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Moto E (2015) Review

We take a detailed look at the follow up to Motorola's entry-level smartphone of last year, in this comprehensive Moto E (2015) review!

Published onMarch 18, 2015

Priced at just $149.99, the Moto E (2015) is one of the cheapest smartphones available that offers LTE support. It’s not without its issues, as its entry-level nature would suggest, but when considering what it does offer for this price point, this device is definitely a great bargain.

Along with the original Moto X and Moto G, rounding out Motorola’s comeback into the world of Android was the entry-level Moto E. Introduced last year, the Moto E was one of the best budget-smartphones available, packing a lot more than what its entry-level nature and price point would suggest. Motorola took the wraps off of the successor to this device less than a month ago, with the next-gen handset boasting even more in terms of features and enhancements, most notable of which is 4G LTE support. Does the latest iteration of this entry-level device continue to be an incredible bargain? We find out, in this review of the Moto E (2015)!

Motorola has created a very distinctive design language for their smartphone lineup, and when looking at the Moto E, there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a Motorola device, with the phone featuring the same rounded corners, sloping curve and the signature dimple housing the company logo on the back. The back is made of a soft touch plastic material, while the outer frame features a ridged texture that goes all the way around, allowing for a very comfortable grip. Motorola has also been focusing on offering some sort of customization with their smartphones, and in the case of the Moto E, that comes in the form of a removable outer frame that can be swapped out for a variety of color options.

What users will really appreciate about the Mote E though is it’s one-handed usability. Given how small and compact it is, it is easy to grip the entire phone in one hand, and not even the slightest of hand gymnastics is required to get to every part of the display. Given the trend of large smartphones nowadays, one-handed use is generally overlooked, but it’s always a very refreshing feeling when using a device of this size again.

Looking around the device, the power button and volume rocker are found on the right side within easy reach, and both offer a very solid feel and tactile feedback. The power button features the same ridged texture found on the Moto X (2014) and Nexus 6, making it easier to locate by feel. The microUSB port and headphone jack are placed at the bottom and top respectively, and up front are the usual sensors, along with the earpiece/speaker, as well as the newly added front-facing camera.

The display has seen a slight increase in size between generations, with the Moto E (2015) featuring a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display, but with the same resolution of 960 x 540, resulting in a pixel density of 245 ppi. The resolution is of course fairly low, and pixels are noticeable with a closer look, especially while gaming. The display is more than capable when it comes to general, everyday tasks though, such as browsing webpages or keeping up on social media. Color saturation, outdoor visibility, and viewing angles are all quite good, and the only really big drawback of having a non-HD display is that you do lose out on HD playback.

The processing package of the Moto E (2015) is different depending on whether you choose the LTE version or the 3G iteration, with the former packing a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and the Adreno 306 GPU, while the latter comes with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and the Adreno 302 GPU. Both processors are clocked at 1.2 GHz though and also come with 1 GB of RAM.

When it comes to performance, the device handles most tasks like navigating around the OS, web-browsing, and opening and closing apps, very easily, but there were some instances of stutter when trying to multitask. Gaming is also manageable, but loading times can get a bit long, and dropped frames do occur occasionally with more graphic-intensive games. Touch responsiveness also proved to be an issue, as having to swipe or tap the screen multiple times became necessary quite often.

Besides the slew of standard connectivity options, the Moto E (2015) also introduces 4G LTE support, along with the internal storage getting a bump to 8 GB, double of what was available with its predecessor. That still isn’t very much, but expandable storage up to 32GB via microSD is available, with the slot hidden beneath the replaceable outer frame. The earpiece on the front now doubles as a speaker and it automatically gets points for being on the front, but is otherwise fairly run of the mill. It’s decently loud and produces a clean sound, but since it’s just a single driver at the top of the phone, it does sound lopsided, especially when using the phone in the landscape orientation.

The Moto E (2015) packs a 2,390 mAh battery, and while it may seem a little small, it is actually more than enough considering everything it has to power, such as the small, low-resolution display. Even with a lot of gaming and taking a ton of pictures, the screen-on time never went below 5.5 hours, and on low usage days, where it mostly about texting and keeping up with social media, the device managed upwards of 6.5 hours of screen-on time, so it’s not unreasonable to expect at least a day and half of battery life from the Moto E (2015).

The camera on the current generation Moto E remains unchanged from its predecessor, for the most part. It is still a 5 MP sensor and doesn’t come with an LED flash, but does feature auto-focus this time around. The camera UI is minimalistic and easy to use, and will be very familiar if you’ve used a Motorola device before. Taking a photo is as simple as tapping on the viewfinder, and swiping inwards from the left side will reveal what is mostly basic camera settings, but with shooting modes like HDR, panorama, and 720p slow-motion video also available.

Picture quality is what you might expect from such a basic camera that didn’t receive much of an upgrade. The addition of auto-focus is nice, but doesn’t actually do much to improve the image quality. Color saturation and sharpness is quite underwhelming, providing for some very bleak images. Noise levels are also very high and noticeable in even the most well lit of environments. If this is the only camera you have, it’ll certainly get the job done, but it’s safe to say the camera is the biggest weakness of the Moto E (2015).

The device now packs a front-facing camera as well, so selfies are possible, but with a 0.3 MP (VGA) unit, don’t expect an optimal selfie taking experience.

The Moto E (2015) is running what is mostly a stock version of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. It may not be the latest Android 5.1, but considering Motorola’s recent track record with updates, we assume it should get the update fairly quickly.

To enhance the experience on this entry-level device, the Moto E brings some of the staples features that can be found on Motorola’s flagship smartphone, such as Moto Assist to keep your phone quiet during meetings or while asleep, Moto Actions to quickly launch the camera by simply twisting your wrist, as well as Moto Display, for those subtle notifications when the screen is off. One thing to be aware of though is that, since the Moto E has a LCD display, these notifications do not continuously pulsate like on the Moto X (2014). If they did it, it would quickly drain the battery. The notifications do, however, show up when you pick up the phone, and when the notification is initially received.

Display4.5-inch IPS LCD
qHD (540×960)
245 ppi
3G - 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200
Adreno 302 GPU

4G LTE - 1.2 GHz quad-core Snadragon 410
Adreno 306 GPU
1 GB
8 GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
5 MP rear camera
VGA front camera
2,390 mAh
GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Android 5.0 Lollipop
129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3 mm
145 grams
Black, White

The best part about the Moto E (2015) is its price, with the device available for just $149.99 off-contract for the LTE version, with the 3G iteration an even cheaper $119.99. We do recommend spending the additional $30 on the LTE version though, as high-speed internet does do a lot in enhancing the overall usability and experience of this smartphone.

So there you have it – a detailed look at the Moto E (2015)! Motorola is proving once again proving their dominance in this price segment, offering a sub-$200 smartphone with Android 5.0 Lollipop and 4G LTE on-board. I’ve really enjoyed using the Moto E (2015), and to answer the question asked during the introduction, this device is a solid entry-level smartphone and a great bargain for what it offers at this price point.

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