First look at the $129 Moto E, the little phone that could

by: Joshua VergaraMay 13, 2014

The rumors and leaks are finally over with the highly anticipated announcement of the Moto E. This is far from being a super phone and its $129 ($79 on contract) price can attest to that, but is it worth the little money it does cost?

Reporting to you from San Francisco, we are getting all the Moto E details you will ever need. The city welcomed me with ample hands-on time with the ideal “first smartphone”, which is the kind of users Motorola claims the Moto E is made for.

The Moto E is already for sale on Amazon for $129, get yours while they are still in stock.


The Moto E’s resemblance to the Moto G and Moto X is one of the device’s greatest design aspects. The now-iconic round back and elegant front will offer a very good grip and hefty feel, making the Moto E seem much more premium than it really is.

It’s also important to mention the device comes with multiple coatings that make it that much more resistant. The Gorilla Glass 3 and anti-smudge coating will keep the 4.3-inch screen looking great. All while the P2i coating will keep the device protected against water splashes.

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Overall, the phone feels great and does not seem like a $129 piece of equipment. Neither will it be boring or bland. Aside from coming in black and white, the device can be customized with interchangeable back covers. You will be able to find multiple colors and designs, making it the perfect companion for any occasion.


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Moving on, let’s take a look at one of the most important parts of a smartphone – the screen. This brings forth one of the sacrifices you have to make for paying $129 for a smartphone. Though the screen is not horrible, it does require some squinting due to its 540x960p (qHD) resolution.

The display is also smaller at just 4.3 inches, making it even harder to get accustomed to it after coming from a large smartphone. Then again, this is no phone for those who have been using high-end Android devices.

With that said, the display’s resolution does seem to help the device perform better.

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Performance & hardware

You can’t expect the Moto E to handle complex games and all intensive apps like a champion, but Motorola promises it will “get the job done”, and that it does. The device can take on any casual app and function, but there is no need to get bored either. We put multiple games to the test and the Moto E didn’t do too bad. The occasional stutter and slow-down were present, but the experience was not ruined.

Internal storage also suffers due to the price, but Motorola is not leaving you stranded with the lackluster 4 GB of ROM. A microSD slot has been included to the device, which will allow the user to expand the memory.

Yet another great aspect of this phone is buried in its back. While non-removable, the 1980 mAh battery should keep the device alive throughout your entire day. The unusual battery size, dual-core Snapdragon 200, lesser screen and simple interface should equate to great battery life.

The Moto E delivers $129 of performance and more, following the Moto G’s steps with pride and glory.

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Those looking to get a Moto E probably won’t be too worried about their smartphone cameras, but still might want to freeze some fun memories in time. The Moto E’s 5 MP camera will not give you the greatest results, but it should be good enough for the casual photo.

The camera app does take advantage of some simple camera features, but it’s nothing to write home about. Like everything else in the phone, this app focuses on a simple, near-stock experience.

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The Moto G’s software was one of the most-liked aspects of the Moto G, and the Moto E is staying true to its roots. You will find a nearly-stock experience, with no bells or whistles. There is no overpowering UI adjustments and the only added apps are the Moto Assist and Moto Migrate.

By the way, this device does feature the latest Android software, Android 4.4.2, and carries the promise of a future update to whatever version may be next.

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Pricing & availability

As previously stated, the Moto E will bust into the market with a $129 out of contract price, while signing a contract will allow you to take it home for just $79. It is currently in stock at Amazon and says it will be shipping in the next couple of days.

First impressions

At a glance, it must be said this is one hell of a $129 device. Reasonable performance, great build quality and current software can be had for this price nowhere else! It will be the perfect phone for a first-time smartphone user or someone who is simply looking for a good basic smartphone.

This is all for now, but be sure to follow Android Authority for the upcoming Moto E review and a through comparison with the Moto G. Who is thinking of buying one?

  • Jayfeather787

    Excellent for the price.
    Although I would pay the extra 50 bucks to get the Moto G which is a far better phone.

    • abqnm

      “Better” is subjective. The Moto E would be a great phone for companies who need to deploy smart phones on the cheap plus they should hold up well since there is so much bezel to protect the screen and also the water resistance. Plus they are cheap to replace if something does break it.

      Also, in many emerging markets where this phone will likely sell exceptionally well (like the Moto G has), $50 can be a big difference in price. $50 may be two weeks of Starbucks for many Americans, while in these markets that could be two weeks salary.

      The great part is that we now have all these great choices.

  • Aniruddh

    I think it has 4.4.3 on onboard, not 4.4.2

    • abqnm

      There were some blogs early on that said that, but all the videos from many different sites show 4.4.2 in the about screen. Moto shows 4.4.2 on their site.

    • MasterMuffin

      Impossibru, Google hasn’t released 4.4.3

  • Comodo

    Sorry, still too expensive for the target audience I think. Lumia 520,521, and 525 are better. Even though Windows Phone 8 sucks for midrange and high end. It pretty much blows android at the low to extreme low end. Especially when you can get something like the Lumia 521 consistently from $50-80 bucks. Even as low as $30 after rebate. The only thing missing is LTE, but HSPA+ on Tmobile is plenty fast.

    • Jayfeather787

      What the heck is wrong with you?! How is that even close to being better than this? The 520 and 521 both have 512 MB of RAM with a 1 GHz dual core processor. Buying a phone with 512 MB of RAM in 2014 is stupid! The 525 has 1GB, but still a 1 GHz dual core CPU. All of those phones also have poor 4 inch 480p displays. They are in no way better than this. Cheaper? Yes. Better for price? I guess so. But they are not better.

      • Comodo

        First, Windows works great with 512mb of ram and 1 GHz dual core processor unlike Android so the specs are really irrelevant. Second, again target audience are the flip phone and low cost audience which are unlikely spec driven customers. So it definitely is comparable when the Moto E can cost upto 4x more. So dollar for dollar Lumia 521 and Windows in my opinion is better at the low end, just not at the midrange and high end.

        • erikiksaz

          The screen on the 521 harkens back to 2005.

          Other than that, the wp market still sucks.

        • AndroidBoss

          I have a Nokia Lumia 925. Yes it can run on 500mb and all that, but the os sucks! Also you could see pixels very clearly, especially through those tiles.

        • Reed

          I’d pick a 525 over 520/521 anyday, the minuscule price difference is not worth the sacrifice of RAM.
          The OS may be slim and lightweight, but more is still needed for for running apps and games.

        • Jayfeather787

          Hahaha!!! Windows 8 sucks!!! Freaking fischer price of operating systems!! 512 MB is not nearly enough, it lags and is slow, because I have seen one in real life and played with it.
          Wake up.

          • K2

            Dont take these things personally.

      • sarasaqwerty

        2 krait cores (Lumia 52*) > 2 A7 cores (Moto E)

        • Jayfeather787

          1 GB of RAM > 512 MB of RAM.
          1.2 GHz > 1 GHz
          Yes the cores are more efficient in the lumias, but the amount of RAM is just horrible.

    • mr M

      Both are bad, because they’re not omni-balance. Lumia 520,521,525 and Moto G,E are all have bottom bezel wider than top. In short, asymmetric bezel.
      Just look at those phone reviews, switching to landscape mode, watching video or playing games, those imbalance bezel are in the way. It’s like having widescreen TV with non-symmetry bezel. Uncomfortable.

      Phone with bezel symmetry is the best. iphone, galaxy, xperia, lg g, all have balance bezel design.

    • MasterMuffin

      You can’t beat Windows Phones in the budget market

      • AndroidBoss

        Well Motorola and other companies are trying to do so and I think they can for sure.

        • MasterMuffin

          Google did make the right step by reducing the requirements of KitKat, more of that :)

    • RanRu

      No, actually. Those phones are only available at those prices in their carrier-locked varieties, and you can get a carrier-locked Moto G for as little as $89. If the E is to follow suit, it’ll be available for as much as or less than the Lumia 520 phones.
      I also have absolutely no idea by what metric you’re assuming the Lumia is “better” than the Moto E. I’ve used a 520, and it is not smooth. It’s also built worse than the cheapest of Chinese bargain bin atrocities. Windows Phone is a miserable experience at any price point. The fact that you paid less for the phone doesn’t add any functionality to the OS, and there’s none there to begin with.

  • erikiksaz

    Is there an NDA on the speakers or what? Not a single blog has mentioned if these are dual front facing speakers

    • abqnm

      Seriously. I can’t get a definitive answer as to where the speaker is.

      I can almost guarantee it isn’t dual though. If I had to put money on it, I would say the earpiece speaker doubles as (or shares the same housing as) the primary speaker. And the mic is buried under the bottom chrome trim, which is likely mostly a small design feature to break up the large bezel at the bottom.

      • kieraeastedi321

        until I saw the receipt for $4408 , I didnt believe
        …that…my friends brother woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
        there labtop. . there brothers friend has done this 4 only seventeen months and
        just now repayed the morgage on there cottage and got a brand new Renault 5 . more
        tips here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

    • Reed

      There’s no perforated grid in the back for speakers. Take it as you want.

  • Hi Jane

    4GB of Read only memory?
    or have i got something wrong?

    • Go

      it has got a micro sd card get upto 32gb expandable storage there.

  • J_Pod

    So essentially this has about the same specs as a HTC Sensation 4G, but better. Crazy how that used to be Flagship and now it’s considered low end. It’s amazing, in a good way.

  • Tuấn Ankh

    well, it’s a $129 little phone that could cost you extra because believe it or not, you need a charger. ;)

    Since I’m in the US and I use T-mobile, I would rather get an LG Optimus F6 or a Samsung Galaxy Light (I actually have one…) for the same $130. Charger is included with those phones though, and they also have flash and front camera.

  • Chris Quin

    There is an interesting comparison to be made here. Moto E vs Iphone 4S

    The Moto E has a bigger screen, twice the RAM. a faster processor and a bigger battery.

    The Iphone has a slightly better camera. Otherwise the specifications are much the same

    When it comes to price there is considerable difference Moto £89 Iphone £349

    Why does anyone buy an Apple phone ? How can the self-proclaimed company of innovation keep an overpriced and obsolete phone in their shops ?

    • ghetto McKee

      ‘Slightly better camera’ um lol what the iPhone 4S has a great camera blows this completely out of the water. And the screen in the 4S destroys this too. And the build is better. And the speakers are better. And the microphone is better. And the sensors are better. The digitizer is better. Etc Etc.

      • LSH99

        This all may very well be true, but a) I’m wondering how you know it considering the phone was just announced, and b) it’s still a decent question considering the price difference.

  • Mystery Man

    So it’s pretty much a sensation 4g but with good battery life and 256mb more ram?

    • thartist

      It’s exactly a Moto RAZR, but without the front camera.

  • me_

    @79$ with contract is the same price I paid for my tracfone ZTE Valet, with the same spec but a bigger screen. Add a Wallmart -T Mobile contract and you have great buddle for light user as me with a phone who fit in your back pocket or small purse as my wife uses.

    Yep it’s not everybody who need a large screen or a fast expensive phone.

  • danny

    Website of Online retailer flipkart crashed due to heavy load when moto e went to sale, same happened when moto g was launched, looks like Motorola has another bestseller here

  • Tommy

    The body of the phone is also similar to the Moto G and X. The back is all smooth plastic with an indentation for the Motorola logo and a cutout for the (apparently flashless) camera lens. The phone’s speaker appears to be mounted on the front of the device. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.

  • tony solinan

    was looking for the 16gb motoG But only 8gbmotoG model for €150 euros!

    If I wanted the_16 _GB Moto G its not for sale here in ireland!