REVIEW $899 Motorola Edge 20 Pro, An Affordable Premium Smartphone
I have just reviewed the new $899 Motorola Edge 20 Pro a smartphone that is a critical product for Motorola as it’s the best smartphone that the US Company has delivered in this market for some time.
The combination of the Chinese owned Lenovo who are #1 in PC’s globally and Motorola whose products are designed in the USA shows through in this device which is extremely light, and well-designed, but the big question is does it stack up all round?
When one reviews a lot of Android smartphones, you can become quite numb to the repetition found in devices especially ones that slap a brand name on a device, throw in an Android OS and a 4G or 5G chipset, then gets some factory in Asia to manufacture the device.
I personally lump brands such as Realme, Nokia which is owned by HMD Global and the likes of Vivo into this characterisation.
So where does Motorola sit in this scenario?
It appears, they have finally accepted that to be successful again they not only need a premium device such as their new Motorola Edge 20 Pro, but they also need a product range in particular one that stands them out from the rat pack of brands they have to sit alongside on retailer’s shelves.
This device is not just a smartphone, it also doubles as a PC similar to a $2K + Samsung device that comes with with DEX technology built in.
There was a time when Motorola were #1 in Australia with the Motorola Razr, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they could get back into the top three, but to do this they not only have to have a great product range they have to invest in marketing to rebuild the brand.
One of their key competitors will be TCL who like Motorola are a global brand that’s already #2 in TV’s worldwide.
Retailers don’t build brands they sell products which a lot of brands such as Nokia have forgotten.
Motorola could have ended up as a yesterday brand expect for the fact that their owners Lenovo were determined to deliver a brand that today, is a serious contender to take the #3 slot in the market despite challenges from Chinese brands such as Oppo, TCL Realme and Vivo.
Today, all R&D for Motorola devices is conducted in Chicago in the USA, and it shows with the new Edge 20 Pro which is up there with some of the best smartphones out there despite It’s cheap $895 price tag.
The Edge 20 Pro is a premium device that has the pedigree to compete with devices that are significantly more expensive, this time round you can see clearly that management have taken the view that they need a device that not only has some pedigree but delivers when it comes to overall design display screen and their new camera.
At $899 this device has a lot going for which is not immediately obvious when you initially pick it up.
Alongside the $1,949 Samsung S20 Ultra, you immediately notice a difference, the Moto offering is lighter and thinner despite having a similar sized display.
The Samsung S20 Ultra weighs in at 228 grams while the Motorola is just 184g which is very noticeable when being used.
What you get is high-end tech for a mid-range price along with an excellent camera and above all a display that is up there with the best that Apple have in their overpriced iPhones.
The 5X optical zoom and the simplicity of the camera management system are a big plus especially as you can zoom right in however you do lose image quality and its hard to get a good sharp image without a tripod.
As for design the device looks good but at the end of the day most people walk around with their device in a cover, and this is a good option for the Moto 20 Pro because it has a curved glass back and the device is only 8mm thick.
A weakness is the lack of cover accessories.
One of the big features is the 6.7in OLED display which has a 144Hz maximum refresh rate which for gamers is a cracker display. The Samsung S20 Ultra is 120Hz.
Whether you’re watching a video reading a news page or reading emails the display is crystal clear, and sharp, contrast is also good.
When you activate this device for the first time, you get a full suite of Android 11 software activated.
One really irritating feature is the amount, of times that one is prompted to accept or reject the delivery of marketing material or the acceptance of third-party advertising from the likes of Motorola and Google.
You are given options as to which launcher you want to use, one is a Microsoft launcher, and this is a real problematic piece of software.
I strongly suggest that you use the Motorola launcher. When I first loaded my device the text to the screen is very small.
All you have to do is go to the settings type in display text and when you scroll down the page, you can adjust the text display.
Another plus is the location of the Google Assistant button on the left side of the device. It’s actually located in a position that you are not going to accidently press unlike the top right-hand button on the Samsung S20 which constantly tries to take one to Bixby the world’s worst voice activation feature.The Edge 20 Pro uses a Snapdragon 870 chip, which is on paper 10% slower than the 888 processor.
For me this was not noticeable and is a bit like a V6 Vs a V8 engine, yes one is quicker but not necessarily going to get you somewhere any faster.
This is good solid chipset that delivers on all fronts including when you are processing large file downloads or when streaming a video over a 5G network.
As for battery this device has a 4500mAh battery this is down on the 5,000mh battery of previous models due to the Edge 20 being thinner and lighter.
I got almost two days life out of the device without having to recharge.
As for the Camera and the 5X Zoom this design and feature set delivers if you want simplicity when shooting.
I chose to do one lot of my test shots late in the day as the sun was setting. The results below show how good this camera is.
The 5X zoom is achieved with a simple press of a button located on the image view display.
When you switch to 5x, you don’t just get what seems like a cropped you get to pick and choose a view turning the Edge Pro into a versatile tool.
The Edge 20 Pro’s zoom lens feeds data direct to the sensor and what I suspect is that the Ai is kicking in with the fusion sensor when an image is being shot especially when you have an up-close image such as a tree and water in the background with the camera struggling to handle where the central focus needs to be.
If a camera is important to you, I suggest that you splash out the cash for the Motorola Edge 20 Pro.
Built into this device is a standard 1x cam, powered by a 108MP Samsung sensor, alongside a 16MP ultra-wide that is really good as these images below show.
Below are some wide and standard shot images taken with the Motorola Edge 20 Pro
When I moved to the Motorola Edge 20 Fusion camera there appears to be a problem in colour saturation with the colour changing between normal and 5X zoom as these images show. This was not present with the 20 Pro camera.
The water colour is different as seen in the below image.
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro can shoot footage at up to 8K resolution; however, I suggest that you stick to 4K as it chews up data and to get the best at 8K you are going to need stabilisation and that means using a tripod.
that I did find valuable was the inbuilt Ready For operating system which in a sub $1K smartphone delivers a lot of capability.
Ready activates when you plug your device into a computer monitor, TV, or any other HDMI-compatible screen, I used my normal charging cable plugged unto a USB-C port on my notebook.
Similar to what Samsung has with their DEX technology I found the multitasking mode useful when I wanted to do a video call and transfer large video images.
It basically allows your smartphone to become a productivity tool you can send emails open Office 365 with everything viewable on a larger display.
You can also open multiple apps, what I did was connect my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to my Moto smartphone leaving my Edge Pro 20 on the desk. It was easy and highly functional and if you really want you can turn the Moto device into a trackpad which is ideal for gaming.
Finally, the audio output when streaming content is as good, as some of the more expensive devices.
I used both headphones and buds and the device delivered with both.
Let’s cut to the chase, is this 5G device worth $899, the answer is yes.
It’s really well designed, light and packed with a lot of functionality.
The one standout is simplicity and the way that content is displayed, to getting access to apps and the way in which one is able to navigate around the OS.
As for the display it’s up there with the best out there and that includes $2K+ Apple devices. The battery life is good and the inclusion of Ready For technology adds a new level of capability to this sub $900 device.
The set up is irritating with both Motorola and Google pitching to get your permission to send users marketing material.
I would have also liked to have seen an add to capability this is a neat feature when you have set up specific folders and want to easily add apps.
This is a big plus with a Samsung device and should be a simple feature to add to the Motorola Edge range.
And because I drop devices I would have liked to have had access to a range of cover accessories instead of a free clear plastic cover in the box.