Reviews

Motorola Edge Review – Almost a flagship

Motorola’s Moto G handsets are the bread and butter of their lineup, maintaining the best selling status of their range since their launch. While nowhere near flagship in specs, the G-series Moto phones are work horses, but not the flashy flagships that other manufacturers like Samsung trot out yearly with their Galaxy S and Note phones. Motorola has obviously missed having this flagship line, and in April announced their return to premium phones with the Motorola Edge and Edge+.

The Edge+ flies the high-end specs with the Snapdragon 865 processor, 12GB RAM, 108MP main camera sensor with a 5,000mAh battery that also supports wireless charging, while the Edge gets a more staid, yet still 5G ready Snapdragon 765 with 6GB RAM and a 64MP main camera with a 4,500mAh battery. 

Motorola EdgeMotorola Edge+
Display:6.7-inch OLED
Full HD+
90Hz refresh rate
HDR10
6.7-inch OLED
Full HD+
90Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
CPU/GPU:Qualcomm Snapdragon 765
Adreno 620 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Adreno 650 GPU
RAM:4GB12GB LPDDR5
Storage:128GB (microSD up to 1TB)128GB/256GB UFS 3.0
Rear Camera:* 64MP main
* 16MP ultra-wide & Macro vision (f/2.2, 117° FOV)
* 8MP telephoto (f/2.4, 2x optical)
* ToF
* 108MP main (f/1.8, OIS)
* 16MP ultra-wide & Macro Vision camera (f/2.2, 117° FOV)
* 8MP telephoto (f/2.4, 3x optical zoom, OIS)
* ToF
Front Camera:25MP (f/2.0)
Battery/Charging:4500mAh
18W wired charging
Wireless:WiFi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.1
GPS
NFC
Carrier:5G: NR Sub-6GHz
4G: LTE (UL Cat 13 / DL Cat 18)
3G: UMTS / HSPA+
2G: GSM / EDGE
4G/5G
Other:USB-C (USB3.1)
3.5mm headphone
Dual Stereo Speakers
Fingerprint reader
Water repellent design
USB-C (USB2.0)
3.5mm headphone
Dual Stereo Speakers
Fingerprint reader
IP54 water repellent design
Dimensions:161.64 x 71.1 x 9.29mm @ 188g161.1 x 71.4 x 9.6mm @ 203g
Colour:Solar Black

So the Edge isn’t quite the highest end of Motorola’s range, but it’s still got plenty going for it.  Motorola launched the Edge in Australia last week for $999, but the Edge+ with its higher end specs and corresponding price tag won’t be making its way here. 

Motorola sent over a review unit of the Edge, and after a nice couple of weeks using the phone, here’s some thoughts. 

Hardware and Design
In terms of design the Motorola Edge is a real departure from what I think of as a ‘Moto’ design. It’s all about the edge when it comes to the display, with a big 6.7-inch 1080p curved display that wraps around to the back of the phone which Motorola have dubbed the ‘Endless Edge’. 

Curved screens are very much a hit and miss thing, with each customer individual in their opinions on it. Motorola’s implementation is eye-catching, and fairly pleasant to hold with the curvature easier on the hand than a sharp cut off but suffers from the same issue of accidental touches  which you find on other curved displays.

Beyond that, the 21:9 aspect ratio screen seems well suited to watching video but services like YouTube and Netflix wrap the video around the sides of the display and you get a slightly awkward warping of the video. You can turn this off on a per-app basis in the ‘Edge Display’ settings, but whether the average user will know to go there and do that is another question.

Motorola has also made the Endless Edge more useful with Edge Lights which shows a light when you get a notification. In practice, the light was too dim, unless you had the lights off – at which time I don’t really need a notification.

There’s also Edge Touch, which lets you ‘double tap or swipe on the action bar for quick shortcuts’. In reality, this was hit and miss, with the action bar a tiny button on the edge which was easy to miss. We’ve seen similar Edge shortcut implementations from the likes of Huawei and Samsung, but they’ve let this particular function mainly fall out of the main focus, and frankly Motorola would do well to do the same.

I’m ok with the FullHD+ resolution of the display, with most flagships dropping back to this lower resolution which means better battery life, while still having a display that looks great. The screen is actually quite good quality and at 90Hz refresh rate the transitions and animations look smooth and overall are a better use of tech than including a QuadHD resolution screen.

The Motorola Edge comes with a TPU case which affords a little protection for the phone, and also means you don’t end up with fingerprints all over the Solar Black coloured phone. I really like the solar Black colour with the lovely rainbow shimmer which shows when you move it just right in the light, but it definitely attracts fingerprints. 

What is missing on the rear is a fingerprint scanner, which you’ll find embedded in the display. The in-display fingerprint scanner has become a fairly common inclusion these days, but I spent a good amount of my time entering my pin when the scanner wouldn’t work because I didn’t have my thumb or finger positioned ‘just so’. When it worked, it was fast, and I enjoyed the option to change the animation around the on-screen scanner, but I’d rather go back to the good old rear fingerprint scanner in the Moto logo if it’s all the same.

The standout for me was the Motorola Edge audio.  For a start the Motorola Edge comes with a headphone jack and they’ve also partnered with Waves who tuned the audio for improved sound. There’s ‘Moto Audio’ settings which you can set to Music, Movie or Game mode, but in reality it will sit on Auto for most users. The sound quality on the Motorola Edge is actually pretty decent, with a full sound which was pretty impressive.

While Motorola are positioning the phone as more a ‘super mid-ranger’ the Edge only gets an IPX2 water repellent rating, which protects it from ‘Dripping water when tilted at 15°’ while the Edge+ gets an IP54 water repellent design. Water Ingress rating has always been absent on Motorola phones, with the company preferring splash resistance to avoid those ‘Oops’ moments, but with the competition mostly adopting an IP68 rating, it’s time for Motorola to bring in this rating.

Performance

The inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor was a concern for me, however it does pretty well. You will definitely notice a difference between the 765 and Qualcomm’s top tier SD865 CPU, though it’s not going to be a deal breaker. There’s some slow down, and the occasional stutter as it manages the 6GB of RAM, but it’s pretty good overall. 

The attraction of the SD765 processor for manufacturers is of course the inclusion of a 5G modem. Unfortunately where I live there’s no 5G tower within cooee so I turned this option off. I did go looking for a tower, and ultimately found one, but I turned the network preferences back to 4G to avoid the phone constantly looking for 5G which would be a battery drain.

That power use isn’t something you have to worry about a huge deal with the phone easily lasting a full day of heavy use, and even going into the second day. That 4,500mAh battery can be charged with the 18W USB-C charger included in the box but there’s no wireless charging support which you find on the Edge+ which was a slight disappointment.

Camera

On paper the camera specs on the Motorola Edge are decently impressive. The camera setup differs from the Edge+ only on the main sensor (108MP on Edge+ vs 64MP on Edge), and the telephoto sensor with the Edge+ getting 3x Optical zoom, while the Edge gets a mere 2x optical zoom. Up front, both got a 25MP selfie camera.

Rear CameraFront Camera
64 MP (f/1.8, 0.8 µm) | Quad Pixel technology for 1.6 µmUltra-wide angle & Macro Vision | 16 MP (f/2.2, 1.0 µm) | FOV 117° ultra-wide angle Telephoto | 8 MP (f/2.4, 1.12 µm) | 2× high-res optical zoomTime of flight sensor25 MP sensor (f/2.0, 0.9 µm) | Quad Pixel technology for 1.8 µm

The Edge uses pixel binning on the main 64MP sensor on the Edge, which leaves you with effectively a 16MP shot when the software stacks the quad-pixel array.  You can capture at 64MP thanks to the ‘Ultra64’ setting in the ‘More’ section of the camera app, but the resulting shot isn’t the best as it’s essentially just a raw shot.

The main sensor gives a pretty good shot overall, but it’s still lacking when it comes to photos from higher end phones like the Pixel or Galaxy S20, and even the Huawei P40 Pro.

This sensor too gives pretty good results in low-light, though not quite at the level of some of those flagship phones. 

Video too is where you note the lack of SD865 processor, with 4K up to 30fps the maximum for the Edge. A 60fps option would have been good, and 8K would have been better, but the limitations on the processor preclude the inclusion of both options. 

The telephoto sensor is also lacking Optical Image Stabiilisation (OIS) and it’s only 2x optical zoom as opposed to the 3x Optical Zoom and included OIS on the Edge+. It’s handy to have but I found more utility in the ultra-wide angle lens on the 16MP sensor which also functions in Macro mode. While Macro mode itself is pretty good, it’s also not a hugely useful tool, but it was nice to get up close and personal with moss and lichen.

Up front the Selfie Camera is a respectable 25MP and is hidden in a punch-hole notch in the display. The camera takes an ok shot, but is fairly smooth thanks to the ‘Face Beauty’ mode which is on turned to auto by default so you may notice more artificial smoothing than you’d like. Turning this off allows for a more natural shot, though like me you may need a little smoothing these days ;).

Camera wise the Motorola Edge is respectable without being outstanding, In a world where computational photography takes a front-seat on phones these days I’d like to see Motorola show what they can do in this space. 

Software

Motorola is notoriously light when it comes to ‘skinning’ Android. The base of the Motorola Edge is Android 10, with Motorola Australia promising Android 11, but not yet willing to promise Android 12. The phone will get security updates quarterly as well to ensure you’re up to date.

While light, the Motorola Skin is encroaching with the skin now named ‘My UX’ on the phone. My UX lets you customise the look of your phone with different fonts, interface colours, app icon shapes and more. I can’t say I’ve ever used these UI change options on a default skin, preferring to use launcher replacements from Google Play like Nova Launcher or Action Launcher if I need to change things. 

The old favourites from Motorola’s software like Moto Actions which let you twist your wrist twice to quickly launch the camera, are still there, as is Peek Display which let’s you interact with notifications while the screen is off, which ultimately cuts down on battery use. 

Motorola’s My UX is a very light ‘skin’ in comparison to heavyweights like Huawei, LG, OPPO and other manufacturers. Motorola have managed to tread that fine line between becoming a bloated skin and providing useful additions on top of stock Android, and tread it well with My UX very easy to use – but as always, it will come down to how fast those software updates arrive.

Should I buy it?

The Motorola Edge is an interesting prospect in the mobile line up in Australia. At $999 it’s quite the premium ‘mid-range’ option and while the hardware doesn’t go over the top, there’s certainly some cheaper options around. 

The phone does include 5G which is something that consumers are beginning to look for in a phone, and is a handy inclusion if you live or work near a tower. The phone also looks great, though the utility of the curved screen is a little questionable. The cameras, while good, aren’t the flagship level Motorola was shooting for but still offer a decent shot and that battery is just brilliant. 

I can’t help feeling that the Motorola Edge would have done well to forgo the curved display (and presumably the name) and perhaps just made the super mid-range phone for the wireless charging and similar camera sensor that you find on the Edge+.

There’s no denying that Motorola has a solid history of making good phones and the Motorola Edge is no different. If you like the curved display the Motorola Edge is a great looking phone which also has a decent amount of grunt underneath, You can check it out in person at JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys, or online at Officeworks, MobileCiti and Motorola.com.au.

Motorola Edge Review – Almost a flagship
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