Motorola Edge 30 Neo review: colourful mid-range for compact phone fans

Motorola has launched no less than three new models in the Edge 30 range, of which the Ultra variant, which we recently tested, is the best performing, equipped with a 200 megapixel camera and a top-of-the-line chipset, and the Fusion is a sort of “budget flagship” that falls into a premium mid-range price zone. Thus, the Edge 30 Neo is simply a “regular” mid-range phone, aiming to bring the Edge series to users with tighter budgets but who don’t want to compromise on design or camera, and even brings some premium features into the sub €400 price zone.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo’s colours immediately catch the eye

If performance is the main feature of the Ultra, and a slim body characterizes the Fusion, color seems to be the most important aspect for the Motorola Edge 30 Neo. For this device, Motorola has partnered with Pantone, resulting in covers in four special matte-textured shades. The “main” model is the purple one we had for testing, which is actually the “color of the year 2022” called Very Peri. Each colour version of the new Neo has a Pantone “badge” on the back.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo front handheld

While the colour catches your eye at first glance, the Motorola Edge 30 Neo has other advantages on the design side. First, it’s a compact phone with a 6.28″ screen and weighs just 155 grams. It also has a flat screen, which is much more pleasant to use than a curved one, and the camera module on the back is not very complex, or very large. It only houses two cameras.

Being a cheaper range phone, I wasn’t expecting a premium build, and Motorola predominantly uses plastic in its construction. The cover on the back retains the “soft touch” feel of the Ultra, and there’s a hard clear plastic cover in the box for extra protection. During testing, however, I noticed that the glossy plastic cover scratches faster and more noticeably than the phone’s matte plastic cover. The glass-covered screen, however, does not come with factory protection.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo accessories

At least the charger is included in the package, and we’re talking about a 68W power, quick-plug adapter. Also in the box is the USB-C cable on both ends. It seems that a lot of manufacturers are starting to ditch USB-A cables even in the mid-range, which is a very good thing. It would also be worth mentioning the eco-friendly packaging, with the box and other items being made from recycled paper and cardboard.

Motorola has chosen a quality display for the “youngest” of the Edge 30 family

Even though the Motorola Edge 30 Neo is a more “budget” smartphone, it doesn’t skimp on important features. The screen, while smaller in diagonal, is almost as capable as the one on the higher-end models, offering FullHD+ resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate. Brightness is good, but not out of the ordinary, but I had no problems with readability in bright sun except when I also had sunglasses on.

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Motorola Edge 30 Neo screen bottom

The 6.28″ diagonal is good for those with smaller hands, or those who prefer more compact phones in particular. Placed next to a “standard” iPhone 14, the Edge 30 Neo is slightly taller, but significantly lighter, and both are about as easy to use with one hand.

Despite advantages in other respects, the processor is an average

Mid-range phones are always hard to make, as there has to be a good balance between the performance offered and the price. Motorola chose to invest in categories like design, camera and screen, and performance took a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, the phone showed no signs of fatigue during testing, and was fully capable of running the usual social media, browsing or video game apps.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo side button

The problem arises, however, when used over time. The Snapdragon 695 is already a chip that has been replaced in Qualcomm’s offerings by more powerful models, and its performance is still at the acceptable limit for today. But in 1-2 years, it’s likely that after repeated software updates and the advent of more demanding apps or games, it won’t perform as well. I was however pleasantly impressed that under stress in 3DMark, this processor does not go into throttling, keeping its performance intact at over 99% capacity.

Unfortunately, those who want to shoot at high resolutions will be limited by this processor, as the maximum is 1080p at 60 FPS.

Benchmarks

  • AnTuTu – 406.505
  • GeekBench – Single-Core: 671 / Multi-Core: 1,939
  • 3DMark Wild Life – 1.205
  • 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test – Best loop: 1.206 / Lowest loop: 1.201 / Stability: 99.6%
  • PCMark – 9.861

Battery life and charging are the Edge 30 Neo’s strengths

For such a compact and lightweight device, I was surprised to see that it has a 4,020 mAh battery, about as big as the one in the biggest iPhone, the 14 Pro Max. Not only does it have a larger capacity, but it also charges very quickly, in under an hour at 68W, and for a cheap phone, the fact that it has wireless charging is a welcome bonus. Of course, wireless charging is very slow, but it can be used for charging throughout the day.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo charger

But you won’t need to keep the Edge 30 Neo charging all the time, because it lasts for two days of trouble-free use. The less demanding processor and large battery do their job well. You can also extend the battery by disabling the display’s 120 Hz mode, locking the refresh rate to 60 Hz.

Clean software is Motorola’s signature

The software is consistent with the rest of the Edge 30 series, including that on the Ultra, offering exactly the same advantages and disadvantages, including Ready For functionality on an average processor. The only obvious difference is that the phone’s interface is from the start colored in the casing shade. In this case, we had a purple theme throughout, from the menus to the default keyboard. It’s a nice touch for those who like to adopt a unified color theme for their phone.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo front

Unfortunately, the Edge 30 Neo won’t get the same treatment as the Ultra when talking about software support duration. It, like the Fusion variant, will only receive two system updates and three years of security updates from Motorola. Having launched with Android 12 right on the eve of the Android 13 launch, this model will thus receive the maximum Android 14.

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The fingerprint sensor and speakers are comparable to those on the Ultra model

While I was a bit disappointed with the Edge 30 Ultra’s stereo speaker performance, I’m happy with the Edge 30 Ultra, considering it’s twice the price. It too comes with Dolby Atmos branding, and the speaker quality is comparable to the Ultra. We’re talking loud, but it loses definition in the highs and mids. At lower volumes, things are better, but bass disappears almost completely.

And the fingerprint sensor works flawlessly. It also seems to be the same from the Ultra model, an optical sensor integrated into the screen. I had no problems while testing with it, and it was very fast and accurate every time.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo port

Motorola Edge 30 Neo has a simple and powerful camera system for its price range

The camera system on the Motorola Edge 30 Neo is surprising for several reasons. First, it doesn’t fall into the trap we see so often in the industry, where phones in the cheap range have 3-4 cameras each, only one or two of which are really useful, the others being integrated just to “look good” in the specs. Secondly, this camera doesn’t lose functionality. It can take both wide, ultra-wide and macro shots.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo camera

The secret is the ultra-wide, autofocus camera, which allows focusing just inches away. So a dedicated macro camera is no longer necessary, and the quality of the 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera is much better than the 2 or 5-megapixel macro we see on other models anyway.

Photo day

Unfortunately, we don’t get a zoom mode. The 64 megapixel main camera would have enough resolution to do crop zoom captures, but Motorola has chosen to only allow shooting at 1x on this camera. You can digitally zoom in, but the results aren’t great. If you really need to zoom, maybe this model isn’t right, or maybe you should shoot in 64 megapixel mode and crop manually afterwards, not in “standard” photo mode.

Photo night

The results on the main camera are decent, with good dynamic range for this price range. Optical stabilisation is especially noticeable in low light, where images are quite detailed. Unfortunately, Motorola’s algorithm kinda loses saturation on night mode, with all images being a bit “lifeless”. The ultrawide camera is very “soft”, despite the 13 megapixel resolution, and the dynamic range is very limited, with very bright areas in the photos usually burnt out.

All in all, we’re dealing with an average camera that is at times outperformed by other models in this price range, such as the Samsung Galaxy A models.

Conclusions

Even though there are theoretically cheaper phones, or phones that can offer better cameras in the near price range, the Motorola Edge 30 Neo seems to me that should not be ignored. Primarily because the list price of 2,000 lei is not what this model actually sells for. Since the beginning, Motorola has offered discount vouchers of 500 lei, and recently the phone was reduced by 20% of the price. We’re talking about a phone officially launched last week (at the time of writing). Surely the discounts will continue, or even the standard price will drop relatively quickly.

Motorola Edge 30 Neo main

Then the Motorola Edge 30 Neo has a few advantages. It’s pretty much the only phone model in this price range with wireless charging. It also has a compact design, rarely seen in recent years, and compared to the Galaxy A53, for example, even though it has a weaker processor, the user experience was significantly smoother. I’m only concerned about the performance over time of this processor and the limited software support to only 2+1 years (system/security). Otherwise, the Edge 30 Neo is one of the most interesting mid-range devices I had the opportunity to test in 2022.

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