Moto E3 review

The Moto E3 is brilliantly cheap, but not brilliant value

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Battery life

  • Battery lasts for days with light use
  • Performed well in our standard battery test

The pay-off for the Moto E3’s somewhat wheezy performance, as well as for its relatively compact, undemanding display, is some truly excellent stamina from its 2800mAh battery.

This is a phone that’s been built to be used sparingly for calls, messaging, emailing and light app usage - and it will do that for days on a single charge.

After a working day of light usage - that’s 9am to 6pm with only a little email checking, a single phone call, and a couple of WhatsApp exchanges - we found that the E3’s battery was down to just 94%.

How about more intensive usage? The E3 stands up reasonably well to that, too. Ten minutes of 3D gaming used up 4% of the battery. Meanwhile our standard video test, which involves playing a 90 minute looping 720p video with the screen brightness cranked right up, caused the E3’s battery to drop by a consistent 13%.

The E3’s big brother, the Moto G4, used up 17% in the same test. Elsewhere the ZTE Blade V7 Lite lost 20%.

If you like your phone to remain in the background of your life, and don’t demand much time or functionality from it beyond the bare essentials, the Moto E3 could fit the bill very nicely.


  • Improved 8MP rear camera, 5MP front
  • HDR is a generous inclusion at this price

Besides the display, Motorola appears to have gone to some lengths to improve the Moto E3’s camera. It’s now an 8MP unit (up from 5MP), and it will grab you some surprisingly acceptable pictures if you work with it.

We found that we could obtain images with nicely balanced colors and reasonable detail for the price. But it does take work. This isn’t a phone where you can simply fire and forget, which is a luxury only expensive phones tend to be able to afford.

In particular, the Moto E3’s camera is very slow to get a lock on with its autofocus system. You really need to hold it steady for a good second or two (which is actually quite a long time when you think about it) before pulling the trigger, or you’ll end up with a bunch of blurred shots. That’s the case even in pretty good lighting.

Talking of lighting, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to learn that you need plenty of it to keep those noise levels down. Low-light performance isn’t great here, and nor are the results when there are extremes of light - such as bright skies over shadowy buildings.

On the plus side, the Moto E3 comes with a serviceable HDR mode, which is by no means a nailed-on feature even in more expensive phones. Well done Motorola.

You also get an LED flash for those extreme dark situations which, again, isn’t something you’d necessarily expect to find in an entry-level phone. The effect of it isn’t massively desirable - it never is - but at least it means you can get shots when there’s virtually no light.

The phone’s front camera has received a healthy bump to 5MP. Given that the Moto E (2015) had only a VGA camera and the first model didn’t have one at all, that’s quite some progress.

One of our favorite features of the Moto E3 with regard to its camera is the ability to double press the power button in order to jump straight to the camera app. As you might expect given the performance issues we’ve already mentioned, this isn’t exactly a speedy process, but it’s a helpful shortcut nonetheless.

Camera samples