We review Motorola’s brand new Moto E, an update on the supremely cheap Android phone originally launched last year. Now packing Android Lollipop and 4G, the new Moto E is seriously great value at a shade over £100…
We thought Motorola couldn’t offer any better value than the Moto G mobile, which packs a gorgeous HD screen and decent 8-megapixel camera for just £150. The Moto G basically rules the mid-range market, and now a 4G model has been announced too, to stab further fear into the hearts of rival mobiles.
But now the Moto E has kicked in the door and strode in all cocky, showing off its Android Lollipop and 4G sexiness, for a shade over £100. So, has Motorola just killed the Moto G with its latest handset? Let’s see.
Motorola’s Moto E is your typical chunky cheapy handset at first glance, with a good amount of heft to it. At 145g it’s not heavy but it definitely helps the Moto E to feel rugged and we reckon it could brush off the odd tumble without issue. It’s also quite compact, so it’ll happily slip into a pocket and it’s comfortable to use one-handed.
However, the new Moto E does boast a rather neat quirk, namely the removeable waistband. While the original Moto E’s entire rear plate snapped off to reveal the card slots, on the Moto E you just peel off the edge instead. The SIM and memory card slots are housed underneath, out of view, which keeps the phone looking neat and tidy.
And best of all, you can swap out the edge for another colour (our review unit came with pink and blue efforts), to change up the Moto E’s look in a flash.
Screen & Media
Last year’s Moto E had a 4.3-inch screen and that’s now been boosted to a 4.5-incher, which once again is bright and bold for a budget display. Viewing angles are great and the screen doesn’t seem to pick up grime too easily, a blessed relief for greasy-fingered users like myself.
Of course, as this isn’t an HD panel, if you look close you can see those individual pixels forming the desktop icons and photos. And colours are rather muted, something you can pretty much expect of basic displays.
Still, the screen is perfectly fine for messing around with apps, web browsing and other everyday tasks and I happily enjoyed a bit of YouTue action too (when I wasn’t hard at work writing this review, of course).
Interface and features
The big boon of the new Moto E is the 4G support, which means you can browse the web, engage with your social accounts and stream media through services such as Netflix and Spotify, all at blistering speeds. Of course, there are two caveats. First, you need a 4G contract, which tends to be quite pricey – especially when you push for unlimited all-you-can-eat data. And second, you need to exist in an area with 4G support.
Tick those boxes and you’ll enjoy a slick online experience, while Motorola has made general everyday use a joy too, thanks to the vanilla Android Lollipop OS. We’ve already extensively covered the best features of Lollipop, but we finally get multiple users, an all-inclusive Gmail, the ability to unlock your phone with Bluetooth gear and a host of other nifty additions.
Motorola thankfuly hasn’t ploughed lots of crapware onto the Moto E either, keeping things nice and tidy. What you do get is its Moto app, which is like a simple virtual assistant. Moto can keep the phone quiet and dark while you’re asleep, prevent interruptions during scheduled meetings and so on. It’s nowhere near as complex as Google Now, but it’s a nice little inclusion all the same, and very much take it or leave it.
Performance and battery life
Android Lollipop runs with a satisfying smoothness thanks to the 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor tucked away inside the Moto E, although we did see a couple of funny little glitches when unlocking the phone or messing around in menus. Still, that seemed to be the occasional one-off and the Moto E soon settled down, proving up to the job of playing racing games and editing photos.
The Moto E’s battery happily lasts over a day even with regular use and if you need a phone to entertain you on a long commute each day, this mobile is a solid budget choice. We found it lasted around six to seven hours when we played video non-stop which is easily above average for a modern handset.
The Moto E 4G’s 5-megapixel camera can be woken with a quick double-twist of the wrist, even from hibernation, which takes you straight into the simple camera interface. It really is a case of tap to snap, with a draggable focus point if you need to sharpen up your subject manually.
Sadly, despite the commendable experience, the Moto E’s camera is a predictable weak point and a basic snapper at best.
My photos were mostly hazy and lacking detail when viewed back on a TV, especially those taken out of natural light. There’s also no flash, same as last year’s model, which means your low-light shots will be grainy and ugly. However, the snaps were perfectly fine for sharing on social media and you can shoot simple 720p video too.
And like pretty much every phone these days, you get a selfie cam above the screen for sharing your lovely mug with the world. It’s a super-basic VGA lens, which means you won’t be captured in much detail – possibly a good thing for some, but obviously you Recombu readers are a beautiful bunch, so you really deserve some serious HD tech.
At £109, the Motorola Moto E offers impressive value for money and shaves a whole £50 off the price of the freshly-launched Moto G 4G. There are some sacrifices, of course: you don’t get the same sharp HD panel of the Moto G 4G and the camera is a basic snapper. But for a nippy online experience and satisfying everyday use, the Moto E delivers in spades.