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Motorola Edge 20 review: A lot to like

Sean Cameron
6 May 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
348
inc VAT

Excelling in a number of areas, the Motorola Edge 20 is a wonderfully well-formed mid-range handset

Pros 
Great screen
Versatile camera system
Solid performance
Cons 
Mono speaker
No IP rating
Can be hard to use one-handed
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With the Edge line, Motorola has sought to redefine its image over the past two years or so. Where it had primarily been associated with its budget G-series smartphones for some time, the brand is trying to reclaim a little of the magic of its old mid-range and flagship stomping grounds.

Its attempts to do so have been defined by the experimental nature of its parent company, Lenovo. Each entry in the Edge line has launched with an unusual feature, a USP to set it apart from the rest, but the Motorola Edge 20 is something of an exception.

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Motorola Edge 20 review: What you need to know

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have much going for it. With a 3x telephoto zoom, 108MP main camera, ReadyFor desktop-like connectivity and a 144Hz AMOLED display, it’s certainly well equipped.

Inside, the Moto Edge 20 uses a Snapdragon 775G for processing duties, with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 4,000mAh battery with 30W fast charging. Android 12, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, is now available as a free update, too.

Motorola Edge 20 review: Price and competition

The Moto Edge 20 has dropped in price slightly since release, and now costs around £350, a saving of £80 on the original launch price.

There’s plenty of competition at this price. Our favourite mid-range handset at the time of writing is the Realme 9 Pro Plus, which for £349 gets you a 90Hz AMOLED display, triple-camera array and a proper 24-hour battery life courtesy of a larger 4,500mAh battery.

Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy A33 5G, which offers an even bigger 5,000mAh battery, an Exynos 2100 chipset and a superb selection of cameras for just £329.

READ NEXT: The best mid-range smartphones

Motorola Edge 20 review: Design and key features

If there’s one design quirk that has been lost in the past few years, it’s the emphasis on thinness. Though smartphones haven’t been getting chunkier with annual iterations, there hasn’t quite been the focus on producing razor-thin handhelds that there was previously.

Within this context, at 7mm the Moto Edge 20 feels positively anachronistic. As a consequence, its surfboard-sized dimensions are a little easier to swallow, though one-handed use still remains difficult, thanks to a chunky width of 76mm. This isn’t the phone for you if you’re the kind of person who likes to type on the go, phone in one hand, shopping bag in the other, that’s for sure.

Besides the Gorilla Glass-topped front, the handset is constructed entirely of plastic and, given that its weight is a mere 168g, it can feel slightly insubstantial as a consequence. Luckily, build quality is solid, and the device betrays no squeaks or flexing under pressure. Its plastic construction doesn’t feel quite as premium as some rivals, but it also feels less fragile as a consequence.

There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, which is unfortunate, and the device uses only a single mono-speaker for music output, lacking any semblance of oomph. A side-mounted fingerprint reader on the right edge worked well in everyday use, with the clear caveat that it isn’t the best option for left-handed users.

Another downside is that the Edge 20 only has a “splash-proof coating”, as opposed to full IP-rated waterproofing. It will survive drizzle, but it won’t last long being submerged in a pint glass.

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Motorola Edge 20 review: Display

The Moto Edge 20’s screen is absolutely huge. Measuring 6.7in from corner to corner, this is a 1080p OLED number, with a generous screen-to-body ratio of 89% and support for HDR 10+ content.

Decoding the above, this means that first, as an OLED panel, the screen has infinite contrast and great colour reproduction. In the Natural display mode, the phone covered 92.8% of the sRGB colour space, with a total volume of 93.9% and an average Delta E of 1.43 – that’s very good, in short terms.

The display also gets plenty bright, reaching 530cd/m² in auto mode, and peaking at 605cd/m² during HDR playback. A maximum refresh rate of 144Hz keeps everything from social scrolling to playing games feeling very smooth in operation, too.

Motorola Edge 20 review: Performance and battery life

Of course, a smartphone is much more than just a screen, and equally important are the guts and internals that dictate the experience of everyday usage.

To that end, there’s a lot to like here. The Motorola Edge 20 is equipped with a 5G-capable Snapdragon 778G processor, paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, although sadly there isn’t space in the phone’s dual-SIM card tray to expand this via microSD.

In our benchmarks, the Moto Edge 20 scored 662 and 2,596 in in the single- and multicore Geekbench 5 tests, which means it offers faster CPU performance than all of its rivals, including our current mid-range favourite, the Realme 9 Pro Plus.

It’s also a bit of a monster in the GFXBench Manhattan 3 gaming benchmark. Pushing out an average frame rate of 68fps in the onscreen test, and 77fps in off-screen, it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase if gaming is a big priority.

The story of battery life, happily, is similarly positive. Though it “only” has a 4,000mAh battery, I found that the Moto Edge 20 was always able to make it through a full day even with heavy use. On our best day we achieved a screen-on time of seven hours, with a mix of messaging, calls, satnav use and picture snapping across a 16-hour day.

These results were borne out in the Expert Reviews battery test, where the Edge 20 scored a respectable 19hrs 4mins, which is pretty darn good. The 30W charging isn’t the speediest, however, only managing 62% from empty in just over 30 minutes using the supplied USB-C charger.

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Motorola Edge 20 review: Software

From a software perspective, the Moto Edge 20 runs the standard Moto package, which is to say a relatively light skin of Android 12 with some motion gestures and additional apps included. These are mostly helpful, in particular the double karate chop to activate the torch.

The Moto take on Android adds a little personality without going over the top and is generally a welcome inclusion. The ReadyFor software is interesting and useful, too, in particular the ability for the device to function as a webcam for your laptop.

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Motorola Edge 20 review: Cameras

The age of abundant megapixels is truly upon us, and is exemplified by the Moto Edge 20. Of its four sensors, it has a 108MP main effort, a 16MP ultrawide snapper, an 8MP 3x telephoto and a 32MP selfie shooter.

Of course, high megapixel counts are no guarantee of quality, but the Moto Edge 20 mostly delivers in this respect.

Images from the main sensor have enough detail and plenty of saturation, which is also true of images from the ultrawide and telephoto lenses. What all of them share is a tendency to oversharpen their output, however, and they also sometimes find difficulty with complex patterns (such as foliage) and overbrighten images. The latter can leave photos from the Edge 20 seeming a little flat, as there’s a bit too much HDR applied, removing contrast for the sake of overall brightness.

There’s also a general problem with dynamic range. Most scenes will present little issue, but the likes of a sunset are a serious challenge for the Moto. Performance in low light also leaves much to be desired. Although the night mode helps to improve brightness and detail, there’s quite a lot of visual grain.

The real strength of the Moto Edge 20 from a photography perspective isn’t its total image quality, but its versatility. While most mid-rangers make do with a decent main sensor and a piddling ultrawide, the Moto commits to providing a suite usually seen only at the high end. As such, for the price it’s a good option for photography enthusiasts.

READ NEXT: The best phone cameras available

Motorola Edge 20 review: Verdict

The Moto Edge line is all about experimentation, whether that’s in design, software or otherwise, with each entry looking to bring something different to the table. In the Moto Edge 20, however, we have a device with no single USP, but one that’s instead exceptionally well rounded.

With a versatile camera system, a good screen, strong battery life, decent performance and pleasant software, the Moto Edge 20 is a great pick for most people, and earns our recommendation.

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