Motorola Edge 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 6 Pro vs TCL 20 Pro

Motorola Edge 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 6 Pro vs TCL 20 Pro
Left to right: TVL 20 Pro, Giggle Pixel 6 Pro and Motorola Edge 20 Pro.

When it comes to Android smart phones, there is a ridiculous amount of choice. In Australia, there are heaps of brands with “flagship” smartphones ranging in price from $150-$3000, and the choice between them isn’t as easy or obvious as it is with an iPhone. So, let’s look at three of the most affordable flagships from reputable brands: the Motorola Edge 20 Pro, the TCL 20 Pro and the one you’ve actually heard of: the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Price

Long after you’ve forgotten the price, you’re still stuck with the phone. Most Australians use their smartphone for three years these days, but they’re also likely to spend an average of $750 on their phone. While going for the fanciest phone with all the bells and whistles sounds great, most people actually don’t take advantage of everything their phone can do, so more expensive doesn’t always equal better for your purposes.

At the time of writing, the RRP for the phones is as follows:

  • Google Pixel 6 Pro: From $1299
  • Motorola Edge 20 Pro: $899 (but available on sale for $699)
  • TCL 20 Pro 5G: $799 (but available on sale for $775)

Winner: Motorola Edge 20 Pro (if you can find it on sale)

Appearance

When it comes to phones, looks are everything – you’re going to be constantly staring at the bloody thing.

With the phones off, the Pixel and Edge 20 Pro are much wider, and the screens of the Pixel and TCL wrap nicely. The border of the bright blue TCL is much more apparent.

Flipping them over, Google clearly wants to accentuate the camera notch on the back, kind of giving it an angry unibrow. The back of the Motorola is functional, and I hate the look of the ugly camera protuberance, but I do love the electric blue colour. The TCL has a beautiful bright blue, like you’d see in an aquarium with topical fish, and four fairly unobtrusive camera cut-outs with three small options of flash.

Winner: While I love the colour of the Edge 20, the back is just hideous. So, I’m calling this a tie for Pixel and TCL, because I’m equally ambivalent about the Pixel’s sleek lines and the TCL’s eye-catching blue.

Screen

In terms of responsiveness, the Pixel is the only one that consistently recognises my touch. I’m not sure if my hands are too dry for the other two, but there seems to be an area on the TCL that I always have to deliberately tap a few times to get it to register, and the Motorola just doesn’t respond as quickly as I’d like. At first glance, all three have vibrant colours, and you’d probably be happy with any of them if you weren’t directly comparing them all the time. The colours on the TCL look stunning at a glance, but up close it just looks a little dead and lifeless, as though they have no depth. The Motorola Edge 20 Pro is a step up, still not as good as the fancier flagships I’ve tested, but you wouldn’t be too disappointed. However, the Google Pixel just looks amazing with lovely HDR textures and a more premium look.

Winner: There’s no competition here – it’s the Google Pixel.

Comfort

This is an area that seems to be overlooked a lot in phone design. You have to spend so much time holding smartphones, and yet they’re designed to be as thin, slippy and pointy as possible.

While the back of the Motorola Edge 20 Pro is really slippery, the sides have enough grip that it’s not too unpleasant to hold. I don’t feel like I’m at risk of dropping it at any second, and it’s relatively easy to reach the top and bottom of the screen without twisting my hands into knots. I do get a bit of a cramp in my thumb joint if I use it for too long, because of how I have to wedge it in, but it’s survivable.

I really like the textured buttons of the TCL 20 Pro 5G – they feel great. But the way the screen is angled, it’s difficult to hold it comfortably in one hand without accidentally pressing stuff. The narrower screen does make it easier to navigate one-handed, though, which is nice. And there’s enough grip that I don’t have to contort to avoid dropping it.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is designed so you have to support the body with your little finger at the bottom. There’s no way around it. It’s a little thicker than the other two phones, so I found slightly less cramping, but the wider screen, the slippery body and the curved screen means you’re going to have to contort your hand a bit to hold it.

Winner: None of these phones are genuinely comfortable to hold, and all of them would benefit from a grippy cover and a PopSocket, which is disappointing, because both those items are hideous.

Camera

Have a flick through the nine pics before I get into them below.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Google Pixel 6 Pro photo in standard mode.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Motorola Edge 20 Pro photo in standard mode.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

TCL 20 Pro photo in standard mode.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

TCL 20 Pro portrait mode photo.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Google Pixel 6 Pro portrait mode photo.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Motorola Edge 20 Pro portrait mode photo.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Motorola Edge 20 Pro selfie photo.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

TCL 20 Pro 5G selfie photo.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Google Pixel 6 Pro selfie photo.

In the normal photos, the Pixel gives a lot more detail. You can really see the texture of the petals. But it’s been given a weird filter, making it look blue, sad and moody despite being taken on a bright, sunny day.

The Motorola Edge 20 Pro still has some detail, but the lighting looks a bit weird.

My pick is the TCL, because although it’s nowhere near as sharp and has more of a soap opera lens feel, it is a better representation of the lighting and scene at the time. Both the Motorola and Pixel are too processed for my taste.

For portrait mode, I can’t see the effect the TCL has applied. It looks almost the same as the normal photo, which is unimpressive.

Motorola’s AI hasn’t managed to include all the petals as part of the plant, blurring some and enhancing others. I do like the detail on the bud and I think the lighting is good, but the uneven application of the effect is irksome.

The Pixel has made this flower on a sunny day look super moody. This is an emo orchid. I continue to hate the filter effect, though I’m sure it’s customisable. But I love the detail and look of the flower, even if not all of it is in focus.

On the selfies, I love the rainbow lens flare the TCL 20 Pro gave me, but the phone was clean and it really shouldn’t have done that. I am not Christopher Nolan.

The Motorola had a second to choose which of my features it wanted to highlight and it chose violence. Every pore and blackhead has been enhanced with the blackest blacks, making for a super unflattering photo. There’s also a weird tint making my hair look magenta – all of it is just off and off-putting. No excuse to have a selfie camera be this hostile in 2021.

Meanwhile, the Pixel has displayed the colours as they are and made me look like an actual person. I love this selfie camera. Only criticism is that it’s decided the red bag filled with knitting behind me is part of my hair, which is hilarious.

While I didn’t use it in these comparison tests (because the other two phones can’t do it) the Pixel 6 line can also erase unwanted background extras in your photos, which is a helpful touch.

Verdict: The Google Pixel 6 Pro is a clear winner, particularly for its selfie camera.

Connectivity

On pure specs alone, the Pixel 6 Pro crushes the competition. It’s got mmWave 5G, Bluetooth 5.2 and supports more 5G bands, so it’s more compatible in more countries should any of us ever travel again. Next up is the Motorola Edge 20 Pro with its relatively decent 5G coverage and Bluetooth 5.1. Meanwhile, the TCL is stuck in the past, not supporting Wi-Fi 6, only having USB-C 2.0 (the others are 3.1). Most people probably won’t really notice the difference, but given how close the Motorola and TCL are in price, this is very disappointing from TCL.

Winner: Google Pixel 6 Pro. It’s not even close.

Battery

The Google has a 5000 mAh lithium battery, while the other two have 4500 mAh batteries.

Winner: Google Pixel 6 Pro

Accessory availability

Both the TCL and Motorola come with fairly ugly basic clear cases in the box. They’ll be protected from scratches and the most gentle drop. Over in the Google corner, popularity has its perks, and there are plenty of cases in various colours and styles to choose from. If you want to be able to buy pretty cases to protect your phone or hold things, then the winner is obvious.

Winner: Google Pixel 6 Pro

Verdict

Obviously, the Google Pixel 6 Pro is the better phone overall if money was no object and you just had to choose between these three phones. But, not everyone has the dough to spend more than $1,000 on a phone, and I was surprised by how close some of the tests were. Both the Motorola Edge 20 Pro and the TCL 20 Pro 5G are clearly budget phones, but the Motorola (which started with a higher price point) is really punching above its weight.

Unless you’re a very keen photographer, you wouldn’t be disappointed by either of the two budget models, but while they’re priced similarly, the Motorola has an edge (pun intended) over the TCL, which is built and behaves like a cheaper phone.