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

  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good
  • $129.99

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.
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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

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.

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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

Details
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
Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Application Software Google Chrome
Type Smartphone
Integrated Components FM radio, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android
SIM Card Type micro SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Miscellaneous
Included Accessories USB cable, power adapter
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Mobile Services Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Play, YouTube
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Yes
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Processor
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty Dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor
Display
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
Camera
Features panoramic pictures, video recording
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards VC-1, MPEG-4, DivX, H.264, WMV9
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, PCM, Ogg Vorbis, AMR, MP3, FLAC, AAC +, QCP, eAAC+, MIDI
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 302
Location
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC - up to 32 GB
Battery
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Digital Camera
Features panoramic pictures, video recording
Header
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola Moto
Model E
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Features
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, AMR, FLAC, MIDI, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, PCM, QCP, eAAC+
Supported Digital Video Standards DivX, H.264, MPEG-4, VC-1, WMV9
RAM
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