Motorola e5 – a lot of phone for little money (review)


Motorola has been rolling out new models as if its life depended on it. At $199 The Motorola e5 is outstanding in the value  <$200 segment.

The value market is also crowded. GadgetGuy reviewed the Alcatel 1C 3G (was $89 now $69!), and it has a 4G 1X as well. We gave it a 5-out-of-5 if only that its quality and build were well above its price.

OK, the Motorola is just under $200, but we are sure a little arm-twisting negotiation will pay dividends. It is one of the best value phones out there.

Motorola also has a cheaper Moto C for the pre-paid market. Woolworths have that for $149.

In the box – Motorola e5 Model XT-1944-6

Australian website here

  • The phone (2/16GB, dual sim)
  • Charger 2.0 5V/2A
  • USB-A to micro-USB cable
  • Buds/mic

We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Carrier LTE bands. Another way to tell – go to Settings, About Phone, Software Channel should be ‘retapac’.

The first impression

This looks like a solid, impressive, modern 18:9 format phone. It has a nice matte, back and matching frame (its metallised plastic).

Its price belies its build quality and finish. What that means is that it will be a little more susceptible over time to scratches.

Motorola e5


We have changed our ‘monolithic’ specifications table to place relevant comments and tests after each segment.


Screen 5.7-inch, 1440 x 720, 282ppi, 18:9, IPS
75.2% S-T-B-R
Screen protection unknown

Very few phones in the bracket have a large 5.7-inch screen. 720p resolution is surprisingly good. It has three colour temperatures and standard/vibrant mode.

Moto Display gives you a quick preview of notifications and updates, so you can see what’s going on without unlocking your phone. Just give it a nudge to see what’s new, then reply to emails and texts without even unlocking your phone.

It has average daylight readability but is otherwise fine. No screen protection is specified. If you plan to hold onto this for a few years, get a tempered glass screen protector.


Processor Qualcomm MSM8917, 28nm, Snapdragon 425Four-core, A53, 12.4Ghz
GPU Adreno 308
RAM 2GB/16GB eMMC (10GB free)
microSD to 128GB (can be formatted as internal storage using Developer mode)

The Snapdragon 425 is Qualcomm’s entry-point for mobiles.

Performance is average. Some apps open slowly. Twitter or Facebook does not scroll smoothly. But overall lag is acceptable.

To save costs, Motorola has used non-Qualcomm components wherever it can, e.g. for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sound, etc. Do don’t try to compare this device with a pure Qualcomm 425 solution like the Samsung J2 (2018).

The Adreno graphics processor is too slow for many mobile games but does support H.264/265 decoding for 720p video playback.

2GB of RAM is adequate but limits multi-tasking. We opened three apps before it started to slow.


Comms Wi-Fi N 2.4GHz, Wi-Di, Hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2
Micro-USB 2.0 OTGDual sim and microSD slot

This is one of the compromises. Wi-Fi N reached 72Mbps at 2 metres from our D-Link AC5300 router. However, it held rock solid out to 30m. It achieved 47/34Mbps download/upload from the internet on a 100/40Mbps NBN connection. This is nowhere near 867Mbps on Wi-Fi AC devices, but it is not bad.

Micro-USB 2.0 can transfer data at up to 60Mbps. It achieved 20Mbps (average) transferring a batch of photos from the phone to a PC.

OTG (on the go) worked with Windows 10 allowing Windows Explorer to access drive folders.

It has two sim slots and a separate microSD slot. The dual sims are 4G and 3G


Sound 3.5mm audio jack
Earpiece front-firing
FM radio
ANC dual mic
OK Google enabled

Ringer volume is 73dB – not as high as I would like. Voice (hands-free) and music are around 70dB – again not as high as I would like. It’s adequate.


Other Fingerprint sensor rear
GPS and e-compass (all)

The fingerprint sensor was OK most of the time. It was fast but not always accurate.


Battery 4,000 mAh battery
5V/2A charger

We tested over three days. On day one of heavy use, it went over 10 hours. On days two, three and four it managed to last 66 hours, e.g. no recharge needed for two days.

Using the supplied Quick Charge 1.0 – 5V/2A =10A a charge from 0-100% took just over six hours.

It does support Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 which is 5V/3A, 9V/1.6A and 12V/1.2A. If you buy one of these chargers, you should get 60% in 30 minutes and a full charge in three hours.

Motorola claims it will play 720p movies for up to 15 hours. We ran a video loop at 50% screen brightness in aeroplane mode and managed 12.75 hours.


LTE  Cat 4 (150/75Mbps)
Bands 1/3/5/7/8/18/19/26/28/38/40/41

It supports all Australian Telco bands as well as many international bands.

It achieved 75/50 Mbps download/upload on Telstra 4G, four bands reception.

Operating system

OS Android 8.0
Security Patch 1 June (review in mid-Aug)

Motorola has added some value to Pure Android with a very light skin. This relates to Moto Actions; your simple gestures make everyday interactions more convenient. Whether you’re shrinking down the screen with a simple swipe or silencing the ringer just by lifting up the phone, you can do more with less effort.

Build etc

Colours Flash Grey
Fine Gold
Build Brushed plastic back and frame
Dimensions 154.4 x 72.2 x 8.95 mm x 174g
IP Rating No

It feels solid enough, and the brushed plastic back feels more like brushed metal. A concern with all ‘metallised’ plastic is that it can chip easily.

What’s missing

Missing USB-C
Front notification LEDNo IP rating

We’re sad to see some of our favourite gestures not included — such as making a chopping gesture twice to turn on the flashlight or twisting the phone twice to open the camera.


Price $199

This offers features and value beyond its price. And from what I can find there is no direct, equally specified competitor so go for it.


Rear Camera 13MP, 1.12μm, F/2.0, PDAF, LED Flash, HDR, Panorama, Burst Shot, Best Shot
Video max 1080@30fps with EIS
Selfie 5MP, 1.12μm, f/2.3, 80° FOV, Fixed focus
LED flash

The specifications indicate a good day and office light camera with no low light pedigree. Specs don’t lie.

The Qualcomm 425 is a little slow. The camera app takes a second or two longer to load. Shutter press when its deciding to use HDR or not can be slow.

Daylight, outdoors

Motorola e5
ISO 50, 1/1600sec, 3.9MB

The image is a little muted – the sky, water and trees are brighter in real life

Indoors Office Light

Motorola e5
ISO 64, 1/40sec, 2.4MB

Again the colours are muted. The Sudoku and kitchen appliance colours are more fire engine red. It lacks detail on the toy dog’s fur.

Low light

Overly grainy and often blurry. Switching off HDR helped blur, but the results is lost detail.

Mototola e5
ISO 500, 1/20sec, 2.9Mb


The front flash is great. It can make a huge difference. But to our eyes, the flash induces too much noise.

The 5MP is really more of a Skype camera.


You can take a panorama in any direction.


Daylight and office video 1080p@30fps is fine. The Qualcomm 425 offers moderate EIS for stabilisation.

Camera summary

For a $199 phone the camera is great. My reference to muted colours is in comparison to $1000+ smartphones. A new term ‘social media friendly’ sums it all up.

GadgetGuy’s take – Motorola 35 – great specifications and performance in the value market

It is undeniably a value class handset. If offers build quality above that, so it is a safe buy. The Motorola e5 ticks every box in the value segment and then some. It is stellar value in this segment.

Sure the camera is only for good light shots. But again, I ask if you will find better in this bracket.


  • 4,000 mAh battery – 66 hours normal use!
  • Quality build and modern design
  • Dual Sim
  • Separate microSD can for internal storage/apps
  • Fingerprint scanner 95% accurate
  • The camera is fine if you judge it against ‘social media’ standards
  • Bright, colourful screen
  • Android 8.x, timely updates and little bloatware
  • As close to pure Android as you can get – no heavy overlays


  • Can be a bit laggy
  • The camera could improve for low light
  • 16GB (10GB free) is limiting
  • USB-C not provided
  • No Android P – Oreo only


  • Overall: 4 out of 5
  • Features:  3.5 out of 5 – no IP rating and Wi-Fi N single band
  • Value for Money: 4.5 out of 5 – It has no peer at that price
  • Performance: 3.5 out of 5 – Can be laggy. No Android upgrade.
  • Ease of Use: 4.5 out of 5 – Its Android!
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – Looks better than it should at that price

Price: XT-1944-6 software code retapac

$199 online.

Warning: The only approved Australian retailers are Office Works and the Good Guys.

So, any third-party sales will not be the certified Australian model. In particular, avoid any with the code PACH001AU.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Best phone for around $200
The usual price compromises - no deal breakers