Earlier this year, Motorola announced its return to the flagship smartphone market with the all-new Edge series. Headlining the new series was the Motorola Edge+, a carrier-exclusive handset that can stand toe-to-toe with the best phones on the market, including its cost. Now, we have the Motorola Edge, a carrier-unlocked phone with slightly reduced specs at nearly half the price. Here’s my review.
Design & Hardware
Despite it not being the “plus” version of the series, the Motorola Edge is the same size as the Edge+. That includes the Edge’s 6.7" “Endless Edge” OLED display, an objectively gorgeous screen with a 2340 x 1980 screen res, 90Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ support.
The display is definitely the Edge’s most conspicuous feature. It curves around the sides (edges) at an almost 90-degree angle, creating an aesthetic that is nothing if not eye-catching. I’ll talk about how well the curved display works later on, but as far as cosmetics go, it looks great, as does content.
The Edge’s other hardware specs are one or two steps down from the Edge+, but not in a way that drastically reduces performance. In most cases, what you get is the “next to the very best,” instead of “the best.” For example, the Edge uses a Snapdragon 765 chip, as opposed to the Edge+’s Snapdragon 865. Again, I’ll dive deeper into performance down below, but in terms of comparison, there’s not a discernible difference between the two. In my two weeks with the phone, I never had any lag issues, apps and websites loaded quickly, and, in general, it was the type of CPU performance you expect from a flagship.
The same story applies to pretty much all of the Edge’s specs. Its 6GB of RAM is half of what the Edge+ offers, but that difference doesn’t show up during your day-to-day operation—at least, not for me. The same goes for the battery. The Edge has a “smaller” 4,500mAh battery, but you still get a full two days out of it—just like the Edge+. The list of examples goes on, but the story essentially remains the same: On paper, the Edge looks decidedly “less than” the Edge+, but in practice, you essentially get the same flagship experience—only for a considerable amount less.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this narrative. Otherwise, why bother making two different phones? To answer that question, you need to turn the phone over.
At first glance, the most glaring difference between the Edge+ and the Edge is the camera—specifically, the main rear shooter. The Edge+ featured a 108MP lens, while the Edge’s primary shooter is 64MP. Of course, those are both max resolutions, not the default settings. The Edge+’s main lens defaults to 27MP, and the Edge saves at 16MP. Either way you measure it, that’s a pretty big difference, but—surprisingly—the quality isn’t far apart. I found the Edge’s 16MP shots to be quite good (during the day and/or in well-lit environments, less so in lower light). Colors looked great and very few shots had any discernible noise. You don’t get the same level of detail that the Edge+ provides, but you’ll be happy with the results.
The other two rear lenses are the 16MP ultrawide and the 8MP telephoto. The ultrawide appears to be the same lens on the Edge+ and thus offers the same positives and particularities: great contrast and detail; the color also looks really good, although it’s noticeably warmer than the main lens. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.
That inconsistency—for lack of a better word—carried over to the telephoto lens. It’s the weakest of the three in terms of quality, but it’s still pretty good and a little quirky. For starters, and I don’t know if this is going to be resolved or not, but the unit I had was set to upscale my telephoto images to 16MP, instead of 8MP. Those pictures did not look so good. However, when I finally figured out how to change the resolution to 8MP, the images looked really nice. The color and contrast were really good. But, and again, the color appeared different from both the main shooter and the ultrawide. Because I just want my photos to look good, the color difference didn’t bother me. But if you’re someone who’s looking for color consistency across all lenses, it might an issue for you.
Get Off My Lawn!
More and more it seems like I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t care about wireless charging. Is it really that big of a deal? I don’t get it. Just plug your phone in—it takes one second. What is your life that just throwing your phone down on an electronic coaster somehow makes things better?
Anyway, I realize that I’m alone in this opinion, and most likely wrong, so I feel obliged to report that the Edge does not have wireless charging. Personally, I do not care. I would never not buy a phone because it didn’t have wireless charging, but again, the fact that so many people do care about this feature makes me think I might be wrong. Maybe.
Software and Interface
Like most Motorola phones, the Edge runs a near-stock version of Android and does it quite well. Of all the Android phones, Motorola’s UI is usually my favorite—and the Edge is no different. However, like the Edge+, the Edge’s interface is particularly unique because of its curved display, which lets you interact with the sides. This interaction can be awesome at times, but also a little wonky. The biggest issue was all the times I accidentally pressed something because I was just holding the phone the way I’m used to. Luckily though, Motorola lets you customize most of the UI, so you can change the settings on the side displays or even shut them off entirely. That’s what I did. The phone still looked cool, and no more accidental screen presses. Once I found the best settings for me, I loved the interface.
Thanks to the Edge+, Motorola’s return to the flagship market was a successful one that will hopefully continue. Ironically, the reason that return could be stifled is because the Edge is also really, really good. That wouldn’t matter so much at its base cost, which is a couple of hundred dollars less than the Edge+, but at its current promotional price of $500, that’s a crazy-good value. You’re talking about a phone that is priced like a mid-range model but gives you nearly the same performance as its “superior” sibling. I just don’t see how you would choose the Edge+ over the Edge. Unless you really, really, really love wireless charging. Either way, it’s a great phone at a great value.