Sep 28th, 2020

The Motorola Edge is entering a very crowded and competitive mid-range smartphone market. This is a market where a device has to stand out to get some recognition, and Motorola’s previous devices have always been good but nothing too special (except for the RAZR of course). But the Edge is unique and has some tricks up its sleeve to get you to drop that $500.

Overview

Inside you’ll find a Snapdragon 765G, 4/6GB of RAM, 128/256GB of UFS 2.1 storage with a microSD slot, a huge 6.7-inch 1080 x 2340 OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and an in-display fingerprint sensor, a triple camera array, and a 4,500 mAh battery.

The star of the show is the gorgeous display. It’s curved 90 degrees to the sides, making three of the six sides of the phone all display. Instead of a notch you get a tiny hole punch in the corner, where it’s least noticeable and least intrusive (I’m looking at you, Samsung). The fact that it’s OLED gives you those amazing deep blacks, saturated colors, and overall premium look. It refreshes at 90Hz, meaning you get buttery smooth animations like some flagships (again, looking at you Samsung). While the display is a bit grainy at its lowest brightness setting, it’s a stunner in every other situation. And even though I don’t like curved displays due to touch recognition issues, the touch rejection on the edges is fantastic and the edges, while being extreme, are far less intrusive than other phones with traditional curved edges. Motorola nailed the display.

Under the display is an optical fingerprint reader, and it’s surprisingly quick and accurate. I rarely have trouble getting into the phone, and when it does mess up it’s never more than two errors in a row. Some devices fail until you need to enter your pin. 99% of the time it’s quick and problem free, which is a bit rare for optical fingerprint readers.

Motorola touts this device for its sound, as it included dual speakers and a headphone jack. The speakers are loud, but they’re not particularly high quality. They’re shrill and have no bass whatsoever, which is a bit of a bummer. But they are loud and clear, which is great for watching videos. The headphone jack is an absolute blessing. The port remains as useful as it was a decade ago and I love having it around.

Build quality

The Moto Edge is built fairly well, with one big caviat. The front is a big slab of glass, curved and with no sharp edges. The frame is aluminum and is well made, though the gaps tend to be a bit on the bigger side. This is expected for mid-range devices.

While the back looks premium, with its subtle rainbow effect and glass-like look, it’s actually made out of plastic. It’s not a huge deal for the price point, but there are plenty of devices with a lower price and a glass black. In fact, Motorola has made plenty of them. The plastic back means that the rear flexes more, scratches more easily, and gets fingerprints much easier than glass. it is more durable when it comes to drops though, which many will see as a plus.

Besides the plastic back, it’s indistinguishable from a flagship once it’s in your hand and in use. It feels great, weighs a good amount, and definitely looks the part. And hey, if you don’t like it, Motorola includes a nice tinted silicone case in the box.

Software

Motorola has long been known for a simple, clean approach to software, and the Edge is no different. You’ll find a mostly stock build of Android 10 and it’s beautiful. Many of us love stock Android and this hits the spot for a minimal, clean interface with no bloat.

However, it’s not entirely stock. Motorola includes a suite of improvements that are mostly exclusive to their devices. And while some are gimmicky, others are major selling points for the device and are hard to live without.

Moto Actions allow you to use gestures to control the phone. Twist your wrist twice to open the camera. Chop with the phone twice to enable the flashlight (this one is truly amazing and so useful). Tap with three fingers to take a screenshot.

Then there’s Moto Display, which still hasn’t been surpassed by anyone. The display isn’t always on, but tapping it or going near the device will turn the display on, with a beautiful flowing blue fluid animation behind the time, notifications, and icon for the fingerprint reader. You can hold each notification for a quick summary, drag it up for certain actions (based on the buttons that would normally show up in its notification), or drag it down into the fingerprint reader to unlock the device and open the notification. It’s so simple, fluid, and feature packed.

Motorola is also taking advantage of the huge, curved edges with Edge Lights. This will turn the edges of the device white when you get a notification, so you can see it from far away. This even works with the phone upside down. It’s a really effective way of getting your attention, and others will always comment on how pretty it is. You can also hit the power button while the device is upside down to show battery charge, which will be a blue bar shooting up the sides of the device to indicate the battery percentage.

A neat but less useful addition is Moto Gametime. It allows you to use the curved edges as gamepad triggers. While in-game, you can edit the on-screen buttons that the triggers activate. It works well, but it is a bit awkward to hold. Nonetheless, it’s a nice addition.

Unfortunately, Motorola is pretty slow with the updates. The device still doesn’t have Android 11, and security updates are always a few months behind.

Performance

That Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G (the G stands for gaming) is paired with 4 or 6GB of RAM. We’re testing the 6GB model with 256GB of storage. While this is not a flagship processor, it’s not all that far off. It’s certainly better than the 600 series chips that are in many budget phones.

The performance ends up being very snappy, with quick load times and buttery smooth animations on the 90Hz display. You’ll notice some stutters here and there, but it’s rarely a problem. After some time and a lot of open apps, you may find slowdowns, but a restart once a week should keep that at bay.

During gaming, you likely won’t notice that this isn’t a flagship chip. The device runs Call of Duty and PUBG very well, with high framerates and no major dips in performance.

One issue we did have is that Android Auto had a lot of skipping where other phones did not. A restart also fixed this, but it was annoying to restart the phone while driving. Thankfully this issue was not all that common.

Camera

As always, this is the weak point of pretty much any Motorola phone. The Moto Edge camera is overall pretty decent, though it definitely struggles in low light. When things are brightly lit, it can take some great photos. Colors can be lacking but this is something easily solved by a bit of editing.

When the device launched, low light was straight up terrible. But with updates, it’s actually gotten a lot better, to the point where most of the blurring in low light has completely gone away. Thankfully this means that Night Mode photos come out sharp, even if they don’t look all that great.

The 2x telephoto is blurrier than the standard camera, but it’s nice to have. The ultrawide is awesome, just as sharp as the main camera but offering a great wide perspective. One issue I’ve noticed is that the camera gets rotation wrong a lot of the time. It’s easy to fix later, but definitely annoying.

On the video side, I’ve found the device to be pretty terrible. In anything but the best light, focus constantly strobes and will not stay still. Even if you manually select a focus point it’ll strobe the whole time, in and out. It completely ruins videos. You also can’t take video in ultrawide, which is a very odd choice.

If you do a lot of shooting in low light, this isn’t the camera for you. But it can take some beautiful photos, especially with some editing.

Battery life

The device packs a big 4,500 mAh battery, which isn’t all that unusual aside from being a mid-range device. We see plenty of devices with such a large battery and even ones with larger batteries, but usable life is more than just a big cell.

Thankfully the Edge has phenomenal battery life. With a lot of use, you can usually go two days without charging. And even with heavy use like gaming and videos, draining it in just a day is very difficult. I used it for navigation and music streaming for five hours on the way to Tahoe and still made it to bed with some juice left.

In a world where all day battery life isn’t a guarantee with every phone, two days not only gives you a lot of wiggle room but also guarantees all day battery life through years of use and wear.

Conclusion

Other than the camera, the Moto Edge is a fantastic device and will make most people just as happy as a flagship would. However, the camera is a bit on the weak side. Not bad by any means, and still very capable, but not nearly as good as a Pixel.

Otherwise, I highly recommend this device for the $500 price tag you can find it for right now. At the full $700 price point, it’s very hard to justify compared to flagships and other mid-to-high end devices. But it’s been discounted to $500 since launch and at this price it’s definitely worth it.

if you’re looking for a great all around device, and one that doesn’t skimp on the headphone jack and battery, the Moto Edge is it. Let’s just hope the Android 11 update comes soon!

Motorola Edge Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_0 (4/5)

The Good

  • Fantastic display
  • Ridiculous battery life
  • Headphone jack
  • Flagship looks
  • Stock Android and Moto additions are amazing

The Bad

  • Camera isn’t very good
  • Occasional Android Auto issues
  • Speakers just okay
  • No wireless charging

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