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Interface and reliability
- Runs near-stock Android Oreo
- May not get Android Pie
Having previously been owned by Google, the Moto line has been typified by a generally restrained approach to Android modification, and that approach holds true here.
This is an almost stock build of Android 8.0 Oreo, running a few ‘Moto’ customizations. That is to say that there’s an ‘Assistant’ included which can easily be ignored, and that there is a selection of gesture functions to activate various settings - which may come in handy in a pinch but which are hardly essential.
There’s an app which offers a night light filter as is standard now on Android, and a ‘Help’ function which acts as a manual and can put users in touch with a customer service representative.
There is also a stab at an always on display, which is useful on occasion. When the device detects movement, i.e when the internal gyroscope is disturbed, a small watch face-like graphic will activate, displaying battery power and the time.
In terms of performance, the Moto E5 is a strong enough performer when it comes to moving around the interface. No phone is overly troubled these days by navigating through an app drawer.
However, the Snapdragon 425 and 2GB of RAM soon make their limits known when partaking in anything more sophisticated than this.
That isn’t to say that the phone is slow, however those coming from the likes of an iPhone will notice a definite drop in speed. Apps take longer to wake and taxing games such as PUBG will bring the device to its knees.
A point to note also is that Lenovo has stated that it will likely not offer further software updates to the Moto E5, considerably dampening its future longevity.
Movies, music and gaming
- Decent screen for movies and games
- Lacks the power for demanding games
With a 5.7-inch 18:9 screen, the Moto E5 is a strong choice for movie fans. Watching films and playing games is a mostly pleasant experience, though the limited resolution of the screen can be an obstacle in this.
The front-firing speaker, while anaemic, points in the right direction (i.e. towards the face) and so wins points in this regard.
A headphone jack on the top of the Moto E5 also means that serious listening can also take place without subscribing to the dongle life, although no serious claims are made to audio chops.
For the price, there are few better smartphones for watching films or gaming on the go, especially given the stellar battery life.
This is with the proviso that gaming will be of the 2D variety, as the latest 3D fare will cause considerable consternation to the chipset. Despite this, even under load the back of the Moto E5 rarely heats up.
Performance and benchmarks
- Runs cool
- Slow when running apps
In day-to-day use, beyond waiting a little longer for apps to open and games playing at lower graphical settings, the average user will not notice any difference from devices costing another £50/$50.
However, the combination of chipset and RAM here is not invincible, far from it. Running Geekbench 4, we found that the Moto E5 achieved a single-core score of 646 and a multi core score of 1,771, both of which are relatively poor.
Demanding users will need to look at importing or spending more to achieve more bang for buck in terms of performance, but the general user will find no issue with this handset with everyday use.
The performance of smartphones in this bracket has improved incrementally for years and we are now at such a point that the differences between the top and bottom are becoming ever more opaque.
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Sean is a Scottish technology journalist who's written for the likes of T3, Trusted Reviews, TechAdvisor and Expert Reviews.