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Motorola Edge (2022) review: A passing grade

The 2022 Motorola Edge is a premium midrange phone that excels in extracurriculars, but has a tendency to slack in its core classes.

It offers a lot of cool features that you don’t always find in an upper-midrange device (let’s say anything between $500 and $700), like wireless charging, a 144Hz screen, and a massive 5,000mAh battery. But it only gets a passing grade for build quality and durability, and while its processor is capable, it’s not in the running for valedictorian.

Pinning down exactly how much this phone costs is a test of sorts. The version sold by T-Mobile with 128GB of storage costs $498, while the unlocked version sold by Motorola has 256GB of storage and costs $599 — if you don’t get it at the $499 pre-order price. Oh, and Verizon also sells a version; that One will have mmWave 5G support, while the other won’t, but at the time of this writing, I can’t tell anyone how much it will cost. MSRP! What a concept!

For $500, I think there are arguments to be made in favor of the Edge, especially if you want the biggest and best screen you can get for that kind of money. The phone’s 6.6-inch screen with a fast 144Hz refresh rate is truly its best asset, along with dependable all-day battery life, wireless charging and the promise of three OS version upgrades and four years of security updates.

But in the other column, it’s only IP52-rated, and a significant scuff on the corner of my review unit’s plastic frame doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in its long-term durability (or it’s just a good argument for a strong case. ) and the MediaTek Dimensity 1050 chipset is fine, for the most part, in the camera app. A few slowdowns reveal that the processor isn’t on par with the best in class.

It seems like a lot to pay $600 for the Edge, even with 256GB of storage. I’m not convinced it will hold up well towards the end of its lifespan, and its rivals with flagship processors like the Pixel 6 and OnePlus 10T are better placed. Heck, I can’t think of a better reason to choose the Edge over the $450 Pixel 6A — its screen is smaller and limited to a standard 60Hz refresh rate, but in most other respects it matches or exceeds the Edge’s capabilities.

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This OLED panel is bright and smooth with a 144Hz refresh rate.

Let’s start with that screen: The Edge’s 6.6-inch display is certifiably large. It’s a very nice, 1080p OLED panel with a top refresh rate of 144Hz. In auto rate selection mode, it doesn’t seem to hit 144Hz very often — mostly, I’ve seen it bounce between 120Hz and 60Hz unless I lock it to 144Hz. In any case, 120Hz offers a very smooth scrolling experience. In direct sunlight, the screen goes into high-brightness mode, which is comfortable to use even in very bright conditions. There’s more good news: the in-display fingerprint scanner is quick and accurate, which is more than I can say about the Pixel 6s.

Also in the “fun to use” category: Motorola takes Android 12. It does a fair amount of handholding to introduce you to different features, but it never feels intrusive. The camera app politely suggests turning on the leveling guide to take direct photos, and you know what? It’s just a thought. I now keep level all the time.

The Edge gets three OS version updates and four years of security updates — an improvement on Moto’s approach with previous devices, and pretty close to matching the Pixel 6’s five years of security updates.

The 2022 Edge is slimmer than most recent Motorola phones I’ve used, at 8mm. It makes me rethink the thickness of the Edge Plus (8.8mm) and Motorola’s budget phones, which are thicker than 9mm – I didn’t think much of it when I was using them, but now they seem too big. The edge screen is flat and protected by a glass panel, and the composite plastic is slightly curved at the rear edges.

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The Motorola Edge (left) is slightly thinner than the Moto G 5G (right).

The outer frame is plastic, and the phone is prone to chipping if it slips from your jogger’s pocket onto a concrete patio. To that end, the phone is rated IP52, which means it offers some dust protection and a little resistance from water drops falling at a certain angle. I’d be very careful about using it in the rain, and as a seatlight, that’s an important use case for me. It’s not exactly confidence-inspiring and is a far cry from the IP68 rating that the Pixel 6 has, allowing it to be fully submerged in water for brief periods.

There’s a large 5,000mAh battery on board, and Motorola claims you can get through two days on a single charge. My experience was a moderate day of use with about four hours of screen-on time, but not much if you enable battery-draining features like a fast screen refresh rate and watch a lot of videos. If you’re smart about your settings, I can get through a couple of days, but that hasn’t been my experience. The Edge supports 30W wired charging (no charger in the box, common these days). There is also fast 15W wireless charging. Not every phone in this price bracket offers wireless charging at any speed, so it’s nice to have it here. The Fly also has wireless power sharing for charging other Qi-compatible devices and phones.

There’s plenty to like about the Edge on the surface, and the MediaTek Dimensity 1050 processor is capable enough to keep up with everyday tasks — and even taxing assignments like gaming. The effect of ginseng. But the differences between a good processor and a great one are often visible in the camera app, and this is where the 1050 falls a little short. With portrait mode snapping photos so quickly, I started to see some significant lag in the image preview. Pronounced enough to make it difficult to place a slightly moving subject in the frame I wanted. That’s not a problem on the Pixel 6, where I can capture rapid-fire portrait mode photos without a noticeable drop in frame rate.

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The 50-megapixel main rear camera offers optical stabilization and good low-light performance.

Dimensity 1050 supports both sub-6GHz 5G and super-fast, hard-to-find mmWave types. However, only the Edge model sold by Verizon supports mmWave – all others are sub-6 only. And that’s fine! mmWave 5G is extremely range-limited, so it can be difficult to find a signal even in an area where it exists. Sub-6GHz 5G is improving quickly in the US as it occupies the all-important C-band spectrum. Verizon and T-Mobile have supported 5G since the unlocked Edge went on sale, but AT&T 5G will be available later “in the coming months,” according to Motorola spokeswoman Stephanie Stiltz.

The Edge offers a 50-megapixel f/1.8 main rear camera with optical stabilization that uses pixel-binning to spit out 12-megapixel photos. There’s a 13-megapixel ultrawide with autofocus that doubles as a macro camera. There’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the front that produces 8-megapixel images, and a depth sensor on the back that doesn’t do much.

Photos from the Edge are mostly good, although they are occasionally too good. The camera occasionally has trouble overdoing the HDR effect, and ultrawide or selfie cameras aren’t very good in low light. The main camera does surprisingly well in very dim conditions – between stabilization, night mode and pixel binning help, it captures fine details in low light. I like the camera’s overall tendency toward warmer colors, and portrait mode photos are passable.

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The Edge is a capable upper-midrange phone that doesn’t do enough to stand out from the competition.

The Motorola Edge Pixel 6 stands out in its class if not standing on its shoulder. The Pixel 6 256GB Edge is priced at $599, though with less storage, it covers the core capabilities a bit better. It houses Google’s flagship chipset, the Tensor, and is IP68 rated, slated for five years of security updates, and comes with a more capable camera.

The Edge has a larger screen with a faster top refresh rate than the 6’s 90Hz panel, which many people prefer (I don’t). For my money, the Pixel 6 seems like a safe bet. You can save a little money and pick up the Pixel 6A, which also has Tensor, a robust IP67 rating, and the same five-year software support as the Pixel 6 for $450. Its screen is quite small at 6.1 inches,

The OnePlus 10T is also in the mix. It costs a bit more at $649, but you get one of the best chipsets you’ll find in an Android phone: the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. There’s also super-fast 125W wired charging, which might be worth the extra money for people. Need to recharge quickly during the day.

As a whole package, the device makes more sense than Motorola’s pricier Edge Plus. Plus doesn’t hang with high-end Android flagships, but the Edge slots into the (less populated) upper-middle class more comfortably. If you find the right price tag to match, it deserves a passing grade.

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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