The Motorola Edge Plus is the most genuine flagship that Motorola has released in years, with top-tier specs, display, and 5G connectivity. It’s also the priciest phone released by the brand, meaning the competition is even stiffer between the Edge Plus and rival flagships.
- Bright display, top specs
- 5G sub-6 and mmWave
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Not the sharpest display
- Thicker than most flagships
2020 has been a big year for Motorola already: first its own foldable phone, the throwback Motorola Razr, and now we have the Motorola Edge Plus – a full-fledged flagship with specs and features to match.
As the more premium smartphone sibling of the Motorola Edge, the Edge Plus is the brand’s first serious foray into flagship territory in years – and it’s 5G-capable, too.
The Edge Plus isn’t just a rebranded Z-series phone; it’s a fresh start for the company’s product line, a device pushed to extremes, and which can compete with the best Samsung Galaxy and Apple handsets – along with the growing number of 5G phones.
To get there, Motorola has jettisoned some iconic Moto features – and, yes, that means the Edge Plus doesn’t work with Moto Mods. The company is being coy about whether this means the end for the accessories, so it’s possible that an as-yet unconfirmed Moto Z5 will indeed come out that supports the beloved add-ons. However, given how Mods compatibility hamstrung Motorola phone design, we aren’t optimistic, as the Edge Plus has signaled a dramatic changed in direction for the design ethos of top-tier Motorola phones.
Not that this means the Edge Plus looks particularly original, as we found when we mistook the phone for a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G on account of its ‘waterfall’ curved display (or as Motorola calls it, ‘Endless Edge’). However, with its powerful specs, gorgeous display, and 5G connectivity (both mmWave and sub-6), this is a phone that, on the inside at least, is thoroughly cutting-edge.
Which isn’t in any way a slam on the company – the Z-series was beloved for delivering admirable performance at a lower cost than most leading phones. The corollary here is that the Edge Plus competes with flagship phones, but it costs as much as those competitors.
Our limited time with the Edge Plus revealed a phone that can keep up with the best – but since it can’t out-muscle the established brands that dominate the market with phones that generally pack similar specs, it might come down to whether Motorola’s phone has the right unique features to seize the spotlight.
Or maybe just having a 3.5mm jack will be enough.
Motorola Edge Plus price and release date
- Launch price: $999 / €1,199) (around £812 / AU$1,581)
- US release date: May 14; Verizon-exclusive for $41.66/month for 24 months
- Will not be coming to UK; will only be coming to a few EU countries
The Motorola Edge Plus, like many phones introduced this year, was planned to be revealed at MWC 2020. When that show was shut down in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, Motorola held off publicly launching the phone until April 22.
The Edge Plus will cost $999 (around £812 / AU$1,581), and will be released in the US on May 14 exclusively through Verizon for $41.66 per month for 24 months. Customers trading in phones can get up to $550 off the list price.
Yes, exclusively – meaning there won’t be an unlocked Motorola Edge Plus in the US. It will be sold in Canada through Rogers, Bell and Telus.
As far as we currently know, the Motorola Edge Plus is not coming to the UK. It will be available in May in a handful of EU countries, including Italy and some Scandinavian nations, at a starting price of €1,199. Around the same time, it should go live in India, UAE at Etisalat and du and in KSA at stc.
The phone will come in two colors: Thunder Grey and a pinkish Smoky Sangria.
- Super tall at 161mm x 71.4mm x 9.6mm
- Lovely ‘Endless Edge’ waterfall curves
- It lives! 3.5mm jack found on top
In shifting away from the Z-series design, Motorola has furnished the Edge Plus with many elements from leading flagships, taking a few leaves out of Samsung’s book in particular – the screen curving over the sides looks unmistakably like the ‘waterfall’ edges of the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 lines of phones.
Or, to take another example: the rear camera strip is reminiscent of the rear lens arrangement on the Huawei P30.
That Motorola has taken design cues from other Android flagships isn’t surprising – given that the design of its Z-series phones was constrained by the need for those handsets to be compatible with Moto Mods, the company had some catching up to do. And the result is that the Edge Plus is a handsome device with a flagship polish we haven’t previously seen from the brand.
The aforementioned curved display edges make the phone a little easier to handle than its 6.7-inch screen would suggest, especially given the phone’s outsized 9.6mm thickness – and yes, you’ll notice this, given that most phones hover around the 8mm mark, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 at 7.9mm, or, at most, the 8.8mm Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The Edge Plus isn’t that much harder to handle, but the phone’s flat top and bottom make the thickness apparent.
If anything is awkward, it’s the placement of the volume rocker and power button high up on the phone’s right side, although we’ll wait until we’ve used these for a while during our full review process to see if this is an actual issue.
The 203g of weight is about average, and while the phone felt thick, it didn’t feel terribly hefty. It doesn’t have an IP water- and dust-resistance rating, so we’ll have to trust Motorola’s claims about its “water repellent design.”
Those curved sides mean the microSD/SIM slot is relocated to the bottom of the phone, to the left of the USB-C port. To the right of the port is the main speaker; its sound is combined with the output from a second speaker out of the top of the phone for stereo audio, with both speakers tuned by audio company Waves, says Motorola (we didn’t get to testing the sound in our short time and cramped test room).
And of course, the top contains one of the rarest of birds on a flagship phone: a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED display, 21:9 ratio
- 90Hz refresh rate
The 6.7-inch Full HD+ OLED display complements the high design polish: it’s large, sharp, and the ‘Endless Edge’ sides are very attractive. They also curve in a complete semi-circular arc, meaning the edges don’t flatten at all. It’s a novel, if a little funky, look and feel – and if you don’t like it, you can set which apps wrap around the sides, and which don’t.
The display’s 21:9 aspect ratio makes this phone feel narrow, meaning some people may find it awkward to use one-handed. Like many other flagship phones in 2020, you can set the Edge Plus to light up its sides when receiving notifications, which is a neat if trivial touch that’s nonetheless better than blinking the flash.
While we didn’t have much chance to play around with the display’s brightness and sharpness, its HDR10+ support should bring the Motorola Edge Plus comfortably into line with other flagships, even if its Full HD+ display doesn’t quite reach the WQHD+ resolution of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 line.
The Edge Plus display’s 90Hz max refresh rate is a welcome feature, and while it’s bettered by some 120Hz screens on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro the average user won’t notice much difference between those numbers, especially those used to the 60Hz refresh rate on most smartphones – what they will notice is that navigating between apps or browsing the internet is much smoother.
One feature that’s somewhat rare in other smartphones is present in the Edge Plus’ display: it can create two virtual ‘shoulder buttons’ on the top edge of the smartphone while you’re holding it sideways to play games. We didn’t get a chance to try this out, but it’s something we’ve seen gaming-tuned phones like the Nubia Red Magic 3 try out.
- Triple rear camera: 108MP main, 8MP telephoto 3x zoom, 16MP ultrawide
- 6K video
- 25MP front-facing camera
The Motorola Edge Plus packs a traditional triple rear camera setup. The star of the show is the 108MP main shooter, which can use ‘pixel binning’ tech that reduces the megapixel count while effectively expanding the size of each pixel to let in more light, though at a cost of less sharp images.
The phone also has an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and a 16MP ultra-wide camera, as well as a time-of-flight depth sensor to enable bokeh effects in portrait shots. Sadly, we didn’t get much of a chance to try out the camera features, but the array here is as comprehensive as those on most other current flagships.
The main shooter can also capture video in 6K UHD – a peculiar interval we haven’t seen very often between the typical 4K and the 8K resolution reached by the Samsung Galaxy S20 phones. It won’t matter too much, given the low penetration of TVs and screens above 4K in consumer households, but there is one nice advantage of shooting in 6K: stop a video recorded at that resolution, Motorola says, and you’ll be able to grab 24MP still images.
The Edge Plus also has a long-exposure mode that enables you to drag the shutter speed out to as much as 32 seconds, and there are some improvements to the Z-series’ Night Vision photography mode, too – again we’ll wait to comment on that until we try it out.
The Edge Plus also packs a 25MP front-facing camera, which can also use pixel binning.
Performance and battery
- Snapdragon 865 chipset, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage
- 5G connectivity: sub-6 + mmWave
- 5,000mAh battery
The refined design of the Motorola Edge Plus isn’t the only thing ‘flagship’ about it. The phone’s specs are top-tier, from its Snapdragon 865 chipset to the 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is expandable up to 1TB via microSD.
Unsurprisingly, the Edge Plus sports Android 10, launching with the latest version that packs Dark Mode and other enhancements.
As mentioned, the Edge Plus is 5G capable, and works on both sub-6 and mmWave frequencies. While that’s not too surprising in some regions – it’s only being sold by Verizon in the US, which has a mmWave network and will likely add sub-6 by the end of 2020 – it does mean units sold elsewhere will have a bit more flexibility when it comes to hooking up to next-gen networks.
The Edge Plus packs a 5,000mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for up to two days. We wouldn’t be too optimistic about that claim, though, especially if owners drain their battery faster with 5G, location services, or bumping up specs to, say, the 90Hz refresh rate – again it’s something we’ll test during our full review process.
Sadly, the Edge Plus maxes out at 15W charging, which has been the case with previous Motorola phones. The company claims any more wattage would require a thicker device, and it’s possible that it would up the price as well. But it does support wireless charging, and can donate its own power to other devices via reverse wireless charging.
The Motorola Edge Plus is easily the best phone Motorola has put out in years, with long-overdue strides like abandoning Moto Mods. While Z-series fans won’t be happy, especially given a price tag that’s fully twice that of the Moto Z4, the Edge Plus is a Motorola phone that can compete with the best current flagship handsets.
Specs, looks, cameras, 5G… the Edge Plus checks a lot of flagship boxes. However, it’s also launching at the worst time for expensive phones since the Great Recession – and given all the other pricey flagships coming out this year, Motorola’s top-of-the-line offering might not have enough outstanding features to distinguish it from the rest of the pack.
And that would be a shame: the Edge Plus looks like an exciting, capable phone. It’s big, it’s bold, and we’re pleased to see a phone inheriting all the neat refinements from its cheaper cousins (like the Motorola One line), and adding some new ones, to produce what could be the best handset Motorola has ever released.