Motorola Edge 20 Pro Review: Capable but Costly
There’s no denying that Motorola finds itself in a fiercely competitive market. With brands such as Xiaomi, Realme, and OnePlus throwing down increasingly impressive specs at affordable prices, we’ve all come to expect our phones to do more, and our wallets less. So when it comes to Motorola’s latest 5G flagship, the Edge 20 Pro, the bar is high.
Released alongside the budget Edge 20 Lite and mid-range Edge 20, the Edge 20 Pro sits at the top of the range with a price to match, at £649.99. It’s not available in the US, where just the Edge (2021) is on sale.
While it may not be apparent thanks to Motorola’s ever-confusing naming conventions, the Edge 20 Pro is a direct successor to last year’s Motorola Edge. The phones are significantly different, however.
Motorola culls some features while boosting specs in other places, resulting in a handset that headlines with a 144Hz OLED display (with HDR10+), a 108Mp main camera, and a 4500mAh battery.
Design & Build
- IP52 water resistance
The 6.7in Edge 20 Pro is slim, at 7.6mm, and fairly comfortable to hold at 190g, but it is a large phone – at least for my hands. This made one-handed use a bit unwieldy at times, but that certainly wasn’t a deterrent to enjoying the phone. I looked at the Midnight Sky variant, which offers a smooth 3D glass back in a matte, metallic blue finish.
While it is eye-catching, you’ll want to use a case to minimise fingerprints and to prevent slips as this phone really is very smooth. Thankfully, Motorola provides a clear case to get you started. The Edge 20 Pro also offers IP52 water resistance. So while it’s not waterproof, it can withstand a brief splash.
It’s easy to spot how radically different the design is compared to last year’s Edge. Gone is the curved Endless Edge display – which arguably gave the Edge a more premium look (and its name!). Also missing is the in-display fingerprint reader, something you’d expect on a flagship.
Motorola opts for a side-mounted reader instead, which doubles as the power button. I found the reader to be generally responsive, though it struggled if my thumb wasn’t placed squarely.
In spite of these omissions, the Edge 20 Pro still costs £100 more than the original Edge – but you can attribute this to improvements under the hood, which we’ll dive into later.
- 6.7in OLED display
- 144Hz refresh rate
- Full HD+
While the Edge 20 Pro shares the 6.7in OLED display with the original Edge, Motorola switches it up a bit this year. For one, the Endless Edge display of the original Edge is no more, which is a shame – as that really contributed to the premium look and feel of the device. Now you’ll even find a narrow bezel around the display.
Motorola compensates for this cutback by introducing a higher 144Hz refresh rate, however, up from the original Edge’s 90Hz.
You can switch to 60Hz if you prefer, or just let the phone choose for you with the Auto function which “uses AI to always show the optimum refresh rate”. I couldn’t see a massive difference between 144Hz and the Auto option, though leaving it on 144Hz will drain your battery faster.
The Edge 20 Pro’s screen itself is bright, and colours truly pop thanks to HDR10+ support. The display reaches a stunning maximum brightness of 1540nits, which is far more than you’ll ever need, but is nice to have if you’re out and about on a sunny day. Conversely, the display can dim to just 7nits – perfect for nighttime browsing!
The screen, despite being Gorilla Glass 5, doesn’t feel as cool and glassy as I expected – but images do look vivid making the phone especially suited to streaming videos and social media browsing.
Of course, the bright and colourful display on the Edge 20 Pro makes it great for gaming too. In fact, this seems to be Motorola’s real priority for this phone – as opposed to photography – as our benchmark tests revealed.
Specs & Performance
- Snapdragon 870 5G
- 12GB RAM
- 256GB storage
So how does the Edge 20 Pro actually perform? Surprisingly well – now that’s no slight to Motorola. My experience has been primarily with its budget G series, so performance on the Edge 20 was truly a breath of fresh air.
In my experience, the Edge 20 Pro was quick and responsive and was able to take almost anything I threw at it. I primarily used the phone to take pictures, browse social media, message friends, navigate the city, and watch videos: it was all smooth sailing.
The Edge 20 Pro excelled particularly in our gaming and graphics benchmarks, outdoing the OnePlus Nord 2 in practically all tests. The Edge 20 Pro hit a staggering 121fps in the GFX T-Rex graphics test too, outdoing the OnePlus 9 (from £629/US$729) which features the more powerful Snapdragon 888. You can thank the Adreno 650 GPU for that, a graphics chip you’ll also find on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 (from £950/$999).
With a vivid 144Hz display and strong graphics performance, it’s clear that Motorola has prioritised gaming in the Edge 20 Pro.
If you are after a gaming phone, you’ll just have to decide whether you’d want a phone that’s optimised for gaming, or invest in a dedicated gaming phone that can handle other things too, like the Asus ROG Phone 5 – the best gaming phone on the market.
Ports & Connectivity
Unlike the original Edge, you won’t find a 3.5mm headphone jack on the Edge 20 Pro, so you’ll have to rely on its Bluetooth 5.1 connection for headphone listening instead.
Otherwise, there’s a USB-C 3.1 port, used for both charging and for connecting to the Ready For adaptor which comes included (more on this later). With DisplayPort 1.4 support, the Ready For connector should support outputs of up to 8K at 60Hz.
The Edge 20 Pro is a dual-SIM phone with NFC support, dual-band Wi-Fi 6, and of course, 5G connectivity, which is a nice bit of future-proofing. Admittedly, you won’t find 5G networks everywhere, so if you’re not picky, don’t overlook capable 4G handsets like the Poco X3 Pro (from £229).
- 108Mp main camera
- 8Mp telephoto
- 16Mp telephoto
- 32Mp front camera
A 108Mp main snapper sounds impressive on paper, but how does it actually perform? Unfortunately, my thoughts here echo what I’ve said about other Motorola phones I’ve reviewed. It’s just okay. Not bad, not great.
First off, the 108Mp resolution doesn’t actually kick in on its own. You’ll have to dive into the settings to enable it. Bigger doesn’t automatically mean better though. Like most phones that tempt shoppers with a high megapixel count, the Edge 20 Pro’s pixel-binning crunches the final resolution down to 12Mp.
That should still allow great photography – as the iPhone 13 and Google Pixel 5 have shown, both of which offer 12Mp main cameras; but photos seem to lack on the Edge 20 Pro.
While shots in bright daylight look sharp, vivid and colourful, there is a noticeable loss of detail when you use the telephoto lens or shoot in low light conditions. Edges (ironically) start to blur and surfaces and textures appear smooth and dull. If the lighting is too low, you’ll also start seeing a disturbing amount of graining.
This is also the case for the 32Mp front-facing camera. You’ll be fine if you’re in a well-lit room or in daylight, but there is a loss of detail and added grain if you’re in less favourable light.
In some instances, I also found that in portrait mode struggled to consistently blur the background, resulting in a blotchy effect in the foreground:
You can see examples of other photos in the slideshow below.
With an RRP of £649, this really shouldn’t be the case. You can pick up the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra for the same price and get some of the best camera performance we’ve seen. In fact, even the £399 OnePlus Nord 2, the current king of mid-range phones, seriously impressed us with its photography.
It’s a shame the cameras aren’t slightly more capable, as this would make the Edge 20 Pro a great all-rounder. If you are looking for a phone with an impressive camera, check out these leading camera phones instead.
Then again, if you don’t care much about mobile photography, the biggest competitor to the Edge 20 Pro is the Realme GT 5G, which offers a Snapdragon 888 chip, a 120Hz AMOLED display and 65W fast charging. It costs under £500 too, making its middling cameras slightly more justifiable.
Battery Life & Charging
- 4500mAh battery
- 30W Turbo Charge
The Edge 20 Pro’s Turbo Charge feature allows 30W fast charging. In my experience, I could juice up the 4500mAh battery by 36% from zero in 15 minutes, while 30 minutes topped it up to 61%.
That’s not bad if you’re in a rush and need a few extra percents right away, and it’s certainly an upgrade from the original Edge’s 18W Fast Charging. It’s just not the fastest around. The Nord 2 offers a 4500mAh battery with 65W Fast Charging, while crazy 120W Fast Charging on the premium mid-range Xiaomi 11T Pro (£599/649€) replenishes its large 5000mAH battery in about 20 minutes.
In our PC Mark Work 3.0 battery test, the Edge 20 lasted 11 hours and 2 minutes with the screen refresh rate set to 144Hz – so you can expect at least a full day’s use even at full throttle.
In the real world, you probably won’t have the display running for 11 hours straight, so you should be able to squeeze out more use. I could easily go a day without charging the phone (with refresh rate set to Auto), and the final few percent would last for over an hour, sometimes two.
Software & Apps
- Android 11
- DisplayPort 1.4 support
- Ready For adaptor provided
Like other Motorola phones I’ve reviewed, the Edge 20 Pro offers a clean Android 11 experience with gestural navigation support and no bloatware. All the pre-loaded apps are from the Google suite, so it’s as close as you can come to a pure Android experience without buying a Google phone.
Motorola adds its own UX flourishes, which I’ve come to love, like the three-finger screenshot shortcut or ‘karate-chop’ motion flashlight shortcut. You can now also access a shortcuts menu by double-tapping the power button. All of this is done tastefully, so you never feel like Motorola’s imposing its UX onto you.
Not yet ‘Ready For’ this
Motorola’s Ready For feature allows you to cast your phone to an external monitor, PC, or TV, both wirelessly or wired. The phone ships with the Ready For adaptor, which consists of a USB-C connector on one end and an HDMI connector on the other.
Motorola positions this feature as a big selling point. There are lots of promises here to consolidate the Edge 20 Pro into a one-stop mobile workstation, connected gaming platform, webcam – the list goes on. I was excited to try it.
When I cast the phone to my TV and fired up YouTube there was a disappointing lag and stuttering. This could be down to my network connection, but that would suggest anyone with a slow connection would struggle to benefit from this feature.
It also seems a bit redundant to use the Ready For feature to access streaming apps if those apps can be accessed directly from your smart TV or various cheap media streamers like a Google Chromecast.
To use Ready For with your PC you’ll need to install the Ready For Assistant (you’ll find the link towards the bottom of Motorola’s page).
I explored the Ready For desktop experience on my laptop and found the experience similarly clunky. You need to open the Assistant and then scan a QR code from your phone to sync and launch the service.
Again, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would opt for Motorola’s mobile desktop in place of an actual PC.
It would be great to have a phone that can double up as a PC, but Ready For isn’t quite yet ready – at least not in its current form.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s a great idea to make computing as light and portable as possible, especially as we split our time between working at home and the office (who wants to lug around a laptop anyway?).
Motorola will just have to figure out how to make the feature more convenient and as powerful as existing alternatives, so don’t buy the Edge 20 Pro primarily for this.
Price & Availability
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro costs £649 and is available to buy directly from Motorola or Lenovo (parent company) in Blue Vegan Leather or Midnight Blue. You can find it from Amazon, Argos, and John Lewis, and Very. At the moment, we can only see options with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.
The handset isn’t available in the US, customers can find a very similar Motorola Edge (2021) for $699 (reduced to $499 at time of writing).
On the contract side, the Edge 20 Pro is available from Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse.
£649 is a steep price when considering that the cameras aren’t a showstopper, and the Ready For system still has some kinks to work out – but most leading flagship phones will cost you at least £100 more, while also capping at 120Hz refresh rates.
If you don’t mind raising your budget, check out the best flagship phones on the market. And there are plenty of great mid-range phones with similar features to consider.
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro has some decent things going for it. Mainly the impressive 144Hz OLED display and powerful components resulting in top-notch performance.
It’s also still the case that opting for a Motorola handset gets you an almost stock Android experience with mostly useful additions.
It might seem like a good choice then but the competitiveness of the wider phone market make the Edge 20 Pro seem lacking – especially with that ‘Pro’ moniker and the asking price of £649.
When it comes down to it, the handset is missing too many flagship features for to justify this figure, including proper waterproofing, wireless charging and properly fast charging. Then there’s the fact that the cameras are only really able to pump out high quality results in good lighting conditions.
The fact is, you can get similar and more well-rounded phones at cheaper mid-range prices – the Google Pixel 6, Realme GT 5G and OnePlus Nord 2, for example – stopping the Edge 20 Pro scoring any higher.
Motorola Edge 20 Pro: Specs
- Cameras: 108MP main, 8Mp telephoto, 16Mp ultra-wide angle, 32MP front
- Battery: 4500mAh w/ 30W TurboPower charging
- Display: 6.7in OLED, 144Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, DCI-P3
- Audio: Bottom-ported speaker
Protection: IP52 Water-repellent, included silicone case
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 870, Adreno 650 GPU
- Storage: 12GB RAM/256GB storage UFS 3.1
- Security: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- Dimensions: 163mm x 76mm x 7.99mm
Colours: Midnight Sky
Operating system: Android 11
- Memory: 12GB RAM