Motorola Edge (2022) review: a passing grade
The Motorola Edge 2022 is a premium mid-range phone that excels in extracurricular activities, but tends to slack off in its basic classes.
It offers a lot of great features that you don’t always find in an upper mid-range device (let’s call it $500-$700), like wireless charging, a 144Hz display, 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 contention for the valedictorian.
Figuring out exactly how much this phone costs is kind of a test in itself. A version sold by T-Mobile with 128GB of storage will cost $498, while the unlocked version that Motorola sells includes 256GB of storage and costs $599 — unless you buy it for the pre-order price of $499. Oh, and Verizon will also sell a version; this one will have mmWave 5G support, while the others won’t, but at the time of this writing, I couldn’t ask anyone to tell me how much it would cost. MSRP! What a concept!
For $500, I think there’s a case to be made for 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 feature, along with reliable all-day battery life, wireless charging and a promise of three updates. operating system release level and four years of security updates.
But in the other column, it’s only rated IP52, and the heavy scuff marks on the corner of my review unit’s plastic frame don’t inspire a ton of confidence in its long-term durability (or it’s just a good argument for a robust case). And while the MediaTek Dimensity 1050 chipset holds up well, for the most part, some slowdowns in the camera app reveal the processor isn’t quite up to par with the best in class.
Paying $600 for Edge seems like too much, even with 256GB of storage included. I’m not convinced it’ll hold up well towards the end of its lifespan, and that’s something rivals with flagship processors, like the Pixel 6 and OnePlus 10T, are better positioned to do. Heck, I can’t see a good 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 capabilities of the Edge.
Let’s start with that screen: the Edge’s 6.6-inch screen is certified big. It’s also a very good 1080p OLED panel with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. In auto-frequency selection mode it doesn’t seem to hit 144Hz often – most of the time I saw it bouncing between 120 Hz and 60Hz unless I lock it to 144Hz. Either way, 120Hz makes for a very smooth scrolling experience. In direct sunlight, the screen switches to high brightness mode which makes it comfortable to use even in very bright conditions. There’s more good news: the in-display fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate, which is more than I can say about the Pixel 6s.
Also in the “nice to use” category: Motorola’s version of Android 12. It does a lot of hand-picking to introduce you to different features, but it never feels intrusive. The camera app politely suggested I turn on the leveling guide to take straighter photos, and guess what? It’s just thoughtful. I keep level all the time now.
The Edge will receive three OS version updates and four years of security updates – an improvement over Moto’s policy with previous devices, and much closer to matching something like all five years of Pixel 6 security updates.
The 2022 Edge is thinner than most Motorola phones I’ve used recently, measuring 8mm thick. It makes me reconsider the thickness of the Edge Plus (8.8mm) and Motorola’s budget phones, all of which are over 9mm thick – I never gave it much thought when using them, but now they seem too bulky. The Edge’s screen is flat and protected by a glass panel, and the composite plastic back curves slightly at the edges.
The outer frame is also plastic and prone to chipping if the phone slips out of your pocket while jogging on a concrete patio. To that end, the phone is rated IP52, which means it offers some protection against dust and a bit of resistance to water droplets falling from a certain angle. I would be very careful using it in the rain, and as a Seattlite it is an important use case for me. That’s not exactly confidence-inspiring, and a far cry from the IP68 rating that the Pixel 6 carries, allowing full immersion in water for a brief period.
There’s a big 5,000mAh battery on board, and Motorola claims you can go two days on a single charge. My experience was more like a solid day of moderate usage with around four hours of screen time, but not much more if you enable battery draining features like fastest screen refresh rate and watch lots of videos. If you’re smart about your settings, I could see two days go by, but that wasn’t my experience. The Edge supports 30W wired charging (no charger in the box, as usual these days). There’s also 15W fast wireless charging. Not all phones in this price bracket offer wireless charging at any speed, so it’s great to have it here. There’s also wireless power sharing to charge other Qi-enabled accessories and phones on the fly.
There’s a lot to like about the Edge, and the MediaTek Dimensity 1050 processor is capable enough to keep up with everyday tasks – and even grueling tasks, like gaming. Genshin Impact. But the differences between a good processor and a great one often show up in the camera app, and that’s where the 1050 falls short. Shooting portrait mode photos fairly quickly, I start to see a significant lag in the preview image. It’s pronounced enough that it’s hard to keep a moving subject in frame where I want it. This isn’t an issue on the Pixel 6, where I can capture quick portrait mode photos without a noticeable drop in frame rate.
The Dimensity 1050 supports both sub-6GHz 5G and the ultra-fast, hard-to-find mmWave variety. However, only the Edge model sold by Verizon will support mmWave – all others are only below 6. And that’s good! mmWave 5G is very limited in range, so it can be difficult to find a signal even in an area where it exists. Sub-6GHz 5G is rapidly improving in the US as it includes the all-important C-band spectrum. The unlocked Edge will support Verizon and T-Mobile 5G from the time it goes on sale, but according to Motorola spokeswoman Stephanie Stiltz, AT&T 5G will arrive later “in the coming months.”
The Edge offers a 50-megapixel f/1.8 primary 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, along with a depth sensor on the back that doesn’t seem to do much.
Edge’s photos are mostly decent, although they get pretty good at times. The camera struggles to overdo the HDR effect at times, and neither the ultra-wide nor selfie cameras are very good in low light. The main camera works surprisingly well in very dark conditions – between helping stabilization, night mode and pixel binning, it retains fine detail well in low light. I like the camera’s general trend towards warmer colors, and portrait mode photos are passable.
The Motorola Edge would stand out in its class if it weren’t for the Pixel 6 standing just over its shoulder. The Pixel 6 is the same price as the 256GB Edge at $599, but with less storage, but it covers the core competencies a bit better. It features Google’s flagship Tensor chipset and it’s IP68 rated, slated for five years of security updates, and comes with a more capable camera.
The Edge has a bigger screen, which a lot of people prefer (I don’t), with a higher refresh rate that’s faster than the 6’s 90Hz panel. For my money, the Pixel 6 seems like a gamble safer. You might even save a little cash and go for the Pixel 6A, which also features Tensor, a rugged IP67 rating, and the same five-year software support as the Pixel 6 for $450. Its screen is much smaller at 6.1 inches,
The OnePlus 10T is also in the game. It’s a bit more expensive at $649, but it gets you one of the best chipsets you’ll find on an Android phone: the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. There’s also blazingly fast 125W wired charging, which which might be worth the extra money for people. who need to recharge quickly during the day.
Overall, this device makes more sense than Motorola’s more expensive Edge Plus. The Plus just can’t hold on to high-end Android flagships, but the Edge fits more comfortably into the (sparsely populated) upper middle class. Provided you find the right price, it deserves a passing grade.
Photography by Allison Johnson/The Verge