The word 'edge' used to mean something at the dawn of curved display panels and later in Motorola's lineup - the original Motorola Edge from 2020 had sloping display sides. Subsequent models turned flat, however, keeping the name to maintain continuity in the lineup. Well, the Edge 30 Ultra goes back to the roots and reintroduces the curved display.
A curved display is one of those traits that bring an air of exclusivity and expensiveness to any phone, and the Ultra certainly feels premium. The edge display has minimal borders on the sides, yes, but also above and below it, making for a refined, flagship-grade presentation.
We did encounter the occasional lapse in mistouch prevention - the bane of curved screens. Oddly enough, that only happened in artificial situations while posing for the lifestyle photos and not in actual operation by this one reviewer. It's one of those things that tends to be fairly personal and may or may not show up in your experience, depending on usage specifics.
The top of the Gorilla Glass 5 front panel has a slit chiseled for the earpiece, and the earpiece also doubles as a second speaker - directed only towards the front. The selfie camera cutout below that is looking pretty small and certainly doesn't remotely hint at the number of pixels underneath.
Also made of Gorilla Glass 5 is the rear panel, but it's finished differently. It's got an antiglare treatment, so it's not at all glossy, which makes it very resistant to accumulating fingerprints.
The flipside to this frosted surface is that it's particularly slippery, but this isn't unique to the Edge 30 Ultra, and we'd say it's on the right side of the trade-off.
While the rear panel can look pretty mundane under most circumstances, especially so on our Interstellar Black review unit, if you were to take it out in the sun, it sparkles like it's covered in glitter, an effect we've seen on a number of other phones recently, and one we kind of like.
The other color option goes by Starlight White and has the same finish, so it's identical to the touch. The glittery effect does tend to be a little more pronounced, and it takes less intense light for it to show through.
Regardless of colorway, the Edge 30 Ultra has the same IP52 rating for dust and water resistance, and that's not very reassuring. Motorola says it should be good for 'accidental spills, splashes or light rain' but explicitly states it's not designed to be dunked in water. In a world where the Galaxy A53 has an IP67 rating and should be able to survive for 30 minutes under a meter of water, while costing a little over a third of the Edge 30 Ultra, Motorola's half-baked approach doesn't look good.
The back itself does, though. Motorola refrained from overdesigning things, and the rear is stylishly minimalistic. The 'accents' include the famed bat logo and a small 'motorola' badge down below, but there are no further distractions.
Admittedly, the camera island's three-stepped build may appear odd from some angles, but it was the designers' logical solution to accommodating the different cameras with their varying height requirements. The 200MP main unit takes the top spot, the other two are arranged symmetrically underneath, and there's not a whole lot of unnecessary text - just the key specs for the primary camera.
That protruding camera assembly does have the predictable downside that it makes the phone wobble if you try to type on it while it's resting on a table. But we dare say that the bump is more of a good thing than a nuisance because it raises the phone enough from the surface to make it easier to pick up.
Without that aid, it would be a little more fiddly to lift the Edge 30 Ultra - the otherwise premium aluminum frame is particularly thin at the sides as a result of the matching edge curvature front and back, and offers little gripping area. The frame can feel a little sharp in places, those places being the corners - it's somewhat scratchy where the corner of the handset meets the inside of your palm. It's hardly a dealbreaker, but it did come up.
The placement of the usual bits along the phone's perimeter doesn't bring any surprises. The power button and volume rocker are both on the right, and the very thinness of the side rail means the buttons themselves are pretty slim. The power button, in particular, is also rather short, but its knurled surface does help make it easier to locate.
All the regulatory texts you didn't see on the back are scattered on the bottom - out of sight where they belong. They do have to navigate some obstacles here - the USB-C port, main loudspeaker, primary mic, and card slot (dual nano SIM, no microSD) are here, as usual. On the far end, you'll only see a mic opening and a Dolby Atmos logo.
The Edge 30 Ultra measures 161.8x73.5x8.4mm and weighs 199g, Motorola's specs read. It's taller (by 4.4mm) but narrower (by 2.3mm) than a Galaxy S22+, and it's marginally smaller in every direction than a OnePlus 10 Pro (though practically the same). The Galaxy is close to a millimeter thinner than the Moto, but the Moto's sloping sides and thin frame do make it subjectively more compact.
Of course, being a 6.7(-ish)-inch phone, the Edge 30 Ultra is best handled with two hands for any operations more complex than doomscrolling. The slippery back and thin sides don't help either, and a more deliberate application of the Neil deGrasse Tyson principle is recommended, once you get the phone out of the box. Either that, or use the included case.