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Motorola Moto E review

Andrew Williams

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Awards

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Motorola Moto E
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Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Great value
  • Class-leading screen
  • Up-to-date software

Cons

  • Poor camera
  • Limited storage
  • Low-end CPU

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Key Features

  • 4.3-inch 960 x 540 IPS screen
  • Android 4.4
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • Manufacturer: Motorola
  • Review Price: £79.99

What is the Motorola Moto E?

The Motorola Moto E is a slightly smaller, slightly cheaper alternative to the Moto G, the highest-selling phone Motorola has ever made.

For around £80 you get a simple, pretty high-quality mobile with fewer cutbacks than you’d see in a Samsung phone of the same price, and none of the odd design choices common to lesser-known brands like Huawei and ZTE. It’s not quite as market-shaping a device as the Moto G, but it is another bargain.

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Motorola Moto E – Design

The Motorola Moto E is a very simple-looking, non-showy little phone. Its body is plastic, there are no particularly attention-grabbing design quirks and it cares much more about feeling comfortable in-hand than being super-thin.

At 12.3mm thick the Moto E is a chunky little mobile, but the smooth curves of the soft touch back are a delight. It’s a fair bit softer-feeling than the Moto G too.

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Other than being smaller – but tubbier – than the Moto G, the main design difference is the use of little silver bars above and below the screen. These initially appear to be decorative – they’re not buttons – but they are actually outputs for the phone’s speakers.

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The top one houses the earpiece speaker, the lower one the main speaker. It’s a cunning way to incorporate a front-facing speaker output without having to make the thing absolutely tiny. More on whether it’s any good later.

Thanks to these silvery bits, the Moto E has a marginally less slick look than its bigger brother, but this is still a phone that could easily pass for something twice the price. It’s more of a looker than the obviously bargain basement Samsung Galaxy Fame (a phone that is admittedly getting on a bit).

One of the Moto E’s big aesthetic wins is that it does not use separate soft keys. They’re built into the Android software instead. While this cuts into the available screen space, it helps give the phone a simple and pure look.

Well, that and Motorola’s refreshingly ego-free approach to hardware design. “Motorola” is not written anywhere on the phone, and there is just a small Motorola logo in a neat finger-friendly indent on the phone’s rear. Both the Moto G and Moto E have a simple design that doesn't come across as anonymous or boring: great work on Motorola’s part.

There are some very welcome finishing touches, too. The Moto E screen’s top layer is Gorilla Glass 3, a very strong toughened glass we don’t normally see in phones this cheap. And there’s a special coating to the phone’s exterior (its core part, not the battery cover) that provides some water resistance. As a result you can’t remove the battery, but it’s a compromise that makes sense for the sort of buyer the Moto E is aimed at: it’ll likely survive an accidental dunk in the bath or sink.

You only get 4GB of internal memory with the Moto E, and this becomes a serious roadblock when trying to install some data-hungry. However, there is a memory card slot under the rear cover. Still, not all games simply let you install to SD. It’s one of the phone’s more irritating compromises, making the card slot more useful for storing music and video files than anything else.

Motorola Moto E – Screen

One of the main cutbacks of the Moto E is the screen. It’s a 4.3-inch 960 x 540 pixel display, a little smaller and significantly lower-res than the Moto G’s 4.5-inch 720p screen.

Those used to high resolution phones will notice the slightly more jaggedy edges of text characters, and a lack of fine detail in games.

Is it a big sacrifice for the sake of £20 or so? Yes, but the Moto E display can still go head-to-head with phones that cost upwards of £150. At £80 it's class-leading. Many far more expensive phones than the Moto E ‘make do’ with a similar 960 x 540 pixel screen.

These include the Sony Xperia M2 (4.8 inches), the HTC Desire 601 (4.7 inches) and LG G2 Mini (4.7 inches). All cost more than twice the price of the Motorola Moto E. It’s an eye-opener.

Image quality is good too. Colours are well-saturated among sub-£150 phones, contrast is good and viewed straight on black level is marginally better than the Moto G. Viewing angles are a bit weaker, though. There’s a bit of brightness loss at an angle, although we doubt many will try to share a screen this size anyway.

As much as there are compromises, once again Motorola has made the right choices with the Moto E display. Resolution is slightly limited but general image quality is well in excess of what we traditionally expect at the price. But, yes, the Moto G is better.

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iFrank

May 21, 2014, 6:17 pm

Even 'techies' love simple, especially when they perform basic functions very well.
Usually, low-end items do not do much, badly.

This is a blinder of a spare/just want to send a text on a bus, from the pub, phone.
Although in a pub context, perhaps a slightly larger screen might be advisable :-)

Sohpia Bright

May 28, 2014, 6:56 am

Amazing review. I just got it via FlipKart. Grab it ! It does not deserve 2nd thought !The best android experience I had in mid entry level . CPU is fast, smooth touch n multitasking, above all a premium feel ! Bravo Motorola !

All the indian guys should get it from this amazing discount link which comes with priority shipping - bit DOT ly (Forward Slash) BuyMotoEIndia

To get the discount, just remove the spaces and instead of forward slash put / and for dot put . I got the device in a single day without priority shipping!

Brahmnoor Singh

May 30, 2014, 9:09 am

Great discount Sohpia! I got priority shipping using this link. :)

santosh

September 3, 2014, 2:10 pm

it get restarts every few hours in the day automatically, How this problem will get resolved?

livingos

November 25, 2014, 7:25 pm

I bought one for my son, but it is useless. Be careful about what you are getting. this is not a phone for downloading apps, esp games, in fact you won't get any games on this device. The limited internal storage renders the phone useless after you have just a few apps. The SD card is a red herring, yes you can push your media on there but most apps can't run from the card.

Here is what Motorolla UK support so helpfully told me, after I had purchased the phone:

"The Moto E is a phone mainly for people who rely on a smartphone for calls and for the odd internet lookup"

So not really a smart phone. Nice enough if you just make calls and use browser.

DO NOT BUY THIS IF YOU WANT TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.

aq1018

December 1, 2014, 10:55 am

This is selling for $10 on Walmart right now. ( Cyber Monday. ) I grabbed 2 just for the heck of it...

Divdev

December 9, 2014, 3:42 am

not really a smart phone? lmao wtf it has a browser that's responsive, it has basic app functionality and gps functionality. It's better than the first smart phone that ever came out. If you wanted a gaming phone why would you spend less than 200 dollars? Its your own fault. Its a smartphone. Not a gaming phone. Tech scrub xD

Emily Cobena

December 10, 2014, 5:49 am

I bought it on September month as I was highly impressed with its specification but from last few days around 15-20 days, I am facing that my phone get switched off automatically & in addition internet network is not coming in the phone even when I stand below the tower. I already change my SIM slot but situation is same.

Is there is anyone who are facing same type of problem?

I don't know how to sort out this, Can any one give me any suggestion what to do?

Should I apply for replacement?

Miguel Ramirez

May 10, 2015, 4:09 am

even that, i play games smoothly on a Droid Razr, and it has less powerful hardware than Moto E lol, even Real Racing 3 runs well.

Jack W

January 2, 2016, 1:13 pm

Got it at Target. Target salesperson assured me it's unlocked. It's actually VERY LOCKED. I couldn't use it overseas. Motorola refused to unlock. Interestingly, they collected many of my personal information ahead first after my my detailed info about the unlocking requesting including providing them specific ID string (before they refused). Despite my persistent but unsatisfactory demands for answer, they closed the case, cowardly citing "We have not heard from you concerning your request for support in the 72 hours since we sent you a response. Consequently, we have changed the status of your question to Solved." despite my replay within a day. Am I a sour grape? At least I've learned it by heart, the hard way.

So buyer beware. Beware of Motorola customer service after the fact. Beware of what actually you're buying as well.

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