Motorola Moto E, First Take: Great value, but only one camera

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Motorola stirred up the smartphone market last year with its Moto G handset, which launched at £135 and quickly became Motorola's best-selling phone ever. The Moto G has been a genuinely disruptive product — readers of handset reviews will be familiar with phrases like 'the less expensive Moto G does better', or, more bluntly, 'why buy this when you could buy the Moto G?'

The Moto G has just had a refresh to incorporate 4G and MicroSD storage expansion. At the same time Motorola launched the £89 Moto E , which fires a broadside at handset makers targeting the sub-£100 category. Indeed, Motorola has claimed that this is the handset that will finally bring the 'feature phone' era to an end.

The Moto E measures 64.8mm wide by 124.8mm deep by 12.3mm thick and weighs 142g. It's powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 SoC with 1GB of RAM, has quad-band GSM and 3G connectivity, 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE and GPS. Image: Motorola

The Moto E certainly has some impressive credentials. Headlining these is Android 4.4 in a pretty much unskinned form, along with good battery life — my experience with the Moto E so far indicates that with light usage you should be able to go two days between charges.

The Moto E has a 5-megapixel rear camera with no flash. There's no front-facing camera. Image: Motorola

The Moto E's 4.3-inch screen has an anti-smudge coating and is protected by tough Gorilla Glass 3, which is impressive at this price point. Indeed, the Moto E generally feels robustly built, and should hold its own in a travel bag full of school- or work-related gear. In contrast to the original Moto G, the Moto E has a MicroSD card slot, so the paltry 2.2GB of storage that remains from the internal 4GB is easily expanded.

Camera functionality is a potential deal breaker for some, though: the rear camera is a rather lacklustre 5-megapixel unit with no flash, and there's no front camera. A year or so ago this might not have been an issue, but with 'selfies' now firmly established among younger users (surely one of the key target markets for this handset), the lack of a front-facing camera may prove a trade-off too far. Anyone who likes to do videoconferencing on their phone via Google Hangouts or Skype will miss a front camera too.

Although the Moto E's 4.3-inch screen has a relatively low resolution of 540 by 960 pixels (256ppi), other aspects of the display bothered me more — notably moderate brightness and viewing angles. Both of these shortcomings will compromise outdoor use.

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There's another potential downside in that music-loving youngsters might not be wowed by the moderate sound quality from the single front-facing speaker that's hidden behind a narrow silver strip beneath the screen. It delivers enough volume, but high volume is no substitute for good audio quality.

Motorola may have caused a mini-revolution with the first-generation Moto G, but the Moto E has been built to even tighter financial constraints, and that shows. There are plenty of good things about this £89 handset, but there are clear opportunities for a competitor to improve on some aspects. Also, the £149 Moto G with 4G (LTE) connectivity, a front-facing camera and 8GB of internal storage may prove to be a bigger draw for those who are prepared to spend a bit more money.


Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Additional Features TTY compatible, Screen capture, Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Application Software Google Chrome, Google Play Movies & TV, Motorola Assist, Motorola Migrate, Quickoffice
Type Smartphone
Integrated Components FM radio, audio player, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider NET10, not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android
SIM Card Type micro SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
SAR Value 0.97 W/kg (body) / 1.5 W/kg (head)
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, FM radio, voice recorder, navigation
Body Color Black
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Messaging & Data Features Microsoft Excel support, Microsoft PowerPoint support, Microsoft Word support
Mobile Services Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Play, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Newsstand, Google Search, Motorola Assist, Motorola Migrate, Quickoffice
Messaging Services Google Hangouts, MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Google+, Yes
Included Accessories Power adapter
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty Dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
WLAN Security WPA2
Display Resolution 960 x 540 pixels
Pixel Density (ppi) 256
Diagonal Size 4.3 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 10.9 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 4.3 in
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass (scratch resistant glass)
Color Support color
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, reminder, stopwatch, synchronization with PC
Features Geo-tagging, panoramic pictures, video recording, Multi-shots, Slow motion video
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MPEG-4, H.264, H.263, VC-1, MPEG-4, DivX, H.264, WMV9
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, PCM, Ogg Vorbis, AMR, MP3, FLAC, AAC +, QCP, eAAC+, MIDI, MP3, WAV, AAC, PCM, Ogg Vorbis, AMR, MP3, FLAC, AAC +, OGG, eAAC+, MIDI, M4A
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC - up to 32 GB
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 302
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Digital Camera
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p)
Features Geo-tagging, panoramic pictures, video recording, Multi-shots, Slow motion video
Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola MOTO
Model E
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Additional Features Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), Screen capture, TTY compatible
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, MP3, AMR, FLAC, M4A, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, OGG, PCM, QCP, eAAC+, WAV
Supported Digital Video Standards DivX, H.263, H.264, MPEG-4, VC-1, WMV9
Installed Size 1 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 4 GB
Max Supported Size 32 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 302
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 5 megapixels

Where To Buy

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Where To Buy

Motorola Moto E (black)

Part Number: Moto E