Let’s not beat around the bush. Moto E is a phenomenal smartphone. No, it doesn’t dazzle like iPhone 5S or packs in a gazillion features like Galaxy S5. But it doesn’t have to. With a price of Rs 7,000, it needs to just provide basic but hassle-free smartphone experience to people who don’t want to or can’t splurge more than Rs 10,000 on a phone. And Moto E does exactly that. Not only does it offer a good smartphone experience but in some cases does so in a way that puts it ahead of more expensive devices.
Yes, there are a few misses in Moto E. We will tell you where it falls short and where it excels in this review, but if you are in a hurry to get the device, you can go ahead and pull the trigger. Moto E is worth its price.
With this out, let’s take a better look at Moto E and what makes it such an appealing deal.
Build and design
Last year when Motorola rebooted its smartphone business with Moto X, a premium phone, it probably decided to use a similar design in all its phones. Moto X had rounded edges, a curved back cover stylishly carved on the top, the primary camera topped with a round glass cover, a metal ring around the camera and the Motorola logo under the camera. Moto G, launched a few months after Moto X, had the same design even though its finish and build quality was more mainstream.
Moto E continues the tradition. It looks similar to Moto X and Moto G. However, Moto E is also an unmistakably budget phone, in both design specifications and build quality.
At its thickest point, Moto E measures 12.3mm, which makes it chubby compared to lean and sleek Moto X and stocky Moto G. It also weighs 142 grams, which is on the heavier side for a phone with 4.3-inch screen. The build quality doesn’t match what Moto G or Moto X offer. But see all of it in the context. For its price, Moto E is mighty nice. The plastic back cover, which can be removed to access sim and microSD card slots (but not battery), has matte finish and feels soft to touch. This makes Moto E a better device compared to phones that use cheap glossy plastic.
The overall build quality is a step up from what other companies offer in phones priced below Rs 10,000. The screen on Moto E is covered with tough glass – Gorilla Glass version 3, to be precise – something that is a rarity on mainstream and budget phones. The Gorilla Glass gives the phone a solid feel. Though it is not slim and light, the compact size, curved back cover and rounded edges make Moto E a phone that is easy to handle and use.
Good screens are expensive and companies often put cheap screens in budget phones. Motorola reverses the trend and equips Moto E with a screen that is really good, considering the low price of the device. The 4.3-inch screen in Moto E has resolution of 540x960pixels (540P). It is not as sharp as 720P or 1080P screens in more expensive, but unless you stare at it from close, the text and images on Moto E screen look clear enough. It also displays rich colours and has decent viewing angles. Movies on the device are enjoyable because the image doesn’t get distorted much if you tilt or move your head while watching them.
Unless you try to read an article under direct sunlight, you will be satisfied with the brightness of Moto E screen.
Moto E is powered by Android 4.4.2 aka KitKat. This is the latest version of Android. Unlike other companies, Motorola is also promising to update Moto E to the next major version of Android.
Punit Soni, Motorola’s vice president for products, told TOI that the company would like to support the device for at least 18 months with software updates. But even if that doesn’t happen, he promised, Motorola would update Moto E to the next version of Android.
Since last year, Motorola uses almost an unmodified version of Android in its devices. This makes a Moto device like Moto E similar to a Nexus phone. The launcher and lock screens are more or less same. Google Now, the virtual assistant built into Android, works without any fuss. And so do the Android keyboard and Voice search. The on-screen buttons – Home, Back and Multitasking – work the way they do on Nexus devices.
This is different (in a good way) compared to what other manufacturers offer by modifying the user interface, feature set, navigation buttons and other aspects of Android in their phones.
In terms of extras, Motorola offers just a few unique apps. There is an Alert app, which can “alert” your contacts in case of emergency. Then there is the Assist app, which can monitor your schedule and put the phone in silent mode when you are sleeping or when you are in a meeting.
While Motorola decided against going with a cheap screen, on camera it probably saved some money in a bid to keep the price of the phone low. Moto E is not a shooter’s delight. It lacks a front camera. So, no selfies with Moto E unless you are standing in front of a mirror.
The primary camera can shoot images in 5 megapixels, a decent number for a budget phone. But as we have said earlier, the number of pixels doesn’t matter. The camera in Moto E lacks flash as well as auto focus. Fixed focus is not much of an issue when you are shooting portraits or photos of friends, but if you are trying to click close ups, it is a problem. Moto E has a difficulty focussing on close objects. Even when the subject is around a metre away, the camera tends to shoot soft images.
Photos shot with Moto E in good light show noise and have colours that look artificially punchy. The camera also doesn’t capture details well and tries to compensate by sharpening the image. The end result is not good. Images shot in low light too come out noisy.
Compared to cameras in other similarly priced phones, Moto E does an average job. Most of the time you will be able to click photos that you can share on Facebook or Twitter. But don’t expect clear and shiny photos that more expensive smartphones can manage. One good feature of Moto E camera is that you can change the exposure by selecting the area in a scene that you are trying to capture. This helps in low light scenes.
The device shoots 480P videos. The video recording is good. It is possible to shoot clear and usable video footage, albeit in 480P, in good light.
Moto E uses a dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz. It has 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage (2.2GB user accessible) and support for up to 32GB microSD card. Apart from 1GB RAM, there is nothing striking about Moto E hardware.
However, Motorola has optimized the software well. In daily use, we found Moto E to be a good performer. During browsing we found the pinch-to-zoom gesture on a webpage smooth. While switching between apps we didn’t notice any significant lag. When we scrolled in apps like Facebook and Twitter, the performance was smooth.
Yet, Moto E doesn’t feel as speedy as Moto G or high-end phones. You may notice a hint of lag from time to time. But this is not the kind of lag that will slow down a user. After clicking on dialer, you won’t have to wait for a few seconds before the call log opens. When you are quickly scrolling through the photos in your Gallery app on Moto E, it doesn’t freeze for a second or two the way some other budget phones do.
Again putting it in context, Moto E offers performance that is superior to most of the Android phones selling for less than Rs 15,000. Under Rs 10,000, there is no Android phone that offers similar performance.
But more than the performance, the real deal with Moto E is that it does almost everything that a more expensive Android phone can do. It offers very good GPS performance, a rarity in a mainstream phone, and that allows users to utilize apps like Google Maps and Runkeeper. It can play 720P videos and in some cases even 1080P files. It gives users a Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, YouTube experience that is not lacking in any significant way compared to what they can get with more expensive phones.
Moto E supports two sim cards. When we used it with a 3G connection and Wi-Fi, we found the connection speed to be satisfactory.
Moto E has a mono speaker under the screen that is loud enough to fill a small room with sound even though the quality of sound is not particularly rich. Sound quality during music playback through headphones and calls is satisfactory.
Battery life too is good. The device has a 1,980mAh battery. When used with a 3G connection, Moto E lasted around 15 to 16 hours before we had to recharge its battery, ?which was above average.
First a number: In 3D Mark, which measure graphics performance, Moto E scores over 3700 points. This is more than what HP Slate 6 and Lenovo Vibe X (both have an MRP of more than Rs 20,000) score. It is also more than what Nexus 7 (2012) scores. For a budget phone, this is a really impressive performance.
In actual use too we found Moto E to be a decent performer. We played Asphalt 8, a demanding game, at high graphics settings on Moto E. However, there was some occasional lag so we switched to medium graphics settings for smoother gameplay. We also played casual games like Angry Birds Go and Temple Run with ease on Moto E.
Key takeaway: Moto E may not be able to run some demanding games that may come out in future but it can handle most of the existing games and you can have lot of fun with it if you are fond of Angry Birds and friends.
As we said earlier, Moto E is worth its asking price of Rs 6,999. There is no other Android device in sub-Rs 10,000 that offers comparable value.
There are two competitors to Moto E: Nokia Lumia 520 and Spice MI-515. Both have their own set of issues.
Lumia 520 is not an Android device. It offers comparable performance to Moto E but inferior Gmail/YouTube/browsing/gaming experience. Also, Android devices have access to better apps. Spice MI-515 is a really impressive phone, with performance similar to that of Moto E. But it is almost a year old now, runs an older version of Android, probably won’t get any upgrade, and has questionable build quality. Both Lumia 520 and MI-515 also cost around Rs 1,500 more.
Moto E is kind of a total package for people looking to get a smartphone for less than Rs 10,000. Except the camera and low internal storage (it could be an issue if you install many games), the device gets everything else right. Yes, it is not in the league of expensive phones, but if you were waiting for a good budget Android phone before you ditch your feature phone, your wait is over. You can safely go for Moto E. It is the best sub-Rs 10,000 phone in the market right now.