The Moto Edge 20 Lite on paper doesn’t bring as much to the table as the competition. But with a great HDR OLED screen, good battery life, strong performance and a charming software skin, it will reward anyone willing to take the plunge and pick it up. Sometimes a smartphone is all about experience, and this is one worth having.
- Good, bright OLED screen
- Consistently strong battery life
- Mostly zippy performance
- Camera only decent
- Only a limited number of updates promised
- UKRRP: £299.99
- EuropeRRP: €350
- OLED display 6.7-inch Full HD HDR10+ screen
- Triple camera108-megapixel, 8-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors on the back and a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the front
- 2-day battery life5000mAh battery with support for TurboPower 30 fast charging
- MediaTek Dimensity 720 chipAlong with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
The concept of the ‘mid-range’ phone is relatively simple – take the best bits from the flagships of last year and build handsets that deliver value without too many compromises. Though the niche has expanded in size and definition over time, this rule has mostly remained true.
In 2021, things are beginning to change however. With the Redmi Note 10 Pro, the Poco X3 Pro and the Poco F3, Xiaomi has placed former flagship components in low-cost phones to disruptive effect. What we might consider ‘budget’ is now markedly different than before, and new mid-range phones are concurrently facing an existential threat – does the ‘mid-range’ exist any more or is it too broad a definition?
Enter the Moto Edge 20 Lite, one of a new slate of releases from Motorola under Lenovo. It is intended as a mid-range phone, but it fits firmly at the lower-end of that segment. With a 90Hz OLED panel, a 108MP camera and a 5,000mAh battery, it has features that are each matched or bested by all of Xiaomi’s latest offerings, and at lower price points.
The sole differentiator is the software experience provided by Motorola, how much of a difference does it make? Is it enough to thrive or even survive? Read on for our full thoughts.
Price and availability
The Moto Edge 20 Lite is available now directly from Motorola for prices beginning at £300/€369. Two colour options are available, Lagoon Green and Electric Graphite.
Design and screen – Plastic fantastic
- Thick plastic design
- The screen is flat and doesn’t curve
- A large distinctive camera bump on the rear
In the mid-range, no prizes are offered or expected for design. Phones produced are intended to be sturdy and to evoke the best premium qualities of flagship phones without costing quite as much. The Moto Edge 20 Lite fits somewhere inbetween the promise of quality versus the compromise of utilitarian durability.
The handset is composed entirely of plastic, or to use a kinder term – polycarbonate (read ‘posh plastic’). From the rails to the rear, the device has not a hint of either glass or metal in sight, save of course for the front screen. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel durable however, as it has both heft and presence in the hand and the body doesn’t flex too much when subjected to pressure.
An unsung bonus of plastic is its ability to bend, making it far more suitable for surviving the odd drop or fall when compared to the likes of glass or metal – handsets like the Edge 20 Lite are more likely to continue unscathed in the long term than many more premium options on the market today.
The power button/fingerprint sensor combo along with the volume rocker can be found on the right side. Although the placement of the sensor proved to be somewhat awkward in general use, it was never more than a mild annoyance, with it proving to be mostly accurate and fast.
On the left side can be found the typical, unmappable ‘Google’ button, which most will press twice by accident before turning off entirely, and on the bottom there is a welcome 3.5mm headphone jack.
Found on the rear are a very subtle ‘Moto’ blazon and the camera island, which houses three separate sensors. The front sports the main display, along with a somewhat distracting silver ring around the pinhole selfie camera.
In all this isn’t a handset that will turn heads, especially in the boring ‘Electric Graphite’ colour which sports all the excitement of pencil lead, but that certainly doesn’t feel cheap or insubstantial. At 185g and 8.3mm thick however, it is definitely not for one handed use, this is an unapologetically large phone.
Where the design of the handset clearly didn’t eat up too much of the budget, the screen is another matter altogether. It is an 6.7 inch 1080p OLED panel, sporting “1 billion” colours, a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR certification, all of the numbers and specifications needed to fit in with the crowd.
These don’t do a service to it in general use. From movies to reading and gaming, this panel is a delight. Though the general white point may skew a little warm for most, I found it to be mostly colour accurate and bright enough to view on a day with strong sunlight.
One criticism which could be levelled is the use of a 90Hz refresh rate while the competition are moving to 120Hz and above as a matter of course. Most will not notice the difference, 90Hz is an appreciable jump from 60Hz, and by choosing a lower refresh rate battery life is preserved and performance improved.
In all, the Moto Edge 20 Lite might note have the most technically advanced display available in the mid-range at the moment, but for all but the most dedicated of screen purists it will be more than enough.
Camera – More megapixels than sense
- Four camera modules covering various focal lengths
- Main sensor has 108MP
- A host of dedicated camera modes are available
It is an unfortunate development in recent years that the ‘megapixel wars’ have begun once again. Smartphone manufacturers are locked in an arms race with one another to produce the highest megapixel count, which doesn’t deliver much in the way of value to the consumer.
As phone sensors have gained more megapixels, the detail of the images captured hasn’t improved stratospherically. I was therefore skeptical of the Edge 20 Lite’s touted 108MP sensor and its ability to deliver decent results.
Unfortunately, this cynicism was rewarded, the sensor on the Edge 20 Lite performs nowhere near the expectations set by the marketing. To begin, the 108MP label is quite misleading, as the sensor combines pixels by 9 for each shot produced, outputting 12MP images.
Photos produced have little detail, a result of heavy over-sharpening which is not too present on shots of buildings but highly noticeable in pictures with foliage. White balance is in general accurate, however shots did tend to either under or over-expose without finding an acceptable middle ground, showcasing a lack of dynamic range.
In low-light the pictures were a little better, with decent colour but again little detail to offer. The included ultra-wide sensor suffered from all the same issues as above, though compounded due to the smaller sensor used, while the Macro sensor proved to be next to useless.
Being able to take macro photos is generally accepted as a benefit, however when the reality is dependent on staying steady with the phone 2cm from the subject, achieving usable results is an almost impossible task.
The bad impressions extend to the camera app, which is clunky and slow to use. Starting the app takes quite a long time, and then locking focus adds seconds more, as such for those looking to photograph either a pet or a toddler we would recommend looking elsewhere.
Moving between modes then proves to take longer than it should, while many of the ‘fun’ options (such as a ‘Spot Colour’) mode are hidden in settings. In all it feels sparse, minimal and poorly optimised, which is unfortunate.
This isn’t to say that in good light, with a static subject, the Moto Edge 20 Lite cannot achieve good images, for it certainly can, however it performs well below expectations in almost every way when compared to the competition.
Performance – Can keep up with most
- Runs a Mediatek Dimensity 720
- Comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage by default
- Runs cool for the most part
Mediatek processors have never achieved quite the fame or success of their Qualcomm peers. Although they have been used in many handsets, their presence has typically been taken as the hallmark of a ‘budget’ phone, delivering neither performance or efficiency.
The Moto Edge 20 Lite is a thankful exception to this story. Backed up by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Dimensity 720 SoC manages to easily power through most every day tasks without breaking a sweat. Whether simply navigating through the interface or using more intensive apps we found little could faze it, never experiencing a slowdown across the review period.
This wasn’t quite the case when attempting to play the likes of PUBG on High detail settings, however this troubles even higher end handsets. The picture painted here is backed up by Geekbench 5 testing, which saw the handset achieve a single core score of 506 and a multi-core score of 1623. Neither of these are enough to trouble the big boys, but place the handset firmly in the middle of the mid-range, scoring more than devices with the Snapdragon 730 in general.
Where the Moto Edge 20 Lite really has an opportunity to stand out from the crowd is with its software. Starting with the original Moto X in 2013, the company has offered its own flavour of Android with multiple quality of life inclusions in tow. These include the well-known ‘double karate-chop’ to activate the torch, and a double wrist-twist to call up the camera. There are multiple such inclusions peppered throughout the software, which offer thoughtful improvements on the stock Android experience.
Despite this, it isn’t a heavy skin, being mostly stock in appearance and a far cry from the likes of MIUI on Xiaomi devices, there is no feature bloat or incomprehensible menu system here.
Though it isn’t enough to sell the device by itself, the software system is certainly enough of a reason to pick up Motorola over the competition, and adds considerable charm to the experience of using the handset overall.
An unfortunate element is the admission from Motorola that the handset will only receive a limited number of software updates across the course of its life. As Samsung and Nokia are promising upwards of three years of support, this limits the longevity of the Moto significantly and may reduce its appeal as a result..
Battery life – Will last a full day, sometimes two
- 5000mAh battery
- Capable of 30W fast charging
- Comes with a fast charger in the box
Where it used to once be something worthy of note, in the mid-range/budget segment now having a 5,000mAh battery is now de rigueur. The Moto Edge 20 Lite follows suit, offering such a pack along with 30W fast charging.
Although a big battery is an important ingredient in good battery life, it isn’t the only one. An efficient processor and software are also necessary, and luckily the Moto Edge 20 Lite has both.
On an average day, with around 16 hours of messaging, calls, email, browsing, streaming music, playing games and watching video, we managed around 6 hours and 30 minutes consistently before hitting 20% battery.
With lighter usage, it will be possible to extend the battery into a second day and for most people this will be a phone they will never be able to kill with a single day of use.
The included 30W fast charging ability is welcome, as is the charger in the box, however the competition, especially that from Realme, offer far faster speeds. This will be useful in a pinch, we managed to recharge around 45% in 30 minutes on average, however it isn’t the best such option available.
Should you buy it?
You watch a lot of movies on your phone: The phone offers solid battery life, a good for the money screen and solid build quality.
You want the best performance: The Lite isn’t the fastest phone and it also doesn’t feature the best camera you’ll find at this price.
Making a successful mid-range smartphone has never been an easy task, and that has never been the case more than before. With a proliferation of budget handsets stealing their thunder, it has been increasingly difficult to justify spend more on a handset that only offers the same rather than more.
The Motorola Edge 20 Lite won’t change this. It is a phone that is handily outclassed by the competition on most fronts on the spec sheet, and for those who need the absolute best in any one area, it will be best to look elsewhere.
But for those who do end up buying one, the Edge 20 Lite is a highly likeable smartphone with much to offer, including a great screen, strong battery life, good performance and helpful software. It isn’t the shot in the arm the segment needed, but it is a worthy inclusion nonetheless.
How we test
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Used as our main handset during test period
Camera tested in variety of situations with all modes
Tested with synthetic benchmarks and real world use
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Yes, the Motorola Edge 20 Lite does support 5G.
The Motorola Edge 20 Lite has three rear cameras and one selfie camera.
The phone has a 5000mAh battery that Motorola claims can last for two days.