Motorola has been riding a huge wave of success with the Moto G series since it was introduced, but over time that line has added capable and also price. The Moto E series now fills in the inexpensive slot underneath for people who still don't (or can't) spend much on a smartphone. The latest in the line is the Moto E5 series, which was unveiled in mid-April.
As is regularly the case with Motorola, the Moto E5 isn't one phone but three — and there are a few odd differences between the group that you should take into consideration when buying one. But when you figure it all out, you may find it's the go-to choice the next time you go to buy an inexpensive phone. Here's what you need to know.
The latest Moto E5 news
July 16, 2018 — Motorola announces an Android Go version of the E5 Play
A few months after the Moto E5 series was announced, Motorola's launching a new variant of the E5 Play that ditches the full Android experience for Android Go.
Dubbed as the Moto E5 Play with Android Oreo (Go Edition), this updated model actually has a few key spec differences compared to the regular E5 Play. Most notably, where the E5 Play has a 5.2-inch 16:9 display, the E5 Play Go Edition has a larger and more modern 5.3-inch 18:9 panel.
Also, seeing as how Android Go is designed for hardware with 1GB of RAM or less, that probably means we'll see the E5 Play's 2GB RAM cut in half.
In regards to pricing and availability, Motorola says the E5 Play will be sold in "various countries" across Europe and Latin America with pricing starting at €109 (about $127 USD).
All the big details
Read (and watch) our hands-on preview!
To get the quick take on the new Moto E5 series, check out our hands-on video above. And for the full layout of the entire line, including how the different models compare and which one is best for different buyers, read our full hands-on preview!
Three different E5 models
Just like the new Moto G6 series, there are three different E5 models for 2018. There's the "regular" Moto E5, along with a Moto E5 Plus and a Moto E5 Play. The E5 and E5 Plus are very similar in terms of performance and experience. They have large 18:9 displays, large batteries, TurboPower charging and pretty solid specs for their price. The E5 Plus only differentiates in its even larger battery at 5000mAh and a few spec bumps in processor, RAM, storage and screen size.
The E5 Play is the cheapest of the bunch, and is clearly a different base device that feels more like a continuation of last year's Moto E4 than a bottom-tier version of the new E5 design. It has a 16:9 display, small (but removable) battery and low-end specs designed to hit the lowest possible price for prepaid carriers and price-sensitive markets.
Most regions around the world will only have access to two of the three models. In the U.S., we'll have access to the E5 Plus and the E5 Play, and everyone but the most price-conscious among us will be best off getting the more modern and capable E5 Plus.
Big battery life
The Moto E5 series puts a big emphasis on battery life above just about any other feature. The Moto E5 has a sizable 4000mAh capacity, while the E5 Plus has a massive 5000mAh. Neither battery is removable, but that shouldn't be a problem — with power-efficient Snapdragon 400 series processors inside and just HD displays, either phone will be able to stretch a full two days so long as you're not hitting it too hard. Both phones also come with TurboPower fast chargers in the box for quicker top-ups when you do need to charge.
The Moto E5 Play interestingly doesn't take the same approach. It has a relatively small 2800mAh battery, which is proportionate to its 5.2-inch 16:9 display — but it's also removable, which is still an important feature for many people at this inexpensive price point. If you're willing to buy a replacement battery and have it charged up, a quick swap (and a phone reboot) will have you back up and running quickly.
Micro-USB, and (probably) no NFC
Motorola has almost entirely embraced the new USB-C port standard ... except on its least expensive phones, like the Moto E5 series. All three models have the older Micro-USB standard, which is rather disappointing from the standpoint of technology enthusiasts who are already on their second or third phone with USB-C. But Motorola says that a large portion of potential Moto E5 buyers still have a Micro-USB phone and Micro-USB accessories, and aren't quite ready to switch over to USB-C yet (for cost reasons).
More frustratingly and less excusable is the NFC situation. Across the E5 line (and G6 line), Motorola hasn't standardized on whether it will include NFC in its phones. Some models in some regions have NFC, and the same models in other regions don't. If NFC is important for you for mobile payments, be sure to carefully read the exact spec page for the exact model you're buying to make sure it has the radio.
Where and when can you buy them?
Motorola's E5 launch plans start in Latin America, which means we're going to have to wait a while longer for sales to open up in North America and other regions. We don't have a solid date yet, but we can expect late May or early June for retail availability — things can get a tad murky when you start looking at the various prepaid carrier variants as well.
As for pricing, expect it to stay low. The Moto E5 Play should debut around $100, and the E5 Plus should cost around $175 — again, carrier differences could influence these numbers heavily.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.