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Since Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips and other widely available components now power almost all of the world’s 5G smartphones, individual OEMs are trying to find ways to make their devices stand out. So Motorola is launching its Edge+ phone with a familiar trick: promising insane peak speeds, even if current 5G networks aren’t yet able to deliver them.
While Edge+ isn’t a slouch on other specs — it sports a 6.7-inch wraparound display, Snapdragon 865 CPU/GPU, 12GB of DDR5 memory, and “the loudest, most powerful stereo speakers” ever in a smartphone — the eye-catching claim is included compatibility with sub-6GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave) networks, delivering “future speeds over 4Gbps.” Motorola notes that the number is a “theoretical max” using eight-channel carrier aggregation and mmWave technology, but says anything from the network configuration to weather conditions could reduce performance.
If you aren’t already familiar with mmWave technology, now’s the right time to understand it. As the most transformative element in 5G networks, short-distance (≤1-mile) mmWave uses large blocks of high frequency radio spectrum to send data between cell towers and devices at insane speeds. Historically, cellular networks have operated like highways with one car per lane, but eight-channel carrier aggregation lets devices simultaneously use eight highway lanes at once to transport ultra-wide loads. Motorola’s promise of 4Gbps support would give consumer wireless devices several times the bandwidth of current business wired networks, enough speed to transfer one uncompressed CD every second, a DVD in 10 seconds, or a Blu-Ray Disc in less than a minute.
Although U.S. 5G networks haven’t yet broken the 3Gbps barrier, it’s likely to happen first here with mmWave technology. Motorola’s tight relationship with mmWave network pioneer Verizon suggests that at least one of the top three U.S. 5G providers may vault into this territory in the foreseeable future, enabling the Edge+ to deliver four times the peak speeds of today’s premium home broadband. As of today, users of prior Verizon 5G phones are seeing peaks in the mid-1Gbps range, with lower average speeds.
Other Edge+ specs are more familiar. Like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, Motorola includes a 108-megapixel main rear camera in addition to lower-resolution telephoto (8MP) and ultra-wide (16MP) lenses, plus a 25MP front camera. Video recording tops out at 6K resolution, backed by both optical and electronic image stabilization, with dual OIS on the main and telephoto cameras. There’s also a 5,000mAh battery, which Motorola claims is the largest of any 5G phone on the market, and enough to last for two full days running Android 10.
Motorola is also announcing Edge — a version that has the same screen and speakers, but drops to a Snapdragon 765 with sub-6GHz 5G but not mmWave support — with 4GB of memory in North America and 6GB in the rest of the world. Other downgrades include a 4,500mAh battery and 64MP main rear camera, and though both Edge and Edge+ include Bluetooth 5.1, only Edge+ supports Wi-Fi 6; Edge is stuck on Wi-Fi 5.
In the U.S., Edge+ will launch on May 14 exclusively with Verizon for $1,000 outright, or $41.66 per month for 24 months, with several deals available for customers with trade-ins or new line needs. Canadian Edge+ customers will be able to choose from four carriers: Bell, Rogers, Telus, and Freedom Mobile. Pricing and carrier details for the standard Edge are not yet available; Motorola says only that additional details will be available this summer.
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