Motorola Edge+ hands-on preview: Ready to take on Samsung and Apple

Motorola Edge Plus Hands On
Motorola Edge Plus Hands On (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

It's been a long time since I was genuinely excited about a new Motorola phone. The company's Moto G and Motorola One handsets have done an excellent job of providing quality Android experiences at low price points, but as with any budget smartphone, they aren't designed to be overly interesting or jaw-dropping.

The last time I felt that sort of excitement was for the 2nd-gen Moto X. I think a lot of people would agree that it was the last real "flagship" from the company, with subsequent devices since then focusing on low price points or gimmicky modular attachments.

It's now 2020, though, and Motorola is ready to release another device that it thinks is worthy of its grand re-entrance into the Android flagship market. It's called the Motorola Edge+, and I had a chance to go hands-on with it back in February at Motorola's headquarters in Chicago.

The Edge+ is a phone unlike anything else we've seen from the company in recent years, and in a lot of ways, has me excited once again about a new release from Motorola. That said, there's a pretty big roadblock you'll need to overcome if you're interested in owning the Edge+ for yourself.

Motorola Edge Plus Hands On

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

As hinted at by the name of the phone, one of the biggest draws to the Motorola Edge+ is its "Endless Edge" display. The left and right edges of the display are curved over the sides, making it look like the glass seamlessly flows off both ends. Not only is it very aesthetically pleasing, but Motorola is also adding some neat functionality to those drastic curves. You can tap on the side to bring up a quick shortcut of favorite apps, you'll get two extra virtual buttons for supported games, etc. Alternatively, if you don't like curved displays on your phone, Motorola gives you the option to disable the edges entirely and only use the front, non-curved part of the screen.

The curved display both looks gorgeous and packs in extra utility.

On the technical side of things, we're dealing with a 6.7-inch OLED panel with a Full HD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. The screen looks very good and animations are buttery smooth, but I can't help but think a phone of this caliber would have been better suited with a Quad HD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.

Accompanying the display is a set of stereo speakers, with Motorola touting this as the "loudest, clearest, most powerful stereo sound" available on a smartphone. I didn't get much time to put the speakers through their paces, but early impressions are positive. Also, for those times when you'd rather keep your music/podcasts to yourself, there's Bluetooth 5.1 and a good old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack.

Motorola Edge Plus Hands On

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In addition to the curved display, another big marketing sell for the Edge+ is its camera setup.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryMotorola Edge+
Operating SystemAndroid 10
Display6.7-inch OLEDFull HD+90Hz refresh rate
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 865
Storage256GB UFS 3.0
Rear Camera 1108MP primary cameraf/1.8OIS
Rear Camera 216MP ultra-wide & Macro Vision cameraf/2.2117-degree field-of-view
Rear Camera 38MPf/2.43x optical zoomOIS
Rear Camera 4Time-of-flight sensor
Front Camera25MPf/2.0
Battery5,000 mAh
Charging18W wired charging15W wireless charging5W wireless power sharing
Dimensions161.07 x 71.38 x 9.6mm

The Motorola Edge+ is equipped with a total of three cameras and a time-of-flight sensor, including a 108MP primary camera, a 16MP sensor that doubles as an ultra-wide camera and Macro Vision camera, and an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom.

You can take pictures at the full 108MP resolution if you wish, but as with any camera with a megapixel count that high, you'll likely have a hard time shooting in low-light scenarios. To account for this, the Edge+ defaults to 27MP shots with that primary camera using Quad Pixel Technology (aka pixel binning). If you're recording video, you also have the ability to take 20MP still shots without interrupting your video.

Speaking of which, the Edge+ supports 6K recording at 30fps, in addition to Full HD at 60fps and 120fps slow-motion in Full HD. It's true that the Snapdragon 865 processor powering the Edge+ supports recording up to 8K, but Motorola says it "didn't feel the need to go up to 8K."

Paired with that Snapdragon 865 is 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM for fast and smooth performance, along with 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Making sure you can take advantage of that horsepower without having to charge up all the time is a 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims allows the Edge+ to work for up to two days on a single charge.

When it does come time to charge up, you'll be using 18W wired charging. That's not awful, but it is considerably slower than the 25W charging on the Galaxy S20 and 30W you get with the OnePlus 8 Pro. If you don't like messing with wires, the Motorola Edge+ also features 15W wireless charging and 5W wireless power-sharing (aka being able to place another Qi-compatible device on the back of the Edge+ and use it as a makeshift portable charger).

Rounding out the Motorola Edge+, we have its software. The phone ships with Android 10, and like other Moto devices, has a very clean and stock-like UI with minimal customizations from Motorola. Goodies like Moto Actions and Moto Display are still here, as is the new Moto Gametime feature that debuted on the Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power.

Motorola My UX

Source: Motorola (Image credit: Source: Motorola)

For the first time ever, Motorola's also offering a new software customization suite called "My UX." My UX is debuting on the Motorola Edge+, and it gives you out-of-the-box controls for changing things like the phone's app icons, accent colors, font, and more.

Motorola's software has always been some of the best out there, but that only really applies for your first year or so of ownership. Just like with its Moto G lineup of phones, Motorola only promises one major OS upgrade for the Edge+ with the chance that it'll get additional updates beyond that.

Motorola's update policy was already weak for phones that cost $300 - $250, but for a phone that's as costly as the Edge+ to only have Android 11 guaranteed (and anything beyond that left up in the air) is insane. It's true that not everyone cares about software updates, but when you're buying a flagship phone, you should be able to expect a premium tier of software update support.

Outside of the software woes, there's also the matter of price and availability — and this is where that roadblock comes into play. The Motorola Edge+ is a Verizon Wireless exclusive in the United States with no option to buy the phone unlocked.

Being a Verizon exclusive will greatly limit who can actually buy the Edge+, and that's a shame.

Carrier exclusivity deals are ridiculous to have in 2020, but there's one aspect of the Motorola Edge+ we haven't talked about that plays a big role in this decision — 5G. Motorola is hailing the Edge+ as the fastest 5G phone on the planet, capable of pulling 4Gbps download speeds on Verizon's mmWave 5G network.

Those are very impressive speeds, but as with any phone that utilizes mmWave networks, your chances of actually getting them in real-world use depends on you being in the exact right spot to a 5G node, not having anything blocking it, and a bit of luck. Especially now in a time where you should only leave your home if you absolutely need to, the allure to mmWave 5G is harder to justify than normal.

If you are a Verizon customer or don't mind switching to the carrier, you can buy a Motorola Edge+ for yourself starting May 14 for $999.99 or $41.67/month.

Motorola Edge Plus Hands On

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

My thoughts on the Motorola Edge+ are very mixed right now. On one hand, Motorola has crafted a very powerful and good-looking smartphone that's leaps and bounds more interesting (at least to me) than any Moto G phone that's come out before it. Motorola had a goal to get back to making flagship Android phones, and it succeeded with the Edge+.

However, just because the Edge+ is a flagship phone doesn't mean it earns an instant recommendation. In fact, there's a lot working against the Edge+. Its Full HD 90Hz display isn't as technically impressive as other similarly-priced phones, Motorola's update policy leaves a lot to be desired, and there's the Verizon exclusivity deal paired with that price tag just a penny shy of $1,000.

The Motorola flagship has returned, but whether or not you should go out and buy one remains to be seen. Our full review is coming soon, so be sure to stay tuned!

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.