Motorola Edge Plus review: mid-range experience for flagship price





In recent years, Motorola has carved a niche for itself in the low-end to mid-range segment of the smartphone industry thanks to its Moto G lineup. More recently, Motorola has made a valiant effort to rejoin the high-end, flagship-caliber smartphone race with its Moto Edge portfolio.

In fact, last month Motorola announced and started taking orders for the Motorola Edge Plus, which has the same $999 price tag as Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro.

With three rear cameras, a 60MP front-facing camera and a staple list for premium Android handsets, how does the Moto Edge Plus stack up as a flagship phone? Spoiler alert: not so great.

Like it

  • Well designed
  • Performance
  • battery life

Not fun

Design

The Edge Plus looks and feels like a high-end smartphone. It has a 6.7-inch OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate with a punch-hole 60MP selfie camera centered near the top of the screen. On the right side of the phone, you’ll find the volume up and down buttons, along with a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. The volume rocker sticks out just a little further than the power button, making it easy to blindly and accidentally place my thumb on the volume rocker while staring at the screen, waiting for it to unlock. After a second or two I realized I was touching the wrong button and moved my thumb down. Once I found the correct button, the phone unlocked reliably and in a timely manner.

The top and left edges of the phone are bare apart from the shiny metal body with a metallic color finish that changes color based on your viewing angle. Motorola makes the Edge Plus in cosmos blue or stardust white. The first is the color option I used, and I love it. It has a green tint that turns blue again depending on how you hold it and the light that reflects off it.

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At the bottom of the phone is the USB-C port for charging and data transfer. It accepts charging speeds of up to 30W, which are included in the box. The SIM tray is also located on the bottom of the phone, just to the left of the charging port.

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

On the back, you’ll find three different cameras stacked vertically. The main camera on top is 50 megapixels with quad-pixel technology and optical image stabilization. The second camera is also 50MP, but it’s an ultra-wide camera with a 114-degree field of view. It can also take macro photos, which is a nice bonus feature. The bottom camera in the stack is a 2MP depth camera to help capture depth information for portrait shots.

The 2022 Edge Plus is the first smartphone outside of Motorola’s Moto G range to support a stylus, so you can draw, sketch or annotate using apps on the phone.

Motorola didn’t include its stylus with any rating units, though, so I can’t speak to the one feature that most of its potential customers will definitely want to use and/or know about. It’s also a shame. It’s the feature I’ve personally been most looking forward to using, and I’m not one to normally use a stylus on a phone. But after recently testing Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, I wanted to see how the two compare.

While working on this review, I went to Motorola’s website to see how much the case/stylus accessory costs, and I can’t even find it on Motorola’s website. When asked about availability, Motorola said it had nothing to say about the availability of the stylus + folio.

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The Moto Edge Plus case has an IP52 rating for water and dust resistance. That just means you should be able to drop it in a puddle of water or the toilet, pick it up immediately, and it will continue to work after it dries (and you give it a good flush).

Overall, the design of the Moto Edge Plus is nothing new or unlike anything we’ve seen before. The cosmos blue color is nice, but we’ve seen similar colors from Samsung. It’s… a smart phone.

Camera and performance

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Moto Edge Plus houses Qualcomm’s latest mobile processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with 512 GB of storage and 12 GB of memory. There’s a 4,800 mAh battery that does a great job of extending battery life to a second day of heavy use.

In terms of performance, the Edge Plus keeps pace with Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Plus when it comes to single- and multi-core performance according to Geekbench 5, with a score of 1,198 for single-core and 3,714 for multi-core performance. That beats the Google Pixel 6 Pro score of 963 and 2,607 respectively. However, all three phones fall short when compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, with scores of 1,732 and 4,673 on the same tests.

My personal experience is in line with the story that the benchmarks give. Apps open smoothly and multitasking is fast.

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Where I think the Edge Plus falls short is in the quality of the screen and camera. The colors of the screen are somewhat muted and remind me of a screen I would see on a mid-range phone. It’s not horrible anyway. Admittedly, I’m a bit picky here. But the screen just doesn’t live up to the experience of the Galaxy S22 Plus or the iPhone 13 Pro Max – its direct competition.

As for the camera, it does a good job too. But overall, it lacks the same photo quality I’d expect from a $999 phone. Heck, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have better camera performance than the Motorola Edge Plus.

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

My main complaints about the camera are overexposure in well-lit environments, with white light being blown off when shooting outdoors. Again, I’m splitting hairs with my criticism. The camera setup on the Edge Plus is certainly not bad, but I want and expect more from a $999 phone.

However, the video quality was where I was most disappointed. I shot a video of one of my kids at a recent baseball game, and the end result is sometimes pixelated around motion, and it just doesn’t look right.

Complaints about camera and display quality aside, the Motorola Edge Plus offers a compelling software experience. Motorola has made several tweaks on top of what I would consider Android 12. For example, the Moto app has several options and settings to customize how the phone works. You can use a chop gesture to turn the flashlight on and off just by holding the phone in your hand and moving it like you would an ax when chopping wood. A turn gesture starts the camera. Or you can set a custom shortcut that will be activated when you press the power button twice.

For longtime Motorola users, none of these features are new. But what makes them worth talking about is the fact that Motorola makes them so accessible. Instead of burying gestures in the Settings app a few menus deep, you can watch short animated videos for each setting in a dedicated app.

What it comes down to:

On paper, the Moto Edge Plus promises an immersive experience in the low-end price range of the high-end smartphone market. In reality, it feels like an expensive mid-range phone. However, if you are looking for a smartphone that offers stylus support for less than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Edge Plus is worth considering. Assuming the stylus support is equal to, or at least close to, the S22 Ultra.

For everyone else, you can and should get the iPhone 13 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, which costs the same $999 as the Motorola Edge Plus. Or, if you’re looking to save some cash, the Pixel 6 Pro is worth checking out.




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