The Edge 30 Ultra is a triumphant flagship return for Motorola and a serious challenger to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Outstanding battery life and fast charging (125W charger included)
- Exceptional performance
- Dazzling display
- Cameras could be better
- Low IP rating
- Slight dimming on curved edges
It’s been a while since Motorola launched a truly exceptional flagship phone, which makes the Edge 30 Ultra one of the biggest and best surprises of 2022. With blistering performance, a gigantic 144Hz display and some of the best battery life in the business, this sleeper hit is primed to undercut the most popular and powerful flagship phones on the market as we enter the new year.
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A few minor issues hold it back from being a bonafide masterpiece, but these pale in comparison to just how much the Edge 30 Ultra gets right. It’s not just the best Motorola phone we’ve seen in a long time, this is easily the best value flagship you can get right now.
The brand hasn’t forgotten its flagship roots, however, launching the Edge 30 Ultra alongside the mid-range Edge 30 Fusion and more budget-friendly Edge 30 Neo, but the latter pair can’t help but feel like supporting acts when the star shines this brightly.
Quite literally in this case, with the Edge 30 Ultra’s vibrant 6.67in FHD+ OLED display offering a buttery smooth 144Hz refresh rate alongside terrific brightness and colour reproduction. A 60MP selfie camera sits in a central hole punch notch, with the rear array comprising a massive 200MP main lens, as well as 12MP 2x telephoto and 50MP ultrawide sensors. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor keeps all this running, backed by a generous 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
On the power front, you’ve got a 4,610mAh battery that can either be juiced up via 50W wireless charging or the lightning-quick 125W fast charger provided in the box. To top it all off, there’s also 10W reverse charging, allowing you to use the Edge 30 Ultra as a power bank to wirelessly charge other compatible devices in a pinch.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Price and competition
The Edge 30 Ultra costs £750, which is a lot of money, but still relatively cheap if you’re talking about flagship phones. There are some entry-level models in this price range, but none of them hold a candle to the Edge 30 Ultra. It’s a credit to Motorola that even the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra failed to fully surpass the Edge 30 Ultra in our suite of tests, despite retailing for nearly £400 more – and that model only offers 128GB of storage space.
The nearest flagship competition comes from the Google Pixel 7 Pro (starting at £849) and the Apple iPhone 14 (also £849). The Pixel has a superior set of cameras, but like the S22 Ultra, it can’t keep up with the performance and battery life of the Edge 30 Ultra. The iPhone fares better in that regard, but the display is a smaller 6.1in number and only refreshes at 60Hz, compared to the Edge 30 Ultra’s peak of 144Hz.
Design-wise, the closest competitor to the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra is the Xiaomi 12T Pro. Xiaomi’s flagship is a little cheaper at £699, but offers a lot of the same features, including a 200MP main camera, Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor and speedy 120W fast charging. The 12T Pro doesn’t offer a telephoto camera or wireless charging, however.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Design and key features
Unlike the Edge 30 Neo and 30 Fusion, the Ultra is only available in one colour: Interstellar Black. Rather than a slab of monotonous darkness, the rear panel at least adds some sparkle with a frosted effect that doesn’t look dissimilar to a night sky full of stars. This expanse is broken up by the rather chunky three-tier camera module in the top left, which stands out all the more due to the main body being relatively slim, measuring just 8.4mm from front to back.
The phone is sandwiched between protective layers of Gorilla Glass 5, which works with the aluminium frame to deliver a build that feels both premium and hardy. It’s also rated IP52 for weatherproofing, which is a bit of a shame when you consider cheaper phones like the IP67-rated Google Pixel 6a can survive more of a beating.
The 6.67in display curves elegantly into the edges on the left and right, with slim bezels at the top and bottom. Really hammering home the name, these sloped edges also serve as a notification system, lighting up for alarms, calls or messages.
The 60MP selfie camera sits in a central hole punch, and an under-screen optical fingerprint scanner can also be used for secure unlocks and NFC payments. The power and volume buttons are situated on the right edge, with a pair of stereo speakers on the top and bottom. There’s no 3.5mm jack here, and though dual SIM is supported, the SIM tray doesn’t have space for a microSD card.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Display
The beauty of the design carries over to the display, with the 6.67in OLED panel incorporating a 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution with HDR10+ support and a lightning-quick 144Hz refresh rate. You usually only see this with more niche gaming handsets, so its inclusion is a bit surprising here, but a welcome one nonetheless.
The contrast and black level are effectively perfect, as is traditional with OLED screens, and while the peak brightness of 476cd/m2 isn’t the best we’ve tested, it’s still high enough to be used in direct sunlight. The only caveat here is that the display dims as it curves off to the edges, which results in slight shadows to the left and right of the screen.
There are two colour modes to choose from, with the saturated setting offering bombastic colours to those who prefer vibrant images, and the natural mode catering to purists who like their colours as accurate as possible. On the latter setting, I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 97.4% and a volume of 100.2%, which translates to a broad range of colours reproduced with superb accuracy.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Performance and battery life
Keeping the lights on behind that beautiful display is a top-tier 3.19GHz Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, backed up by 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. Though its successor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, has now been announced, this is still the most powerful processor used widely in smartphones right now, and the results of our CPU testing certainly confirm this.
Both the iPhone 14 and Xiaomi 12T Pro achieved similar multi-core scores, with the iPhone exceeding the Edge 30 Ultra in the single-core results, but the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Google Pixel 7 Pro were both left in the dust here. The Edge 30 Ultra pulled a comfortable 11% ahead of Samsung’s flagship in the multi-core test, and managed a whopping 25% lead over the Pixel.
The Edge 30 Ultra also blew away most of the competition in the GPU comparison tests, with the Xiaomi 12T Pro being the only challenger to achieve comparable results – this is no surprise, as the pair use near-identical internal components. In practice, the Ultra handily dealt with everything I threw at it, so no matter if your mobile gaming aspirations fall closer to Candy Crush or Call of Duty Mobile, you’ll be in for a smooth and stable ride here.
Rounding out the trilogy of impressive test results is the battery life, with the Edge 30 Ultra lasting for an outstanding 25hrs and 9mins before switching off. This stretches a good two hours further than the nearest competitor, the iPhone 14, and comfortably joins our best phone battery life list. Once depleted, fast charging via the provided 125W charger can bring the battery up to 50% in just nine minutes, and on to full in 20 minutes.
Motorola’s handsets generally offer a clean installation of Android, and the Edge 30 Ultra is no different. The Android 12 OS employed here is straightforward and user-friendly, with no tacky layouts to navigate or endless bloatware to sift through and delete. What’s more is that Motorola has confirmed that the Edge 30 Ultra will receive three years of software updates, taking it all the way up to Android 15, as well as four years of security updates.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Cameras
Surprisingly, given that it’s one of the banner features, the Edge 30 Ultra’s 200MP camera didn’t end up standing out. This is partly due to the other specifications being such surprising successes, and partly because the cameras, while good, aren’t really anything special. The main lens is competent enough in good light, producing bright, vibrant images with a decent amount of detail.
A lot of that colour and detail manages to stick around in low-light conditions too, but the artificial brightening struggles with particularly shadowy areas. You can improve the exposure by enabling the HDR mode, but this lifting of the brightness comes at the expense of contrast, with a lot of detail lost in the long grass in the image below.
The secondary lens handles ultrawide and macro shots, and is more effective with what it sets out to do, managing to maintain colour and contrast, whether it’s broadening the scope or focusing in on a subject. The only criticism with macro shots is that the blurred background is noisier than I’d like to see on a phone at this price.
As if to prove that more megapixels don’t automatically equate to a better camera, the 12MP telephoto lens is the one I had the least issue with. The 2x optical zoom maintains plenty of contrast in the branches and though some of the leaves do bleed together, there’s enough detail in there for the zoom shot to be worth taking.
8K video recording is also offered here and this is capped at 30fps. 4K recording, on the other hand, does reach 60fps, so you can choose to trade off resolution for framerate. Whichever you choose, video is richly detailed, with optical image stabilisation employed to keep panning relatively smooth.
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Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review: Verdict
The Edge 30 Ultra’s cameras might not be the show-stoppers that Motorola may have wanted them to be, but it’s hard to look upon them too disfavourably when the whole package is this much of a success. Performance easily keeps up with phones that cost several hundreds more, the battery will see you comfortably into a second day of use and even when it does run out, the blisteringly fast charging will have it back to full in no time at all.
If you fancy yourself a photographer, you may be better served spending an extra £100 and getting the Google Pixel 7 Pro – the cameras are outstanding, and the rest of the package is competitive for the price. Otherwise, the Edge 30 Ultra is the only place you need to look for a powerful and affordable flagship phone. It’s a hell of a comeback for Motorola and should have the market’s heavy hitters quaking in their boots for 2023.