This week brought us the Motorola Edge and Edge+ and with them the return of Motorola to the flagship market. The two phones carry hefty expectations on their shoulders as ambassadors of sorts, so they’ll be closely monitored by everybody in the tech industry. Here are a few early observations on them that we have.
Back in the major league
It started with the unveiling of the Razr 2019, but that ine being a nostalgia-infused tech showcase couldn’t exactly be taken very seriously as an indicator for the company’s future intents. Well, the Edge+ definitely can. It lives up to 2020 flagship standards in terms of both specs and design. Whether or not it is the first of many flagships to come depends heavily on its market success.
Honestly, Motorola seems to have done its homework with the Edge+. What is present seems nicely put together and well thought out. The design in contemporary and beautiful, complete with a modern flow, unlike anything else in Motorola’s lineup.
Internals are solid, featuring the go-to flagship chip at this time – Snapdragon 865, along with mmWave (on the Verizon model) and Sub-6 5G setup. With a 108MP Quad Bayer main unit, the triple camera setup on the Edge+ is also worthy of a $1,000/€1,199 phone. And some other notable bells and whistles include the 90Hz display with HDR10+ support, 5,000mAh battery, complete with wireless and reverse wireless charging, Waves Audio-tuned stereo speaker setup and even a 3.5 mm jack.
That being said, the Edge+ still has some weak points – 18W charging is not quite up to speed with the competition and there’s no official ingress protection rating, although Motorola claims the Edge+ is mostly compliant with the IP68 spec in its internal testing. Even so, not wanting to spend the money on a test for such an expensive device, leaves a bit of a sour aftertaste.
Well-balanced vanilla edition
Dialing back things for a less expensive variant of your flagship is a hard task and one that tends to trip-up even seasoned manufacturers. Hence, our pleasant surprise to see Motorola actually doing a great job with the vanilla Edge. With the half-priced vanilla Motorola Edge, you are getting the same gorgeous exterior and the same 6.7-inch AMOLED display. Better still, it still has 90Hz refresh rate making the HDR10+ support the only omission.
Then there’s the chipset swap to the Snapdragon 765G, which is the current gateway to affordable 5G, coupled with nearly flagship-levels of performance. It has enabled the creation of more than a few high value offers these days, which is both a blessing and a curse for the Motorola Edge, since many of those now stand as direct competitors.
The main camera dropped to a 64MP sensor, while the telephoto got its zoom reduced from 3x to 2x. Honestly, neither of these, nor the absence of the 3D TOF sensor stands out as a deal-breaker.
The 500mAh battery capacity cut, the lack of wireless charging are also easily justifiable cutbacks and not harming the desirability of the Edge in any major way.
And the vanilla Motorola Edge even has a microSD card slot or a second SIM slot (but not both at the same time) that the Plus version lacks. It appears to us then the vanilla Edge will be a strong contender on its own without jeopardizing the sales of the flagship proper.
Pricing might be an issue
Retailing at about EUR1,200, the Edge+ will be brushing shoulders directly with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. That is to say, it will not be facing the middle members of the flagship trios that are getting increasing popular lately, but the top one.
A quick specs comparison will tell you that this is an uphill battle and if we are talking about total sales numbers the Edge+ is outright doomed.
However, the Edge+ doesn’t need to match the S20 Ultra sales to be considered a success. The realities are such that Motorola will probably be happy to score a tenth of that number.
And then there’s the fact that flagships go beyond a few numbers on a specs sheet. Samsung is probably well aware of this as the very S20 Ultra enjoys less of a smooth ride in its first few months as software and camera tuning issues plague it. So if Motorola manages to get the user experience right and gets the thumbs up from the reviewers it might very much be in the running.
The vanilla Motorola Edge will cost half as much at EUR600, which makes it the clearly better value for money. Not surprising, of course, as that’s the norm with mid-rangers and flagships.
But like we already mentioned, the Snapdragon 765G has been bringing 5G to the masses all over the industry and there are phones like Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G that promise to deliver similar hardware at half the price. To be fair, that curved AMOLED panel alone, puts the Motorola Edge a neck above the crowd and the camera setup looks far more promising.
A lot hangs on the Verizon partnership
As it has done many times in the past, Motorola made its best phone a Verizon exclusive in US. It got the mmWave support and a price of $1,000 outright or $41.67/mo for two years. That’s already starting to sound more competitive than the European pricing.
The combined power of the still highly-regarded Motorola brand on the local market and Verizon should not be taken lightly. If the carrier goes generous with the advertising dollars the Motorola Edge+ might turn into a success story in the US.
Motorola might have given up on trying the be different and that’s a bit sad
At the risk of spoiling what is a big moment for Motorola with its return to the flagship battleground, we can’t help but look back at devices like the Moto Z4 and the even more relevant as a true flagship at the time – Moto Z3. They remind that not long ago Motorola was actively striving to be different and play by its own rules.
Now we definitely wouldn’t blame Motorola for the shift, because it’s how the market works. Us tech geeks love all sorts of innovation and out of the box thinking, but more often than not the simpler, more cost-effective, solutions are what brings in the sales.
We will either really love the controls or passionately hate them
One of the less-discussed aspects of the extremely curved panels on the Edge and Edge+ is the inclusion of a few software features for the edges. Motorola promises that it will simplify one-handed navigation through edge gestures, like swiping up and down and tapping the edge. This will bring-up things like recent apps, tools, shortcuts and notifications.
Also baked-in on a software level are two virtual “triggers” on the edge of the phone, which are intended for in-game use. This all sounds great, but it does make is wonder just how well Motorola managed to pull everything off. After all, the list of gestures and features looks ambitious and the company doesn’t exactly have prior expertise with curved panels to fall back on. Just some food for thought.
We’ll leave our initial impressions of the Motorola Edge and Edge+ there for now, with definitely much more to come once we get units in for review. In the meantime, you can participate in the random thoughts and musing exchange as well in the comments. What is your take on this intriguing new Motorola chapter?