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Andrew Hayward / Lifewire
Full Verizon 5G support
Curved screen issues
Slippery, wobbly design
Middling low-light shooting
No IP rating
Good on Motorola for trying something a bit different with its flagship Edge+, but awkward design and a disappointing screen hold this overpriced handset back.
Motorola provided us with a review unit for our writer to test, which they sent back after their thorough evaluation. Read on for their full take.
Motorola has mostly been known for its budget phones in recent years, with the annual Moto G line continually delivering serious bang for the buck, plus the company has expanded with an array of niche Motorola One mid-range variants. We haven’t seen Moto do much on the flagship front after its Moto Z line with snap-on “Moto Mod” accessories went out with a whisper, but 2020’s Motorola Edge+ is a proper return to top-end smartphones.
Released last spring, the Motorola Edge+ goes for top-of-the-line tech in most areas, including full-bodied 5G support, and features a distinctive curved design with steep “waterfall” edges. It’s a design that opts for form over function, however, with those too-sharp edges diminishing the experience slightly, and the $1,000 price tag is tough to swallow considering the excellent competition in the $700-800 range.
As the name suggests, you can’t miss the unique design element of the Edge+: it’s the curved “waterfall” edges on the right and left sides of the screen, which curve much more sharply than your average curvy Android screen. This waterfall trend started to pick up in 2019 with phones from Huawei and Oppo that typically aren’t found in the States, but Motorola picked it up and brought it here with the Edge+.
The upside is that it looks like there’s basically no bezel on the right and left sides of the phone, and shaving off a bit of width via the curves gives you a very tall screen with a narrow feel. That makes it slightly easier to use in one hand, although your thumb still probably won’t reach very far up on a screen this tall. And there are downsides in the way the screen looks and interacts, as we’ll explore in a later section.
The Motorola Edge+’s aluminum frame also has a distinctive accent on the top and bottom: a very slight inset that helps the phone rest slightly better on your pinky. Between the curvy design and bulbous-feeling backing glass, I find the Edge+ a bit slippery in my hands, so that little frame indentation helps. It doesn’t help when the Edge+ is sitting next to me on the couch, however, and steadily slides down the cushion and sometimes onto the floor. It’s seriously slippery in a way that reminds me of the LG G8 ThinQ before it.
There is one very odd design quirk in the mix that I don’t love, however. Most phones today have protruding camera modules, and the Edge+ is no exception—it’s also not the largest one out there. However, between the shape of this vertical pill-shaped module and the dimensions of the backing glass, the Motorola Edge+ wobbles and judders on a flat surface like no other phone I’ve used. Many other phones may not lay entirely flat, but they settle quickly once placed on a table or desk. The Edge+ rattles on a flat surface to an obnoxious degree, so if you are someone who likes to lay a phone flat and use it on a surface, it could prove to be incredibly annoying.
The Thunder Grey backing glass on this review unit has a reflective blue sheen to it that is attractive, and the Smoky Sangria version looks like a distinctive option. Curiously, the Motorola Edge+ doesn’t have an IP certification for water and dust resistance, which is strange for a $1,000 flagship smartphone released in 2020. On the upside, unlike most other phones in this price range, it does have a 3.5mm headphone port. The 256GB internal storage is beefy and should be more than enough for most users, although the lack of a microSD card slot for expandable storage is another odd omission for an Android phone at this price.
The 6.7-inch “Endless Edge” display looks taller than most thanks to the curved sides, which diminish the visible width. It’s a good-looking screen at first glance: a solidly bright and vibrant OLED panel, with a smooth 90Hz refresh rate to make animations and menu movement feel extra swift. A 1080p panel stretched to this size looks a little less crisp than it would on a smaller phone, but that’s a small nitpick.
Unfortunately, while unique, the waterfall-style screen design isn’t a net positive. Because of the sharp curve, images on the sides of the screen look distorted and there’s no way to get a full, clear view of the entire screen without some part looking wonky. There are also functional issues, as sometimes the screen will register input from the edge of your fingers as you do your best to hold such a sharply-curved phone, causing menus to act weirdly or unintentionally tapping through links. It’s just not a benefit overall. I’d take a flat screen any day over this.
The Edge+’s in-screen fingerprint sensor is also sluggish, sometimes not getting the cue to read your finger for a second or two after you press it down. All told, the screen should be a defining, standout feature of the Motorola Edge+ experience, but it’s a letdown.
The Motorola Edge+ wobbles and judders on a flat surface like no other phone I’ve used.
Setting up the Motorola Edge+ is a straightforward process. It runs Android 10 and features the same kind of software-driven setup, which starts after you first hold in the power button on the right side of the phone. Simply follow the on-screen prompts to get the phone up and running, which includes signing into a Google account, accepting the terms and conditions, and selecting from any settings options that are shown.
The Motorola Edge+ is equipped like a top-of-the-line phone and performs accordingly. It has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor seen in many of 2020’s high-end Android phones, along with a hefty 12GB RAM alongside. In everyday use, the Edge+ feels very snappy and responsive, ably handling all demands when loading up apps and games, playing media, browsing the web, and scrolling through Android. The faster-than-average 90Hz screen refresh rate helps reinforce that sense of super-smooth performance.
Benchmark testing provided results that are in the same ballpark as other Snapdragon 865-powered phones, as well, although the results can vary in part based on screen resolution and refresh rate. Running PCMark’s Work 2.0 benchmark test, the Edge+ provided a score of 11,469. That’s a little bit less than the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G delivered at 12,222, but higher than the OnePlus 8T at 10,476. However, on Geekbench 5, the Edge+ put up slightly higher numbers (901 single-core, 3,311 multi-core) than those phones, so it’s a wash.
Games run well on this high-end phone, as well, with glossy 3D titles like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends both playing smoothly in my testing. GFXBench testing put up numbers comparable to other top Android phones, with 47 frames per second on the intensive Car Chase demo and a full 90fps on this 90Hz screen with the less-demanding T-Rex demo.
When tapped into Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, I saw a peak high speed of 2.44Gbps, or nearly 25x the top Nationwide speed. That’s incredibly fast.
The Motorola Edge+ is fully exclusive to Verizon, and it’s optimized for all of the carrier’s current 5G spectrum. That means you can tap into the faster-than-LTE 5G Nationwide coverage that is rapidly expanding around the States, as well as the wickedly fast but barely-deployed 5G Ultra Wideband coverage that’s mostly concentrated in high-traffic urban areas.
Using the 5G Nationwide network, I typically saw mobile download speeds between 60-100Mbps, which is two to three times what I usually register with Verizon’s 4G LTE network just north of Chicago city limits. But when tapped into the Ultra Wideband network, I saw a peak high speed of 2.44Gbps, or nearly 25x the top Nationwide speed. That’s incredibly fast, but the nearby suburb that I tested it in has only a single stretch of coverage spanning several blocks on a single street near a movie theater, train station, and college campus.
You probably won’t experience it often at this point unless you live in a major city. Still, the Edge+ is well-equipped to take advantage of Verizon’s full 5G network as it expands.
Between the bottom speaker and the earpiece above the screen, you’ll get very good stereo playback from the Motorola Edge+. Whether you’re listening to music or watching videos on the go, the audio output is crisp and clear and solidly balanced. The same can be said for calls, as well, whether you’re listening through the earpiece or via speakerphone.
Battery life is one area in which I have zero complaints with the Motorola Edge+, thanks to its enormous 5,000mAh battery pack.
The Motorola Edge+ sports three back cameras, including one with a very hefty megapixel count: the main sensor weighs in at 108 megapixels and uses pixel binning to combine pixels to deliver 27-megapixel finished shots. You also get a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera ideal for landscape shots, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 3x zoom.
In broad daylight, the Edge+’s main sensor delivers photos as strong as nearly any other smartphone on the market, using that massive megapixel count to capture loads of detail and retain it through to the final result. The ultra-wide photos look about as good on the small screen, but the telephoto zoom camera doesn’t always deliver crisp and clean results.
Low-light performance on the Edge+ leaves something to be desired, however. While top shooters like the Apple iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G routinely deliver solid results in low or awkward lighting conditions, even indoors, the Edge+ can struggle to hit the right white balance or deliver clean photos without heavy noise. It’s a step up from something like the OnePlus 8T, but there are better smartphone shooters on the market right now.
Battery life is one area in which I have zero complaints with the Motorola Edge+, thanks to its enormous 5,000mAh battery pack. That’s larger than the vast majority of phones on the market, with many rival Android contemporaries landing in the 4,000-4,500mAh range. That means it has plenty of extra juice to get you through the day and provides a buffer for your heavier-use days.
Most days, I’d finish by bedtime with a strong 50-60 percent of a charge left, sometimes more. That makes the Edge+ the rare viable two-day phone, although days with longer stretches of 3D games or streaming media could eat away more of that charge. That’s great, though: whether you’re a modest or heavy user, you’ll see the benefits of this beastly battery pack.
You’ll charge fastest with the 18W wired USB-C charger, although “fastest” is relative here. We’ve seen faster charging speeds on other Android flagships of late, most notably the OnePlus 8T with its incredible 65W Warp Charger, and 18W is nothing special. True, the new iPhone 12 charges at 18W too, but because of the huge 5,000mAh cell here, it’s a long process: it takes more than 2.5 hours to recharge the Motorola Edge+ from nothing.
The Edge+ can also wirelessly charge at up to 15W with a compatible charging pad. Additionally, you can share some of your extra battery life with a friend’s wirelessly-chargeable phone by putting it on the back of the Edge+, thanks to its 5W wireless power sharing feature.
The Motorola Edge+’s asking price of $1,000 puts it ahead of most rival Android phones, and while it’s a powerful and feature-rich handset, the value proposition doesn’t add up.
I’m usually a fan of Motorola’s Android skins, which typically leave all the good, functional stuff about pure Android alone and just add optional, helpful features. That’s mostly true here with Android 10 on the Edge+, but unfortunately this carrier-locked phone also packs in a lot of bloatware.
It ships with a bunch of excess apps, including several games (two different versions of solitaire?!) and Verizon-specific apps. That’s annoying; it doesn’t benefit the experience to have a bunch of preloaded junk onboard. The third-party games and apps can be uninstalled, while Verizon’s own apps can only be disabled.
Otherwise, Android 10 runs smoothly here and will upgrade to Android 11 at some point in the hopefully near future. The Moto app packs in a number of optional Moto Actions gestures that you might find handy, as well, such as making a chopping motion twice to turn the phone’s flashlight on, or quickly twist your wrist twice to open up the camera at any time.
The Motorola Edge+’s asking price of $1,000 puts it ahead of most rival Android phones, and while it’s a powerful and feature-rich handset, the value proposition doesn’t add up. On the Android side of things, I’d argue that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G provides a better overall experience at $700, for example. The standard Galaxy S20 5G launched at $1000 and is a better all-around phone than the Edge+, and you can find it now for closer to $700. Apple’s new iPhone 12 beats the Edge+ on nearly every point at $799, too.
Motorola briefly sold the Edge+ for $700 near the end of 2020, which might have made it easier to overlook some of the phone’s deficiencies and annoyances. However, it was not a permanent price drop, and both Motorola and Verizon list it at full price as of this writing.
Samsung’s recently budget-friendlier Galaxy S20 FE 5G makes a couple of key component concessions compared to the standard S20, dropping the glass backing in favor of plastic, for example, and cutting the QHD+ resolution option from the 120Hz 1080p display. It also lacks mmWave 5G band support, so Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network isn’t supported.
Still, I find it the better all-around phone in this comparison. The cameras are more reliable in non-ideal lighting, the flat screen has no caveats, and it still has support for the flavor of 5G network that you’re more likely to find available. It’s also $300 less than the Edge+, and is otherwise comparable in core capabilities.
Still need some more time before making a decision? See our guide to the best 5G smartphones.
You can do better for the price.
I’ll admit: the Motorola Edge+ isn’t a difficult phone to live with. The performance is great, 5G speeds are stellar, the cameras are great in daylight, plus the battery life is impressive. And while the ultra-curved screen has some issues, it still mostly looks good head-on. But there are just too many annoyances and hitches with the design and screen for a phone that costs $1,000, especially considering the impressive competition.
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