large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Motorola Moto E Review - Camera Review

Motorola Moto E – Camera

The Motorola Moto E has a very basic camera get-up. There’s no front-facing camera and no rear flash. This means no selfies, no video chat and any photos you take at poorly-lit parties will probably look dreadful.

Motorola Moto E 14

Just as important, the Moto E’s main 5-megapixel camera has a fixed focus, rather than an autofocus lens. You can’t make the camera lock onto a specific subject, just point and shoot. Moving the ‘aim’ reticule in the camera app only affects exposure.

It has been a while since we’ve seen a fixed focus phone camera, and despite the low £80 price we find this a little disappointing. A fixed camera means the Moto E cannot take close-up photos at all – the subject will simply be out of focus:

Image quality is acceptable given our limited expectations of a 5-megapixel camera these days, but it is most definitely a serious compromise. Pictures are often a little glum-looking, with somewhat anaemic colours and low contrast, but you can just about scrape together some share-able shots with the phone.

Motorola Moto E 24
Colours slightly muted, detail limited. The Moto E camera is not great.

It’s largely a triumph of processing, the Moto E’s software really making use of what the basic 5-megapixel sensor can provide. As is so often the case in affordable phones these days, the star of the show is HDR, a mode that merges multiple exposures to increase shadow detail and get rid of overexposure.

The Moto E very successfully ramps-up the effect as needed – oddly enough it only appears to actually judge the level needed when you first look at the photo in the phone’s gallery, rather than at shooting. This may be to reduce processing time when shooting, which is already quite lengthy. A couple of seconds are needed per shot.

Motorola Moto E 26

Motorola Moto E 25
HDR can inject some life into the Moto E’s dull-looking standard shots

Motorola Moto E 2
Here’s another example of HDR in action

You need try and be still for a second or so when shooting in HDR, so it’s more for landscapes than action shots. And some more extreme HDR effects show quite a difference in contrast between areas of an image, making them look slightly odd.

In low light, the results are predictably fairly poor too, but the Moto E has a fair stab at using noise reduction to stop shots from becoming a grainy mess. Low in detail? Certainly, but they are not flat-out ugly.

On the video side, you can only shoot video at 854 x 480 pixel resolution, which is not really high enough to warrant taking clips off the phone.

The Moto E uses the same style of camera app as the Moto G, a gesture-based system where you flick from the left or right of the screen to access camera settings and your gallery. It’s pretty slick, but I do think many people might actually get one better with a more utilitarian app.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.