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Review Roundup: The Motorola Edge Is a Great Value If You Catch It on Sale

The Motorola Edge in Solar Black.

Motorola’s hiatus from the premium phone market ended in April with the launch of its $1,000 Edge+. Now, the company is tackling midrange shoppers with the Edge (sans +), a $700 clone with slightly less horsepower. Reviewers agree the Motorola Edge is a killer device for the price, but you might want to wait for a sale.

Wait, why would you wait for a sale? The Motorola Edge is already a stellar value at $700—it’s 5G-capable, has a gorgeous, 6.70-inch 90 Hz display, and its battery lasts for two days with regular use.

But here’s the thing: at this writing, Motorola is offering the Edge on preorder for $500. If Motorola can sell thousands of its brand-new handsets at a $200 discount now, you can expect a similar discount within a few months.

First, let’s go over some of the phone’s specs before we move on to the reviews:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 Processor
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 256 GB Storage (not expandable)
  • 4,500 mAh Battery
  • 18-watt USB-C Charging (no wireless charging)
  • 6.70-inch, 90-Hz waterfall display, 21:9 aspect-ratio (same as the Edge+)
  • 64-megapixel main camera, 16-megapixel ultrawide, 8-megapixel telephoto
  • 25-megapixel front camera
  • Headphone jack
  • In-display fingerprint reader
  • Sub-6 5G connectivity (unlocked for all carriers)
  • No IPX water- or dust-resistance rating

If these specs look familiar, it’s because they’re nearly identical to the Motorola Edge+. Visually, the only difference between the two phones is the back panel—the Edge+ has a glass back for wireless charging.

While the $700 Motorola Edge’s internal specs are a lot less impressive than those on the Edge+, reviewers actually prefer the cheaper Edge.

Fantastic Performance and Battery Life

A live concert audience being filmed on the Motorola Edge.

The Motorola Edge has an impressive (albeit, predictable) spec sheet. There’s the Snapdragon 765 processor, the 90-hertz display, and a healthy 6 GB of RAM. But fancy specs don’t always translate to good performance. Manufacturers need good software to make the most of their hardware—and that’s where Motorola does things right.

Unlike LG or Samsung phones, which are bogged down by unnecessary software and odd customization, the Motorola Edge offers a bare-bones Android experience. Simplicity seems to keep everything cool, snappy, and intuitive, as noted by Ryan Whitwam at Android Police:

“The menus, system theme, and home screen are almost exactly what you’d see on a Pixel or Android One device. You even get Googley features, like Call Screen and Duo dialer integration. The cleaner Android build contributes to a responsive and manageable overall experience because Motorola isn’t making arbitrary changes. You don’t have to constantly avoid apps or opt-out of services, which is a common part of using phones from Samsung or LG.”

To the surprise of seemingly every tech reviewer, the Motorola Edge’s Snapdragon 765 processor runs about as well as the Snapdragon 865 processor on the Edge+. Joe Maring at Android Central said the Motorola Edge is “every bit as fast as” more expensive 865 devices, and he hasn’t encountered “any noticeable slowdown or hiccups” on the Edge, even while gaming.

Some reviewers actually prefer the Edge’s Snapdragon 765 to the Edge+’s 865 processors. The real-world performance between each chip is negligible, yet the 765’s puts considerably less strain on a phone’s battery than its big brother.

Chaim Gartenberg over at The Verge and Engadget’s Chis Velazco managed to use the Edge for two days without a charge. Whitwam also boldly proclaimed the cheap Edge “far outlasts” the more expensive Edge+. To be honest, the idea that a 5G phone with a 90 Hz display can last for two days is kind of mind-boggling.

The only complaint with the 765 processor seems to be that it only works with sub-6 (or mid-band) 5G connections. Sub-6 is the most common 5G connection you can get indoors, so this isn’t a big deal.

If anything, the bigger concern is Motorola Edge’s lack of Wi-Fi 6, the latest, greatest Wi-Fi standard. If you upgrade your home internet every year, consider the Edge+, which is Wi-Fi 6-compatible.

The Curved Display Is Annoying (Unless You’re Gaming)

A photo showing off the Motorola Edge's curved display.

Motorola’s waterfall display is a thing of beauty. You get OLED, a 90-hertz refresh rate, and a cinematic 21:9 aspect-ratio for a very reasonable price. Curved displays aren’t fun to use, though. They make a phone difficult to hold, and they’re just begging to look a bit out of date.

When the Motorola Edge+ launched in April, every reviewer complained about the curved display. Unsurprisingly, reviewers are complaining about the $700 Edge’s curved screen. Whitwam said it best:

“Honestly, there’s no way to hold the Edge 100 percent comfortably, and that’s a bummer. Motorola used to make some of the most ergonomically competent phones in the world back in the Moto X days. Here, I’m constantly shifting my grip, trying to keep the phone secure, without accidentally touching the expansive curved edges. I understand Motorola’s desire to make a phone that stands out, and the curve is striking, but it’s bad for usability (and good luck finding third-party cases that work well).”

Otherwise, the Edge’s display is fantastic. In his review for PCMag, Steven Winkelman claimed the Edge has “one of the best displays we’ve seen at this price.” He described it as both “smooth, and bright” with “excellent overall color accuracy.” Motorola makes it easy to disable the edge display between apps, which some reviewers failed to mention after complaining about the issue.

Another thing reviewers fail to mention is that edge-to-edge displays are fantastic for gaming. They’re “immersive” and fun to look at. Plus, you can program the edge of the screen for trigger buttons, as shown in this Edge+ review video by Michael Fisher (MrMobile).

Bad at Photos, Great for Media Consumption

The Motorola Edge taking a photo.

The Motorola Edge’s cameras are an example of how bad software can drag down good hardware. A three-camera array with a 64 MP main camera, 16 MP ultrawide, and 8 MP telephoto is impressive on paper, but Motorola’s camera software just isn’t up to snuff.

Maring’s photos look “soft” and “blown out,” with odd halos surrounding the edges of objects. With $400 handsets, like the iPhone SE and Pixel 3a, producing stunning photos, you expect more from a $700 phone.

Still, the Motorola Edge is much better for media consumption and gaming than its cheaper competitors. This is because, in addition to the 21:9 OLED display, Snapdragon 765 processor, and curved screen for virtual shoulder buttons, the Edge also has a loud-ass set of speakers.

Here’s what Winkelman said about them:

“The Edge features stereo sound tuned by Waves Audio, and volume peaks at 90 dB. It’s very good for a phone, if not quite up to the standards set by the Asus ROG Phone 3 and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G. There’s also a physical headphone jack, which is always nice to see, and you can customize your own audio profile using the Moto Audio setting.”

For reference, doctors say you should avoid anything over 85 decibels, and 90 decibels is comparable to the volume of a lawnmower. You’re not going to get an audiophile experience from the Motorola Edge’s speakers. However, they’re loud enough that you won’t need to bother with a Bluetooth speaker.

The Gist: The Edge Is an Interesting Alternative to the OnePlus 8

The Motorola Edge.

Like the $1,000 Edge+, the new Motorola Edge is a fantastic phone with some silly oversights. Still, reviews of the handset are mostly positive. Everyone seems impressed with its killer performance, beautiful display, and outstanding battery life. At $700, it could go head-to-head with the popular OnePlus 8.

When it comes to specs, the OnePlus 8 is a better phone. It has a Snapdragon 865 processor, 30-watt fast charging, extra RAM for multitasking, and a flat (not curved) AMOLED 90 Hz display.

The Motorola Edge, meanwhile, has a two-day battery life, a 21:9 aspect-ratio, and a headphone jack. It’s an attractive phone for movies, music, and games, and it’ll probably fall back to its $500 sale price before the end of the year.

Even if you have your eyes (and your wallet) set on the Edge+, you should seriously consider the $700 Edge instead. You’ll lose photo quality, wireless charging, Wi-Fi 6, and millimeter-wave 5G, but that’s about it.

The average consumer most likely won’t notice a difference between the two phones.

Reviews Cited: Android Central, Android Police, Engadget, The Verge, PCMag. MrMobile (Edge+)

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »