Motorola Edge landscape in hand

Opinion post by
Robert Triggs

The Motorola Edge Plus is a feature-packed flagship that looks at every bit as good a purchase as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. In fact, it’s arguably the better purchase, given its slightly cheaper retail price of $999 — $200 less than the base S20 Plus. With a reasonable price, an impressive feature set, a stylish look, and, as a brand new flagship series for the Android veteran, a bit of additional wow factor, Motorola could well have had a major hit on its hands.

Instead, Verizon exclusivity has likely doomed the Edge Plus to forever be a niche obscurity — at least as far as the US market is concerned.

Coulda’ been a contender

If you need a reminder of the Motorola Edge Plus’ specs, it boasts both 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz support and a powerful Snapdragon 865 processor. There’s an eye-catching waterfall display, 12GB LPDDR5 memory, 256GB UFS3.0 storage, a massive 5,000mAh battery, and in-display fingerprint scanner.

On the camera front, you’re getting a 108MP rear main camera with 6K video recording. You’d have to splash out for the Galaxy S20 Ultra model for Samsung’s equivalent camera, and I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that said phone starts at $1,399. There’s also telephoto and wide-angle cameras.

All that for $999 is pretty impressive in today’s market.

The Motorola Edge Plus nails the core specs that make for a compelling experience. Performance, battery life, and a quality camera setup meet most consumers’ needs. However, the phone also embraces technology that many of its rivals have, controversially, dropped. The Edge Plus could have been the perfect phone for consumers across various niches.

Motorola Edge top half of display

The headphone jack, for instance, remains a must-have for many in the audiophile crowd. There are front-facing stereo speakers (another rarity) and a 90Hz display for the avid mobile gamers out there.

There’s a lot to be said for including fan favorite features that others have forgotten.

While the waterfall display may be a love it or hate it affair, it stands out against today’s increasingly uninspired copycat designs. The phone includes “grip suppression” which can turn edge on/off functionality while using the display. It also offers edge lighting for notifications, calls, alarms, texts, etc, and touch buttons on the top when held sideways for gaming.

There’s a lot to be said for including fan-favorite features that others have forgotten. A little good faith goes a long way on social media. OnePlus built its reputation on successful fan service and Motorola could probably do the same. But locking an otherwise excellent handset to a single carrier won’t win you many internet brownie points…

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Motorola overestimates consumer appetite for 5G

Motorola Edge edge of display

Motorola and Verizon have a long-running partnership, so the situation with the Edge Plus isn’t such a surprise. You can track the partnership back through numerous phone generations. However, the latest trend in 5G handsets can be traced back to the 5G Moto Mod for the Moto Z3 — another Verizon exclusive that presented Motorola as the first manufacturer with 5G support.

In a nutshell, Motorola wants the bragging rights that come with the brute speed of Verizon’s 5G mmWave network. As the only US carrier with mmWave, Verizon’s network is currently the fastest, although finding a signal sweet spot is a whole other matter. Motorola is very happy to use those speed claims to market its handsets, especially against competing phones on other networks.

It’s a reasonable enough strategy, but Motorola is vastly overestimating the attention consumers are paying to 5G data speeds.

Most US consumers aren't Verizon customers and even fewer care about mmWave 5G.

The harsh truth is that 5G isn’t a key selling factor just yet. Only 10% of US consumers are buying $1,000+ smartphones, according to NPD, suggesting limited appeal for premium 5G handsets.

In addition, last year we asked our readers if they would consider upgrading to a new phone for 5G compatibility. Over half said they wouldn’t consider doing so until US carriers improve their coverage. Fast forward to today and 5G rollouts are still very much a work in progress even before you narrow it down to Verizon’s mmWave.

Limiting your potential consumer base to just one carrier just doesn’t seem like a smart call given current purchasing habits. Motorola could sell more handsets if it had greater exposure across carriers. Particularly when its phones are as competitive and compelling as the Motorola Edge Plus.

Forgotten before it even launched

Motorola Edge camera macro 2

The Edge Plus has all the makings of a great flagship and possibly one that could have won Motorola some new fans. The handsets makes some great design choices, but will ultimately be let down by its more limited availability.

Verizon may be one of the biggest US networks, but there’s a big market out there to aim for. Motorola’s latest flagship is too good to be stuck fighting for a share of just one slice of the mobile pie. Ultimately, it’s a shame that Verizon exclusivity shoots the excellent Motorola Edge Plus in the foot.

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?

Will you be buying a Motorola Edge Plus in spite of the Verizon exclusivity? Cast your vote in the poll and hit the comments to share your thoughts on Motorola’s new flagship.

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