Motorola Edge 20 Review – Sleek and Smooth Operator | Comparison vs Samsung Galaxy A52s, OnePlus Nord 2

Finally, finally, the Motorola Edge 20 is here.

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Finally, the Moto Edge 20 is here. There seems to be a major snag at the company’s end to put the phone on sale and deliver them to customers. The global pandemic affecting shipment and logistics seems to be having a cascading effect now on phone sales in India. In fact, this year, you are going to find it very tough to buy the tech products that you actually want. Anyway, coming back to the Edge 20, if you are planning on picking this phone up, I am sure you’d have one major question – is it better than the OnePlus Nord 2 (review) or the Samsung Galaxy A52s?

Design

I really like the Motorola Edge 20’s design regardless of certain apparent flaws, which I will come to in a bit. The flat-edge design, which made a comeback with the iPhone 12 series, is now trickling down to some Android phones, including the Moto Edge 20. Also, the Edge 20, despite being a big phone, is slim and light; far more so than the Nord 2 or the Galaxy A52s. 

That’s mainly because it is an all plastic construction with the smallest battery of the three. In comparison, the Nord 2 does feel more premium thanks to its glass back. As for the Galaxy A52s, Samsung uses plastic too but I find the Edge 20’s Frosted Emerald colour and matte frame more appealing. The Samsung’s back is good looking too but the plastic rims coated in a shiny fake metal finish looks cheap. Same is true for the Nord 2’s frame.

Now, since the Edge 20 has the largest display of the three, and the flattest one too, the phone does feel very wide. While I got used to it, it goes without saying that – of the three phones – the Nord 2’s curved rear feels more comfortable to hold and use. The ergonomics are just better.  As for the A52s, it feels more dense and heavy compared to the other two.

Talking about the issues with the Moto Edge 20’s design:

  1. The Power button with the integrated fingerprint reader is placed slightly higher on the right edge than I’d have ideally preferred it. But, what’s worse is the volume rocker is placed above it. Motorola should’ve definitely done better. Anyway, the physical fingerprint scanner on the Edge 20 is the fastest at unlocking the phone. The Nord 2’s in-display fingerprint reader is pretty fast too but the A52s’ scanner is the slowest of the three.
  2. But, that’s not it. The Google Assistant button on the left frame is very high too. I felt discouraged from using it because of this placement.
  3. However, the biggest problem is the three-step camera module that extends way too much out of the rear. To watch the phone wobble on a flat surface reminds me of extremely imbalanced teletubbies running down a hill.
  4. There’s no 3.5mm headphone port on the Edge 20, or the OnePlus Nord 2 either. Which is present on the Galaxy A52s, by the way. Good job, Samsung.
  5. The Edge 20 doesn’t have a stereo speaker setup which is present on both – the OnePlus Nord 2 and the Galaxy A52s.
  6. Another major, major, major advantage that the A52s offers is the IP67 rating, which is literally unheard of in this price range. Plus, this is the only phone that offers expandable storage, which is not available on the other two.
  7. As for the Nord 2, you get the trademark Alert Slider, which long time OnePlus users will attest is super useful.

Now, you must be wondering why I like the design of the Edge 20? Because, I like an aesthetic that tends to stand out from the mundane. In a store, any general consumer will levitate towards the Motorola Edge 20. In fact, this is precisely the reason why I picked the Moto Razr XT912 over the iPhone 4s, back in the day. Because, it stood out. The Edge 20 stands out. That said, when it comes to the better functional design – the Galaxy A52s easily takes the crown with the headphone port, expandable storage, and IP67 rating.

Display

The Edge 20 has the largest 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a fast 144Hz refresh rate, 576Hz touch sampling rate, support for HDR10+, and a 10-bit colour panel. The on paper specs are super duper impressive. In comparison, the Nord 2 pales in comparison with only 90Hz. The A52s does offer 120Hz, which is pretty good.

One thing you need to note about the Edge 20 is that it is set to Auto refresh, by default. And, you should know that Auto refresh can only go up to 120HZ. So, you will have to manually switch to 144Hz, in case you want a faster refresh rate. Which by the way, is not too much of an advantage over the 120Hz panel on the Galaxy A52s in terms of speed. I couldn’t tell the difference with my naked eyes. But yes, the Edge 20 is super snappy and smooth to use.

What does make a huge difference, however, is the 576Hz touch sampling rate. It was very apparent while playing games. In Call of Duty: Mobile, my twitch responses were better on the Edge 20 as opposed to the other two phones.

And thanks to the 10-bit panel which can display 1 billion colours as opposed to 16 million on the other two phones, you will see that the content just looks far richer with gorgeous gradients too. Unfortunately, the HDR tuning looks odd in YouTube content sometimes as the reds tend to overshoot. Otherwise, it is fantastic. The difference is visible and clearly the Edge 20 has an edge over the other two. However, HDR playback on Netflix is not possible on all three phones.

As for the colour tuning, the sRGB tuning in Natural mode on the A52s is great but Moto Edge 20 is even more accurate. The panel has been tuned really well. OnePlus doesn’t offer Natural tuning in the Gentle mode at all.

All the three phones don’t get as bright as flagship phones. In our peak brightness test within a 10% window, the Edge 20 had the least peak brightness of around 650 nits. The A52s and the Nord 2 could touch about 750 nits. But, in regular usage, with the brightness slider set to maximum, the Edge 20 has the highest brightness levels, followed by the Nord 2 and A52s.

One of the downsides on the Edge 20 is the fact that you only get Corning’s older gen Gorilla Glass 3 support. The Nord 2 and the A52s offer Gorilla Glass 5, which in my personal experience has better scratch protection than even Gorilla Glass 6. Finally, the haptic feedback performance of the Moto Edge 20, despite the slender profile is really good. But, the Nord 2 is just in a different league and offers the best haptic feedback for sure. Unfortunately, the A52s comes with vibration off by default and that’s when you can easily guess that it is going to be bad. And, it is. It is actually a rattly vibration motor that vibrates the entire body and doesn’t feel precise at all.

Unequivocally, the Edge 20 has the best AMOLED panel among the three phones followed by the A52s and the Nord 2, which is my least favourite here.

Camera

The on-paper camera specs of the Edge 20 looks fantastic. You get a 108MP main camera, a 16MP ultrawide shooter, and an 8MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom capabilities. This is a proper triple camera setup with no corners being cut anywhere. Plus, on the front you get a 32MP selfie camera. Head over to this article to know how the phone fares in camera performance.

Overall, the Edge 20’s camera performance can be categorised as one where the brand tries to throw everything at the wall and some things stick. Low light performance needs a lot of work. On the other hand, the Galaxy A52s has a nice and balanced camera setup. But, it is the Nord 2 that continues to be my pick for the best super mid range camera phone because it gets the primary and selfie camera performance just right, even if you don’t get good extras. But, that’s me. You could prefer Edge 20 for its variety.

Software

One of the reasons why the Edge 20 is an awesome phone is because it has a near Stock Android experience with fantastic Motorola features. From chop-chop to open the camera to customising options with Moto Styles, I find it super enjoyable to use. Plus, you don’t get any bloatware either. More importantly, Motorola’s Ready For feature, which is very similar to Samsung’s Dex, is a good differentiator too.

The Nord 2, on the other hand, is the first phone from OnePlus to actually integrate Color OS’ codebase and it is a bit of a mess at the moment. There are UI inconsistencies and random feature pop ins that happen unwittingly. Basically, it doesn’t feel as clean as previous Oxygen OS implementations.

Also Read: OnePlus 9T Will Not Launch This Year But 9RT is Still Likely; Unified OS With OPPO to Debut with OnePlus 10 in 2022

As for the OneUI experience on the Galaxy A52s, Samsung just fills with so much bloatware that it gets super annoying. From the annoying Glance lockscreen notification app to pre-installed apps like MX Takatak, Samsung doesn’t hold back on filling your phone with unwanted apps and UI features. Otherwise, OneUI is more feature-rich compared to both Oxygen OS and the Edge 20’s software experience.

All in all, if you haven’t guessed it already, I’d pick the Edge 20’s software experience followed by Oxygen OS and then OneUI. Note that this is only in context of the phones being tested. Otherwise, OneUI on a premium phone such as the Galaxy S21 Ultra is something I absolutely enjoy using.

Performance

Moto edge 20

The Edge 20 has the new Snapdragon 778 super mid-range chip inside it, which is the same SoC inside the Galaxy A52s as well. Evidently, the Dimensity 1200 inside the Nord 2 is a far more powerful chip. And, if you are a relentless gamer, then I’d suggest that you pick up the Nord 2. Because, whether it is AnTuTu or Geekbench or 3DMark, the Nord 2 has the best scores among these phones. And, you also get support for faster UFS 3.1 internal storage, which is UFS 2.2 on the Edge 20. The Androbench numbers clearly showcase the difference between read/write speeds.

Also, Motorola seems to be throttling the CPU performance of the Snapdragon 778G processor a lot, which is evident from our CPU throttle test. The SD778G is a very stable SoC, as you could tell from the A52s’ final throttling score. Evidently,  Motorola is doing this to ensure better battery life, which I will come to in a bit.

However, when I stress tested the GPU with our standard 3DMark Wild Life Stress test, the SD778 phones were better behaved in terms of stability as opposed to the Dimensity 1200 SoC inside the Nord 2.

If it is raw performance you crave for gaming, I’d say it is a safer bet to go with the Nord 2. Or, the iQOO 7. Which continues to be my favourite gaming phone in this price range.

The lack of a stereo speaker setup is definitely a sore point on the Edge 20. And, it is evident from the very average sound quality from the uni-directional sound that you get from it. Nord 2 and Galaxy A52s are better. Listen for yourself.

All the three phones are future-proof in terms of 5G bands and offer a lot of band options. But, currently, in my 4G testing, all the three phones offer fantastic 4G performance for both mobile data and calling. But, I felt the call quality was best on the Galaxy A52s, giving it a very slight edge.

Battery Life

Motorola Edge 20

I must admit, I fully went into the review of the Edge 20 expecting it to have average battery life thanks to the relatively tinier 4000mAh unit inside it. But, I actually got anywhere between 5-6 hours of SoT with 144Hz refresh rate always on, thanks in part – I believe – to the throttling of the SD778G SoC. Anyway, the icing on the case is that you can expect up to 7 hours with auto refresh on. That’s almost as good as the battery tuning of the Samsung Galaxy A52s, which has a larger 4500mAh unit. Plus, the Edge 20 charges faster in under an hour and 15 minutes with the 30W HyperCharge tech.

As for the Nord 2, it doesn’t last as long as the other two phones, but you can eke out close to 6 hours of SoT from it. But, the Nord 2’s advantage is the super fast 65W charging speeds and that can top up your battery from 0 to 100 in under 30 minutes, which is crazy.

Should You Buy the Motorola Edge 20?

Motorola Edge 20

After using the Edge 20, I can really see where Motorola was going with this. This phone is clearly aimed at the outliers. The ones who value the design, display, and software over other parameters. I handed the Edge 20 to a friend over the weekend and he was immediately taken aback by how light it felt. This phone creates a great first impression and manages to offer a fairly balanced performance as well. My only qualm is the camera performance could’ve been better in certain scenarios – low light, for one.

And, that’s where the OnePlus Nord 2 comes in. The primary camera takes really good shots in low light, thanks to the flagship-grade 50MP sensor. Plus, the overall performance is good too. Yes, there’s a concern about many Nord 2s exploding but none of the claims have been proved yet. Which is why I feel that shouldn’t deter you from looking at the Nord 2 as a legitimate alternative to the Edge 20. In fact, under Rs 35,000, the Nord 2 would still be my top recommendation.

I really, really like the Galaxy A52s as well. Yes, it is slightly more expensive compared to the other two. But, for the extra money, you get IP67 rating, a headphone jack, expandable storage, really good camera performance, and a sustained CPU performance as well. Only if Samsung didn’t have a very heavy-handed approach with the bloatware apps on its A-series phones, that would’ve made it easier for me to recommend it as the best option. However, with the Galaxy M52s right around the corner, there is a huge possibility that you could get a SD778 phone from Samsung’s stables for under Rs 30,000. So, I’d suggest you wait and make a choice accordingly.

I know a lot of you must be thinking to yourself, “Ershad, just recommend the one phone that we should buy.” Nope. I cannot. You should really, really be able to tell what you value the most in a phone. Don’t let anyone tell you there is one best phone for everyone. Because there isn’t. Not in 2021 for sure. It is all just a permutation and combination of features that works best for you.

Well, hope you found this review useful. Let me know in the comments section below.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you very much Ershad for the comprehensive review. Did you find Samsung’s bloatware entirely removable? Also does the regular OS on A52s keeps floating ads around? I just love Moto software which is what I am using since last 7 years. I am slightly disappointed to learn about performance compromise of Edge for better battery. Same is the case with my G5+ at the moment and had went irritatingly slow.

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