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Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Not the one

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £350
inc VAT

Despite a couple of noteworthy features, the Motorola Edge 30 Neo fails to stand its ground in the cut-throat mid-range market


  • Vibrant, colour-accurate display
  • Excellent battery life
  • 68W fast charging


  • Underwhelming performance
  • Mostly mediocre cameras
  • Fewer years of updates

The Motorola Edge 30 Neo is one of three new devices added to the brand’s lineup, launching alongside the mid-range Edge 30 Fusion and the high-end Edge 30 Ultra. Despite being the affordable entry in the Edge 30 series, the Neo is no bargain handset, carrying some decent features across from its more expensive siblings.

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A couple of sacrifices have been made to keep the handset relatively affordable – in particular, performance is nothing to write home about – which puts it in jeopardy of drowning in this highly competitive section of the mid-range market.

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Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: What you need to know

Before we look at its rivals, let’s get a good overview of the Neo itself. Unlike the Edge 30 Fusion and Ultra, the Neo only comes in one version, offering 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Keeping the lights on is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G processor, and there’s a 120Hz pOLED display on the front. On the back, you’ve got a dual camera array, led by a 64MP main lens.

Out of the box, the Neo runs a relatively clean version of Android 12, so you won’t be weighed down with gaudy layouts and excessive bloatware. The sharper edge to this sword is that Motorola is only committing to two years of software updates and three years of security updates for the Neo, whereas the other members of the Edge 30 family are getting three years of OS updates and four years of security.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Price and competition

The Motorola Edge 30 Neo costs £350, which places it in the highly competitive lower end of the mid-range market. Our current favourite at this price is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, which offers a larger 6.43in display (albeit one that refreshes at a lower rate of 90Hz) and a beefier 4,500mAh battery for a cheaper price of £299.

Also coming in cheaper than the Edge 30 Neo is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G (currently £309), which, like the OnePlus, packs a bigger screen and battery, as well as a hefty 108MP main camera.

At the other end of the scale is the Xiaomi Poco F4, which costs just a little more than the Edge 30 Neo, at £379. The extra few pounds net you a more powerful Snapdragon 870 processor, outstanding gaming performance and 4K video capture at 60fps.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Design and key features

The Edge 30 Neo is available in four colours: Titanium Black, Aqua Foam green, the silver Ice Palace and Very Peri purple (reviewed here). The latter is currently sold out on Motorola’s website, but if it takes your fancy, Currys still has some in stock.

Whichever colour you choose, the Neo is suitably attractive, with a frosted plastic back that doesn’t feel quite as luxurious as glass, but at least manages to ward off greasy fingerprints. The dual camera module isn’t overly chunky, and the two-tone design pairs nicely with the rear panel, especially in the purple and green colours.

Less cohesive is the Pantone colour swatch near the bottom, highlighting that these shades were developed in partnership with the brand – it’s not excessively garish and would be covered by a case, but some may find this a bit tacky.

The full edge-light notification system used in other Edge 30 devices is absent here, relegated instead to the rim of the camera module, which illuminates to notify incoming messages, phone calls, alarms and more. While this is more interesting than a simple LED, it’s only really useful if you regularly leave your phone face down.

Unique to the Neo is the custom shortcut feature, which allows you to perform actions such as playing/pausing audio or launching a specific app by just double-tapping the back of the phone. This worked pretty well in my tests, even through the thin plastic case Motorola provides with the phone.

The front doesn’t feature the same curved edges as the other members of the Edge 30 family, with thin bezels surrounding the 6.28in screen meeting the sides in rather blunt corners. On a thicker phone, this might look too bulky, but at 7.8mm, the Neo is thin enough to get away with it. It also weighs just 155g, so is very easy to use one-handed. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD support, but the fingerprint reader and selfie camera are both neatly situated underneath the display.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Display

The display itself is easily one of the Moto Edge 30 Neo’s greatest strengths, as tends to be the case with phones in this price bracket. The pOLED panel has a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+) and refreshes at a silky smooth 120Hz. As expected with OLEDs, contrast is essentially perfect here, and the peak brightness of 470cd/m² I recorded is on the better end of the scale as well.

There are two colour modes to choose from, and while the default Saturated profile makes a good first impression with its bright and vibrant colours, purists will want to swap over to the Natural mode, which produced more accurate colours. On this setting, I recorded an sRGB gamut of 94% and a volume of 94.3%, with an average Delta E of 1.42, which is rather good for a phone that costs this little.

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Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Performance and battery life

While the display is a thing of beauty, the cracks begin to show when we turn our attention to the internal components. The octa-core Snapdragon 695 5G processor achieved similar single-core benchmark results to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, which isn’t a good look considering they’re both closer to the £300 mark.

Even worse are the multicore scores, where the Neo falls 11% and 17% behind the Redmi and the Nord respectively. You only need to look at the results for the Xiaomi Poco F4 to see what kind of performance leap you can get for less than £30 more, with gains of over 70% in multicore processing.

The same disparities hold true when we look at GPU performance. The Poco F4 pulling leagues ahead makes sense, as it is the most expensive of the four, but the Nord’s lead of nearly 30% over the Neo in the off-screen benchmark continues to paint a fairly negative picture.

Battery life, at least, sees the Edge 30 Neo put in a good performance, lasting over 21 hours in our video rundown test. The Nord CE 2 5G continues to outshine the competition, reaching beyond 24 hours, but neither of the Xiaomi models made it over 20 hours, so the Neo is still sitting pretty here.

Once depleted, the 68W fast charger can take the battery to 50% in around 12 minutes, and on to full in less than 40 minutes. This is pretty much identical to both the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and the Xiaomi Poco F4, and just a hair faster than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11.

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Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Cameras

Unlike a lot of phones in this price bracket, the Motorola Edge 30 Neo comes with only two cameras, with the secondary ultrawide lens also folding in macro duties. The main camera is a 64MP (f/1.8) number and it does rather well – in decent lighting conditions, at least. Sun-bathed images have enough colour and detail, with some contrast adding a bit of depth.

This is helped along by an effective HDR mode, which you can see in the image below adding greater contrast to the branches and hedgerows without washing out the cloudy sky. It does, however, come at the expense of definition in the finer details of the leaves, with the colours somewhat smudging together.

While direct light yields decent results, step into the darkness and it’s a different story. The colour representation and detail drops substantially, and while the final image isn’t particularly bad, it’s not the best you can get for this price.

The 13MP ultrawide camera still doesn’t feel like much of a worthwhile inclusion, either. It expands the frame well enough, but it completely smooths out the detail in areas like brickwork and washes out a great deal of the colour as well.

As predicted, the lack of a dedicated macro lens doesn’t feel like much of a loss. The resulting image isn’t any worse than those from other macro cameras I’ve tested in this price range, though you do get the same lack of colour and softening of contrast that you see in the ultrawide images.

Rounding out the camera suite is an adequate portrait mode, establishing a decent enough outline around the subject but struggling with fine hair. While rivals such as the Poco F4 offer 4K at 60fps, video capture here is limited to 1080p at 60fps and slow-mo footage at 120fps. The quality is decent enough, but the stabilisation is only compatible with the 30fps setting, and even then there was noticeable shaking.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: Verdict

While there are a couple of key areas in which the Neo really succeeds, a nice display and decent battery life aren’t quite enough to keep Moto’s head above water in this crowded section of the market.

The unimpressive performance and middling camera suite paired with the prospect of limited updates really weigh the Neo down, to a point where it’s impossible to recommend it over other handsets in this price range.

If you can stretch your budget a little further, the Xiaomi Poco F4 is a better all-rounder, in spite of its slightly shorter battery life. Otherwise, save yourself a few quid and go for the cheaper OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, which outclasses the Neo in pretty much every way.

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