2021 Moto Edge
The 2021 Moto Edge is a plastic mid-range phone with a completely flat 144Hz display. It delivers excellent battery life and great software, but not much else.
- Solid performance
- Outstanding battery life
- Almost stock Android
- Delightful user experience
- Expensive unlocked
- Plastic build
- Looks and feels cheap
- Bezeltastic screen
- Lackluster ultrawide camera
- Mono speaker
Last year, after a long absence, Motorola finally re-entered the Android flagship space with the $999 Moto Edge+, a no-compromise, glass and aluminum smartphone packed with all the specs. This was followed by the $699 Moto Edge, a slightly detuned (lesser cameras and processor, no wireless charging) variant. Both handsets boasted special OLED screens with extreme curved edges – hence the name.
Fast forward to August, and the 2021 Moto Edge. It’s available unlocked for $699 (but initially $499), and on Verizon as the Moto Edge 5G UW (with mmWave 5G) for $549. But this time around it’s just a plastic mid-range phone with a completely flat 144Hz display. So, what’s the deal with this generic new handset? Is it any good? And if the screen is flat, why is it still called Moto Edge? Read my review to find out.
Hardware and design
Brace yourselves. If you expected the 2021 Moto Edge to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, you’ll be very disappointed. Gone is the premium glass and aluminum build, “waterfall” OLED display, microSD support, headphone jack, stereo speakers, and in-screen fingerprint sensor. Instead, you get a plastic frame and back, completely flat LCD panel, mono speaker, and capacitive fingerprint scanner built into the power / lock key.
You also get a newer processor (Snapdragon 778G vs. 765G), higher-resolution main shooter (108MP vs. 64MP – still without OIS), bigger battery (5000mAh vs. 4500mAh), and faster wired charging (30W vs. 18W). While the display is slightly larger (6.8-inch vs. 6.7-inch) and boasts a much higher refresh rate (144Hz vs. 90Hz), it’s surrounded by significant bezels and a massive chin – think Moto G Stylus 5G. Basically, it looks and feels cheap.
The Moto Edge’s faux-glass back might be shiny and fancy, but it’s a fingerprint magnet, so you’ll probably want to use a case. One standout design feature is the multi-layer camera pod. It’s home to a trio of rear shooters (108MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP depth) with raised lenses mounted on a rectangular platform, itself protruding out of another, larger rectangular platform that contains the dual-LED flash and third mic.
A single colorway is available for the new Moto Edge, and that’s Nebula Blue. It’s lovely. You’ll find the volume rocker and power / lock key (with a capacitive fingerprint sensor) on the right side, a speaker, primary mic, USB Type-C port, and SIM tray along the bottom, and the secondary mic on top. Otherwise, there’s a punch hole for the 32MP selfie camera in front, a Moto logo in the back, but nothing on the left side.
The Moto Edge is rated IP52 for water and dust resistance, so it’s basically splash-proof.
While I prefer flat screens over “waterfall” displays with curved edges, I also much prefer OLED screens over LCDs. As such, I think the Moto Edge’s 6.8-inch FHD+ (2460 x 1080 pixels, 395ppi) HDR10 LCD panel is a step backwards. Yes, the 144Hz refresh rate (vs. 90Hz last year) is an improvement, but you have to manually select it to enjoy the benefits. The auto refresh rate setting maxes out at 120Hz, and is more power efficient.
So by default — and for best battery life — this is effectively a 120Hz screen. The other drawback with LCDs is larger bezels and a chin, which is quite pronounced on this 2021 Moto Edge. Overall, this LCD panel is pretty nice, with punchy colors and excellent contrast. Brightness is decent in direct sunlight, but viewing angles aren’t spectacular.