The Motorola Edge is the kind of smartphone that anyone wanting mid-range 5G should look to. It is also the kind of smartphone that Motorola needs to regain its crown – exciting versus the more sombre and solid g-series fleet phone range.
The Motorola Edge name relates to the 6.7″ OLED screen that wraps at 90° around the Edge of the phone. Add to that the smooth 90Hz refresh and wide HDR10/DCI-P3 colour range.
And the Motorola Edge has all the latest tech – Qualcomm SD765G, 5G sub-6Ghz modem, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and a 4500mAH battery with 18W charging.
The Edge family
The Edge family is new for Motorola.
There is also a flagship Edge+ (Qualcomm SD865) and a lower-cost Edge Lite, but we won’t see those here.
The Edge is a new breed of 5G mid-range smartphone (<$1000), which joins a rather large pool of contenders with over 100 brands/models announced so far.
This includes Motorola itself (Moto G 5G), the BBK family (OPPO, vivo, realme, One Plus, IQOO), Xiaomi, Google Pixel 4a/5, HTC, TCL 10 5G, ZTE Nubia, LG Velvet, Nokia 8.3, Redmi, Samsung and Sony. You will find ‘Lite’ versions from about $600 and fuller versions for less than $1000. The main differentiators between models will be camera configuration, memory and storage.
Motorola, due mainly to its heritage, reputation and long service to Australia should be a natural choice for many. Let’s see how the Motorola Edge fares as one of the new breed of mid-range 5G handsets.
If you are time short Val Quinn Technology Editor has a brief video overview here. But we urge serious buyers to read on.
Australian Review: Motorola Edge 5G Model XT2063-3 Dual Sim 6/128GB
Warranty: 12-months ACL, 6-months on battery and accessories
Country of Manufacture: China
Lenovo (Est 1984) is a multinational technology company with its main operational headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina. It is the world’s largest PC maker. It purchased Motorola Mobility from Google in 2014. Most of Lenovo’s smartphone business is now under the Motorola brand, and it has grand plans to become a ‘top five’ smartphone maker.
Mandatory warning – dodgy online grey market – avoid at all costs
We have named and shamed the major grey market and parallel importers here. They brazenly advertise ‘Australian stock’ (not ‘certified for Australia’) and generally have non-ACL compliant ‘warranties’.
Do not buy from them as you will not get Motorola Australia warranty; Australian over-the-air OS and firmware updates; and you cannot make a 000 call without a SIM. As these generally do not support LTE Band 28 used by Telstra and Optus all you may get is 3G.
Specifically, do not buy if it has any other model number than ‘-3’ and the Software Channel (Under About Phone) is not ‘retapac’.
The authorised resellers include Motorola Mobility Australia (online), JB Hi-Fi, The GoodGuys and Officeworks. Not all models are at each retailer, and some sell only with a Telco plan.
First impression – EXCEED
Reviews use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against over 70 test paradigms. These paradigms vary for the class of phone, price bracket etc. So, PASS means it meets what we expect of any phone at that price or level.
I am so used to seeing the tried and tested g-series that remain the staple of business fleet phones. It is interesting to see Motorola stretching to something different and innovative.
Enter the Motorola Edge. It is different as the glass folds 90° around the Edge. Not that this is entirely new – Samsung’s S7 Edge started a trend about five years ago, but this is the most extreme curve yet. It is a 19.5:9 design meaning tall and thin.
There are no side bezels, and nearly no top or bottom bezels resulting in an almost impossible 96% screen-to-body-ratio. This is only interrupted by a small selfie camera ‘O-Hole’ on the top left.
Underneath is a 3.5mm combo audio jack (yes, it is still possible to get a phone with one), a down-firing speaker, USB-C port and mic. On the top is a hybrid dual sim slot (shared micro-SD), earpiece speaker ‘slot’ and mic. The power and volume rocker are on the right side.
The rear has the familiar bat-wing logo, a single LED flash and a quad-camera. Our review unit is Solar Black (the only colour for Australia) with a nice high gloss finish, which can sometimes become fingerprint magnet.
Screen – PASS+
It is an OLED screen from TCL-owned China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSoT). This is one of the few display companies, apart from Samsung and LG, that can make flexible OLED panels.
Size: 6.7”, 19.5:9, 385ppi
Resolution: 2340 x 1080
Refresh rate: 90Hz panel – auto setting switches between 60/90Hz depending on the app or content needs
Touch response: up to 180Hz
Brightness 60Hz: 400 nits maximum with a reasonably even distribution
Brightness auto 90Hz: 550 nits for improved sunlight legibility
Contrast: Being OLED it is close to infinity (the difference between pure black and pure white)
Gamma: Settings – Natural (DCI-P3), boosted and saturated (sRGB). Tests show its about 70% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB gamut with a Delta E of <5. What this means is that it can reproduce over 16 million colours and tones but tends towards a cooler blue-white.
Widevine L1 DRM for SD (not HD) content from Netflix and other streaming services
Daylight readability: Yes, but not in direct sunlight – you need more nits to achieve that
Screen protection: Gorilla Glass 5
Screen summary: It is not as colour correct or bright as its closest competitor OPPO Find X2 Neo (1100 nits). Still, it is OLED and a good screen for everyday use.
That curved screen – the Edge – PASS
As it’s the primary point of difference to other ‘waterfall designs’, the curved screen adds a new set of features. You enable these via the Display, Edge Touch settings (more here).
Double-tap: To switch Edge display mode
Swipe-in: See shortcuts
Swipe-up: See recent apps
Swipe-up twice: Open list of all apps
Swipe-down: See your notifications
Swipe-down twice: See quick settings
Edge Lighting can indicate incoming calls, alarms, or notifications. It can also be set to only show when the phone lays on its front.
Edge Gaming! Just like the dedicated buttons on some gaming phones, the Edge can simulate two shoulder triggers to map on-screen buttons on your favourite game.
The Edges generally remain free of text, but some apps are not edge-aware. You can de-select any apps that don’t display properly, bringing them back to a safer shape. In daily use, we didn’t run into any issues.
Edge Summary: As a reviewer, we have limited time with handsets. The Edge functions are clever but not as intuitive as they may become for a longer-term user. While refreshing, the Moto’s most unique feature is not its most compelling reason to buy.
Processor – EXCEED
Qualcomm SD765G (7 nm). It is one of our favourite 2020 SoCs with speeds comparable to last year’s SD855 flagship
Eight-core (1×2.4GHz, 1×2.2GHz and 6×1.8GHz) – very flexible on-call power
GPU: Adreno 620 and Snapdragon Elite Gaming features
Modem: X52 Gen 2, 3/4/5G modem
Motorola tends to follow Qualcomm reference designs – good.
CPU Throttle – EXCEED
Started at 148,758GIPS and averaged 142,212 – 14% throttling is acceptable to keep the battery temperature to 43°.
Memory and storage – PASS
6GB LPDDR4X and 128GB UFS 2.1 (101GB free) with micro-SDXC slot to 1TB
This is one generation behind the fastest ram and storage, but the concession is the fast micro-SDXC expansion slot to 1TB.
Geekbench 5 single/multi-core and compute scores are 590/1887 and 1088. These Are typical of the SD765G.
GPU – EXCEED
It decodes HVEC.265, and most games max out at 24-30 frames per second.
LTE 4G – EXCEED
-89dBm in a three-bar reception area and found next nearest tower at -105dBm – excellent
120/35Mbps DL/UL at a four-bar reception area – typical
SIM: Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual 4G stand-by or share with micro-SD)
VoLTE and VoWi-Fi (carrier dependent)
* The Motorola AU website states 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/26/28/32/38/40/41/41(CHINA)/41(INDIA)/66 – we understand that at least covers all Australian carriers.
4G summary: These figures are typical of the standard Qualcomm designed RF shared antenna.
5G – Sub-6Ghz only – PASS
We were able to get 180/100Mbps in a four-bar reception area. While we have recorded faster speeds on other devices, it depends entirely on the time of day and too many other network variables to be a definitive test.
It covers bands n1, 3, 7, 28, 78 (Australia) but we are not sure if all these are enabled out of the box. It will support both 4G and 5G active sims via a software update this quarter.
Comms – PASS
Wi-Fi AC dual-band (Qualcomm WCN3990) 2×2 MU-MIMO. It achieves -42dBm signal strength and 866Mbps at five meters from our reference AX router – the maximum speed of this device
Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot
Bluetooth: 5.1, A2DP, LE
GPS: Dual frequency with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, LTEPP, SUPL
NFC: card emulation, reader-writer and peer-to-peer data transfer
Radio: FM radio
USB-C 2.0 – OTG to 2TB but no Alt DP for video over USB-C
While calls are clear in the earpiece, they lack volume for the hearing impaired. Calls are better on handsfree where volume gets to 75dB.
Speakers – PASS
It has two Cirrus Logic CS35I41 D-Class amps each providing up to [email protected]% THD to the top earpiece ‘slot’ and bottom-firing stereo speakers. In theory, these should provide far more volume that we tested – let’s hope a firmware update fixes this.
But as the gold (bottom speaker) and white (top) lines on the frequency response graph below shows there is a volume disparity that skews the sound stage towards the bottom speaker.
Note: Frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz (all tests on Auto or Flat EQ setting)
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – hints from 80Hz
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – climbing and peaking
Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
High-mid: 1-2kHz -flat
Low-treble: 2-4kHz – starting to decline
Treble:4-6kHz – declining
High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat
Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – flat
This is a mid-centric signature (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) – fine for clear dialogue. You can tweak the Moto Audio EQ to give a little more bass, but there is still quite some distance between it and the nirvana of ‘warm and sweet’ for movies and music.
The app defaults to Auto that selects the best sound profile for Music, Movie or Game. Under these are pre-sets for Brilliant Treble, Deep Bass, Vocal boost (upper-mid) or flat. It also has stereo widening and bass boost sliders and a button for volume leveller (which we assume tries to match the top and bottom disparate speaker volumes). Our experience was that the app delivered minor improvements.
Sound Summary: You may read that it is tuned by Waves and MaxxAudio Mobile. Motorola is excited about its collaboration with Waves to produce what it claims is a best-in-class experience that is impactful, balanced and immersive. Our pre-production model did not exhibit those characteristics so we will retest shortly.
Bluetooth 5.1 codecs – EXCEED
Motorola does not list them, but I was able to find drivers for SBC, AAC, aptX/HD and LDAC (go to ‘Developer Options’ to enable). Our reference Sony WH-1000XM3 purred on the LDAC codec with suitable Hi-Res content. The signal was clean and strong.
3.5mm jack – again a clear and strong analogue signal and acts as the aerial for the FM radio.
2D face recognition – 70% reliable in 10 detections
Summary: Android 10 has built-in security for its Play Store Apps. It is more than fit for purpose.
Other brands add additional layers like Samsung Knox, Google Titan, and OPPO has data exfiltration protection.
Android OS 10 – EXCEED although its not quite Pure Google Android anymore
The Motorola Edge will get Android 11 and quarterly security updates for two years.
The good thing is that there is no bloatware, no ads and no duplicates of Google apps. The security patch is dated 1 June.
But something has slipped in over Android called My UX. It is a new skin with all the Moto customisations like Actions, gesture-based shortcuts and options to personalise the look of your home screen, from fonts to app icons. And it is needed to make the most of the Edge screen.
So Moto can no longer claim ‘pure’ Google Android. Now that it has a skin, there may be some delays in checking that Google Android updates and patches do not interfere with the phone.
On the other hand, for Motorola to sell this device in China, it must sell a version minus Google services. My UX makes sense for that.
Summary: no big issue but its no longer a ‘pure’ Android device like Google Pixel, Nokia or its own One series.
Motorola Edge camera – PASS+
The first thing you need to learn about using the camera is to turn off the Edge, especially if you use a selfie stick or tripod. Why? If you hold the phone by the long edges, it will do all manner unexpected things and can launch all sorts of apps – you don’t need that when trying to take a photo.
The second thing is that there is no optical image stabilisation (OIS) so if you plan to get perfect zoom shots, use a tripod.
64 MP, f/1.8, 0.8µm, 68.8° FOV, PDAF
Samsung S5KGW1 binned to 16MP 1.6 µm
This is an excellent sensor with fast Super-PDAF (phase-detection auto-focus). It also has real-time HDR and smart ISO adjustments. Overall images taken with this sensor are excellent. The f/1.8 aperture means good daylight and office light shots. You will find this sensor in OPPO Find X2 Neo, realme 6, vivo X50, Samsung Galaxy A71/5G and about 100 more brands/models.
Ultrawide and macro
16 MP, f/2.2, 1.0µm, 117° FOV
It is an affordable AF (autofocus) sensor, but the small pixel size limits low light use. It swaps from ultrawide to macro with a 4cm focus.
8 MP, f/2.4, 1.12µm, 2x optical zoom, PDAF
We are a little confused here as it is an 8MP sensor but presents finished images as upscaled 16MP. This tends to induce a little noise.
It emits IR (laser) light and bounces it off the subject and surrounds. That bounces back to a receiver to give depth information. This data is for software bokeh (blurred background). It is one of many depth sensor technologies and is best out to about three metres.
Rear camera features: Single LED flash, Shot optimisation, Auto smile capture, Gesture selfie, Smart composition, HDR, Timer, Active photos, Manual mode, Portrait mode (bokeh), Cut-out, Macro, Spot colour, Cinemograph, Panorama, Live filter, Zoom, RAW photo output, Best shot, Google Lens, Night Vision.
Video [email protected] with EIS: Macro video, Slow motion video, Timelapse video, Hyperlapse video, Electronic video stabilisation
Binning means it gathers the best pixels from a bracket of shots increasing the dynamic range. Samsung uses it in its A50/51 and A40/41.
However, Moto adds screen fill flash that makes this sensor shine for selfies. But it does not have an overly wide FOV, so you have to manually select Group Selfie (crops from a 24MP image).
Selfie Features: Screen flash, HDR, Timer, Face beauty, Auto smile capture, Gesture selfie, Active photos, Manual mode, Portrait mode, Spot colour, Cinemograph, Group selfie, Live filter, Night Vision
GadgetGuy’s take – Motorola Edge is a great 5G phone, but will the Moto brand be enough?
It is a strong all-around mid-range 5G performer with an interesting Edge screen and decent camera.
Q: Does it have what Motorola needs to compete in the growing pool of 5G choices.
A: Yes, it is a good honest, well-made, well-priced phone with a Motorola heritage. That is the reason to buy.
Some apps and pages wrap around the 90° edge – that can be a little distorting and disconcerting, but on the whole, it is a nice touch.
Rating this is a little bit of a conundrum. I know that a tsunami of SD765G phones is coming – many with higher camera specs, more ram/storage etc. and all competing on price. The OPPO Find X2 Neo (Find X2 Neo review here 4.9/5) is a great example of a near-perfect competitor.
The Motorola Edge does everything right and offers something a little different as well. Score 4.5/5
Value for money
Ease of Use
90Hz OLED screen
Novel Edge – turn it on or off when desired
Up to two-day battery
Solid Motorola heritage
No longer Pure Android but My UX seems a fairly light skin
Camera firmware could use a tweak
2+ hour charge