Motorola's new entry-level champion offers exceptional value
At events around the world today, Motorola unveiled the Moto E, its most affordable handset in recent times. Following on from the high-end Moto X and the budget-conscious Moto G, the Moto E has the lowest barrier to entry of any current Motorola smartphone, going for just £89 SIM-free in the UK and $129 in the U.S.
And you're getting a surprising amount of smartphone muscle for that price — a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 4.3-inch qHD (960x540) display. Moto's keen to emphasise its pixel density of 256ppi rather than the actual resolution, but it's a good-looking screen despite failing to reach the 720p standard of the Moto G. And for £89, we can hardly complain.
Other notables include a 1,980mAh and a 5-megapixel camera, which seems to perform similarly to the Moto G's rear shooter — which is to say it's decent, but not great. You do get Motorola's custom camera app, however, which compensates for the relatively low-end camera with auto HDR and easy focus and exposure controls. There's only 4GB of internal storage, but this is offset by the presence of a microSD slot.
Physically, the Moto E is the spitting image of its larger siblings, with a curved, hand-friendly design and a snap-off back panel in the style of the Moto G. And like that phone, Motorola says it'll cater to Moto E owners of all tastes, with various snap-on colored backs.
Physically, the Moto E is the spitting image of its larger siblings
Motorola continues to deliver solid performance from relatively humble hardware. Whereas many entry-level Android phones still struggle with day-to-day performance, the Moto E isn't noticeably any slower than the Moto G. We'll be interested to see how much performance degrades with heavy tasks, but casually flipping through apps and loading web pages presented no challenge whatsoever.
On the software side, you're looking at a suite of features very similar to what's offered by the Moto G. The Moto X's fancier capabilities, such as active display and touchless control, are still out of reach, but it's a solid software experience for an entry-level smartphone. Motorola Assist, which provides intelligent control options for when you're sleeping, driving or in a meeting, is onboard, as is Motorola Migrate, for bringing over user data from earlier devices. And Motorola Alert is a new addition on the Moto E, allowing you to easily share your location with friends and family when entering or leaving certain places.
Motorola continues to deliver solid performance from relatively humble hardware.
Motorola's enviable track record with software updates looks set to continue with the Moto E — the manufacturer has promised at least one major OS update beyond the current Android 4.4.x KitKat.
All considered, we'd struggle to find any sub-£100 smartphone we'd recommend as much as the Moto E, even after spending a relatively short time with the handset. We're eager give it some heavier use, and see just how far that £89 (or $129) goes when it comes to more intensive smartphone tasks. But for now, the Moto E has made a positive first impression.