Motorola Edge 20 Pro 5G – very high in the mojo stakes (review)
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro is its premium Edge 20 model. It gives Motorola a phone that, at $899, levels the playing field in the upper-midrange market.
Interestingly we have all three Motorola Edge 20 models for review, as well as the new g50. All have a similar look and feel, 6.7” screens and 30W Turbo Charge batteries in a good, better, best scenario – stay tuned.
The only real problem is that it is also competing with itself too. The Motorola Edge 20 at $699 is no slouch either – we have a comparison of all three Motorola Edge models here.
For the extra $200, the Edge 20 Pro gives a 100% DCI-P3, Gorilla Glass 5 screen, faster processor, more ram and storage, USB-C 3.1 and slightly more battery life.
Get ‘ready for’ Motorola Edge 20 Pro
Motorola has added ‘ready for’, an Android desktop experience on an external TV, monitor and PC. We will explore that more in-depth in a later review but suffice to say it adds (connectivity features depend on the model – Edge 20 Pro does everything):
- PC connection to access Android apps, use BT keyboards and mice, easy switch between Windows and Android
- Wirelessly miracast to a smart TV or PC
- USB-C to USB-C wired to a smart TV or monitor
- USB-C to HDMI wired to a smart TV or monitor
Ready for modes include:
- Android Mobile desktop – use the Edge 20 Pro as a PC
- TV mode – stream/display from any content source on a TV
- Games – create a console-like experience for Android games inc a BT controller
- Video chat – use the Edge 30 camera as a webcam and cast the image to a TV (Google Duo or similar video chat apps)
Motorola will continue to innovate and add more functionality. For now, it is a worthy competitor to Samsung DeX – Desktop EXperience. In fact, we tested with DeX station accessories!
Motorola Edge 20 Pro 5G Model XT2153-1 12/256GB Dual Sim
|Colours||Midnight Sky or Indigo Vegan Leather|
|From:||Motorola online, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Officeworks|
|Country of Manufacture:||China|
|Company||Owned by Lenovo (Est 1984) – a multinational technology company with its main operational headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina. It is the world’s largest PC maker. It purchased Motorola Mobility from Google in 2014. Most of Lenovo’s smartphone business is now under the Motorola brand, and it has grand plans to become a ‘top five’ smartphone maker.|
|More||Other GadgetGuy Motorola news and reviews here|
Grey market – no Australian warranty
All genuine Australian 5G models use unique Australian 5G sub-6Ghz and 5G low-band frequencies and require local activation first. That means a grey market phone likely won’t be able to use 5G here.
We have named and shamed the major grey marketers here. If you are going to spend this much money, get a genuine ‘Made for Australia’ model.
First impression – another glass slab
The easiest way to deliver the best features and value is via a glass slab. In our interview with Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience at Motorola Mobility, he said
It is important to note that each consumer segment has different needs. For some, it is screen size. Others want a top gun camera, and then some want refined design and prestige. So we try to find a balance when designing each of our devices. We pay close attention to that specific consumer segment’s needs. Then with the technology available to us, we combine these to create a one-of-a-kind device that optimises the user experience.
The Edge 20 Pro buyer wants more power, a brighter screen, a better camera, and the latest technology than the price-conscious consumer who has embraced the well-featured g-series.
The Edge 20 Pro has a sleek Midnight Sky back, a 108MP primary camera, 8MP 50X periscope zoom camera and 144Hz OLED screen. Its specs focus on what is important and are anything but average.
Screen – 1 billion colours of AMOLED goodness
|Size||6.7”, 2400 x 1080p, 393 ppi, 20:9 ratio|
|Type||Centre O-hole selfie, flat, AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 5|
|Refresh||Auto up to 120Hz, Fixed 144Hz or 60Hz|
|Colours||10-bit 1.07 billion|
|Gamut||Claim: 450 nits (typical) tp 650 (Max adaptive)
Colour temperature: 6500°K
433-457 nits fairly even over the screen, 660 nits max
Delta E 3 (<4 is good)
100% DCI-P3 (movies)
Always on Display
Good off-angle viewing but develops a blue cast past 135°
|DRM||Widevine L1 HDCP 2.3 plays Netflix and Amazon FHD HDR content|
|Gaming||Fixed 60/144Hz refresh available, but few mobile games support the latter. Up to 576Hz touch latency.|
The 144Hz refresh is more a gimmick as there are so few little apps that it supports. Overall the screen is a strong point with great colours and brightness.
Processor – a great choice
|SoC||Qualcomm SD870G 7nm
1×3.2GHz, 3×2.42GHz, 4×1.80GHz
GeekBench 5 single/multi-core: 947/3070
Similar to a Samsung Galaxy S21 Exynos 2100
|GPU||Adreno 650 Test:
Open CL: 3660 (similar to an SD865+)
|Modem and Other||X55 5G
5th Gen AI 15 TOPS
QC4+ fast charge compatible
|12GB LPDDR5 (fastest)
256GB UFS 3.1 (213GB free) – no microSD
Test: Sequential read/write
Internal: 975/492MBps – near SSD speeds
External 1GB Orico iMatch USB-C 3.1: 424/119MBps – excellent
|Throttle 15-minute test||Max: 254,877GIPS, Average: 250,573– 11% loss over 15 minutes
CPU temp reached 77°
This is not Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship SD888 SoC – it is about 15% slower in Geekbench 5 and uses an earlier X55 modem (X60). It is more of an update from 2020 SD865/+ and an excellent choice for a premium mid-range device. It is in the ZTE Axon 30, vivo X60/Pro, realme GT and OPPO Reno6 Pro Plus, and many more that we don’t see here.
Motorola has not cur corners and shaved dollars by departing too far from the Qualcomm spec. It has full USB-C 3.1 ALT DP (display port 1.4) and gigabit external data speeds – excellent.
Comms – got it all
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6 AX 2×2 MU-MIMO 2.4GHz to 663Mbps and 5Ghz to 1200Mbps|
|Signal Strength 5Ghz – distance from Netgear RAX200, AX11000, 12 stream router
-dBM lower is better, and Mbps higher is better
|GPS||Dual and accuracy <1m (excellent)|
|USB-C||USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ALT DP (Display Port 1.4) and can be used for ‘ready for’ – Motorola’s Android mobile desktop experience (Like Samsung DeX)|
|Sensors||Combo Acellerometer ad Gyroscope, e-Compass, Proximity, Ambient Light, Fingerprint sensor on the power button|
Only the SD888 SoC with 2400Mbps Wi-Fi beats this. Overall it has everything you could want, especially a full USB-C 3.1 implementation to allow fast external backup and direct 4K video record.
LTE and 5G
|SIM||Dual sim (if using 5G, it is always active) with dual ringtones|
|Support||VoLTE – carrier dependent – generally yes
Wi-Fi calling – Carrier dependent – generally yes
|UL/DL||30/26Mpbs /33ms – average|
|LTE Band||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 26, 28, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 66
This a world phone
|5G||n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n28, n38, n41, n66, n77, n78
This supports n78 sub-6Ghz (all carriers) and Telstra n5 and Vodafone n28 low-band. It does not support Optus n40 low band.
|Test||Using a Boost Mobile (Telstra retail network) sim at 1km line-of-sight from Telstra tower.
Expressed as -dBm (lower is better) and Femtowatts (fW) or picowatts (pW) where higher is better. Tower readings
4: found, but speeds were unusable. It reflects excellent antenna design and is suited for city, suburbs and regional use.
A very impressive speed and antenna result. The only disappointment is that it does not have n40 for Optus low-band 5G. Low-band repurposes 3G and eventually 4G bands to give wider 5G coverage at the lower 4G speeds.
Battery – all day or two
5V/3A/15W, 9V/3A/27W and 10V/3A/30W QC 3.0
|Charger||0-100% charge – <60 minutes
Using 5V/3A standard USB charger and cable – 3.5 hours
Adaptive screen rate unless shown
|100% load everything on, battery drain – 4 hours
PC Mark Work 3 battery test: 11 hours 36 minutes
GFX Benchmark T-Rex: 348.3 minutes (5.81 hours) 6746 frames
GFX Benchmark Manhattan 3.1 144Hz: 177.1 minutes (2.95 hours) 5115 frames
Idle drain screen off: 200mA (about 22.5 days)
While it comes with a QC 3.0, the SoC is QC 4.0+ compatible. That means it can use any USB-C PD charger, and we suspect it will charge even faster.
Sound – mono
|Speakers||Mono earpiece and down-firing speaker. It is not fair to measure the sound signature on a mono speaker system. The primary use is for clear voice. It is not for music or movies with no bass or mid before 1000Hz and no treble after 10kHz. There is no sound stage.|
|AMP||Qualcomm Aqstic mono|
|BT codecs||Codecs SBC, AAC (Apple), aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adpative, apts TWS+, LDAC (Sony Hi-Res)|
|Presets||Movie, Music, Game, and Podcast – makes absolutely no difference over the in-built speaker.|
|Mic||Three – top, bottom and on the camera bump for effective noise cancellation and video/audio recording|
Anything over 80dB is excellent
|Media – 70
Ring – 75
Alarm – 80
Earpiece – 55
Hands-free – excellent noise cancelling (Crystal Talk AI) but not quite loud enough
|Headphone||The BT 5.1 drove our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC, AAC and LDAC modes and provided good clear sound and plenty of volume. We also tested the xM3 version for aptX – ditto. You can select a preset sound profile for your headphones – 3D stereo, home cinema, live or custom.|
Many competitors have stereo micro-speakers, but invariably users listen to music over headphones.
Build – PASS
|Size/Weight||163 x 76 x 7.99 mm x 190g|
|Colours||Midnight Sky or Indigo Vegan Leather
No – it does not come from vegetarian cows! It mimics leather created from plant products instead of animal skins. It is soft and pliable like leather and does not absorb body ‘grease’. It is not as hardwearing as the Midnight Sky vacuum deposit PMMA (a.k.a. acrylic glass).
|Build||Front: Gorilla Glass
Back: PMMA or Vegan leather
|IP||52 – some dust ingress protection and dripping water 3mm per minute|
|In the box||Bumper cover
USB-A to USB-C cable
IP52 means so little that it is hardly worth quoting. If water resistance is important, then you need to look at at least IP67.
Apart from that, it is well made but extraordinarily slippery – use the bumper cover.
Android 11 – PASS+
|Android||Google Android 11
Security patch date: 1 August 2021 (September review)
|UI||MY UX – a light overlay that adds value to Android|
|Clean Android install. All standard apps, Google Lens and Assistant. Dedicated Google Assistant key.|
|Bloatware||Mostly productivity and utilities|
|Update Policy||Edge 20 Series will receive at least two Android OS upgrades (12 and 13) and bi-monthly security patches.|
|Security||Fingerprint in the power button: Test 10/10
Motorola ThinkShield offers business-grade hardware and software security protection against malware, phishing, network attacks, and more threats.
It offers a reasonably competitive upgrade/update policy, and MY UX adds considerable value to stock Android.
Missing – in comparison to some competitive handsets
|IP rating||IP52 is a joke|
|3.5mm||Not a deal-breaker, but we would have liked to see a USB-C to 3.5mm DAC cable or USB-C buds|
|Qi Wireless||Not a deal-breaker but nice at this price. No reverse charge either.|
|MicroSD||No, but USB-C 3.1 compensates|
|5G||No Optus 5G low-band support – Optus 5G users need to look elsewhere|
Camera – 108MP snapper and periscope zoom
I like this camera setup because it has a massive 108MP primary sensor (bins to 12MP), an 8MP periscope zoom and a 16MP Ultra-wide. We also managed to find the sensor models used, giving us some confidence in the setup.
On the plus side, Motorola’s move to MY UX from pure Android has allowed it to focus on adding more depth and features to the camera app – it shows. Where Motorola traditionally took ‘capable’ shots, it is now up there with the best – its camera app and AI expertise can only get better.
On the negative side, no optical image stabilisation (OIS) on the primary 108MP camera makes shooting at that level difficult without a tripod. It also is a true image – no AI. But after 12MP binning, it has lashings of AI.
Camera summary – it is up there!
108MP bins to 12MP
|Ultra-wide and macro
32MP bins to 8MP
|Pixel size um||.7 bins to 2.1um||1.0||1.0||.7 bins to 1.4um|
|FOV° and cropped||(71.1°)||119||(62.9°)|
|Stabilisation||EIS for video||EIS||OIS||EIS|
|Flash||Dual LED||Screen fill|
|Video Max||[email protected] not stabilised||[email protected]||[email protected]||[email protected]|
Super Slow Motion
High-res digital zoom (up to 20x)
Video snapshot (up to 9 MP)
Night Vision Cinemagraph
Portrait (w/ HDR and Face beauty)
Auto Smile Capture
Low Light AI Selfie
RAW photo output
Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)
Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)
You can shoot up to [email protected], but it is almost unusable as there is no EIS or OIS. It uses a sensor crop rather than trying to process 108MP. [email protected] is acceptable, [email protected] is good [email protected]/30fps is what you will mainly use. Great daylight, office light and even low light performance and the three mics make a real difference in the audio track.
The 32MP bins to 8MP and produces a nice colourful shot. There are a lot of effects which you can play with.
The Motorola Edge 20 Pro gives it a device that will pick up a good share of the business. It focuses on what is important and addresses these pain points very well.
Competition (all 5G)
- OPPO Find X2 Neo ($899 2020 model)
- Samsung S20 FE ($999 2020 model)
- OPPO Find X3 Neo ($999 2021 model SD865) Review here 9.6/10
- OPPO Find X2 Pro ($999 2020 model)
- vivo X60 Pro ($1099 2021 model) Review here 9.4/10
The closest 2021 Qualcomm SD870 model is the vivo X60 Pro with a gimbal stabilised camera. What we have not seen are late 2021 models yet to come to Australia – if ever.
From September 2021, we have adjusted our ratings to give us more ‘headroom’ to recognise exceptional features and performance. Until now, 8/10 was considered a ‘pass’. It is now 6/10. If you compare the Edge 20 Pro with older smartphone reviews, reduce them by two points.
The Edge 20 Pro starts at a pass mark. Add the full implementation of ‘ready for’, its two Android version upgrades, a great (although not yet perfect) camera, solid battery life, excellent phone reception, support from Motorola Australia, and it is more than a match. It is only the IP52 rating that disappoints, and Optus 5G users may miss its low-band. If you have $899 to spend, it gets the tick.
Great 6.7” 144Hz AMOLED screen
Solid Qualcomm SD870G performance
Good battery life
Good all-around camera
Two Android Upgrade policy
Very strong phone signal strength
Mono – use headphones instead
IP52 is not enough
Does not supprot Optus 5G Low-band n40