Moto Edge review: cutting the wrong corner

Not a bad deal for $499

Moto Edge review

Bottom line

The Moto Edge is a nice affordable flagship that’s let down by mid-range cameras. It’s worth $499, not $699.

Overall
3.9

Pros

  • Nice display
  • Solid performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great user experience
  • Headphone Jack

Cons

  • Extreme “waterfall” screen
  • Middling cameras (no OIS)
  • No wireless charging
  • Too expensive (at $699)

Performance and battery life

Like the OnePlus Nord, the Moto Edge features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G, which slots below the flagship Snapdragon 865 found on the Edge+. On paper, it’s a slower chip, but it’s also more power-efficient since the X52 5G modem is built-in. Still, in actual use you’d be hard-pressed to notice any major performance deficit unless you fire up the most intensive 3D games. It’s also way more cost-effective.

Here in the US, Moto pairs this processor with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage (with microSD support up to 1TB). A 4GB / 128GB variant is also available in other markets. Other specs include WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.1 (with LE), NFC, A-GPS/ GLONASS / Galileo positioning, an FM radio, and the standard assortment of sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, SAR, and compass).

The Edge felt pleasantly quick no matter what I threw at it. It juggled my usual assortment of apps without missing a beat — seamlessly hopping between the camera, Photos, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Chrome, and YouTube. Moto’s clean build of Android 10 and that 90Hz screen certainly help a lot here. Still, I’m impressed — the Edge generally manages to keep up with the extra smooth OnePlus Nord.

Haptics are pretty decent thanks to a linear vibration motor, and the optical in-display fingerprint works pretty well, with fast and reliable scans. Finally, battery life is very good. After nearly two days of use, which included taking all the sample photos in this review, the Edge’s 4500mAh cell was down to 49%, with 4 hours and 36 minutes of screen-on time. I’m confident that this phone will last more than a day of heavy use on a full charge.

The Edge supports 18W wired fast charging and comes with a matching brick in the box. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging here, unlike the Edge+ — and that’s really the only corner Moto’s cut on the specs front.

Software

Like the vast majority of Moto’s recent handsets, the Edge runs a near stock build of Android 10. Forget annoying skins or customizations: this software feels clean and responsive, and provides an outstanding user experience thanks to a handful of helpful tweaks. Take Moto’s excellent clock/weather/fitness widget, for example: it’s simple yet effective. Let’s check out some of the other features, in case you’re not familiar.

Moto Actions lets you control the Edge using gestures, like a double hand chop to toggle the flashlight on and off, a double wrist twist to launch the camera, or a three-finger swipe to take an auto-scrolling screenshot. Moto Display makes it easier to interact with your phone, like keeping the screen on while you’re looking at it, or showing the date, time, weather, and notifications if you tap on the screen or reach for your handset.

I’d still prefer a bonafide always-on display, but Moto Display is extremely intuitive and even lets you respond to some notifications right on the lock screen. Then there’s Edge Touch, which lets you place a small translucent “pill” on the left or right side of the display. Double-tap this “pill” to switch to a 21:9 aspect ratio and black out the curved edges — or back to full screen. Not all apps support this (the camera doesn’t) but it’s clever.

You can also slide the “pill” up, down, and towards the center of the display, to bring up recent apps, or the app tray, or up to six app / contact shortcuts of your choice — respectively. Edge Lights turns the curved edges into a notification light. And finally, there’s Moto Gametime, a feature rich game mode that lets you configure a pair of virtual trigger/shoulder buttons on the one side of the display, complete with haptic feedback.

Thankfully (and unlike the Edge+) the Edge doesn’t come with boatloads of preinstalled software. You have Google’s app suite, a few apps from Moto, and that’s about it.

Price and competition

Here in the US, the Moto Edge (6GB / 256GB / Solar Black) is available unlocked for preorder now (shipping July 31) from Motorola, Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video for just $499. This special deal expires August 9 — the regular price is $699. At $499 it’s definitely worth considering, but for $699 you can get an unlocked, Snapdragon 865-equipped OnePlus 8 that will leave the Edge in the dust.

Another option is the LG Velvet ($599) on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The specs are similar to the Edge — including the Snapdragon 765G — and it offers an optional dual-screen case. Ditto the Galaxy A71 5G ($649). Outside the US, there are plenty of $500-ish phones with 5G to choose from, like the OnePlus Nord, Vivo’s X50-series, Redmi’s K30-series, Poco’s F2 Pro, Oppo’s Reno4 Pro 5G, ZTE’s Axon 11 5G, and the Nokia 8.3 5G.

If you’re looking for flagship-grade performance and can live without 5G, consider last year’s OnePlus 7T ($499).

Bottom line

Overall, the Moto Edge has all the makings of an affordable flagship. It packs a lovely screen (if you can live with those extreme curved edges), unlocked 5G support, solid performance, excellent battery life, great software, and even a headphone jack — all wrapped in a premium design. Unfortunately, the (OIS-less) shooters don’t live up to the rest of this handset, and only deliver mid-range results.

Imaging is a smartphone pillar. Moto didn’t just cut a corner here, it basically removed a pillar. At the current $499 sale price, I can look past the middling cameras, lack of wireless charging, and missing IP rating. It’s not a bad deal. But $699? There’s absolutely no way I can recommend the Edge for $699. No way — not when the OnePlus 8 costs exactly the same and features Qualcomm’s flagship processor.

Moto, if you’re listening: make that $499 sale price permanent, and work on some software updates to improve those shooters.

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