Review: Motorola Edge, an affordable 5G flagship

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In the second half of 2020, we’re pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to great smartphones. One of the most recent entries is the Motorola Edge. When considering your next smartphone purchase, you may not immediately consider Motorla, but after spending a couple of weeks with this phone, it is a serious competitor.

The edge is Motorola‘s newest flagship featuring 5G which ticks an important box for those considering a phone that’ll be with them for the next couple of years. While Australia’s 5G networks aren’t everywhere, fast forward a couple of years and there’s a strong chance your home and workplace (assuming they’re not still the same place), will likely both have 5G service available.

We’ll not break down the design, performance, features and price, along with a final summary that will let you know if you should look outside the top sellers for something different in your next phone.

DESIGN

Curves in all the right places

The motorola edge is Motorola’s newest flagship device and that means including their best display. Motorola’s brand new Endless Edge display wraps nearly 90 degrees around both edges of the device to draw you into your content.

Motorola included their largest ever display on a phone at 6.7” and it’s awfully nice to look at, being a Full HD OLED display (yes we’d love a 4K display, but the battery life compromises and extra cost are likely explanations for why we don’t see it here). While screens that wrap around the side of a phone is certainly something we’ve seen in the industry before, the curved edges on this display are so aggressive, it actually gives the phone an appearance of being tall and skinny to the point where it feels like a different aspect ratio.

After using the Edge for a few days and continued to load more apps on it, I quickly realised that this phone is actually perfect for consuming the vertical content we so frequently see these days. Almost nothing important is housed within the extreme edges of a video, so social media like Instagram Stories/Reels and TikTok, look amazing as the content floods the entire front face of the phone (exception being the small forehead and chin bezels).

The phone also comes with the option to use side-touch gestures for better control over the most frequently used phone features. Personally I love Android 10’s swipe from the side to go back gesture on the edges of a display, so I steered away from enabling the Edge Touch. If you chose to use it, you’ll see a floating toolbar on the side of the screen and swiping in from that side will reveal a list of pinned apps and shortcuts you can leverage. It’s neat functionality, but not something I chose to use.

On the back of the phone, the camera module is fairly elegantly implemented with the 4 camera circles arranged in a vertical orientation, but importantly have one of the slimmest profile I’ve seen on cameras in years. This means when you place it on a desk or table, you don’t get that annoying wobble when interacting with your phone.

PERFORMANCE

How does it perform ?

For the most part, Motorola has done a nice job of combining a set of hardware and software that makes for a really compelling, snappy experience. Armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor and 6GB of RAM, the phone is generally really snappy. Jumping in out of apps is really snappy and loading games is just as quick as my Samsung Galaxy S20+ with Pokemon Go serving as a great comp, and the game launches in an almost identical time.

I did spot the occasional delay when launching the camera. This wasn’t all the time, but when you wait up to a second for the camera to load to catch that perfect moment, it feels like an eternity. Other times I launched it and it was around half that time. It was really difficult to track down the cause of this delay as many tests with other apps running or everything closed out proved inconclusive.

Overall the star of the show when it comes to performance on this phone is the inclusion of 5G. While not available everywhere, it will be in the years to come and if you’re lucky enough to be in a 5G area, you can expect hundreds of Mbps. My best speedtest in Wodonga was 411Mbps down and 42.7Mbps up. For most people, you’re still probably trying to work out why you’d need that much bandwidth, but the short answer is tethering. There’s almost nothing I do on my phone that could take advantage of that, while on the laptop, downloading large files, while participating in video conferencing, checking email, browsing the web etc would all be possible on a massive connection of that quality.

Perhaps the best example of how 5G can change your life is playing host (creating a hotspot) that others can join. When COVID19 is behind us, we’re likely to return to some form of hybrid working from home and working in the office. If that office happens to be McDonalds for a team meeting, then you could enable your hotspot and have the whole team be productive. This scenario also works well as a DR strategy, enabling your small business to keep functioning even if your primary connection is offline.

If you’re entertaining this as something you may use the phone for, then you could also account for the fact you could avoid the cost of a dedicated hotspot, helping to justify some of the sticker price of this phone.

If you do start to download a lot of content on the phone there’s a 128GB of storage included, with a microSD card slot in the sim tray, that’ll let you add an additional 1TB. If you’re someone who travels to locations where you’ll be offline for a while, maybe rapidly downloading some video podcasts or Netflix shows to your phone is something you’ll really appreciate.

FEATURES

Stand out features of this display.

When it comes to features, the Motorola Edge is really well equipped.

Cameras

Photography is one of the biggest reasons people upgrade. The Edge comes with a huge 64 MP main sensor which is really top of the field for a mid-premium phone, and a triple camera system also includes an 8 MP telephoto and 16 MP ultra-wide-angle lenses with Macro Vision. Like many smartphone makers, Motorola is leveraging AI to do some scene detection and help configure the settings to achieve the best photos.

Battery life

After a couple of years of use, the battery in your phone is starting to fade. This means you’ll be looking for great battery life out of a brand new phone and Motorola have included a massive 4500mAh battery to enable the phone to power 5G connectivity and get all-day battery life. If you do need a change, you can top off the battery with 18W power charging that gives you hours of power in just minutes of charging.

Software

Running Android 10, one of the benefits of buying this phone is the ability to get pure Android, without OEM customisations which not only gives you a great experience, but also means you should get new updates to the OS, as soon as Google release them, rather than months later as other manufacturers have to adjust their customisations which delays the rollout.

Full Specs

System Architecture/
Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 octa-core processor | Adreno 620 GPU

Memory (RAM)

6 GB DDR4

Storage (ROM)

128 GB

Expandable Storage

Up to 1 TB microSD card expandable*

Dimensions

161.64 x 71.1 x 9.29mm
6000 series aluminum | Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (front) | Plastic (rear)

Weight

188.3 grams

Display

6.7” Endless Edge display, OLED, DCI-P3 color space, 90Hz refresh rate, HDR10+

Battery

4500 mAh, Non-removable

Charging

18W TurboPower in-box

Water Protection

Water repellent design*, IPX2

Network Bands (by mode)

5G: NR Sub-6GHz | 4G: LTE (UL Cat 13 / DL Cat 18) | 3G: UMTS / HSPA+ | 2G: GSM / EDGE
Bands: 5G: 1/3/7/28/38/78/78(HPUE)
4G: LTE band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/26/28/32/38/40/41/41(CHINA)/41(INDIA)/66
3G: UMTS band 1/2/4/5/8
2G: GSM band 2/3/5/8

Rear Camera

64MP (f/1.8, 0.8µm) | Quad Pixel technology for 1.6um
Ultra-wide angle & Macro Vision | 16MP (f/2.2, 1.0µm) | FOV 117° ultra-wide angle
Telephoto | 8MP (f/2.4, 1.12µm) | 2x high-res optical zoom
Time of flight sensor

Video Capture

Rear main camera: UHD (30fps) | FHD (60/30fps) | HD (30fps) Rear ultra-wide angle camera: UHD (30fps) | FHD

(30/60fps) | HD (30fps)Rear telephoto camera: FHD (30fps) | HD (30fps)

Front Camera: FHD (30fps) | HD (30fps)

Front Camera

25MP sensor (f/2.0, 0.9µm) | Quad Pixel technology for 1.8um

SIM Card

Hybrid Dual SIM (2 Nano SIMs / 1 Nano SIM + 1 microSD)

Connectivity

USB-C port, USB 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack

FM Radio

Yes

Bluetooth Technology

Bluetooth 5.1

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with 2.4G/5GHz, Wi-Fi hotspot

Speakers / Microphones

Dual stereo speakers tuned by Waves

NFC

Yes

Location Services

GPS, A-GPS, LTEPP, SUPL, GLONASS, Galileo

Sensors

Fingerprint reader under display, Proximity, Accelerometer, Ambient light, Gyroscope

Colours

Solar Black

ISSUES

Not everything’s perfect

Easily the biggest omission here is wireless charging. It’s something I have on my bedside table and in my car, so for while not everyone will be this averse to plugging in a charging cable, this almost excludes it from my list of devices I’d consider purchasing. That’s not to say you shouldn’t but I personally like to live in a wireless world wherever possible.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

How much and when can you get one ?

The motorola edge is available to purchase from today at JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks (online only), Mobileciti, and the Motorola online store at an RRP of $999.

OVERALL

So should you buy one?

The Motorola Edge is easily one of the most affordable flagship phones on the market today. In a world where a $2,000 flagship exists, having one at half that price at this quality is really impressive.

The curved edge on the display makes the phone really nice to hold in the hand and it feels like a solid, well-built device of premium quality. The phone features great battery life, and performance at the same time, so Motorola has done a great job of optimisation to achieve this result.

Easily the biggest reason you’ll buy this phone is for its 5G capabilities. With many of us are making this a requirement for our next phone, it’s quickly becoming the must-have feature as more people understand that having a phone for a couple of years means you’ll likely have 5G before the phone’s lifetime. There are still relatively few phones on the market that offer 5G and ones of this quality at this price point, with the exception of the LG Velvet 5G which is the closest competitor to this device. With both running Android 10, the Motorola Edge has a bigger battery, better cameras and for the $100 difference, I’d definitely recommend the Edge.

More information at Motorola.

 

9.3
Review: Motorola Edge
The Good
  • Curved display
  • 5G connectivity
The Bad
  • No wireless charging
  • Design
    9.5
  • Performance
    9.0
  • Features
    9.5
  • Value
    9.0
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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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