Our Verdict

This svelte budget offering has curves and specifications in all of the right places and offers up a solid user experience. Issues with performance and a mediocre camera prevent it from being an instant recommendation however, despite the excellent price.

For

  • Big screen
  • Good endurance
  • Solid, durable build

Against

  • Poor camera
  • Mediocre performance
  • Reportedly no software updates

The Motorola Moto E5 is newest entry in the veteran manufacturer's cheapest product line, coming in under £130 (AU$230, around $160) at most retailers and it has a few tricks up its sleeve.

An 18:9 screen with a 720p resolution, a 13MP camera and a 4,000mAh battery all ensure that, for once, this is a budget blower to sit up and take notice of - bearing features aplenty to crow about.

But with a sea of grey imports available to the discerning buyer, and stiff competition from the likes of Nokia, Honor and Huawei, does this new entry in the Moto family do quite enough to earn a recommendation?

Price and availability

  • Out now in the UK
  • Costs around £120/AU$230 (roughly $160)
  • No news on a US launch

In the UK, the Moto E5 is available from many retailers, commonly for around the £120 (AU$230, roughly $160) mark, though others such as GiffGaff are selling the handset for £99 (around $130/AU$180) currently.

There is no confirmation as to whether this device will make its way to US shores, with users there being given the choice between the lesser Moto E5 Play and the larger Moto E5 Plus.

For the price you're paying, short of hitting up the likes of Xiaomi, the specifications and presentation on offer here are something special.

Motorola Moto E5

Key features

  • 4,000mAh battery
  • 18:9, 720p, 5.7-inch screen

What typically marks a handset at or around this low a price point is the presence of any features, never mind many. But the Moto E5 offers more than enough to pay attention to.

First among these is the height of the display. Lenovo has gone to great lengths to promote the 5.7-inch, 18:9, 720p 'MaxVision' display. This crams the form factor first made popular by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 into a device barely more expensive than a big night out.

For once, it means that splashing out on a device with a little less name cache doesn’t necessarily mean feeling left out when it comes to the latest and greatest trends to sweep the smartphone world.

To add to this, the device comes rocking a 4,000mAh battery. While including a larger cell isn’t in itself amazing, particularly when the Moto E5 Plus offers a unit another 25% larger than even this, it is a welcome add-on nonetheless.

When the majority of high-end handsets come with power-hungry chipsets, super-bright screens and ever smaller battery cells, the inclusion of a battery this size offers a great deal of hope for those who value endurance in their day-to-day activities.

The Moto E5 also has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and NFC, with the latter allowing you to make full use of Google Pay at participating retailers.

Design

  • Solid, sturdy design
  • No real flair

Typically, buying a handset this cheap implies a few sacrifices, mainly in design stakes. Those taking the plunge can usually expect the typical rectangle of glass, maybe a few hints at premium materials (glossy plastic, maybe a glass back) and a weight best described as unbecoming.

Against this, the Moto E5 doesn’t quite come across as a device really trying to make a difference, at least from the rear. It is composed of a clean-feeling matte grey polycarbonate and feels positively business-like - this isn’t a handset for those looking to express themselves through garish colors.

The only stabs at style are the Motorola logo, complete with a fingerprint scanner (which works quickly and efficiently) and the Oreo-shaped cut-out for the camera. First popularized by the extinct Lumia line, this houses a 13MP snapper and a single-LED flash.

On the top of the device can be found the headphone jack (hooray), the right side houses a volume rocker and a power button, the left side is flush and the bottom hosts a micro USB port for charging and data transfer.

Motorola Moto E5

Moving round to the front, this is where the party truly begins. Lenovo has managed to cram a 5.7-inch, 720p ‘MaxVision’ display into an 18:9 footprint, meaning that the device is easy to hold and use with one hand (even if it is a little tall).

Above the display sits a 5MP selfie camera, a call speaker (which also functions as the main speaker) and a single LED flash for the selfie camera, a nice bonus for those who have a big selfie game.

In all, despite the color being titled ‘flash grey’, beyond the maxed-out screen for the price, this is a remarkably utilitarian design. It is heavy at 174g, but this is well-balanced and feels earned given the hefty power pack concealed within.

Although not waterproofed, and with an unspecified version of Gorilla Glass included on the screen, the Moto E5 feels as though it could take a few knocks. And for the price, a device like this taking the plunge is far more palatable than a shiny new 512GB iPhone XS.

Screen

  • 5.7-inch 720 x 1440 screen
  • 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Can look a little washed out and lacking brightness

With an 18:9 aspect ratio, this is a display on the cutting edge of design, and certainly in the budget space. 

It is thin where it needs to be in order to allow for one-handed usage, however it also has enough space to give a great viewing experience for video.

Motorola Moto E5

At 720 x 1440, the 5.7-inch screen on the Moto E5 doesn’t quite break any resolution records, though in day to day usage we didn’t find any issues with the sharpness.

It has decent enough color reproduction, though we did find on occasion that things could be a little washed out. Lenovo has made the text a little larger in what may prove to be a boon for the optically challenged, this aids in removing the ‘jaggies’ in what is a stretched out 720p screen.

Brightness proved to be something of an issue also, at least in the harsh autumnal sun. While indoors it was easy enough to see, when outdoors, especially while using the camera, using the device became a bit of a slog. 

While obviously not practical, something like the super bright mode on the LG G7 ThinQ would have been very welcome.

In all, clearly a few corners were cut (literally in some cases, as this display has rounded edges) to have the screen fit the aspect ratio chosen at this price point, and they were mostly worth it.

Though we would have liked to see a little better color reproduction and perhaps more brightness, for the target audience this phone is intended to serve, it is more than enough to satisfy.