Motorola, somehow the #3 smartphone manufacturer in the US after Apple and Samsung, is taking over the Pixel 6a. The company announced the Moto Edge 2022 (not to be confused with the $1,000 Edge+), and for $500, the mid-ranger will go head-to-head with Google’s latest phone. The two companies take absolutely different approaches to the ~$500 price tag.
Motorola throws most of its budget into a dazzling 144Hz, 6.6-inch, 2400×1080 display, which is a powerful spec sheet compared to the low 60Hz display in the Pixel 6a. The SoC is the brand new MediaTek Demensity 1050 and the phone has 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, an on-screen fingerprint reader, a 5000 mAh battery and 30 W charging.
The MediaTek SoC is an interesting choice. It’s a 6nm chip with two ARM Cortex A78 CPUs and six Cortex A55 CPUs, so it won’t set the world on fire. It’s not out yet, but pre-release Geekbench testing yielded a score of 2142, making it quite a bit slower than the Pixel 6a’s flagship-class Google Tensor SoC (about ~2850 points). Aside from whether you even want a 144 Hz display in a budget phone, is this Mediatek SoC capable of displaying Android at a stable 144 FPS? Motorola is no stranger to denying its fast displays with underpowered SoCs, so this should be a major concern if you’re considering 144Hz as a selling point.
Another “do you really want that in a mid-range phone?” consideration is the inclusion of 5G mmWave support. mmWave was aggressively hyped by the carriers at the start of the 5G era in 2018, but it’s been four years now and the short range and finicky signal characteristics make mmWave prohibitively expensive to roll out. Most carriers have mmWave coverage below 1 percent and have said mmWave will never see a wide rollout. Not only is MmWave a dead end technology, it’s also expensive to pack into a smartphone, with the extra antennas (at least, from Qualcomm) raising the phone’s suggested retail price to somewhere between $50 and $100. And poor MediaTek: the Demensity 1050, announced in May, is from the company first ever mmWave compatible chipset. I’m sure years ago when development started, this must have been a triumphant achievement.
Fortunately, the phone has NFC and you get support for Wi-Fi 6E. There is no significant water resistance, which is a bummer. The phone comes with three rear cameras: a 50MP main camera, a 13MP ultrawide and a 2MP “macro/depth” camera. It also comes with Android 12, and while Motorola has promised three years of OS upgrades and four years of bimonthly security updates, the company’s history suggests those updates will arrive very slowly.
The phone will be out “soon” in the US from T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. There will also be an unlocked version at Best Buy and Amazon, although Motorola says the $499 price will eventually be increased to $599.
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