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Motorola Edge Plus: Can it compete with the big kids?

The Motorola Edge Plus, a new flagship from the famed phone maker, is the first competitive offering in a long time.

Published onApril 22, 2020

Motorola Edge camera macro 1

Motorola hasn’t played in the true flagship space for several years. The Motorola Edge Plus marks a return to form for the company of sorts, and is an important one for several reasons. Not only does the Motorola Edge Plus show the firm back at the top of its game, it demonstrates that Motorola is still a relevant player and can deliver a product that competes with the best the market has to offer.

The Motorola Edge Plus is not perfect — no phone is — but it gets a lot more right than it gets wrong. Here’s how it compares to leading devices from Google, LG, Samsung, and others.

Tying the specs race

Motorola Edge Screen 1

Flagship buyers are notorious spec hounds. Without the latest chips and other bleeding edge tech, a phone isn’t truly a flagship, right? Motorola has delivered.

As with the LG V60, OnePlus 8 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S20, the Motorola Edge Plus has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The phone doesn’t support microSD cards (only the vanilla Edge does), but with 256GB on board few will miss it. Motorola has skipped Qualcomm’s best silicon for several years, opting for more budget-friendly chips. Without the 865, the Edge Plus would immediately have been an also-ran.

The display is on point. Motorola opted for a 6.7-inch OLED panel. It may be limited to Full HD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution, but Motorola was smart to adopt the fast screen trend. It went with a 90Hz panel. This may not reach the 120Hz from phones such as the S20 Ultra, but it matches the Google Pixel 4 XL and OnePlus 8. Motorola even jumped on the curved screen trend, albeit perhaps two years too late. The steely curved glass side edges extend the display and include software buttons.

The Edge Plus has all the juice you need. Motorola gifted the phone with a 5,000mAh battery. This matches most leading flagships, such as the V60, and handily surpasses others. It even supports wireless charging. The only let down is that topping off the battery will take some extra time. Where competing phones are going for 30W-50W wired charging, the Motorola Edge Plus stocks to 18W wired charging. Motorola’s excuse? You won’t have to charge it all that often.

Motorola Edge and Edge Plus specs: Honest-to-goodness Galaxy S20 rivals
Motorola Edge camera macro 3

The It factor

Motorola Edge back of phone 2

Does it have it? (“It” being sex appeal, not the creature from Stephen King’s novel.) The Motorola Edge Plus is a sleek, good-looking phone. I don’t think it pushes any design boundaries. Perhaps the most notable thing is the aspect ratio. With a 21:9 screen, the phone is narrow across the waist and yet really tall. We’re still on the leading edge of this aspect ratio, though it is becoming more widespread.

Beyond the basic shape? It’s a metal-and-glass sandwich, of course, with an aluminum frame separating two curved panels. I think the side edges are what will make or break the phone for people. With wraparound glass, Motorola adopted some software controls. Before you groan, Motorola insists that it has learned from the companies’ mistakes. The controls can be mapped to either side of the phone and customized to a certain degree, making the phone work for right- and left-handed people.

I’m not a fan of the sangria color, but the gray model is appealing. At least it’s a break from the tired design language of the Moto Z series. This Edge Plus stands on its own, something that we haven’t seen from a Motorola phone in some time.

Motorola Edge Plus review: Not perfect, but on par
Motorola Edge Plus on window sill

Moving pictures

Motorola Edge camera macro 3

Other than the processor, the camera is the most important feature of a flagship. It has to excel. Does the Edge Plus? Well, at first glance it appears to have the necessary optics.

To start, Motorola adopted the correct set of lenses. The Edge Plus has a standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto setup, similar to the S20 series. Motorola went big with the main sensor. It’s a 1/1.33-inch, 108MP binning beast at f/1.8 with optical image stabilization. The 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide doubles as a macro camera and has a healthy 117-degree field of view. Last, the 8MP f/2.4 telephoto supports 3x optical zoom, which is superior to hybrid/digital zoom. A time-of-flight sensor ensures that your portrait/bokeh shots turn out dreamy.

108MP camera shootout: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Xiaomi Mi Note 10
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Xiaomi Mi Note 10 side by side

This arrangement more or less matches that of competing devices. One area it may not appear to be as competitive? Video.

The Motorola Edge Plus can capture video up to 6K at 60fps, but not 8K such as the S20 and V60. Motorola’s reasoning is that 8K isn’t needed yet, and phones can’t handle 8K at 60fps. The 6K 60fps arrangement splits the difference. We look forward to testing this to gauge the results.

Maybe don't buy into the 8K video recording hype yet
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera module macro 1

Everything else

Motorola Edge punch hole 2

When you consider the sum of its parts, the Motorola Edge Plus appears to have it all. Beyond the core specs mentioned above, the phone has all the accoutrements on board to make it a winner.

For example, it matches the LG V60 with a headphone jack, and beats the S20 and OnePlus 8, which lack the jack. It also boasts Bluetooth 5.1 for improved wireless audio, as well as Waves Audio-tuned stereo speakers.

The phone supports the best wireless. Yes, it has 5G (both sub-6GHz and mmWave) and Wi-Fi 6. These components ensure the phone is future proof to some degree. NFC and GPS are on board as well.

About waterproofing. The phone is not technically certified IP68 for protection against dust and water. However, Motorola says its internal tests show that it more or less matches the IP68 spec, thanks to a new gasket system. Apparently it gaining the certification wasn’t worth the added cost, according to Motorola. The IP68 rating means a phone can sit in up to 1.5m (~5 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. Much of the competition does have the IP68 rating.

The big caveat

Ugh, Motorola. The Motorola Edge Plus is a Verizon Wireless exclusive. Yeah,  you read that right. Verizon Wireless will be the only place in the US you can get this beautiful new beast. This is in marked contrast to phones such as the V60 and S20, which are available from at least a handful of carriers each. This severely limits the phone’s availability to US consumers. The phone will be sold unlocked on other markets, but Motorola has been shy about sharing those details.

There’s no question the Edge Plus is Motorola’s most exciting handset in ages. Moreover, on the surface at least, it appears to compete with the best in the market. Whether or not it sells enough to keep Motorola in the game is, well, kinda up to you.

Motorola Edge horizontal in hand 2
Motorola Edge Plus
The Motorola Edge Plus is one of Moto's most feature-packed phones to date. With flagship-tier specs and a price point to match, can it really take on the Samsung Galaxy S20?