Using Moto Gestures Is One My Favorite Ways to Take a Photo on Any Phone

Commentary: Turns out, Motorola had shortcuts figured out 10 years ago.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple | iPhone | iOS | Android | Samsung | Sony | Google | Motorola | Interviews | Coffee equipment | Cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
3 min read
Moto G Power 5G phone

The new Moto G Power has dual-rear cameras. But you can use a shortcut made 10 years ago to open them.

James Martin/CNET

Let me take a minute to sing the praises of my favorite phone feature I've used this year. And to make this fun, I'll give you a second to guess.

No, it's not Circle to Search on the Galaxy S24 series or the ingenious Rain Water Touch feature on the OnePlus 12, which lets you use the phone even when the screen is wet. And you can get out of here with any of that new-fangled generative AI that's been stealing the spotlight. It's not the Google Pixel 8 Pro's thermometer, or even the iPhone 15 Pro's StandBy Mode.

Read more: Best phone to buy in 2024

The feature that stands out to me is simple and involves a double-twist of my wrist. If you've owned a Motorola phone in the past decade, you know exactly what I mean. And if you haven't, I'm sorry you're missing out.

Motorola phones, like the $300 Moto G Power 5G I just reviewed, have a handful of slightly silly, instantly memorable and wonderfully useful shortcuts called Moto Gestures. For example, depending on the Moto you have, you can flip your phone over to put it into Do Not Disturb mode. You can also make a double-karate-chop motion to turn the flashlight on or off. But my favorite is the ability to open the camera by twisting my wrist twice.

If you've tried taking photos of your kids or pets, or really any fast-moving unpredictable subject, you know a precious moment when you see it. And you also know that moment can pass by as you fumble to get your phone out. With Moto Gestures, I can double-twist my wrist as I bring my phone from my pocket up to eye level, ensuring the camera app is open and ready by the time I can see the screen. It's discreet, it's fun and it truly brings me joy. I can't tell you how often I use this shortcut.

Yes, on some Android phones you can double-press the power button to do something similar, but it's not the same. And if you're an iPhone fan and have the 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max, there's that Action button for quickly opening the camera with a long press. That's all well and good, but neither of those approaches are fun. The twist-gesture is nice because you don't have to worry about finding a physical button. And when you use the shortcut, you get haptic feedback that you're opening the cameras, even if you can't see what you're doing.

So whether you have the Motorola Razr Plus or a new Moto G 5G, make sure to try out Moto Gestures, especially the camera shortcut. And if you're wondering about other unique phone features I'm obsessed with, I'll leave you with this: OnePlus phones have a mode called Xpan, named after a famous analog camera called the Hasselblad XPan (also branded as the Fujifilm TX-1), which takes a super-wide photo with a 65:24 aspect ratio. Check out my OnePlus Open vs. Google Pixel Fold camera test to see what I mean.

A photo of a talented woman

Here's a portrait of CNET's Abrar Al-Heeti that I took using Xpan mode on the OnePlus Open.

Patrick Holland/CNET

I Tested the Moto G Power 5G's Cameras at Trader Vic's in Oakland

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