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Motorola's Edge+ Is Capable, but Its Camera Can't Compete

For a basic Android phone, it has some good qualities. But night shots will be a dealbreaker for most.

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A photo of the Moto Edge+
The Motorola Edge+ is a big phone with a could-be-better camera.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

It’s been a while since I’ve suggested a Motorola flagship to folks, and I’m not sure its latest release, the Edge+, will change that. On paper, the Motorola Edge+ has all the specifications and capabilities of its competition, namely the Samsung Galaxy S22. But spend a moment with the phone, and it’s immediately apparent it could have used a little more time in the oven.

The Edge+ isn’t a bad phone. On the outside, it looks like it has all the makings, including a rear three-camera array and a giant pOLED display. But on the inside, even with Android 12 featured right out of the box, there’s still some work to be done before the Edge+ feels like Motorola’s best flagship foot forward—especially on its camera system.

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Big Display, Big Battery

The Motorola Edge+ is a slab of a smartphone. Whereas Samsung and Google are on their respective design journeys, Motorola has stuck with a mostly plain chassis design. There’s a lovely hue to the Cosmos Blue review unit I have in hand, and you can get the Edge+ in Stardust White, too. But the overall feel of the phone lacks the density and authority of the competition. And to add insult to injury, it’s not even fully water-resistant.

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I like that Motorola’s backside has a distinctive, appealing look, as that’s the only way to tell phones apart these days. There are three camera lenses huddled on the back in an oval-shaped array. Two of the cameras are 50-MP lenses: one with OIS and an f/1.8 aperture, while the second is a 50-MP ultra-wide-angle camera with a 114-degree field of view. The third camera is a 2-MP depth-sensing lens. We’ll get into the camera performance a little later.

A photo of the Motorola Edge+'s display
The Motorola Edge+’s display is big and bright.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
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Inside, the Motorola Edge+ runs on the latest Qualcomm-made Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. Our synthetic benchmarks tested on par with the other devices featuring the same silicon, namely the Galaxy S22+. You can choose between 8 or 12 GB of memory—Motorola sent us the latter—and either 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage.

There’s also a 30W TurboPower-enabled 4800 mAh battery pack, which offers up to 15W wireless charging and 5W wireless powersharing. The battery lasted about 14 hours and 34 minutes in our rundown test, an hour and a half less than Motorola’s estimate of 16 hours. Additionally, it’s two hours less than the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro’s 5000 mAh battery and an hour less than the Galaxy S22+’s 4500 mAh battery.

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While testing the battery, I noticed that the Edge+ becomes almost too warm to hold when charging at the maximum speed. At one point, my infrared thermometer clocked the phone at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Motorola outfitted the Edge+ with a 6.7-inch pOLED display, meaning it uses flexible plastic as part of its screen construction. Compared to the Galaxy S22+, the Edge+’s display appears bluer in hue. Samsung’s AMOLED display colors also appear deeper than Motorola’s pOLED.

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A photo comparing the displays on the Galaxy S22+ and Motorola Edge+
The Motorola Edge+’s (right) display is vibrant, but not as saturated as Samsung’s Galaxy S22+ (left).
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

At the very least, Motorola’s display has a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, which should make games and videos play smoothly. I tested the phone with its automatic option, which optimizes between 60Hz and 144Hz based on the content.

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One thing I enjoyed about the Edge+ right off the bat is the fingerprint sensor embedded into the power button. I don’t mind the in-display scanners on other flagship devices, but I miss knowing where to place my finger to unlock the phone. The unlocking mechanism is almost instant, but it’s definitely tedious to scan your fingerprint to first set up this feature.

Middling Night Vision

A photo of the back of the Motorola Edge+
The Motorola Edge+’s rear cameras could have performed better than they did.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
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When the Edge+ was first announced, Motorola made it sound like the rear-facing three-lens camera system could hold a candle to what Samsung and Google claim with their respective offerings. Its primary 50-MP lens uses “pixel binning,” similar to Samsung’s devices, to extract detail from a scene. The company even promised more accurate performance in low light. In reality, the two 50-MP cameras and accompanying depth-sensing lenses just can’t measure up to other flagships’ prowess.

Most afternoon-light, sunny-day photographs came out fine with the Edge+. I even shared a couple with my close friends over my weekend of testing the device. However, I noticed that in some instances, when I was snapping pictures of my kid, the phone would overexpose her pale little face in a way that I couldn’t dial down the contrast and fix it in post.

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Overall, the photo processing was too aggressive, though I did take most of my test photos using the Edge+’s built-in Shot Optimization mode. Pictures of my daughter often came out looking overly sharp, with the edges on particular objects almost too pronounced. On the plus side, each image carries an impressive amount of detail. You’ll notice the sharpness maintains even as you zoom in.

Landscape shots came out fine, though they carry a yellow-green tinge compared to Samsung and Google. The ultra-wide-angle camera is nice for grabbing more detail, but I also found it just as overt on the sharpness.

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The Motorola Edge+’s Night Vision mode is just too bad to recommend over Samsung and Google’s respective algorithms. I expected that the usual landscape shot I take to test out each phone’s extended exposure capabilities would come out blurry, as it’s pretty challenging to select a focus point in the dark from miles away. I didn’t expect the result to be as bad as some of the phones I remember testing nearly six years ago. In my testing, the Edge+’s Night Vision photos were hardly shareable even with the aid of a tripod.

A photo showing three comparison shots
From left to right: indoor night photo samples from the Motorola Edge+, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro.
Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
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Photo comparisons between the Edge+ and Galaxy S22 Ultra
From left to right: outdoor night photo samples of the Motorola Edge+ and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The Edge+ is much better at handling its macro abilities. It still has the issue of over-processing in some cases, but I like having the macro lens because it allows you to better frame a photo regardless of your physical distance. It’s also great for taking pictures of plants. You can flip directly into the Edge+’s macro mode and snap photos that way if you like doing that. It’s way easier than trying to painstakingly auto-focus on the corner of a leaf in standard shooting mode.

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The Edge+ can record up to 8K UHD video at 24 frames-per-second. That’s not something I necessitate from daily living, so I recorded video at the default of 4K with HDR 10+ enabled. Videos were fine for personal archiving, and the stabilization was pretty impressive, even while shooting photos inside a bumpy car.

The front-facing lens on the Edge+ is a 60-MP lens slotted smack dab in the middle of the chassis. It also uses pixel binning, and I thought my selfies looked great.

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Motorola’s Android

A photo of the Edge+ with the Google Feed on screen
The Edge+ runs mostly stock Android, with little bits of Motorola flair interspersed in between.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
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The Edge+ runs Android 12 right out of the box, with a sprinkling of Motorola’s flair on top. At its core, it’s pure Android with a few helpful extra features. For instance, there’s a theme picker in the bundled Moto app, which lets you dial into Material You’s built-in color picker. However, if you buy this device through your carrier—cough, Verizon—you will have to deal with some app bloat. You can’t uninstall those apps to reclaim storage, though you can disable them.

That said, Motorola’s take on Android includes the nifty Ready For PC feature. It lets you wirelessly tether the Edge+ to a Windows machine. The only annoyance is that it requires a separate app to install, unlike Samsung’s similar feature built into Microsoft’s existing Your Phone app. But the trade-off is that you can access Android apps and transfer files from your desktop without even touching the phone. You can also use Ready for PC to turn your Edge+ into a webcam for video conferencing when you’re on the go.

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It’s a wonder what Motorola’s update schedule will look like. The company doesn’t have the best track record for consistent Android updates, though it committed to three years of software updates on all of its devices, beginning with this device. The company recently told Review Geek that it plans two major Android OS upgrades and three years of bi-monthly security updates for the Edge+.

Where’s the Stylus?

The Motorola Edge+ is supposed to come with a smart stylus akin to the one docked in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Unfortunately, it’s a separate accessory that comes as part of a folio case. The company has yet to share details on timing and availability, so if you were hoping for an alternative to the Ultra, you might have to wait a little longer.

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A photo of the Motorola Edge+ with accessories framing it
The Motorola Edge+ is fine if you get it as a deal. But know what you’ll have to contend with.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The Motorola Edge+ isn’t a flagship that will spawn billboards and build up hype, though it is likely to see some airplay since it has Verizon helping with its rollout. The Motorola Edge+ is sold unlocked at Best Buy, Walmart, and online retailers for $900. But you can also buy the Verizon variant, which can be financed for 36-months at the discounted rate of $850.

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If you need an Android phone to get through every day, the Edge+ will be fine. It’s not the most capable in its camera abilities, but it can do everything else that Android can. For some users, that’s enough, and that’s who Motorola is catering to with this new smartphone.