Motorola Moto E review

A dinky dialler that's got a lot to shout about

Motorola Moto E review
Do good things really come in small (and cheap) packages?

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Let's not beat around the bush, by far the key feature of the Motorola Moto E is just how cheap it is. At £89 SIM free it is remarkably affordable.

It's not the first smartphone to cost under £100, after all the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is even cheaper at just £50 and we've seen other low price handsets in the past too.

But almost without exception you get what you pay for, which in this price range means a clunky, barely functional phone with a screen that you have to squint to see.

Not so with the Moto E. It may be basic, lacking fancy 4G and NFC, let alone gimmicky fingerprint unlocking and there's not even a front facing camera. But it does the basics and it does them well.

The screen on the Moto E is large and sharp enough to use comfortably, it's powerful enough to cope with basic tasks, it looks ok and it comes with the latest version of Android.

Motorola Moto E

In other words it works and can tick more or less all the fundamental boxes you'd expect from a smartphone, which at this price is quite a feat and should strike fear into the hearts of feature phones everywhere.

It seems it could be among the first of a new breed, as the Nokia Lumia 630 is about to hit the market with similarly impressive specs and a similar price tag. But the Lumia 630 is not quite here yet and when it does arrive it will be running Windows Phone 8.1, not Android.

The Motorola Moto E's 4.3-inch 540 x 960 display may not sound like it's worth shouting about but at this price it's certainly worth a mention. According to Motorola it's the sharpest screen in its category. While it's debatable what Motorola means by 'its category' it's certainly sharper than equivalently priced handsets.

Motorola Moto E review

Even the brand new Nokia Lumia 630 is lower resolution, while the slightly more expensive EE Kestrel has a screen of the same resolution, but as it's slightly bigger it's not as sharp.

All of which wouldn't mean a lot if the screen on the Moto E wasn't up to much, but while it's not pin sharp it's pleasant enough to look at and large enough to comfortably use.

While the Moto E is undeniably a basic smartphone it's also got more to it than just a low price tag. It's built to last too. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 to guard against scratches, while the phones construction feels solid and there's even a water-resistant splashguard, so it can survive getting a bit wet.

Moto E

Plus the back cover seems quite durable but if it ever does get damaged you can replace it with a new one, rather than having to replace the whole phone.

This all ties back into the low price too, because not only is it built to last but if something does happen to it then you haven't lost £500 worth of electronics.

All of this makes it a good choice for those with more adventurous lifestyles, or as a backup phone for when going somewhere that you wouldn't want to risk your main handset, or for anyone's first smartphone.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.