Review: Motorola Moto E

If you thought Motorola had left Australia, think again, because one of the pioneers of the mobile is back, and this time, it has something great for anyone keen not to spend an arm or a leg.


The second Motorola for 2014 in Australia is an entry class phone, which could be why Motorola has called it the “E,” or “Moto E” officially.

Inside this handset you’ll find a 4.3 inch quarterHD screen, also known as qHD and supporting the resolution of 960×540, with a pixel clarity of 256 pixels per inch. The third generation of Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass coating (Gorilla Glass 3) protects this screen, as does a level of anti-smudge coating.

Underneath this screen are the parts that make the Moto E work, and for that you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, a dual-core chip running at 1.2GHz and working alongside 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage, and Google’s Android 4.4 “KitKat” running atop that storage.

Mobile connections are relatively standard for a low-end phone, with 802.11b/g/n, GPS, A-GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, with 3G connectivity complimenting this for mobile performance. Pretty much every telco in Australia should support the 3G offered by the Moto E, which is ideal since the E is sold unlocked.

Interestingly, the 3G on the Moto E is handled with not just one SIM slot, but two, with two microSIM slots found on the left slot, just above a microSD expansion slot for the 4GB storage inside the phone.

A camera can also be found on the Moto E, with a 5 megapixel shooter on the back, but no flash to accompany it.

Few buttons exist on Motorola’s E, mostly in line with the way Android handsets are heading. As such, you’ll find on-screen soft buttons for Android, and only two physical buttons, both located on the side and working for power and volume on the right edge.

Two ports can also be found, with a 3.5mm headset jack up top and a microUSB charge and data port at the bottom.

The rear plastic cover can be removed, revealing a fixed battery underneath with three slots, two for each microSIM and one for the microSD.

The battery is rated at 1980mAh.


Most of the handsets that pass by the GadgetGuy review desk are of a flagship nature, and that makes sense, since if you’re going to spend up to a grand on a phone, you should know what you’re buying into.

But some people don’t want to spend that much, and so we also review mid-range phones. Then there are people who don’t even want to spend that much, and that is precisely who this review is for, as we take a look at Motorola’s “E,” a new handset with a name — a letter, really — that could mean “everyone,” which is who this model might be made for.

Pick up the Motorola E and you’ll see a Moto X, especially if you’ve seen one before, albeit an X that is a little smaller in the hands. It’s a similar design from what we’ve seen before, with a softened rectangular shape, soft plastic back, and a build that feels good in your hands and won’t fall apart randomly.

There are a few design changes here and there, with a short soft chrome-look slit at the top where the speaker should be, and a longer one at the bottom where the microphone is, but by and large, this is the same style of body as the Moto X, with a basic design sitting around a 4.3 inch screen.

Switch the phone on and that 4.3 inch screen will come to life, showing a quarterHD resolution of 960×540 and a pixel clarity of 256 pixels per inch, on par with the screen out of the HTC Evo 3D, even if the Moto E lacks the ability to show 3D images without the glasses.

A ppi value of 256 isn’t anything to sneeze over, that said, 70 pixels from where Apple’s iPhone 5S is, and good enough for most people to view webpages on, as well as not look for pixels as they read websites, emails, or text files. The angles aren’t bad either, with minimal colour washout from various angles, and a solid amount of brightness provided the auto-brightness has been switched off.

Motorola’s special-sauce screen technology from the Moto X isn’t here, and that means the screen won’t light up in the middle to show you your notifications, but that’s fine, since there is a good $300 difference between the handsets.

Using the Moto E is just like using a Google Nexus phone, which should come as no surprise to people since Motorola was previously owned by Google. As a result of that ownership (and collaboration), the Moto E runs Android pretty much just like its brother, the Moto X, with Android the way Google envisioned it, complete with widgetised home screens, a lock screen, Google’s own drop-down notification bar, and an apps menu with tabs for apps and widgets.

It’s a pretty simple interface, and it is even one of the most up-to-date ones you’ll find, with an update rolled out to our handset mid-review bringing the Moto E up to Android 4.4.4, higher than the version running on this reviewer’s flagship handsets at the time.