Why Motorola wants your next phone to have a 200MP camera

What do Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022 have in common with a 200-megapixel camera? Both are catching Motorola’s eye as it prepares to grab your attention the next time you shop for a new smartphone.

Digital Trends spoke with Ruben Castano, Head of Customer Experience and Design at Motorola, and Rahul Desai, Director of Camera and Imaging at Motorola, about the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra and Edge 30 Neo . The 30 Ultra is the first internationally available phone with a 200MP camera, and the 30 Neo is the brand’s first phone created with color experts Pantone.

Explore Motorola’s Exceptional Phones

The back of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra and Edge 30 Neo.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra (left to right) and Edge 30 Neo Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Edge 30 Ultra and Edge 30 Neo are Motorola’s latest devices. Both represent new territory for the brand, with the Edge 30 Ultra being a true flagship smartphone — a segment that hasn’t really been the focus of Motorola’s attention for a while — and the Edge 30 Neo being the first device created with Pantone.

The main feature of the Edge 30 Ultra is the 200MP main camera, which is Samsung’s ISOCELL HP1 sensor which we also recently tried on the Xiaomi 12T Pro. It sits alongside a 50MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm 8+ Gen 1 processor with 12GB of RAM, and the display is a 6.67-inch curved pOLED panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution. What else? There’s a huge 60MP selfie camera, 4,612mAh battery, 125W wired fast charging and 50W wireless charging, IP52 water resistance rating, 5G and Android 12.

The screens of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra and Edge 30 Neo.
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra (left to right) and Edge 30 Neo Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Edge 30 Neo is a different beast, and it’s all in the colors. It’s the Very Peri model in our photos, based on Pantone’s color of the year, and if it’s too bright you can also get it in Ice Palace, Black Onyx and Aqua Foam colors.

The phone is distinctly mid-range, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, 8GB of RAM, 6.28-inch pOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, IP52 rating, 5G, 4,020mAh battery and 60W wired fast charging and wireless charging.

Bringing a 200MP Camera to the Edge 30 Ultra

The camera on the back of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

“It’s a massive sensor,” Castano smiled as we discussed how the 200MP camera affected the design of the Edge 30 Ultra. “It takes up quite a bit of space, so we celebrated the fact that we had this camera, and that’s a really important part. It’s pretty much the first thing you see on the back of the camera, with a lot of emphasis on quality and detail. We landed on this idea of ​​creating an almost layered approach between the flash, the two secondary cameras and the main camera as the most elegant way to ‘fit in. Still, it’s a very thin device with a curved screen on the front and curved glass on the back. So a lot of research went into it, with a lot of tweaks and refinements until that we get reactions like, “Oh, this looks good, this looks premium.”

It certainly stands out on the back of the Edge 30 Ultra, but not so much that’s all you see. The module prides itself on the matte-finish frosted glass back panel and layered plinth, but it’s great to see such a large sensor treated so subtly and wrapped in an 8.4mm-thick device that doesn’t weigh only 198 grams. I asked Desai what makes the 200MP camera so exciting and what should you think about when shooting with it?

“The best way to take advantage of the extra level of detail is to use really expansive landscape photography. We’re talking about images of mountains, lakes and nature in general. That’s the best way to show it” , revealed Desai, before adding a word of caution, “When working in 200MP mode, it’s essential that you have plenty of light. We recommend brighter scenes to really enjoy it. It’s not really made for taking pictures inside the house, for example.

For those times when you’re not taking photos using all 200 megapixels, the Edge 30 Ultra’s camera takes 15MP quad-pixel photos.

“In everyday circumstances, [the camera] operates in a pixel clustering mode where we combine a number of pixels at a lower resolution for much better low light performance. Desai continued. “People have the advantage of choosing a very high resolution or getting very good performance in everyday use.”

Motorola has worked hard to maintain consistency between the cameras, as well as the software that drives them.

“We think of the camera as a camera system, not just a standalone camera,” Desai said. “A lot of the software work is making sure the main 200MP rear camera works well with the wide-angle and telephoto cameras. From the user’s point of view, we want to make sure that they don’t know which particular camera is chosen, so that the transition from one camera to another is smooth. It also involves making sure that each individual camera’s setting matches, so that when you zoom, for example, from the main camera to telephoto, the colors don’t suddenly change.

The stunning Pantone colors of the Edge 30 Neo

The Pantone logo of the Motorola Edge 30 Neo.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Consistency in the colors produced by the camera is key, but there’s a lot more experimentation when it comes to the Edge 30 Neo, the first smartphone Motorola and Pantone worked on together. The phone you see in our photos is in Very Peri, Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022. We asked Castano what prompted Motorola to work with Pantone:

“Color has a huge impact on the emotional reaction consumers have to our products,” he said. “Internally, we do a lot of color research and quantify the emotional response [to the color], something that Pantone, thanks to its expertise after many years of work in the field of color, has really perfected. They can not only anticipate trends, but also understand how people will emotionally react to a color almost on a psychological level. This is what first prompted us to work with Pantone.

But a color is surely a color, isn’t it? Castano talked more about our relationship with color and why it’s important to get it right on a smartphone.

“Cell phones are becoming vehicles for personal expression. We do everything on our devices. So there is a lot more [to choosing a color] than just picking up the device and dipping it into a bucket of color that we hope will be trending over the next six to 12 months. Color is a powerful tool. Pantone data shows that color influences buying decisions by up to 85% and also increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

If color is so important, how was the decision on the Edge 30 Neo’s four colors made?

“The color of the year 2022 was, in a way, almost a no-brainer,” Castano said. “We were announcing our partnership with Pantone, and it’s the biggest color this year, so it had to be. The two complementary colors to this one, Ice Palace and Aqua Foam, are the result of collaborating with Pantone and identifying two additional relevant shades that would complement the meaning of the Very Peri color. The fourth is a dark neutral black. It is always needed as part of any product line.

“There’s a reason why we select a camera, why we select the chipset and why we select the display,” Castano concluded of the brand’s approach to phone manufacturing. “Now there is also a good reason why the colors are selected and the meaning behind them.”

Motorola, megapixels, Pantone and the future

The Motorola Edge 30 Neo held in a person's hand.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Motorola has a multi-year partnership with Pantone, and it’s also exclusive, meaning you won’t see any other smartphone maker partnering with the company in the same way. It is also worth noting that the Edge 30 Ultra is the first smartphone sold outside of China with the 200MP ISOCELL camera inside. These two devices also arrive at the same time as Motorola launched the new Motorola Razr 2022 foldable smartphone. There is no doubt that Motorola is working hard to attract attention, and with colors like Very Peri on its phones and 200MP cameras top of the spec lists, it certainly does.

Currently, neither the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra nor the Edge 30 Neo are available in the US, but have been released in the UK. The Edge 30 Ultra costs 750 pounds, or around $875, while the Edge 30 Neo weighs 350 pounds. or about $408. It’s possible that both devices will come to North America in the future, possibly under different names.

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