The Motorola Moto E7i Power is one of the cheapest mainstream phones we’ve seen in some time, but that needs to be weighed against a correspondingly limited offering.
For half the price of a Moto G30, you’re getting a 6.51-inch 720p LCD display, a 13MP camera, a Unisoc SC9863A processor, and a 5000 mAh battery. For non-techies, battery aside, these specs aren’t competitive with most of the best cheap phones we’ve tested this year.
But, for smartphone first-timers, parents looking for a cheap phone for young kids and those on a seriously strict budget, the Moto E7i Power is just about as solid a bet as you’ll get for less than £100.
- Low price
- Decent battery life
- Clean Android
- Very slow performance
- Sub-par 720p display
- Poor camers
- AndroidComes with a clean build of Android 10 Go
- BatteryHefty 5000mAh battery inside
- PriceVery affordable price
The Motorola Moto E7i Power might draw attention to its stamina through its ‘Power’ moniker, but the real signature feature here is its price tag.
In our business, the phrase ‘best cheap phone’ does an awful lot of heavy lifting. It’s frequently applied to a vast swathe of the market, with devices ranging from £150 right up to £400. But the Moto E7i Power makes such frivolous use of language feel borderline irresponsible.
At £79.99, the Moto E7i Power is the cheapest phone I have reviewed in an awful long time, undercutting even the £90 Nokia 1.4. It’s literally half the price of the Moto G30.
With a humble Unisoc SC9863A processor, a 720p LCD display, and one of the most stripped back camera systems you’ll find, there’s nothing remotely regal about the Moto E7i. But boy, is it budget-friendly.
Design and Screen
- All-plastic design
- Thick (9.2mm) and heavy (200g)
- Dim 720p LCD
Motorola is a proven master of making budget phones feel cheap, but the Moto E7i Power had to be its stiffest challenge yet. This is a price point that necessitates compromise at every turn.
You don’t expect glass and metal from an £80 phone. At this price it’s optimistic to expect high grade plastic. All you can really hope for is a phone that doesn’t feel like it’s going to come apart in your hands, and on that front the Moto E7i is largely a success.
Its all-plastic body is certainly chunky at 9.2mm thin, and it weighs a not-insignificant 200g. But it feels reasonably robust with it, and there’s little in the way of flexing or creaking when you apply some pressure. I did notice right off the bat that the red SIM tray flange was a little loosely fitted, however, and it got snagged during the initial set-up
I wouldn’t call it an attractive phone, but in the slightly shimmering Tahiti Blue shade that my model comes in (Coral Red is the other option), it’s certainly not ugly either.
Motorola has even found the space to incorporate a little texture to the buttons along the right hand edge, of which there are three: the power/sleep button has a fine grooved finish, the volume rocker is perfectly smooth, and there’s a dedicated Google Assistant button above that with four circular pips along its surface.
There are two ports on the E7i, and both of them are extremely welcome. The 3.5mm headphone jack on the top makes more sense here than on pretty much any other phone we’ve used this year, because if you’re spending this on a smartphone you’re unlikely to be shopping for one of the best wireless headphones on the market.
The USB-C port on the bottom is also far more notable here than elsewhere. It wasn’t too long ago that a sub-£100 phone would tend to include a terrible Micro USB port.
There’s no hole punch display notch around the front, so you’ll have to make do with an old school teardrop alternative. But it’s one of the more subtle ones.
The screen itself is just about the minimum spec you could imagine from a modern phone. It’s plenty big enough at 6.51-inches, and it’s an IPS display, so viewing angles aren’t terrible. But it doesn’t get very bright at all at 380 nits (typical), and its LCD colours lack any kind of pop or contrast. Needless to say, HDR support is not on the menu here.
The resolution is a poor 1600 x 720 (720p), so you won’t be getting the Full HD experience from video content. Thumbnail images and web content is where you’ll really spot the shortfall in day to day usage. Naturally, the refresh rate is a baseline 60Hz.
For all that, the Moto E7i Power’s display is just fine, given the price. It’ll display your messages and social media posts perfectly adequately, which is really all it’s likely to be asked to do by most people.
- 13MP main sensor takes barely adequate shots in good lighting
- Night mode is nigh-on useless, as is the 2MP macro sensor
- No telephoto or ultra-wide
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the Moto E7i Power’s camera provision isn’t great – it’s about as far from the best camera phone as you’ll get.
One of the main things you pay more for in a phone (generally speaking) is a decent camera, so of course a super-cheap phone shouldn’t be expected to take very good shots.
Taking point here is a 1/3.1″ 13MP wide sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and PDAF. This is a small, humble sensor without OIS or any fancy tricks, and the best thing I can say for it is that it doesn’t disappoint for the money.
In practice that means you’ll be able to capture adequate shots if you’re in nigh-on perfect lighting. They’ll be fine to share on social media and WhatsApp, with reasonably natural colors, and even a rudimentary grasp of contrast.
Don’t look too closely, though, or you’ll pick up on the grain in those blue skies, or the fact that detail drops off a cliff as soon as you stray indoors, or when the light dips. The Auto HDR is strictly limited too, completely failing to pick out darker areas in certain predominantly bright shots.
There’s a Night mode here, but from what I can see it’s not the usual multi-shot affair. Rather, it seems to simply artificially brighten the image, which is a quick and easy if wholly insufficient alternative. The results are predictably dark and grainy, and not something I’d term usable in any scenario.
The Moto E7i’s dual-camera set-up is one of the most pared-back you’ll find. But if anything, I feel it should have gone further. There’s absolutely no need for the 2MP macro sensor that’s been supplied here.
It’s fair enough that Motorola’s impossibly tight budget precluded the provision of an ultrawide and a telephoto sensor, though it does greatly hamper your shooting options. The video provision is similarly limited, with the possibility of a mere 1080p at 30fps.
There’s a 5MP selfie camera around the front, which sounds respectable, but is actually pretty terrible. Self-snaps lack pop, detail and invariably feature blown out highlights.
Ultimately, I feel a little silly talking about the Moto E7i Power’s camera quality, as it’s really not going to be a deciding factor for anyone weighing up a purchase. All they will really need to know is this: the Moto E7i Power is an incredibly cheap smartphone that also happens to take pictures.
- Humble Unisoc SC9863A offers basic performance
- Only 2GB RAM makes multi-tasking limited
- Scant 32GB storage runs out fast if you download media
If you’re expecting or even hoping that the Moto E7i Power can punch above its weight in the performance stakes, then we’d like to welcome you to the review. You should probably go back and read the previous sections, but never mind.
To give you the TL;DR summary: this is an £80 phone, which means severe compromises have been made at every turn. And that includes the silicon at the heart of it all.
You might not have heard of the Unisoc SC9863A chip before. Don’t worry, it’s hardly a household name. This is a humble 28nm octa-core chip, which is backed by an equally humble 2GB of RAM.
That would be below the minimum we’d hope for in an Android phone, but Google’s lightweight Android Go software ensures that it’s not a complete stutterthon. Layered on top of Android 10 rather than Android 11, it’s a perfectly clean and crisp take on Android with absolutely no bloatware whatsoever.
Everything runs on Google’s apps, which makes it more pleasant to use than some flagship phones with their ugly custom UIs. Well, almost.
Don’t set your sights on any kind of advanced multi-tasking or 3D gaming, though. An average Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 474 is about a third of the score attained by the £160 Moto G30.
In the interest of science I booted up a round of PUBG Mobile. Interestingly, while it defaults to the lowest (Smooth) Graphics settings, it also defaults to Medium rather than Low Frame Rate. Jumping into the classic Erangel map, though, I wished it had played it safer, as the experience was halting and clunky.
Backing this up is 32GB of internal storage, which is something not seen for years. Even £200 phones have started offering 128GB these days. There is a microSD slot, at least, so you can expand that.
Really this all confirms that if you’re after smartphone bangs for your bucks, you ideally want to be shopping around the £150 mark and above these days. Below that point you’re looking at severely diminishing returns.
Of course, many people will simply be unable or unwilling to pay more than £80 for a smartphone – perhaps for a young child, or for an elderly relative. From that perspective, the Moto E7i Power performs perfectly well. Skipping between home screens occurs without too much incident, and there’s nothing that feels fundamentally broken here. That’s progress compared to many previous super-cheap handsets.
- 5000 mAh battery is large, but not still slightly smaller than the G9 Power
- 40 hours battery life during testing
- Slow 10W charger supplied
The Moto E7i Power joins Motorola’s family of stamina-focused phones, but it doesn’t have the whopping great 6000mAh cell of the Moto G9 Power we tested at the start of the year.
Instead, it relies on an altogether more compact 5000 mAh cell. That’s still far from small, and is it is bigger than the batteries of most flagship phones these days. But it’s also not an unusual spec for an affordable phone.
Motorola’s claims for the E7i Power are a more modest 40 hours on a single charge, as opposed to 60 hours for the Moto G9 Power.
Still, together with that dim 720p display, the Moto E7i Power packs decent stamina. I found that I was able to get through a long 15 hour day of light usage (2 hours 30 of screen on time) with more than 60% left in the tank. And as we’ve hopefully established, light usage is what this phone is intended for.
Heavier usage scenarios, such as media consumption, will hit that battery hard. One hour of Netflix streaming took 12% out of the E7i Power, which isn’t too hot at all. Your average £200 smartphone with a 5000 mAh battery, like the Oppo A54 5G, will sap 9% in similar circumstances.
All of which leads me to suspect that moderate users could potentially shoot for just shy of two days of usage on a single charge. In other words: Motorola was about right on its 40 hours claim.
The Moto E7i Power has been bundled with a 10W wired charger, which is pretty slow by modern standards. It’s another compromise in service of that price tag, and you can easily double or even triple those charging speeds by spending £160 to £200.
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Should you buy it?
You need the cheapest smartphone possible from a reliable brand: At £80, phones don’t get any cheaper than the Moto E7i Power without compromising on reliability
You plan on doing anything intensive: The Moto E7i Power has just about the most humble specs you can imagine, so you’ll need to keep things light
It’s seriously impressive how Motorola has managed to build such a competent phone for so little money. Still, those cuts run deep, and spending a little more money will get you significantly superior results.
How we test
We thoroughly test every mobile phone we review. We use industry standard testing 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.
This phone runs Android 10 (Go Edition)
No, this is a 4G phone
Motorola states 40 hours, which seems accurate