Moto E Review
The Moto E 2015 revision packs in 4G connectivity, but does this justify a new three-figure price tag?IBTimes UK

Moto E Key features:

  • 4.5-inch display (960 x 540 pixels)
  • Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 8GB storage
  • 4G connectivity
  • Price as reviewed: £109
  • Buy on Amazon

Less than a year after the original Moto E, Motorola has come up with a more modern version of its budget smartphone. A few tweaks have been made to the external design, while inside the performance has been upgraded with faster 4G connectivity.

In 2014, IBTimes UK named the Moto E its best sub-£100 smartphone, praising the decent processor and solid build quality.

A £20 price bump means the Moto E 2015 can no longer be considered in the same price category, while the arrival of several new budget smartphones in the market means that Motorola's latest offering faces stiffer competition in the category.

So how does it stack up against the likes of the Honor Holly and the Asus ZenFone 5? And do the upgrades warrant the three-figure price tag that its predecessor lacks?


Moto E review: Design


The simple design of the Moto E has been spruced up with some customisable case features. Interchangeable "Bands" come with the phone, which clip on to the side of the phone to add a touch of colour. There is also a transparent shell that clips in place of the decorative Bands that adds a seamless protective casing to the device.

moto e review specs
The Moto E is customisable with coloured plastic trimIBTimes UK

The minimalist design from the original Moto E is improved upon with a rear case that is no longer removable. This gives it a more solid feel, however it also means that it's not possible to replace the battery.

An increase in screen size means the Moto E 2015 is slightly larger than its predecessor but this is largely keeping with the general trend for larger-screened handsets across the smartphone market.

One noticeable downside is that it feels a lot bulkier than higher-end devices, though this is a common gripe for all budget smartphones.


Moto E review: Hardware, performance and battery life


An upgrade from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 to a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 boosts the Moto E 2015's performance to that of its slightly more expensive Moto G counterpart. Despite this, like on the original Moto E some apps can be slow to load. Others that require a fair amount of processing power – like the augmented reality app Animal 4D+ – simply didn't work at all.

The inclusion of 4G LTE connectivity is a big plus and a rarity for budget smartphones. It could be a big deciding factor for customers looking at this price range.

The already-decent battery life of the original Moto E has been improved upon, offering around 20% more with its 2,390mAh capacity. It easily lasts for a full day of normal use, while infrequent use it can see it last for several days.

The Moto E 2015 comes pre-loaded with the Android Lollipop (5.0.2) with very little modification from Motorola. In terms of Android mobile operating systems this is about as simple as they come, which is definitely not a bad thing.

It feels uncluttered with unnecessary apps and screen furniture and functions perfectly well while including a few twists. The Actions feature is perhaps the most notable, allowing the camera to be loaded by turning your wrist.


Moto E review: Screen


moto e review budget
The Moto EIBTimes UK

An increased screen size from 4.3 inches to 4.5 inches has been fitted onto the Moto E 2015 without actually making the device much bigger.

Only 5mm has been added to the height and 2mm to the width, neither of which are very noticeable when you have the device in your hand.

Despite the larger screen size, the actual pixel resolution (960 x 540) has remained the same. This leads to a further reduction in definition and detail on a screen that was merely adequate to begin with.

Where this screen does perform well is brightness, which holds up alongside higher-end models when used in bright sunshine. An auto-brightness feature has also been added that helps with the phone's battery life.


Moto E review: Camera


In our review of the original Moto E, the biggest qualm we had was with the camera. A 5-megapixel sensor meant pictures lacked clarity and detail, while the lack of a flash meant low-light photography was impossible.

Unfortunately, these same problems have been carried across to the Moto E 2015. Users wanting a better camera experience would be advised to upgrade to the Moto G or choose the 8-megapixel offering that comes with the Honor Holly.

moto e review camera
The Moto E cut some corners on the cameraIBTimes UK

The only improvement in the camera department is that the smartphone now features a front-facing camera that can be employed for video calls.

Overall the camera is a disappointment and it's clear that this is the area in which Motorola has made the biggest compromise to achieve the low price.


Moto E review: Cost and conclusion


At £109, the £20 price increase is probably worth it, though the Moto E 2015 is still lacking in some key areas, most notably the camera and screen.

The arrival of the Honor Holly and the Asus ZenPhone means this is no longer in a class of its own in the budget category and these weaknesses are more evident.

However, the addition of 4G and customisability means that so long as the camera is of not much importance for you then this is a very capable device.

Scores:

  • Screen 7/10 – Poor pixel density of original Moto E made worse with bigger screen.
  • Camera 3/10 – 5-megapixels and no flash makes it one of the worst smartphone cameras around.
  • Software 9/10 – A relatively unmodified version of Android makes it smooth and easy to use.
  • Design 8/10 – Simple design but customisability adds a nice personal touch.
  • Build quality 9/10 – A very solid device for the price .
  • Overall 7/10 – Let down by the camera and the 3-figure price might be enough to put people off.

The Good:

  • Bargain price.
  • Decent processor and 4G connectivity.
  • Solid build quality.

The Bad:

  • Terrible camera.