Motorola finally remembered how to make good phones again

Hands-on with the Motorola Edge+ (2023) new frosted glass back
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

This time last year, I had completely given up on Motorola. The company that made my very first phone and provided plenty of great devices and memories along the way — Razr, Moto X, Moto Z, Moto 360, just to name a few — seemed to be completely devoid of the soul it once had. The company's budget phones were garbage, and even the flagship devices were overpriced and disappointing.

But last Fall, I saw the beginnings of change occurring. Just six months after I had given up all hope of the company making even a moderately decent phone, the Motorola Edge (2022) arrived. It wasn't the best phone of the year or anything — and it's not even the best phone in its price category — but it proved that Motorola was still working on worthwhile devices that could, one day, return it to its former greatness.

This year, the feeling not only lives on but has been given fresh vigor with the announcement of the Motorola Edge+ (2023) and a pair of new Moto G phones. Then, of course, there's the Motorola Rizr — one of the only rollable phones we've ever used — and rumors and teasers proving that the Razr is returning.

From what I can tell, Motorola is back, and it's about time!

No holds barred

Hands on with the Moto G Stylus (2023)

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

So far, the one lump of coal in Motorola's recent offerings seems to be the Moto G Play (2023). Everything else in the last nine months has been very good and, in particular, the ThinkPhone is the sleeper hit I've been waiting for.

As I said in the review, the phone does almost everything right from performance to battery life, a super high-quality MIL-spec build, a display that's actually friendly to PWM-sensitive folks like myself, clean software with great features, and four years of promised updates. The only thing I really could wish for to be better is the camera but it's really not half bad.

It's just a shame that the phone isn't seeing wider distribution through more consumer-focused channels since it's designed to be a business phone first.

ThinkPhone by Motorola on a Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 laptop

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Now, as we move into the second half of the year, Motorola is revamping its Moto G lineup in some seriously meaningful ways. No, neither of them has NFC (still) but I'm still not convinced that most people in the U.S. really care about that feature.

Motorola said that NFC was not included after "careful market research." That, and cost-cutting measures to ensure the G lineup meets the expected price tag. Based on the presentation we were given, it seems like Motorola has figured out exactly what customers at certain price points care about.

Motorola continues to grow, strengthening its #3 overall position in North America over the past two years.

Motorola has grown another 14% year-over-year, and, in North America, is the number two prepaid Android OEM and the number three overall OEM. Only Samsung and Apple phones are bought more often and there's even been a 27% increase in retention rate from December 2020 to December 2022.

Many of us in the tech sphere scoff at Motorola's paltry update offerings for many of its phones — until 2022 and 2023 when things improved — but customers don't seem to be too bothered by the same things we're bothered by.

What's next

Hands-on with the Moto G 5G

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Both the new Moto G Stylus (2023) and Moto G 5G (2023) will be available later this week, with the Edge+ (2023) debuting shortly after. Based on my brief hands-on with both devices, these seem like the budget phones we've wanted Motorola to make for a while.

Both have quality construction — for a $200 or so phone, of course. Both look seriously great. Just take a look at the gallery below of both phones, if you don't believe me.

It's a big, big step up from last year's really cheap-feeling options and Motorola even ditched the really bad MediaTek Helio processors for something with a bit more oomph this time around — that's both from MediaTek and Qualcomm, depending on the phone in question.

ThinkPhone aside, the Edge+ (2023) looks like the flagship I've wanted from Motorola for several years. Based on my time with it, this phone is almost identical to the Moto Edge 40 Pro that was released internationally, just with a bigger battery and a few new software features like Horizon Lock.

Normally, I'm not overly crazy about screens with curved edges but Motorola really took the "Edge" name literally with this phone. It's got not one, not two, not three, but four curved edges. If I had to compare it to something, I'd say it looks like a giant, elongated Apple Watch.

The back of the phone is also gorgeous and it has a sandblasted glass look to it, not unlike what OnePlus has done on some of its phones in the past. It's not really more grippy than normal shiny glass but it does add a slight bit of texture to the experience. Plus, unlike shiny glass, it's not a fingerprint magnet.

Sometime in the near future, we're expecting to see Motorola's Razr line return. The first two Razr foldable phones were cool and a nice throwback to the times when phones were simpler and had physical keyboards, but the overall software experience and performance left a bit to be desired.

Plus, we haven't seen a new Razr phone in the U.S. since 2020.

It feels like the old Motorola we used to love is finally back, and I couldn't be happier about it.

The latest leaks show a phone that looks more like a Galaxy Z Flip rather than the first two Razr reboots from a few years back, but that might not be a bad thing. If the renders are correct, that giant cover screen will give the OPPO Find N2 Flip a run for its money and very well could kick Samsung out of the top spot for the best foldable phones.

In summary, I'm extremely excited about what Motorola has coming soon and down the pike. It feels like the company is finally out of a lull period and back to the interesting, innovative one that put out the fully-customizable Moto X and the mod-happy Moto Z last decade.

And, as we always say, more competition is good, especially in an industry that's so often dominated by two big players.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
  • mustang7757
    They have to be better at software support or at least in the US
  • Jeffro Bodine
    Motorola will never be a player until they get their camera software processing right. And they just haven't shown that they know how to do that. Their cameras basically are trash.
  • mcgilcoli
    Cheap with a great battery -- works for me.
  • Kaitensatsuma
    Motorola is playing the lower-to-mid field and doing it well. Even the Motorola Play is a solid budget phone that will last you 3-4 years without making you regret your purchase or locking you into anything proprietary. All wins in my book.
  • belodion
    Invasive ads make it unreadable. I’ve no idea what the phone is like, though I went there to find out. 353193