Motorola Edge 50 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: may not cost as much, but it rocks with style!

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Intro

Motorola recently announced its new Edge phones, and the 2024 flagship is called… would you look at that — Motorola Edge 50 Ultra. As per Moto’s style, it doesn’t have the most powerful hardware, but does have a killer display and a very cool design and style.

As per usual, the phone hasn’t hit the US market yet. We do suppose that it will in the near future, under the moniker Motorola Edge Ultra 2024, or something to that tune.So, let’s put it up against a true mainstream staple — the big bad, the iPhone 15 Pro Max from Apple. Will the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra have what it takes to pull some customers from the big i? Does it pack enough punch for a lower price?

Motorola Edge 50 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max differences:

Table of Contents:

Read more:
Motorola Edge 50 Ultra Review: Motorola’s design team strikes again
Motorola Edge 50 Ultra VS Edge 40 Pro: A price hike, but at least it sounds justified

Design and Display

Cool design options

Motorola puts a lot of emphasis on style and accessorizing with your phone. We saw the Edge phones from previous years come in a sleek, slim design, with a faux leather back and Pantone colors. The new Motorola Edge 50 Ultra now adds a nice wood option for the phone’s back shell, which surely looks striking.

The iPhone has the good old recognizable look — a soft rectangle with completely flat front and back, a protruding camera that seems to be getting bigger by the year, and an all-titanium coating around its metal frame. Truly premium build here as well.

The Motorola feels sleeker and easier to hold thanks to its curved design. It’s also grippier, with both its vegan leather or textured wood finishes. And it’s definitely lighter, at 197 g versus the iPhone’s 221 g.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has the Action Button on the side, which you can program to quick-launch or toggle multiple different functions from the software. Unfortunately, the Action Button can only do one thing at a time — it’s activated by a single press and hold. No double presses, no quick taps.

But then, the Edge 50 Ultra does have the Moto gestures — chop chop to light a flashlight, twist in the air to launch the camera, so it has some tricks up its sleeve.

As for colors, with the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra, you will get to choose between Forest Gray and Peach Fuzz for the leather options, and the wood model comes in a Nordic Wood finish. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes in Natural Titanium, Blue, White, or Black Titanium — relatively safe, if boring, options.

Both screens here are rather large, at 6.7 inches. The Motorola has a 20:9 aspect ratio, so it will be very slightly taller and narrower than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Edge 50 Ultra comes with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels for a 393 pixels-per-inch density, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max responds with a sharper 1290 x 2796 for 460 PPI.

We are also looking at curved display vs fully flat screen, so it will feel like you have slightly less real estate to work with on the Motorola. The plus here is that… curved screens look cool!

Both are OLED panels with high refresh rate, though Motorola pushes for more frames. The Edge 50 Ultra can hit 144 Hz refresh rates, where the iPhone 15 Pro Max has 120 Hz ProMotion tech.

Display Measurements:

Motorola claims 2,500 nits peak brightness for the Edge 50 Ultra, which is more than the iPhone’s 2,000 nits. However, peak brightness is just a small part of the story — it only measures a part of the screen for a fraction of time. It’s a measure that speaks to the HDR capabilities of a display. Our test measures full-screen brightness, and the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra aces that test, too. The iPhone’s 1,100 nits are also nothing to snark at — in general, both phones are perfectly viewable under sunlight.

On the Motorola, there’s an under-screen fingerprint scanner for biometrics. Apple, of course, uses Face ID, which takes up a pill-sized cutout at the top of the screen. And, as you probably know, iOS “dresses” this area up with different widgets when you have active apps in the background, to sort of make it feel like the cutout is a part of the whole experience. It’s called the Dynamic Island.

Performance and Software

Not running that particular race

The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra doesn’t try to stomp with the big boys. Instead, it comes with the new Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset — a chip that’s less powerful than even the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. However, its selling point is that it comes with hardware that supports generative AI and on-device AI, Wi-Fi 7, and other modern features. Its on-bard GPU also supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing.

The Apple A17 Pro is, of course, a powerhouse of a chip. It may throttle easily, since it needs really good thermal management. But it still performs better than the lower-range Snadpragon 8s Gen 3.

But that’s just for number crunchers. The Motorola software is typically extremely light, and the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 has the right specs where it matters. We are excited to test the Edge 50 Ultra, but expect we won’t have complaints about day-to-day performance.

Performance Benchmarks:

The Moto Edge 50 Ultra starts out at 512 GB storage and 12 GB RAM — quite generous, and it can go up to 1 TB / 16 GB. The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at 256 GB / 8 GB and can go up to 1 TB / 8 GB.

Motorola hasn’t said anything particular about new AI features, so it may be a bit behind in that particular race. The iPhone will probably be getting something juicy — and we will learn more about it during next week’s WWDC.

Camera

Triple threat, twice over

The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra has all the specs — 50 MP main camera with an F1.6 lens, 50 MP ultra-wide camera, and 64 MP 3x telephoto camera. The iPhone 15 Pro Max features a 48 MP F1.8 main camera, 12 MP ultra-wide, and 12 MP zoom camera with the 5x tetraprism lens.

Main Camera

The Edge 50 Ultra produces photos that are OK, but it definitely can’t play with the big boys. It struggles a bit with dynamics, and can get close to burning highlights. It definitely loses some detail in the extreme brights and extreme shadows. And, speaking of detail, there’s a smidgen of oversharpening going on. And, compared to the iPhone photos — colors are a bit washed out on the Motorola samples.

As the light dims, these differences become more evident. The Edge 50 Ultra kind of flattens dynamics, makes the photo a bit too exposed, and washes out colors. The iPhone holds steady, with dark shadows and balanced highlights, and definitely more true-to-life skintone.

Zoom Quality

The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra has a 3x telephoto lens, but uses sensor crop-in to get a 6x magnification — and it proudly gives you that option as a natural button within the app. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, of course, has the tetraprism lens with a 5x magnification.

The Motorola does pretty good here — dynamics are wide, sharpening is crisp but not overdone, colors look nice. Good photo to put against the iPhone.

At 10x zoom, it becomes pretty evident that both phones are flexing digital muscle. The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra sample shows a lot of oversharpening — trying to recover detail that isn’t there. The iPhone 15 Pro Max just blurs fine lines up. So, no exact winner here — these are not super zoom cameras.

Ultra-wide Camera

On the ultra-wide camera front, the Motorola cracks a bit — images come out with colors overtuned and shadows too bright. And while both phones can be caught oversharpening here, to compensate for the lower detail of the ultra-wide cameras, the Motorola is more prone to exhibit halos around finer details.

Interestingly enough, the roles are a bit reversed with the selfie cameras. It’s the iPhone that amps up colors and makes pictures look a bit HDR-y with its attempt to even out dynamics. The Edge 50 Ultra, on the other hand, looks a bit softer, a bit washed-out, but colors are kind of closer to reality. We would assume that most would gravitate towards the iPhone selfie here — though it looks a bit too doctored, a bit too “made-to-be-good”.

Video

Video Thumbnail

When shooting video, the Motorola footage looks a bit hazy, soft on the details. Colors are also amped and there’s a green tint over the footage. It’s certainly not fair to pit it against the iPhone 15 Pro Max here — one of the best smartphones for video shooting when it comes to colors, dynamics, details, and stabilization.

Battery Life and Charging

125 W vs 25 W

The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra sports a 4,500 mAh battery, which is less than the typical 5,000 mAh that modern flagships get. However, it doesn’t need to push a monster of a processor and a super-high-res screen, nor does the Moto UI have a lot of stuff running in the background. So, it just might pull off a day-and-a-half type, dependable battery endurance.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 4,422 mAh cell, which is also a far cry from the 5,000 mAh standard. However, iOS is excellent at retaining battery percentages, especially when the phone is in standby. Which is why a lot of people can get full two days out of it on a single charge.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

Now, when it comes to charging, the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra might just take the cake. With a 125 W charger, it tops up extremely fast — that’s something the iPhone is still lagging behind on.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:

Audio Quality and Haptics

Both phones here rock stereo speakers in the bottom woofer – earpiece driver setup. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is among the best sounding smartphones today — with a V-shaped EQ, surprising amount of bass, and sparkly presence. It can also get decently loud. The Motorola Edge 50 Ultra is a step below that, lacking in depth and volume, but it still has decent speakers.

The same comparison can be done on haptics — the iPhone’s Taptic engine is precise, clicky, and satisfying. Motorola’s phones don’t tread far behind and the software is filled with events that trigger haptic feedback, as if it’s proud of it. It clicks and clacks with every toggle, every time you reach the end of a list.

Specs Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of the core specs. For a full sheet, check out our Motorola Edge 50 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max specs comparison page.

Summary

These are two very different phones that do have one crossing point — the style. iPhones are, of course, associated as high-quality, premium accessories. And the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra definitely wants to also be seen this way with its cool leather / wood finishes.

We assume that if one has their mind set on an iPhone 15 Pro Max, it would be hard to dissuade them. However, if one is bored by the Apple design, or is just now taking their first pick — the Moto Edge 50 Ultra may have some pulling power. It’d be interesting to see if it actually attracts customers from its competitors in Android land.


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