Last year after a long hiatus, Moto returned the flagship phone market with the Edge+ to somewhat middling success. So now for this year’s refresh, Motorola seems to have adjusted its ambitions downward to better straddle the line between mid-range and premium.
Featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip, 6GB (or 8GB) of RAM, 128GB (or 256GB) of storage, and two rear cams, the Edge’s specs represent slight upgrades from something like the $450 Pixel 5a. However, when you tack on a much larger 6.8-inch full HD+ LCD display with a 144Hz rate, a super high-res 108-MP main camera, and a higher starting price of $700, it’s clear the new Moto Edge is trying to balance affordability with the inclusion of some more high-end features.
But what throws a real wrench into potential comparisons is that at launch, the new Moto Edge will feature a discounted price tag of just $500, which increases the Edge’s value proposition quite a bit. And to make things even more chaotic, Moto won’t say how long the Edge’s promotional price will last post-launch. Like a lot of gadgets, a price difference of $200 for a smartphone can make or break a product.
Elsewhere, the Moto Edge features a number of smaller but welcome upgrades including support for both sub-6Ghz and mmWave (but only on Verizon), a new side-mounted fingerprint sensor with customizable shortcuts, and even a secondary 8-MP ultra-wide camera that also doubles as a macro camera. (Technically, there is a third camera in the back, but the Edge’s bottommost 2-MP sensor is purely for measuring depth, so it doesn’t really do anything on its own.)
However, if you want to take really detailed shots, Motorola is borrowing an old play out of HTC’s book with its 108-MP rear camera, which features Ultra Pixel technology that allows the camera to combine nine photo pixels into one big pixel for improved low-light sensitivity. However, if you want to utilize the sensor’s full 108-MP resolution, that’s an option too.
Unfortunately, where the new Edge’s more premium inclinations start to fall short is when it comes to things like water resistance and wireless charging support, both of which the Edge doesn’t really have. That’s because while Moto says the Edge does feature a spill-resistant IP52 coating, that level of water-resistance falls way short of the IP67 and IP 68 ratings you get from most high-end handsets (and some mid-range phones like Pixel 5a). And while it’s not a big surprise when more affordable mid-range phones don’t have wireless charging, not including that feature on a handset that costs $700 seems like a strange omission.
On the bright side, for 2021, Motorola is bumping up its long-term support with the new Edge set to get two major OS upgrades and two years of bi-monthly security patches. But once again, those numbers fall short of what you’d get on some cheaper phones like the Pixel 5a, which gets three full years of OS and security updates.
All things considered, that makes the new Moto Edge a somewhat confusing phone. Depending on when you buy it (and what discounts you get), you could argue that it packs a ton of value for a mid-range device, but doesn’t really stack up well against more premium devices like a Galaxy S21, which costs just $100 more and has way better specs aside from its smaller but more colorful 6.2-inch OLED display.
That means until I get to try one out for real, it’s somewhat difficult to get a real read on how the new Moto Edge really fares against its competition.
The Moto Edge will initially be available unlocked from a number of online retailers including Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon starting September 2 (pre-orders start August 23), with carriers such as Verizon and Spectrum Mobile also set to get the Edge sometime later this fall.