light level, it does eventually figure out what to do - although it can still sometimes randomly darken the screen even if you just minutely tilt the phone in your hand.

Camera

The optics are solid. The camera app, less so. I like the quality of produced photos, but I dislike the way the app works. It keeps asking me to use filters, and tries to goad me into trying the different modes and such as if I'm some kind of hyperactive teenager who tries to be Andy Warhol on a budget. Hand in hand with the camera, you get the Photo app. No text explanation for what the different buttons do. Press to curse, it seems like, when you realize that it tries to analyze photo contents, give you recommendations on similar things and such nonsense. I don't know if this is done locally or somewhere aboard the mothership, but if it's latter, then some of my pixels have gone to the cloud, the one thing I didn't want them to do.

Ergonomics

The phone is heavy, we've established that. Then, the power button feels a bit flimsy. Now, the power button isn't the pinnacle of sturdiness of the Moto G6 either, but here on One Zoom, if feels a bit imprecise. In fact, it works much better with the phone protector cover on.

Lastly, not only is the phone bulky and weighs a lot, the rounded edges make it slippery, especially for someone with silky smooth (Zohan style), non-sweat-sticky modelesque hands like mine. So sometimes, it just kind of flips about, but luckily, this is mostly in the safe confines of the home setting.

Conclusion

Here we go, a few months of One Zoom notched under one's belt. One's belt, geddit? So yes. I had some time to get acquainted with the phone, test it in earnest beyond the initial impression, and now that the SIM insertion debacle cuts have healed, I'm also cool-headed about it. Overall, Motorola One Zoom is a capable, versatile phone, with excellent performance, more-than-excellent battery life, and a quality camera.

I still find it mindboggling how convoluted Android settings can be, and the persistence in trying to get the user entrenched in the mobile experience. Perhaps this works on the average simian, but it only breeds more resistance in me, and makes me even more focused on getting everything properly tamed. Indeed, weeks after the initial de-low-IQ-ing, there are still occasional annoyances, but these have come down to a tiny trickle, and the experience is pretty quiet and sane. The one outstanding thing is the phone's bulk, but that was a conscious decision when I bought it, so I can't really complain. All in all, I feel this was a wise, justified purchase, and Motorola One Zoom is a worthy successor to my Lumia. We're done here, but I guess this ain't gonna be the last article of this kind. So stay tuned.

Cheers.

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