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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The Motorola Moto E is a no-frills budget handset. There's no 4G, no NFC, no fingerprint scanner and a severely compromised camera.

But with the exception of the camera it does the basics and it does them well. All for just £89 (around $150, AU$160).

We liked

The Moto E doesn't look or feel like a sub-£100 handset. It's well built, has a fairly good 4.3-inch screen that delivers reasonably crisp visuals, runs well for the most part and has better battery life than most low cost phones.

It even manages to pack in a couple of extra features, like a microSD card slot and a water resistant body.

It has a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, which is fairly impressive given the price. You won't be mistaking this for a high-end handset but nor does it feel like an entry level one. Whether you're browsing the web, using apps, playing games or watching videos it's up to the task.

It's amazing that Motorola has managed all that while charging so little for the phone and it could well sound the death knell for feature phones.

We disliked

The camera is far and away the worst thing about the Moto E. It has one on the back, but you're not likely to want to use it. With just a 5 megapixel sensor, no flash and no autofocus picture quality it is pretty poor.

While if you're a fan of selfies then the Moto E is an even worse fit as there's no front-facing snapper at all.

There's also only 4GB of internal storage of which only 2.21GB is useable, so a microSD card will be an essential purchase. I wasn't totally convinced by the accuracy of the keyboard either and while performance is generally fine it can slow to a crawl when downloading things.


The low budget smartphone market is starting to get interesting as some genuinely good phones, such as the Moto G and EE Kestrel, are coming out at low price points. But while both those phones are cheap they're still more expensive than the Moto E.

For £90 or less there are very few compelling options and when it comes to Android handsets at that price I'd argue that there's nothing else out there as good as the Moto E. It's undeniably basic but it looks good, has a decent screen and it runs well. At this price you can't ask for more than that.

Yet it delivers more than that thanks to solid battery life and a durable build. If you're after a good camera then look elsewhere, and if you can stretch your budget by another £30 or so I'd argue that you get more for your money with the Moto G.

But for anyone else this is a great option and is especially good if you're on a tight budget, buying it for a child or elderly person or just want a reliable yet expendable phone that you can throw in a rucksack and take backpacking.

First reviewed: May 2014

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.