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Motorola Moto E hands-on review

We test out Moto's £89 Android 4.4 Kitkat smartphone
Tue May 13 2014, 11:39

MOTOROLA ANNOUNCED the Moto E on Tuesday, a dirt-cheap Android 4.4 Kitkat smartphone that it hopes will see the same success as last year's Motorola Moto G.

Unveiled at an event in London, the Moto E is even cheaper than the Moto G, which Motorola called its "best-selling smartphone ever" today, with the handset set to go on sale this week priced at just £89. With the Moto E, Motorola is looking to kill off the feature phone, and with the handset boasting such a low price, it might just manage to do it.

Design
The Motorola Moto E doesn't feel like a sub-£100 phone. The handset is built out of toughened plastic that feels plenty robust in the hand and doesn't creak like some other budget smartphones. It's a nice-sized phone too, with its arched rear casing making it rest comfortably in the palm.

Motorola Moto E design

Motorola boasted today that the Moto E features a water-resistant nano-material coating, which means it should survive the occasional splash. We have yet to test this feature, but will be sure to do so in our full Moto E review. Although Motorola has furnished the front of the device with a smudge-proof coating, we found the rear of the device susceptible to fingerprints.

The Moto E also comes with support for Motorola's snap covers, which means that users will be able to customise the device with nine different coloured shells or opt for one of Motorola's three rugged alternatives.

Screen
The Motorola Moto E has a 4.3in 960x540 resolution display, giving the handset a pixel density 256ppi. While this makes the display on the Moto E good for a phone at this price point, the lack of HD resolution is noticeable, with the screen looking somewhat dull and grainy.

Motorola Moto E with Android 4.4 Kitkat and 4.3in screen

One thing we do like about the display, however, is its tiny bezel, with the Moto E's front offering an almost full-display experience.

Software and performance
Despite fetching just £89, the Moto E runs Google's latest Android 4.4 Kitkat mobile operating system, with Motorola hinting that, thanks to its barely-there custom skin, it will be quick to receive future updates too.

While Motorola's custom user interface is barely noticeable, the firm has equipped the phone with a handful of software add-ons. There's a new addition called Motorola Alerts, a location-based app that enables Moto E users to notify friends and family that they have arrived at places safely, while also offering the options to send emergency messages and requests to meet. Moto Migrate is also included, making it easy for users to switch from a different phone.

Motorola Moto E Chrome web browser

Beyond that, you won't find much from Motorola, with the handset instead putting Google's features at its forefront. With the firm clearly aiming this smartphone at first-time smartphone buyers, this is a clever move on Motorola's part, with the handset offering an uncluttered, easy to use interface, which cannot be said for smartphones sold by Sony and Samsung, for example.

The Moto E has a not very exciting dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor and 1GB of RAM. We haven't spent much time with the Moto E yet so it's hard to judge how it will perform in the real world. However, upon opening the web browser and Angry Birds Star Wars, which comes pre-installed on the device, the Moto E did show signs of lagging and stuttering, although general swiping and tapping seemed smooth enough.

Camera
On its rear, the Moto E has a 5MP camera without flash, and there is no accompanying front-facing camera. The lack of a front-facing camera on a phone at this price shouldn't have anybody upset, and on first impressions we found the rear-facing camera performed reasonably well. Motorola has made some handy changes to the camera app for easy manipulation of the camera's settings, too.

First impressions
While it has its downsides, it's hard not to warm to the the Motorola Moto E. Undoubtedly, the smartphone is one of the best at its price point, and is likely to win over buyers looking for an affordable, no-frills handset.

Check back soon for our full Motorola Moto E review. µ

 

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