It’s hard to stand out in the premium smartphone market. To compete with the Galaxy S22s and iPhone 13s of the world, you need the flashiest display, the longest-lasting battery, or some other out-of-this-world feature.
The new Moto Edge+, launching March 24, comes so close. Its 6.7-inch display, complete with a 144Hz refresh rate, will have all of your apps, videos, and games looking fresh as hell. A brand new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip gives it the same engine under the hood as the aforementioned Galaxy S22. And finally, it has a triple-lens rear camera setup that can undoubtedly produce some snazzy shots for your social feeds.
And yet, despite a reasonably competitive $1,000 price point for all of that, none of it really wowed me.
Massive, but at a cost
Shiny. Credit: Molly Flores / Mashable
When a phone’s price creeps into quadruple-digit territory, it better have the specs to back that up. I can’t really argue that the new Moto Edge+ doesn’t. Here’s what you can expect to work with if you pick one of these up:
6.7-inch OLED display with 144Hz refresh rate
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor
8 or 12GB RAM
Three rear cameras: 2x 50MP lenses and a 2MP depth sensor
60MP selfie cam
mmWave and sub-6Ghz 5G support
USB-C charging port
That display is the real winner here. It’s a tenth of an inch bigger than the Galaxy S22+ (which starts at the same price) with a slightly better refresh rate, given that Samsung’s model runs at 120Hz. That difference isn’t going to be meaningful for most people but Edge+ owners can take some pride in knowing they have it just a little bit smoother than their Samsung brethren.
It’s an upgrade over the 90Hz screen Moto gave the previous Edge+ model back in 2020, too.
However, in most other ways, the new Edge+ bears a closer resemblance to last year’s Edge 5G, its $600 mid-range cousin. The screen size and refresh rate are almost identical (the Edge 5G was 6.8 inches at 144Hz), but the newer flagship variant comes with an OLED display and that cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 processor. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the power button on the phone’s right side, just like before, and it works flawlessly.
Most importantly, the bizarre curved edges around the display that gave the 2020 Edge+ its name are gone. Like the Edge 5G, you’ll get a more conventional angular cutoff point for the screen, which just makes it easier to use and look at. Normal is good sometimes.
No headphone jack, sorry. Credit: Molly Flores / Mashable
Unsurprisingly, just about everything I tested out looked fantastic on the new Edge+. 4K YouTube videos were so sharp, I felt like I somehow got LASIK a second time. There are plenty of excellent displays out there in the $1,000 price range, but this has to be near the top of the food chain right now.
But I still have a couple of big problems with the Edge+, and they carried over from the Edge 5G. First and foremost is that 6.7 inches makes for a great-looking display, but not a phone that feels especially comfortable in the hands. Maybe if I had gigantic wide receiver hands I’d feel differently, but I am merely a normal man with normal man-sized hands. It’s really hard to use this phone one-handed, and that’s how I like to do things with my iPhone SE. Simply trying to extend my thumb from one side of the screen to the other often made me nearly fumble the phone or touch something I didn’t mean to touch.
At a certain point, it’s like trying to sell someone on a really fast car that runs out of gas in five minutes. Even going down to something like 6.5 inches would’ve made a difference in comfort without sacrificing image quality. There is such a thing as too big and Moto keeps approaching the edge with these phones, pun intended.
Oh, and unlike the 2020 model, there’s no headphone jack. If you’re going to lean into a phone being huge, go all the way and include things that smaller phones can’t. I’m saying this as someone who converted to wireless headphones full-time years ago, too. This wouldn’t benefit me, but I’m an ally to the cause and a believer in justice.
That chip is doing the work
Just as I’m not shocked that a huge 144Hz display looks nice, I’m also not shaken to my core about the fact that a phone running one of the latest Snapdragon chips is a steady performer.
I put the Edge+ through its paces, with lots of streaming through YouTube and Spotify, web browsing, and social media, the same as I would with my personal handset. I have absolutely zero complaints about performance. Everything opens nearly instantly and no app ever seized up, even for a moment.
I have numbers to back it up, too. I ran the Edge+ through Geekbench’s benchmarking program and it produced a single-core score of 1,196 and a multi-core score of 3,680. I recognize those are meaningless on their own, so in simpler terms, both metrics were hundreds of points better than the Galaxy S21 Ultra from 2021, the highest scoring Android phone in the Geekbench app, with the caveat that the S22 phones didn’t appear anywhere on the list.
As for Moto-specific features, the new Edge+ doesn’t really bring a lot new to the table. The same gestures from the Edge 5G are here, so if you want to press three fingers to the screen to take a screenshot, you can do that. I dig this level of customization, but it’s not new.
The gesture options haven’t changed, but they didn’t need to. Credit: Screenshot: Motorola / Alex Perry / Mashable
Similarly, the “Ready For” feature that lets you wirelessly beam the phone to an external display is back and it’s still as baffling as it was last year. Just as before, connecting the Edge+ to my Roku turned my TV into a totally-not-Windows desktop that I could control with the phone, presumably to show people my vacation photos or watch streaming content…which I can also just do with the Roku. This is totally optional, so it’s no biggie, but I didn’t really see any reason to use this feature.
Weirdly, I wasn’t especially impressed by 4,800mAh battery, which was something I really did like about the Edge 5G. I went from a full charge down to 15 percent (where the phone sends you a low battery notification) after about 12 hours of the same amount of streaming and social media I do on my personal device. I was able to get closer to a full day out of the Edge 5G, by comparison. It’s definitely not horrible by any means, but I wouldn’t call the battery a selling point, either.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what you see on the spec sheet is what you get with the Edge+’s cameras. Those dual 50MP lenses produce sharp shots with vibrant colors, and the full array of software features that I liked in the Edge 5G is back, too.
Ultrawide shots still look nice. Credit: Alex Perry / Mashable
I’ve always dug a good macro lens, so I’m happy to report you can still get up real close to things like plants and capture the finer details from just an inch or two away without losing too much focus.
Macro shots can capture fine details up close. Credit: Alex Perry / Mashable
My only real gripe is that the Night Vision mode needs pretty specific circumstances to make shots taken in the dark look nice. Maybe it’s because New York is horribly light polluted, but I had a hard time getting Night Vision shots outdoors that looked better (or even noticeably different) than shots taken with the default lens option.
That said, if you need a photo of something indoors that isn’t being illuminated quite enough by nearby light sources, and you don’t want the artificial look of flash photography, it can do that quite nicely.
Night Vision is best for shots like this. Credit: Alex Perry / Mashable
The good news is that nighttime shots taken without Night Vision turned on can often turn out very nice, so it’s not a huge deal.
You don’t need Night Vision to capture nighttime outdoors. Credit: Alex Perry / Mashable
Overall, I wouldn’t call the Edge+’s camera best-in-class, especially when Google charges just $600 for a Pixel 6 with God-tier nighttime photography. But again, pretty good is still pretty good, even if it’s not elite.
Among the best, but not ‘the best’
In the realm of flagship Android devices, it’s tough for me to suss out where exactly it makes sense to recommend the Moto Edge+. Don’t get me wrong, this is a perfectly fine phone. Its display is massive and smoother than most of the competition, but ultimately not in a way that really sets it apart. You get a good deal of onboard storage and RAM to go along with a powerful processor, so performance won’t be a concern.
Beyond that, it’s just…alright. The cameras are good, but I’d still be inclined to roll with a Pixel 6 if I really cared about mobile photography. Ditto for battery life, which is good but not great. Honestly, were I to sacrifice all of my iOS group chats and break off several friendships by switching to Android, I’d be hard-pressed to go with anything other than a Pixel 6.
I can’t criticize the Moto Edge+ too much for finishing near the top of a race, but as a customer, there’s no benefit for sticking with the third-place finisher. For once, Ricky Bobby’s dad was right.
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