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Now with LTE, the new Moto E is the best sub-$150 Android phone

  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good

Pros

  • The Moto E now comes with LTE, putting it on par with the very vast majority of new smartphones on today's market. The price point with the customization throws almost every other entry-level Android phone out of the running.

Cons

  • You don't get much for your buck performance wise. The design and the casing of the smartphone will be acceptable to most, but it will fall far below the average fashionista's expectations.
The new LTE-enable Moto E (Image: ZDNet/CBS Interactive)

NEW YORK -- Motorola on Wednesday unveiled the new Moto E budget smartphone. You're likely not going to get a better deal on a well-built Android smartphone in the sub-$150 bracket.

It's one of the first mobile devices off the production line since Chinese giant Lenovo snapped up the mobile-making division from Google late last year.

Since then, the company has beefed up the internals of its lowest-range branded phone and added core functionality for Western markets.

Now with the addition of LTE, the smartphone might be a highly-desirable option for low-budget users in metropolitan areas. (There will be a 3G-only version available for emerging markets.)

Hands-on with the new Moto E smartphone

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The device itself is light at 145g (5.1 ounces). The Qualcomm 1.2GHz quad-core powered phone lands with a slightly larger 4.5-inch qHD display (with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels).

It's not the sharpest of screens, but it's far from unreasonable for the cost. Motorola says the display has a pixel density of about 245 pixels-per-inch (ppi), or around half that of the iPhone 6. It's certainly noticeable, but not a deal-breaker in a low-budget device.

Included is 1GB of RAM, which has to be conserved. The rear-camera has a modest 5-megapixel sensor, along with a basic VGA front-facing camera for video calling. There's 8GB storage included -- a bump from the first generation model, which can be expanded to 32GB with a microSD card.

The phone also comes with the latest version of Android 5.0 "Lollipop." Motorola says the 2,390 mAh battery will last at least a full day.

The Moto E probably won't win any awards for its far-from-breathtaking design, but it's sturdy and comfortable to hold. (Don't go throwing it around -- it probably won't endure much of a drop.)

While the first-generation model had a plastic backing that could be swapped and changed, this version has an outer band with a range of vibrant colors.

First-take conclusion: A strong low-budget business play

You don't get much bang for your buck. But for an entry-level Android phone, the Moto E has some marked improvements from its first-generation model, making it a highly-desirable option for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users.

The Moto E is available on Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular.

Bottom line: It's a fantastic device for the price, considering its downsides.

Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type Smartphone
Integrated Components FM radio, audio player, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, GLONASS, GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 5.0 Lollipop
SIM Card Type micro SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Additional Features Dual microphones
Details
Integrated Components FM radio, audio player, voice recorder, navigation, Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, FM radio, voice recorder, navigation
Body Color Black
Messaging & Internet
Mobile Services Google Maps, Video Call
Messaging Services Google+ Hangouts, MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Google+, Yes
Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Included Accessories Power adapter
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, LTE
4G LTE Band Band 1, Band 12, Band 17, Band 20, Band 2, Band 3, Band 4, Band 7, Band 5
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
WLAN Security WPA2
Processor
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Type QUALCOMM Snapdragon 410
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty quad-core
Display
Technology IPS
Display Resolution 960 x 540 pixels
Pixel Density (ppi) 245
Diagonal Size 4.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 11.4 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 4.5 in
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (scratch resistant glass)
Color Support color
Camera
Digital Zoom 4
Focus Adjustment automatic
Features Burst mode, Geo-tagging, Quick Capture, Slow motion video, panoramic pictures, video recording, tap to focus
Front-facing Camera VGA
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MPEG-4, H.264
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, AAC, MP3, AAC +, MIDI, M4A
Memory
RAM 1 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC - up to 32 GB
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 306
Battery
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Technology Lithium ion
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Digital Camera
Digital Zoom 4
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Focus Adjustment automatic
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p), 854 x 480
Features Burst mode, Geo-tagging, Quick Capture, Slow motion video, panoramic pictures, video recording, tap to focus
Header
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola Moto
Model E (2nd Gen.)
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Additional Features Dual microphones
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, M4A, MIDI, MP3, WAV
Supported Digital Video Standards H.264, MPEG-4
RAM
Installed Size 1 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 8 GB
Max Supported Size 32 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 306
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 5 megapixels
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 0.3 Megapixel

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