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Moto E5 Play vs. Moto E4: Should you upgrade?

Last week, Motorola refreshed its wildly popular Moto G and Moto E series, among which is the new Moto E5 Play — an ultra-low-cost device targeted at prepaid customers who don't want to spend much more than $100.

Everyone's heard the old adage "you get what you pay for," and a few years ago that might've been true to some extent with inexpensive phones. These days, though, you can get a lot of bang for just a little buck; last year's Moto E4 impressed us with surprisingly nice design and performance, and the Moto E5 Play looks to continue that tradition. But if you already have the E4, is there any reason to upgrade to the newer model?

What's new with the Moto E5 Play?

The Moto E5 Play takes on a newer look and feel that closely emulates its more expensive counterparts. While the display is still 16:9 and 720p, it's been upsized from 5.0 to 5.2 inches, and the fingerprint sensor now rests on the back of the phone, hidden in the Motorola logo. The camera has also been upgraded, keeping the same 8MP resolution while seeing a bump in aperture from f/2.2 to f/2.0.

The Moto E5 Play is also running a newer version of Android — specifically, Android 8.0 Oreo —which could be a significant consideration for some shoppers given Motorola's poor track record with software updates. If you're on a Moto E4 right now, upgrading could be the only way you'll be able to move on from Nougat.

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Why you might not need to upgrade

Save for the redesign and newer software, there's honestly not a whole lot that's changed since last year's model. The Moto E4 sports the same Snapdragon 425 chipset, the same 2GB of RAM, and the same 16GB of internal storage, expandable via micro SD. It has the same splash-proof coating, the same 2800mAh battery, and the same Micro-USB port.

You probably don't need to upgrade quite yet.

So with all the specs almost identical across devices, what reason is there to upgrade? In all honesty, software might be the only factor — and for most people shopping in the sub-$200 range, that's likely not reason enough to justify the Moto E5 Play. The E4 is still an extremely capable device, all things considered.

None of this is to say that the Moto E5 Play is a bad buy. If you don't have either phone and you're simply in need of an upgrade from an older device, It's probably worth it to wait for the E5 Play to launch so you can enjoy the newer Oreo software. But if you're already rocking a Moto E4, you might be better off waiting for next year's model before upgrading.

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Which is right for you?

Do you have a Moto E4 right now? Are you planning to upgrade to the Moto E5 Play? Let us know in the comments below!

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

5 Comments
  • I've really got my heart set on the Nokia 6 2018 but if I can't swing that $270 price one of the E5 models would be a great consolation prize. I like Moto but Android one is a big attraction with the Nokia.
  • For me... E4 is ok...I think my Droid Mini was a better phone, even had a nice camera.. Would have been nice for them to stay with that.
    The E4 camera? Not bad, but not anything to write home about.
    I don't care for the fact that they feel that a notification light isn't important. Don't they realize that not every person on the planet has their phone in their face every minute of the day?
    That Moto Display is useful but not for someone who can't be by their phone 24/7
    I'm not sure if they brought back the notification light in the E5... But if you're like me and rely on that light... Check it out before buying that E5.
    Battery is great on the E4.. No problems there.
    Now... If we only could do away (in any phone) with those pre installed apps that we will never use, that would be great!
  • I have, am using moto e4+ for months now...specs is good...still no need for upgrade yet...
  • I'm a fan of these inexpensive prepaid phones as PMP's - portable media players. The Chrome Browser and one or two apps are frosting on the cake. Last year I got both the E4 and E4 Plus. Although both are just 720p both have very bright, full gamut, accurate screens. My preference is for 6" screens but these are hard to come by in this inexpensive niche. In fact, Walmart offered the E4 for just $39 during the annual sales, but the Plus set me back a much more substantial $119, iirc. The 5.2" E5 play with a Nexus 5x sized screen, albeit lower resolution, is certainly appealing IF it matches the E4 screen quality, but I'll have to wait to see what reviewers say, who get into tech specs of screens. Also it will depend on Walmart sales end of year. In short, for owners it's probably not worth the slightly larger screen. For immediate purchasers the E4 probably makes more sense IF the price is right. As inventory dries up, sometimes outgoing stock is only available from Amazon vendors and eBay at inflated prices, while at the same time prices are still too close to MSRP for the new model. I do think the incremental changes are value adding however.
  • you can get the e4 for $50-70 at any time... if oreo is the only upgrade for the e5 then it's not even remotely worth it even if you don't already own one. You'd be better off buying an e4 and flashing a custom rom. why the hell didn't they at least update the cpu?