Motorola Moto E Smartphone Review

Daniel Schuster (translated by A Kammel), 06/04/2014

Melting prices. It's summer time and Motorola is cutting prices. After the huge success of the Moto G - not only review-wise, but also customer-wise - the Moto E offers quite a lot for even less. But even though it manages to impress on a first glance in terms of specs and pricing, it still has to stand up to the scrutiny of our in-depth review.

For the original German review, see here.

For a number of years, nobody seemed to care much about Motorola. This changed abruptly with the release of the Moto G at the end of 2013. This great - and yet cheap (169 Euros (~$230) for the 8-GB version) - smartphone managed to not only convince us, but also the public, putting a lot of pressure on the competition. A lot has happened since that time, including the release of the Moto X and the concurrent sale of Google-owned Motorola to the Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo (with only Motorola's patents remaining with Google). While we do not know Lenovo's exact plans for Motorola, it seems to be focused on offering even more affordable smartphones.

Now, the Moto E is supposed to further the success story of the Moto series that started with the Moto G, combining above-average specs with a below-average price of just 119 Euros (~$162). Everything has been shrunk a bit when compared to the Moto G. The display is smaller by 0.2 inches, the SoC is different (while still clocked at 1.2 GHz), the internal storage has been reduced to 4 GB, yet it is now expandable via MicroSD cards. This is indeed a truly interesting smartphone for a great price. If it were to impress as much as the Moto G did, the competition (including well-known brands) will have a truly hard time keeping market share in the entry-level segment.

Case

How we test - Case

Somewhat bulky, but well built.
Somewhat bulky, but well built.

Never change a winning team - that must be the reason why the chassis of the Moto E resembles that of the Moto G closely, even in terms of haptics. The one major difference is a noticeable speaker grille below the navigation bar, which is quite hard to overlook due to its silvery plastic. Again, the back cover can be removed within a few seconds, allowing access to the micro SIM and MicroSD card slots - unfortunately though; the battery cannot be replaced as easily. As was the case with the Moto G, the cover can be had in a number of colors. In addition, build quality of the Moto E is great, with superb torsion and pressure resistance.

The chassis has mainly just been shortened (by approx. 0.5 centimeters), down to 124.8 x 64.8 x 12.3 mm (~4.9 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches), with the rest of the dimensions having remained almost unchanged. The weight is the same, too - just one gram less. Our test device came with a black back cover and a black display frame. The front part can be had in white as well.

Connectivity

How we test - Connectivity

The locations of the buttons and the ports differ only slightly from those of the Moto G. Around the frame, only the micro USB port and the audio jack can be found on the two opposing short sides, while the power button and the volume rocker are positioned at the right.

As already mentioned, the Moto E ships with just 4 GB of storage space, with 2.2 GB remaining accessible to the user (after the OS is subtracted). This may sound like a catastrophe (nowadays, 2 GB is not even close to being enough, with some games requiring more than 1 GB of storage space), but thanks to the MicroSD card slot, this problem is averted. Even more so, it is a crucial advantage of the Moto E over the Moto G, which comes with either 8 GB or 16 GB of storage, but no MicroSD support.

The ports don't differ ...
The ports don't differ ...
...when compared to those of the Moto G.
...when compared to those of the Moto G.
Nothing on the left hand side.
Nothing on the left hand side.
The audio jack is located at the top.
The audio jack is located at the top.

Software

The Moto E ships with the most recent version of Android KitKat, with Android 4.4.2 being preinstalled. The rollout of Android 4.4.3 is supposed to commence soon, so we are already looking forward to seeing how fast Motorola will distribute the update for our test device. As with the models of the Nexus series, the feel and look of the UI has not been changed much at all, with an almost pure Android skin being used. This is great in terms of performance as the mid-range CPU is not throttled by unnecessary software additions. The few extra apps installed by Motorola do have their advantages, e.g. the "Assist" app which mutes the smartphone in accordance with pre-selected calendar events (for example, when being in a meeting) or even generally at night or while at work.

Some developers in the Android community have already managed to gain root access to the Moto E (prior to its official launch!), making it possible to sideload a custom recovery (TWRP). This development has actually somewhat been supported by Motorola, with the company releasing a "Bootloader Unlock Program" on its website.

A GPS signal can even be received indoors.
A GPS signal can even be received indoors.

Communication & GPS 

When comparing the modem specs of the Moto G and the Moto E, there are only a few differences to be noted. The Wi-Fi module of the Moto E works with the 802.11 b/g/n standard, offering just the 2.4 GHz band. While different Wi-Fi modems can hardly be compared in rigorous tests (too many factors play a role), the transmission and reception performance is sufficiently good. Next to Wi-Fi networks, the Moto E can connect to the web via UMTS/HSPA+ (up to 21 Mbps with 850, 900, 1900 or 2100 MHz) - there is no LTE module.

Next to the low energy Bluetooth 4.0 LE module, a GPS module has been built into the Moto E, which even supports the Russian GLONASS standard. While determining the location may take up to a few minutes indoors, no more than one minute is required when being in the open. Compared to our professional navigation device made by Garmin (the Edge 500), 200 meters less (~220 yards) are registered during an outdoor bike tour of 12.16 km (~7.6 miles). Most of the inconsistencies occur in narrow curves (see "bridge") or in areas with reduced visibility and thus less satellites being found (see "forest"). Still, the overall result is quite respectable, as many high-end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 (which sell for four to five times the money) are not less error-prone and do not work much better.

Moto E "overall"
Moto E "overall"
Moto E "bridge"
Moto E "bridge"
Moto E "forest"
Moto E "forest"
Garmin Edge 500 "overall"
Garmin Edge 500 "overall"
Garmin Edge 500 "bridge"
Garmin Edge 500 "bridge"
Garmin Edge 500 "forest"
Garmin Edge 500 "forest"

Telephone Functions and Speech Quality

Many manufacturers offer ever larger displays - and while this may be great for browsing the web or watching movies, making phone calls becomes less and less comfortable (not even talking about the look of a phablet next to one's head, e.g. with the 6.44-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra). The Moto E, on the other hand, can actually be called "small", barely being larger than the current iPhone. Much more important: Speech quality itself is great, with sufficient loudness, few distortions and no issues. Unfortunately, no headset is provided, which is a bummer since the speakerphone is not perfect, yielding mushy and somewhat distorted sounds.

Cameras & Multimedia

Well, costs have to be cut somewhere. One of these sacrifices was made with the front camera, which is non-existing. There is a rear camera (up to 5 megapixels, HD video with 720p and 30fps, no LED flash), however.

But not only does the sensor come with a rather low resolution, the camera of the Moto E is lackluster in most other regards, too (as was the one used in the Moto G). If a scene is well lit (e.g. outdoors and during the day), colors are reproduced accurately, but once low-light conditions dominate, the camera of the Moto E becomes mediocre at best, as can be seen below. Details vanish rapidly, making the camera usable for snapshots only. Expectations should adapt accordingly. Even when compared to low-end compact cameras, the Moto E does not stand a chance

Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode
Reference: Sony Alpha A57, auto mode

Accessories & Warranty

Motorola offers 12 months of warranty (with an additional 12 months being mandatory in a number of countries). Unsurprisingly, given the low price, there is not much else in the box: Just a USB cable. Even a power adapter would have to be purchased separately, if required (otherwise, the phone can only be charged via the USB port of a PC).

Input Devices & Handling

The capacitive multi-touch screen recognizes up to five fingers simultaneously, even in the corners of the display. Overall reaction speeds are decent (this extends to the orientation-sensor-based rotation of the display as well). Navigating the UI is done via three soft keys that are part of the 4.3-inch screen, reducing the actually usable screen real estate. Luckily, these keys are invisible in many apps (e.g. when looking at pictures, watching a movie or with many games) with the newest version of Android.

Thanks to the ability to root the Moto E, it is likely that a number of modifications to the user interface will be possible in the near future. For other smartphones, such as the Nexus 5 or the LG G2, the "Xposed Framework" as well as other apps can already change the size of the navigation bar as desired, yielding significantly more display area.

Portrait mode
Portrait mode
Landscape mode
Landscape mode

Display

How we test - Display

4.3 inches, qHD resolution.
4.3 inches, qHD resolution.

When compared to the Moto G, the cheaper sibling comes with a slightly smaller display (by 0.2 inches), but at the same time with far less resolution, yielding just 960x540 (qHD) pixels. Thus, the Moto E is not capable of displaying the best movie quality (720p) its internal camera is capable of producing. Nice: The display glass is actually Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Unfortunately, we cannot properly test its resistance to different materials, but we do suggest our readers not to try to test it either. According to Motorola's specs, the screen comes with an anti-smudge coating, but we would not have noticed this by ourselves.

With the help of the X-Rite i1Pro 2, we were able to measure an average brightness of 364.8 cd/m², somewhat less than the brightness of the Moto G (416.8 cd/m²), but still decent. Black levels, on the other hand, are good.

0.5 cd/m² may not be anything to write home about, but it suffices to beat the Moto G. Even better is the brightness homogeneity of the Moto E that reaches 96% - more than most high-end smartphones! Still, due to its lower brightness and just slightly better black levels, the contrast ratio of the Moto E (746:1) cannot quite reach the 817:1 of the Moto G.

358
cd/m²
366
cd/m²
361
cd/m²
358
cd/m²
373
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
361
cd/m²
369
cd/m²
367
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 373 cd/m²
Average: 364.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 96 %
Center on Battery: 373 cd/m²
Black: 0.5 cd/m²
Contrast: 746:1

As can be measured when looking at color rendition values, reds are a bit too dark and blues are a bit off. During our "ColorChecker" test, the two displays of the Moto E and the Moto G fare equally well (on average) with DeltaE 2000 values of 4.84 (Moto E) and 4.83 (Moto G). When looking at the grayscale rendition values, however, the Moto E takes the lead (by a large margin). 

Color rendition
Color rendition
Color saturation
Color saturation
Color Checker
Color Checker
Grayscale rendition
Grayscale rendition

No display fares too well in direct sunlight, especially glossy, reflective ones, and even more so during the summer. The same holds true for the Moto E, but still, with the right angle and outside of direct sunlight, the screen contents remain somewhat legible. A matte display protector can be purchased separately, greatly improving the overall result. 

Viewing angles are great. Even under narrow angles, colors and contrast remain close to ideal. Color distortions and contrast inversions only occur when looking at the display from a narrow horizontal and a narrow vertical angle at the same time.

Outdoor usage
Outdoor usage
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

How we test - Performance

The SoC of the Moto E is clocked at 1.2 GHz (similar to the Moto G), offering two cores. So where is the difference when compared to the Moto G? The GPU of the Moto E is weaker, with an Adreno 302 being used, being clocked at lower speeds than the Adreno 305 of the Moto G (which yields 450 MHz). That is not all, though: The SoC of our test device is a Snapdragon 200 made by Qualcomm (28 nm, ARMv7 commands), being supported by 1 GB of RAM.

With the help of a number of benchmarks (starting with the synthetic ones), we try to compare the internals of the Moto E to those of other devices, including a number of similarly-priced competitors as well as Samsung's current flagship, the Galaxy S5 - just to show what's possible if money is no issue. Nokia's first Android phone, the Nokia X, already loses its battle against the Moto E - all other low-level devices show similar performance as the Moto E, always competing for the top spots far behind the Galaxy S5. Again, our benchmarks show that clock speed is not everything - the Moto G outperforms the Moto E in almost every regard.

3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score
Motorola Moto E
4091 Points ∼3%
Motorola Moto G
5438 Points ∼4%
+33%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
3568 Points ∼2%
-13%
Huawei Ascend Y530
4125 Points ∼3%
+1%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
3100 Points ∼2%
-24%
Nokia X
2385 Points ∼2%
-42%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score
Motorola Moto E
2238 Points ∼2%
Motorola Moto G
2771 Points ∼2%
+24%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
2229 Points ∼2%
0%
Huawei Ascend Y530
2203 Points ∼2%
-2%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
2044 Points ∼2%
-9%
Nokia X
1308 Points ∼1%
-42%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score
Motorola Moto E
3750 Points ∼3%
Motorola Moto G
4399 Points ∼3%
+17%
Nokia X
2226 Points ∼2%
-41%
Samsung Galaxy S5
18367 Points ∼13%
+390%
Epic Citadel
High Performance
Motorola Moto E
52.5 fps ∼87%
Motorola Moto G
58 fps ∼96%
+10%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
38.8 fps ∼64%
-26%
Huawei Ascend Y530
54.5 fps ∼90%
+4%
Samsung Galaxy S5
57.2 fps ∼94%
+9%
High Quality
Motorola Moto E
50.9 fps ∼85%
Motorola Moto G
56.7 fps ∼95%
+11%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
32.5 fps ∼54%
-36%
Huawei Ascend Y530
53.4 fps ∼89%
+5%
Samsung Galaxy S5
55.7 fps ∼93%
+9%
AnTuTu Benchmark v4 - Total Score
Motorola Moto E
12811 Points ∼30%
Motorola Moto G
17360 Points ∼40%
+36%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
12059 Points ∼28%
-6%
Huawei Ascend Y530
12124 Points ∼28%
-5%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
17300 Points ∼40%
+35%
Nokia X
7655 Points ∼18%
-40%
Samsung Galaxy S5
37353 Points ∼87%
+192%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score
Motorola Moto E
321 Points ∼9%
Motorola Moto G
341 Points ∼10%
+6%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
353 Points ∼10%
+10%
Huawei Ascend Y530
324 Points ∼9%
+1%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
350 Points ∼10%
+9%
Samsung Galaxy S5
941 Points ∼27%
+193%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score
Motorola Moto E
601 Points ∼5%
Motorola Moto G
1169 Points ∼9%
+95%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
658 Points ∼5%
+9%
Huawei Ascend Y530
605 Points ∼5%
+1%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
1179 Points ∼9%
+96%
Samsung Galaxy S5
2885 Points ∼22%
+380%

Legend

 
Motorola Moto E Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 8210, Qualcomm Adreno 302, 4 GB Flash
 
Motorola Moto G Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582 Broadcom BCM21664T, Broadcom VideoCore-IV, 4 GB Flash
 
Huawei Ascend Y530 Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 8210, Qualcomm Adreno 302, 4 GB Flash
 
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7 Mediatek MT6582M, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 4 GB Flash
 
Nokia X Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8625Q, Qualcomm Adreno 203, 4 GB Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash

Another segment of benchmarks is those that are browser-based. Again, the picture remains the same. The Nokia X trails the pack; the others are more or less on par with each other. Surprising: The Moto E manages to stay very close to the Moto G, even beating it in a number of benchmarks. Of all the low-cost devices, the Galaxy S Duos 2 fares the best, taking the lead in these tests.

Octane V1 - Total Score
Motorola Moto E
1764 Points ∼8%
Motorola Moto G
1721 Points ∼8%
-2%
Apple iPhone 5c
2817 Points ∼13%
+60%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
2213 Points ∼11%
+25%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
1316 Points ∼6%
-25%
Nokia X
1266 Points ∼6%
-28%
Mozilla Kraken 1.0 - Total Score
Motorola Moto E
28979 ms * ∼17%
Motorola Moto G
31625.5 ms * ∼18%
-9%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
25468.3 ms * ∼15%
+12%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
26894.5 ms * ∼16%
+7%
Peacekeeper - ---
Motorola Moto E
562 Points ∼9%
Motorola Moto G
488 Points ∼8%
-13%
Apple iPhone 5c
902 Points ∼15%
+60%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
627 Points ∼10%
+12%
Huawei Ascend Y530
628 Points ∼10%
+12%
Samsung Galaxy S5 (29)
712 Points ∼11%
+27%
Sunspider - ---
Motorola Moto E
1625.4 ms * ∼15%
Motorola Moto G
1413 ms * ∼13%
+13%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
1347.9 ms * ∼13%
+17%
Nokia X
2432.5 ms * ∼23%
-50%

* ... smaller is better

The Moto G came with surprisingly fast flash memory, even beating the Galaxy S5 in three out of four tests (and by a large margin!). Unfortunately, the 4 GB of storage used in our test device does not come close to these great values, especially during the sequential writing tests. Overall, the results are just average.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB
Motorola Moto E
52.07 MB/s ∼31%
Motorola Moto G
103.28 MB/s ∼62%
+98%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
23.39 MB/s ∼14%
-55%
Huawei Ascend Y530
37.2 MB/s ∼22%
-29%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
49.13 MB/s ∼29%
-6%
Samsung Galaxy S5
83.53 MB/s ∼50%
+60%
Sequential Write 256KB
Motorola Moto E
6.51 MB/s ∼11%
Motorola Moto G
12.54 MB/s ∼22%
+93%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
15.42 MB/s ∼27%
+137%
Huawei Ascend Y530
9.24 MB/s ∼16%
+42%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
7.26 MB/s ∼13%
+12%
Samsung Galaxy S5
19.05 MB/s ∼33%
+193%
Random Read 4KB
Motorola Moto E
8.72 MB/s ∼42%
Motorola Moto G
13.61 MB/s ∼65%
+56%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
8.52 MB/s ∼41%
-2%
Huawei Ascend Y530
8.02 MB/s ∼38%
-8%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
12.09 MB/s ∼58%
+39%
Samsung Galaxy S5
8.5 MB/s ∼41%
-3%
Random Write 4KB
Motorola Moto E
0.73 MB/s ∼25%
Motorola Moto G
2.52 MB/s ∼86%
+245%
Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 GT-S7582
1.28 MB/s ∼44%
+75%
Huawei Ascend Y530
0.51 MB/s ∼17%
-30%
Alcatel One Touch Pop C7
0.5 MB/s ∼17%
-32%
Samsung Galaxy S5
1 MB/s ∼34%
+37%

Games & Videos

Mission accomplished! Even though the benchmark results were nothing to write home about, video playback (even in Full HD quality) and most 3D as well as all 2D games are no major problem for the SoC, running smoothly - even though gaming does cause the Moto E to become quite warm.

Videos and games are no problem for the Moto E.
Videos and games are no problem for the Moto E.
Everything runs smoothly.
Everything runs smoothly.

Emissions

How we test - Emissions

Temperature

We are measuring its surface temperatures twice: Once under full load and once when idle. During the latter state, the temperatures remain low, just a bit higher than those of the Moto G, with 30.6 degrees Celsius at the front and 28.8 degrees at the back (87.08 and 83.84 degrees Fahrenheit respectively). Under load, however, things are different, with the heat reaching up to 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit). This is quite noticeable and far worse than the Moto G, but it is not a deal breaker. Both the Huawei Ascend Y530 (32.1 degrees; 89.78 Fahrenheit at the front) and the Nokia X fare better under load.

Max. Load
 34.3 °C38.1 °C37.4 °C 
 34.7 °C39.2 °C39.0 °C 
 34.0 °C37.2 °C37.1 °C 
Maximum: 39.2 °C
Average: 36.8 °C
34.3 °C34.6 °C32.6 °C
34.7 °C34.6 °C33.4 °C
33.7 °C34.9 °C31.8 °C
Maximum: 34.9 °C
Average: 33.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  43.0 °C | Room Temperature 23.0 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The lower speaker is responsible for music playback while the upper one (even though it looks identical) is only being used when making phone calls. The maximum volume of the lower speaker is more than sufficient - or, to be put bluntly, too high, as tons of distortions develop, with the tinny sound becoming highly annoying rather quickly. The built-in equalizer helps in reducing this issue and adapting sound output to one's liking, but still, even though improvements can be done, an external speaker (which can be connected via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or the 3.5mm audio jack) sounds far better.

Energy Management

How we test - Battery Life

Power Consumption

A crucial aspect when talking about battery life is the power consumption of the smartphone. Under load, between 2 and 2.5 Watts are reached, somewhat less than the Moto G with its 2.1 to 2.8 Watts. Things turn around when the phone is idle: 0.7 to 1.1 Watts is actually more than what the Moto G requires (0.4 to 1.0 Watts). While the lower power consumption of the Moto E under load can somewhat be explained with its smaller display and its lower maximum screen brightness (all devices are set to maximum brightness during the stress test), it is less certain what causes the Moto E to require more juice than Moto G when idle. Generally, the SoC and the display are the main culprits in such a case. Still, battery life is not solely determined by the power consumption of the device. The capacity of the battery comes into play, too.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 0.7 / 0.9 / 1.1 Watt
Load 2 / 2.5 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The capacity of the battery of the Moto E is 1980 mAh, just 90 mAh less than that of the Moto G. Thus, the Moto E reaches the same running time under full load as the Moto G - a little more than 4 hours, quite a respectable achievement. And with 22 hours and 16 minutes while idle (modems deactivated, display brightness at minimum), the Moto E definitely has some above-average stamina as well while still falling three hours short of the Moto G. During our combined Wi-Fi test with medium brightness (150 cd/m²) and a script browsing the web, we managed to squeeze 14 hours out of the battery of the Moto E - much more than the approximately 8 hours of the Huawei Ascend Y530 and still more than what the Nokia X reaches.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
22h 16min
WiFi Surfing
14h 06min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 50min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 08min

Verdict

More cannot be expected for 119 Euros. Bullseye for Lenovo (again).
More cannot be expected for 119 Euros. Bullseye for Lenovo (again).

It seems to be so easy to sell numerous smartphones: Just provide a highly capable device with decent build quality and a low price. Then again, this may not be so easy to do, as many smartphones by many well-known manufacturers struggle to offer decent performance or other necessary features. The Moto G was one of the first smartphones that was not just cheap, but cheap and good at the same time - and this is what Motorola tries to achieve again with an even more affordable device, the Moto E - which sells for just 119 Euros (~$162). Unsurprisingly, this means that some cuts had to be made. The internal storage space has been reduced from 8 GB (or 16 GB) to just 4 GB - then again, it can now be expanded with MicroSD cards. The clock speed remains the same, but now a dual-core Snapdragon 200 with a weaker GPU (Adreno 302) is being used. The display has been downsized to 4.3 inches, yielding a qHD resolution.

In combination, an attractive Android smartphone (running KitKat 4.4.2!) comes into existence - which impresses with its great build quality, its recent Android version and its long battery life. Similarly priced smartphones such as the Huawei Ascend Y530 (Android 4.3) or the Nokia X (Android 4.1) do not come close, despite having their own virtues. Both devices sport bad displays (esp. with regard to their contrast ratios and black levels and, in the case of the Ascend Y530, viewing angles) and old Android versions. The latter aspect is a strong asset of Lenovo, thanks to its history as being a part of Google. Even Android 4.4.3 is supposed to be rolled out quickly (then again, we do not know about Lenovo's future plans concerning further upgrades). We were already impressed by what Motorola did with the Moto G, and we are not any less impressed by the Moto E. Both devices offer great value for the money. Still, one might want to ask oneself whether an extra 40 Euros (~$54; when purchased online) for the Moto G (8 GB) might not be such a bad investment - there are a number of advantages to the other, not-quite-as-cheap variant of the Moto series.

static version load dynamic

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In Review: Motorola Moto E. Test model provided by Motorola Germany.
In Review: Motorola Moto E. Test model provided by Motorola Germany.

Specifications

Motorola Moto E

:: Processor
:: Memory
1024 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 302, Core: 400 MHz
:: Display
4.3 inch 16:9, 960x540 pixel, capacitive, IPS-LCD, Anti-smudge coating and Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
4 GB Flash, 4 GB , 2.2 GB free
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: Line In/Out port (3.5mm), Card Reader: MicroSD slot, Sensors: GPS, GLONASS, Motion sensor,
:: Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b g n ), 4.0 LE Bluetooth, UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 12.3 x 124.8 x 64.8
:: Weight
0.142 kg Power Supply: 0.054 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, 1980 mAh
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 24 h
:: Price
119 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear camera: 5 MP, Speakers: Mono speaker, Keyboard: Virtual, 12 Months Warranty

 

So far, the Moto E is the cheapest smartphone ...
So far, the Moto E is the cheapest smartphone ...
...of the Moto series. Just 119 Euros ...
...of the Moto series. Just 119 Euros ...
...for the 4.3-inch device? That's almost a steal!
...for the 4.3-inch device? That's almost a steal!
The larger (as well as slightly more expensive) Moto G ...
The larger (as well as slightly more expensive) Moto G ...
...managed to impress us just half a year ago.
...managed to impress us just half a year ago.
Build quality and sturdiness of the Moto E ...
Build quality and sturdiness of the Moto E ...
...are great. In addition, the back cover can be removed.
...are great. In addition, the back cover can be removed.
Android 4.4.2! That's the most recent version of Google's OS.
Android 4.4.2! That's the most recent version of Google's OS.
The update to 4.4.3 is supposed to follow soon.
The update to 4.4.3 is supposed to follow soon.
The new runtime environment.
The new runtime environment.
The homescreen comes without clutter, reminding us ...
The homescreen comes without clutter, reminding us ...
...of the Moto G or Moto X.
...of the Moto G or Moto X.
The display supports 5-finger multi-touch.
The display supports 5-finger multi-touch.
A Snapdragon 200 SoC powers the device.
A Snapdragon 200 SoC powers the device.
Just 4 GB of storage space?
Just 4 GB of storage space?
That's not much at all - luckily, a microSD slot can be found as well.
That's not much at all - luckily, a microSD slot can be found as well.
The speakers are just medioce, with an equalizer that is supposed to improve the sound experience.
The speakers are just medioce, with an equalizer that is supposed to improve the sound experience.
Some apps come preinstalled.
Some apps come preinstalled.
Some of these are useful, others are redundant or plain unnecessary.
Some of these are useful, others are redundant or plain unnecessary.
The Moto E ...
The Moto E ...
...is much thicker than the Nexus 5.
...is much thicker than the Nexus 5.
The rear camera sports 5 megapixels.
The rear camera sports 5 megapixels.
Still, the pictures are terrible (unless a scene is well-lit).
Still, the pictures are terrible (unless a scene is well-lit).
The back cover can easily be removed ...
The back cover can easily be removed ...
...the battery, however, cannot.
...the battery, however, cannot.
This is a much more inconvenient procedure ...
This is a much more inconvenient procedure ...
...which should only be done by professionals.
...which should only be done by professionals.
The cover can be had in a range of colors.
The cover can be had in a range of colors.
Why hesitate? The price is low ...
Why hesitate? The price is low ...
...and the overall package is great.
...and the overall package is great.
We are looking forward to hearing about the number of its sales.
We are looking forward to hearing about the number of its sales.

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Links

Price Check

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Pro

+Value
+Build quality
+Recent Android version
+Battery life
+Sufficient performance
+Expandable storage
 

Cons

-Camera module
-Screen resolution

Shortcut

What we like

Battery life, build quality and display specs are close to that of the Moto G, remaining top-notch, especially given the targeted price segment

What we'd like to see

The rear camera is outright terrible. Modern smartphones are capable enough to replace cheap compact cameras - not so the Moto E.

What surprises us

Despite all the cost-cutting measurements necessary for such a device, the Moto E offers a satisfying Android experience, being capable enough to navigate the UI without any stuttering.

The competition

The Nokia X and the Huawei Ascend Y530 are placed in the same price segment, but both have more weaknesses than the Moto E. More interesting: The in-house competition, as the Moto G offers better performance and a number of further advantages (such as the camera). The Acer Liquid Z3 Duo is even slightly cheaper than the Moto E.

Ratings

Motorola Moto E
05/26/2014 v4
Daniel Schuster

Chassis
88%
Keyboard
58 / 75 → 77%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
44 / 60 → 73%
Weight
93%
Battery
93%
Display
83%
Games Performance
52 / 75 → 69%
Application Performance
20 / 65 → 31%
Temperature
86%
Noise
100%
Audio
59 / 91 → 65%
Camera
60%
Average
71%
81%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Motorola Moto E Smartphone Review
Author: Daniel Schuster, 2014-06- 4 (Update: 2014-06-11)