Moto E (2015) review: An adorable low-end phone with an absolutely abysmal camera

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 17 Mar 2015

They say good things come in small packages in the second-generation Moto E’s case, that’s mostly true. At $150, Motorola’s cute-as-a-button, low-end device packs all the essentials you need from a smartphone: a quad-core processor, a bright display, 4G E data speed, a MicroSD expansion slot to tack on as much storage space as you damn well please.

That cheapness comes at a cost, however. ile this year’s Moto E will make a great first smartphone or backup device, its camera performance is so abysmal that Motorola might as well have left it off.

The most adorable little smartphone

The Moto E.

ok at the Moto E—just look at it. It’s simply adorable. It’s not as customizable as its flagship counterpart, the Moto X, but you can easily swap out the bumpers to add your own little flair. (And if you get really desperate for customization, there’s always shi Tape.)

The Moto E’s rubbery backside.

Its rubbery backside will keep it from sliding out of your h it fits into almost any pocket or purse. The phone is otherwise very bare-bones.

That’s the point of the Moto E: keep it simple. If all you’re looking for is a decidedly plain-looking, cybar-style smartphone, this is most certainly it.

A display that’s good enough

moto top front Rob Schultz
The Moto E features a display that’s not all that bad for a low-end phone.

As displays go, the Moto E’s could be worse. Its 4.5-inch screen is small—really small— though it is easy to see in the dark, it’s hard to see in the sunlight. You’ll also need to enlarge the text in Chrome other applications to really read anything. I’m so used to bigger screens these days that the small size 900 x 540 resolution really made me squint. Typing on it is a bit of a chore, too. I often had to rely solely on auto correct to properly track my taps.

Enough power— power efficiency

The Moto E is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor 1GB of RAM. It’s capable for checking email, using Maps to navigate around a foreign city, or playing through several rounds of My Vegas Slots. The hardware supports 64-bit instructions the Moto E ships with Android llipop right out of the box, which Motorola promises to update on time.

rformance was pretty smooth overall, though there were some instances where the phone would take a few seconds to reload—like after unlocking the phone or when exiting out of a memory-intensive app—though there was never a considerable wait time. Overall, the Moto E didn’t feel as low-end as its low price suggests.

As a phone—an actual phone to have conversations with—the Moto E is solid. I used it to make phone calls on the Orange network while I was overseas for Mobile rld Congress very clearly heard the person on the other line. It was the same in the on the AT&T network, too.

However, the most impressive feature of the Moto E is its battery life, though that’s expected considering how low-powered the hardware is. The Moto E’s 2,390 mAh battery lasted five days on stby, with still enough juice to make a call or send a text. In a Geekbench battery rundown test, it lasted a total of six hours 22 minutes, which far exceeds the capabilities of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5. The Moto E is indeed reliable for an entire day out on the town.

y skimp on the camera?

It makes sense that manufacturers will skimp on something like stereo sound, heavy-duty processors, or all-metal construction when they’re piecing together an inexpensive phone, but to completely skimp on the camera seems like a crime against humanity.

Think about it: the majority of consumers purchasing the Moto E are either first-time smartphone buyers or those who can’t afford the whole kit–caboodle. It’s also likely that they won’t be buying cheap point–shoot either, that their camera phone is how they plan to capture memories.

motoe thebay
Eh, it’s okay.

The Moto E’s 5-megapixel rear-facing camera is better than its predecessor, but it’s still not very good—which isn’t surprising considering the camera performance of either generation of the Moto X Moto G. Motorola doesn’t exactly have the best track record with cameras.

motoe outside
Our video team shooting the video of me you see above.

Outside under the blazing sun, the Moto E takes acceptable photos for sharing on social media.

motoe lowlight
This is the Moto E’s low-light performance it is awful.
motoe outdoors
In real-life test cases, you can barely see what’s happening at night, even with some ambient lighting.

Its low-light performance is abysmal, however. The Moto E doesn’t have a rear-facing flash, either, so you won’t be able to shoot photos in the bar or in a dimly-lit room. I tried to take a picture of my cat, but I had to turn up the brightness on my monitor to see what was going on. And it did just as poorly at an outside beer garden surrounded by patio lighting.

motoe selfie
Not an acceptable selfie—for a number of reasons, one being the resolution of the Moto E’s front-facing camera.

The VGA front-facing camera isn’t much to write home about either. Even if you’re going to spend $120 on a phone, the least you’ll want to do is post an outfit photo once in a while. You won’t want to with the Moto E.

most-stock Android

motoe ui
Beautiful stock llipop.

One of Motorola’s biggest selling points is that its phone software is consistently updated with every new version of Android. That’s because it runs what I’ve dubbed “almost-stock” Android. The interface looks feels exactly like llipop because it is. The differences are mostly visible in the Settings menu, where Motorola bundled in features like Actions Glance Display. They’re helpful additions to Android easy to set up.

A cute lil’ phone for a low price

moto back confetti Rob Schultz
This phone is just too cute.

The Moto E is as basic as smartphones get. If you’re not into all the fanfare hoopla that typically trails flagship devices, maybe going for something a little more humble like the Moto E might be worth the switch. There is really no other low-end phone out there that rivals this one. For $150, you get nearly stock Android, fantastic battery life, E data, a quad-core processor in an adorably cute little package. I’d use this phone as my day-to-day if my 64-bit flagship powerhouse died a disastrous death, though I’d be sure to carry around something like the HTC Re to take pictures with. The Moto E is really not a camera phone.

greenbot rating 35