Hands on: Moto E5 review

Moto's budget baby still packs a punch

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

There's not a huge new headline feature to shout about with the Moto E5, but everything looks consistently good considering the low price of the phone. If the battery and performance impress us day-to-day, this could be a top budget choice in 2018.

For

  • Top design considering price
  • Fingerprint scanner

Against

  • Only 16GB of storage
  • Smaller battery than Moto E5 Plus

The Moto E5 is the budget baby of Motorola's latest low-cost smartphone line-up, coming in below the Moto E5 Plus and the slightly more expensive Moto G6 series.

It may be the runt of the range (except in the US, which gets the Moto E5 Play instead), but the Moto E5 still packs a sizeable 5.7-inch display with a tall 18:9 aspect ratio display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 13MP rear camera, microSD slot and a rear facing fingerprint scanner.

There's also a big 4,000mAh battery, stock Android 8.0 Oreo interface, headphone jack and a 5MP front facing camera. Not bad for one of the cheapest smartphones on the market.

Moto E5 release date and price

The Moto E5 price is just £119 (around $170, AU$220) SIM-free, making it a highly affordable handset.

In the UK the E5 release date is set for June and the handset will be available from a number of retailers including Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone, Amazon and Argos.

We're still waiting to find out which other regions the Moto E5 will also launch in, and we'll update this hands on review as soon as we know. We're almost certain the Moto E5 won't be coming to the US as it has both the Plus and the Moto E5 Play, but we've asked Motorola for confirmation and will update this piece when we know.

Design and display

This may be a low cost smartphone, but Motorola hasn't skimped on the screen, with a 5.7-inch Max View panel dominating the front of the Moto E5.

There is a bit of bezel above (housing the earpiece, selfie cameras and sensors) and below (which just has the Motorola logo on it) the screen, but dimensions are kept at a palatable 154.4 × 72.2 × 8.95 mm.

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It means it is possible to hold and operate the Moto E5 in one hand, with the curved rear helping it sit a little more comfortably in the hand.

On the back there's a slight camera bulge above the circular Motorola logo, and that emblem actually doubles as an easy-to-hit fingerprint scanner.

The power/lock keys on the right side of the E5 fall nicely under thumb or finger, while the base of the phone boasts a microUSB port, while up top you'll find a headphone jack.

Moving our attention back to the screen and Motorola has opted for the taller 18:9 aspect ratio display size for all its new E and G series handsets. This gives you more space when scrolling social feeds, and a better viewing experience when held landscape.

While the Moto E5 has a big screen, its resolution is just 720p HD rather than Full HD and that means it doesn't shine when compared to the new Moto G6 range. It's also a LCD panel, which means it doesn't quite have the same pop as OLED displays, but it's still a good enough offering considering the phone's price tag.

You'll be able to get the Moto E5 in flash gray and fine gold once it goes on sale.

Camera and battery

Within the aforementioned camera bulge on the rear of the Moto E5 you'll find a 13MP camera and a single LED flash.

While it's not going to blow you away with stunning photography, we had a quick play around and we believe it should be good enough for the odd social post. It also features phase detection autofocus, which improves capture speed. 

On the front there's a 5MP selfie camera which should suffice for the occasional Snapchat and Instragram Story session.

Inside the Moto E5 there's a big 4,000mAh battery which Motorola claims will give you a full day of use from a single charge. That's a claim we're inclined to agree with, but we'll but it to the test in our in-depth review.

If you're looking for incredible battery, check out our coverage of the Moto E5 Plus that comes with a 5000mAh cell that we believe may even be able to last a whole two days like the Moto E4 Plus did.

The battery also supports fast charging, and you get a 10W fast charger in the box to help you top up in a flash. We'll be sure to put this to the test as well during our review process.

Power and OS

Under the hood the Moto E5 runs the entry-level Snapdragon 425 chipset alongside 2GB of RAM.

While this is enough to run the stock Android 8.0 Oreo interface, it's not going to set any benchmark or speed records. Most games from the Play Store should run on the E5, but more intensive titles will likely suffer from long load times and poorer graphics.

It's nice to see stock Android on the phone, and Motorola offers Google's software in its plainest form on all its handsets, allowing for speedy software updates.

You get 16GB of internal storage, but these days that can fill up pretty quickly. Luckily the Moto E5 also comes with a microSD slot, allowing you to build on the internal space with cards up to 128GB in size.

Early verdict

Motorola's E line often sits in our list of the best cheap phones as it manages to supply lots of spec for an affordable price. We expect it'll be the same again in 2018 as our first impressions of this new phone are particularly good.

There's no standout feature here on the Moto E5, but if the battery life is good and we find it to work well when running apps and games we use every day there may be a lot to love about the Moto E5.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.