Motorola has had a busy release schedule in 2020. The $699.99 Moto M Edge came to market a few months after the $999.99 Moto Edge+
we reviewed in April. While the two phones look and sound alike, a number of differences account for that $300 price difference. Where the Edge+ features a flagship-level camera and processor, the Edge is decidedly more
modest. Fortunately, it still delivers pretty solid performance, along with 5G connectivity, for a lower price than most other phones.
DESIGN, DISPLAY, AND DURABILITY
The Moto Edge is a handsome phone. It’s available in Midnight Magenta or Solar Black, both of which have a finish that resembles hand-blown glass. We received the black model, which is actually more of a deep navy. At 6.36 by 2.80 by 0.37 inches (HWD), the Edge is nearly the same size as the Edge+ and feels good in the hand. And at a well-distributed 6.63 ounces, it’s easy to hold for extended periods of time.
The front of the phone is dominated by the same 6.7- inch OLED display with 90-degree curved edges as the Edge+. Resolution comes in at 2,340 by 1,080, for a density of 385 pixels per inch. With an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a 90H z refresh rate, it’s one of the best displays we’ve seen at this price. It’s smooth, bright, and has a wide color gamut, with excellent color accuracy. The Endless Edge feature on the curves also looks great, though you’ll want to disable it when you’re reading an ebook, since it tends to warp text.
As with the Moto Edge+, the in-display fingerprint sensor on the Edge is solid. We tested it nearly 100 times, but it failed only four times.
The back panel houses four circular camera and flash sensors that sit vertically on the left side of the phone, and a monochromatic Motorola logo is positioned at the top center. Though the plastic panel looks as good as glass, it attracts many more fingerprints and smudges.
Motorola Moto Edge
Solid battery life. Nice display. 3.5mm headphone jack.
liediocre cameras. No IP rating. Lacks wireless charging.
The $699 Motorola Moto Edge delivers a solid 5G experience for less money than most competing phones right now.
A SIM card slot sits on the top edge, and a headphone jack, a USB-C charging port, and a speaker are all on the bottom. The left side is bare, and the right has a textured power button and a volume rocker. The latter two controls are positioned fairly high, so if you have small hands, you might have a hard time reaching them.
Durability is our biggest design concern with the Edge. Although Motorola uses Gorilla Glass 5 for its curved display, it’s unlikely to withstand a hard drop without damage. The plastic back is more likely to remain unscathed, as is the aluminum chassis. And while Motorola says the phone is safe from splashes, it lacks an official IP rating, which means it offers no official protection against dust or water. For a sturdier handset, check out the LG Velvet.
AUDIO, CALL, AND NETWORK QUALITY
The Moto Edge supports global low-band 5G. It supports LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/2 6/28/29/30/34/38/39/40/41/42/46/48/66/71, and 5G is supported on sub-6GHz bands n2/5/41/66/71/77/78.
Although Motorola uses Gorilla Glass 5 for its curved display, it’s unlikely to withstand a hard drop without damage.
We tested the phone on T-Mobile’s 5G network and recorded solid results. After completing more than a dozen tests across Philadelphia, the Edge turned in average speeds of 138.7Mbps down and 69.2Mbps up.
Call quality is excellent. Maximum earpiece volume clocks in at 89dB and is loud enough to hear on busy streets (and the earpiece doubles as a second speaker for multimedia). All of our test calls were crystal clear, and noise cancellation was able to stifle nearly all background noise, though some very loud construction sounds made their way through on one call.
The Edge features stereo sound tuned by Waves Audio, and volume peaks at 9odB. 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 additional connectivity, the phone supports Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and dual- band Wi-Fi. Support for Wi-Fi 6, found on the more expensive Edge+, is missing here.
The Edge features a triple-camera stack with a time of flight sensor. The primary lens comes in at 64MP with an f/1.8 aperture. Quad-pixel binning is supported for crisp 16MP shots. There’s also a 16MP ultra-wide and macro lens with an f/2.2 aperture, and an 8MP telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture and 2x optical zoom.
Daylight test photos with the primary lens were solid, showing excellent color accuracy and depth of field. When viewed at full size, there’s some loss of fine detail, but it’s not noticeable when you’re using the photos just for social media. The ultra-wide lens is similarly competent. We noticed some distortion in a handful of test shots but nothing out of the ordinary for this price range.
As with the Edge+, the telephoto lens is disappointing. Color accuracy is spot- on, but there is no depth of field. Fine details appear mushy, and we saw noise in many of our test shots.
Low-light performance is also a letdown. Our test photos with the primary and ultra-wide lenses in night mode lack detail and are filled with noise. Lens flare is often present as well. The telephoto lens turned in muddy shots with unnatural blurring, likely caused by over-aggressive noise cancellation.
For selfies, a 25MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture sits on the front of the phone. Like the 64MP rear lens, it supports quad-pixel binning. In good light, both color accuracy and depth of field in test shots were solid, though in portrait mode, bokeh looked unnatural around hairlines and glasses. Almost all of our low-light selfies were dark and lacking in detail. Blurring was present in the foreground, especially around the edges of our test subject, and there was noticeable noise.
For a similar price, the Apple iPhone 11 and Google Pixel 4 don’t support 5G, but they take much better photos.
SPECS AND PERFORMANCE
The Edge is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset, along with 6GB of RAM. Storage clocks in at 256GB, of which 240GB is available out of the box. If you need additional storage, you can add up to 1TB with a microSD card.
While the Edge doesn’t feature the same top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 chipset as its more expensive sibling, it’s by no means a slouch in the performance department. The Snapdragon 765 is more than powerful enough for most tasks, and we never experienced any slowdown no matter how many apps or Chrome windows were open in the background.
Even most gamers will be happy with the Edge. The combination of a 90Hz refresh rate display and Motorola’s Moto Gametime enhancements make for super-smooth gameplay. We spent more than an hour putting the Edge through its paces with Asphalt 9 without issue.
On PCMark Work 2.0, a series of tests that emulate typical smartphone tasks, the Edge scored an admirable 8,408. That’s slightly ahead of the LG Velvet (8,061) and the Samsung Galaxy A71 (8,048), though it’s not enough to make a noticeable difference in daily use. For comparison, the Moto Edge+ scored 11,721.
Motorola promises multi-day battery life on the Edge’s 4,500mAh cell. In our battery test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the Edge lasted 12 hours and 11 minutes. That’s a significant improvement over the LG Velvet (10 hours, 30 minutes), but both will easily get you through the day with more conservative use, if not quite the multiple days Motorola claims.
In addition to our traditional battery drain test, we also used the phone as our daily driver for several days, throughout which we consistently had a 5G signal. At the end of several busy 16-hour days, the phone consistently had more than 40 percent battery life remaining.
When the battery starts running low, the Edge supports 18W fast charging with the included adapter. Wireless charging support is noticeably absent.
The Edge ships with Android 10 along with Motorola’s updated My UX skin. My UX is a nearly stock version of Android, with a few productivity tweaks specifically for Motorola handsets. Moto Actions is the marquee feature here, allowing you to enable gestures to automate basic tasks. When you want to silence your ringer, for instance, just flip the phone. Need to take a screenshot? Tap the display with three fingers.
Moto Display has been optimized for the edge-to-edge screen. It allows you to create edge notification lights, as well as custom gestures that can be accessed by tapping or dragging your finger on the side of the phone.
The aforementioned Moto Gametime lets you tweak performance settings and turn off notifications. You can even map custom shoulder buttons on the edge of the display for your favorite games.
Motorola hasn’t officially stated whether the Edge will receive an upgrade to Android 11 when it comes out. Considering the company’s track record, however, we think it’s likely you’ll see at least one major OS update.
The Motorola Moto Edge is a solid phone for people who want 5G for less than $1,000. It offers better 5G support than the OnePlus 8 for the same price, though the OnePlus 8 has a faster processor, so you need to decide which is more important to you. For AT&T customers, meanwhile, the LG Velvet offers many of the same features of the Moto Edge, as well as official water protection, for $100 less. Ultimately, there’s still plenty of room in this price range for a 5G phone to come in and get things just right, but we’re happy to see a solid new option in the form of the Moto Edge.
Starts at $109.99 | Rating: @@@® OO GOOD