Motorola Moto E review: This changes everything, again!

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When we reviewed the Moto G, we said that it would change the landscape of sub-Rs 15,000 smartphones. Motorola’s rivals are still coming to terms with it and here Motorola has changed the rules of the game yet again. Priced at Rs 6,999, the Moto E is here to prove that entry-level smartphones need not be a frustrating experience. With a punchline like “Made to last. Priced for all,” the Moto E promises a lot. But does it deliver? Let’s find out.

Motorola-Moto-E-6Taking a leaf out of Nokia’s playbook, the Moto E too drills the point that an affordable smartphone does not have to feel cheap.  While you can buy the Moto E in either white or black, there are a number of colorful back panels you can buy. The back panels are made of high quality plastic and have a rubbery finish, which provides good grip. The camera lens is recessed, which provides it protection from getting scratched.

The best thing about the Moto E is it follows design cues from the Moto G and Moto E but has an even more pronounced curved back that feels very good to hold. The chunky little phone is a little heavy at 142 grams for its tiny footprint, yet it feels reassuringly solid.

The front is dominated by a 4.3-inch qHD display with a resolution of 950×540 pixels. This is much higher than the WVGA (800×480 pixels) displays found on most smartphones at this price point. In fact, some tier one brands even give a lower HVGA display (480×320 pixels) in this range. The display is relatively crisper and while the viewing angles are not great, they are better than what’s available in this price range. The display also gets Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection, which no other smartphone priced below Rs 10,000 provides.

Motorola-Moto-E-27The Moto E also has a front firing mono speaker below the display. The speaker is loud and great for doing conference calls, though not high fidelity enough for listening to music.

The top of the phone has a 3.5mm audio port along with the second noise cancellation mic, the right edge has the power button as well as the volume rockers and there is a micro-USB port at the bottom. The left edge has been left blank. Removing the back panel reveals a non-removable 1,980mAh battery. The two micro-SIM card slots and microSD card slot are present on the right edge.

Like the Moto G and Moto X, the Moto E too runs on an almost stock Android UI. This ensures that even with an entry-level Snapdragon 200 1.2GHz dual-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM, the Moto E runs fluidly with no lag whatsoever. The touch interface is snappy and accurate, which is far better than the experience one gets on entry-level smartphones from Samsung that have TouchWiz interface on top. In terms of user experience, the Moto E not only obliterates similarly priced Samsung Galaxy Trend but also screams past higher priced smartphones like the Galaxy S Duos 2.

Motorola-Moto-E-23One of the shortcomings of the Moto E is its 5-megapixel camera. While it would be nitpicking for a smartphone priced at Rs 6,999 but that’s the standard Motorola has set for itself and the camera disappoints. The fixed-focus camera just doesn’t cut it and gives mediocre results. There is no LED flash, like most smartphones in this price range, which means it is rendered pretty useless indoors and in low-light conditions. There is no front-facing camera either.

The Moto E also has 4GB of internal storage out of which approximately 2.2GB is available to users. The unfortunate bit is that the internal storage is already pre-partitioned, which means apps recognize this storage as external storage and download additional files to it. This means that a game that has 1.2GB of additional files will install them to this 2.2GB of storage rather than on a microSD card slot. Even apps like App2SD can only move the game APK file to the microSD card, which is less than 100MB.

Motorola-Moto-E-If you are not looking for a phone with a great camera or play games that have huge files, the Moto E impresses to the core. The battery regularly lasted us for an entire day with heavy usage that included close to 5 hours of display on time, 3G and Wi-Fi always turned on, about three hours of web browsing, two Gmail accounts along with one Twitter and Facebook account each. The call quality was above par and so was the network reception. Add to it nano coating both inside and outside that protects the phone from water, and the Moto E becomes the perfect workhorse smartphone.

The Moto E should worry Samsung and Nokia. Samsung needs to up the game with respect to both specifications and user experience. Its entry-level smartphones just cannot compete with the Moto E. Even Nokia needs to rethink its X-series strategy, which we believe is priced too high for the experience they provide. The company wanted to cash in on the Nokia X being a high quality, well designed affordable smartphone but now the Moto E takes that position. Even local brands like Micromax and Karbonn should be worried but the saving grace for them is that the Moto E can only be bought via Flipkart and is not available at physical stores.

If you are looking for a sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone, the Moto E should be on top of your list.

Photographs: Harshita Rastogi