The new Moto E 2, delivers a quad-core processor, 4G LTE and Android Lollipop in a small package for just $149 without a contract. The Moto E 2015 is not going to take on the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 head-on, but for users looking to buy a budget smartphone it offers build-quality and software that aren’t typical of this price range.
While the Moto X and Moto G get a lot of the attention, the Moto E plays an important role in offering an affordable first smartphone to users who don’t want to spend several hundred dollars or sign a contract to get a “free” phone.
Make no mistake, Motorola did not manage to deliver a $150 Moto X with a new design. There are important options missing from this phone and the screen leaves room for improvement, but it does offer a lot of value compared to other phones in this price range that normally come with outdated software.
New Moto E 2 Hands On Video
Watch out four-minute Moto E 2 Hands on video to see what this new device has to offer, with an overview of the hardware, options to upgrade the storage, change the color and more.
The Moto E 2 delivers several improvements that users will appreciate, and that stand out in our short time with the device. First off the is the new Moto E LTE feature that adds 4G LTE connectivity to the device on many carriers. The model we tested connects to T-Mobile 4G LTE with the same speeds as any other device we connect to the network. This is the $149 Moto E, but there is also a 3G model planned that will start at $119. All of the prices are off contract, which makes it a tempting option to use on a pre-paid carrier.
Inside Motorola packs in a Quad-Core Snapdragon processor that delivers a fairly zippy experience, though there were a few times we had to wait for the phone to catch up after unlocking it. The device includes 8GB of internal storage which makes it easier to use the device with bigger apps and perform other smartphone activities like watching movies and listening to music. There is a Micro SD card slot on the side of the phone that lets users add more storage fairly cheap.
The Moto E 2 display is one area where Motorola did not choose to improve the experience. The screen is bigger at 4.5-inches, but it offers a low 960 x 540 resolution. Most Android phones are on a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and on the way to a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. The screen is bright enough when looking at it with the brightness at full-blast, but viewing angles are poor and it is still an area where buyers will make a sacrifice when going with a cheaper phone.
Motorola does include Moto Display, which delivers the best notifications on Android. Instead of using an LED, the display lights up with just white text to show the icon of the app pushing a notification and with a tap users can see more information and choose to open the app or ignore the notification.
Form a design standpoint this isn’t as nice as the Moto X, but it does feel very solid for a budget smartphone. The main part of the phone is made of plastic that you cannot open, but you can pop off the edge of the phone to swap on new color options and to reach the SIM card and Micro SD card slots. The main body is smooth plastic, but the bands feature a hatch-marked design that adds some grip to the edge. Users can remove the band to swap out an accent color.
There is a 5MP camera on the back of the Moto E 2015, but there is no flash. This means low light photos are going to suffer and you can’t use the flash to turn the phone into a flashlight. Motorola did add a new camera on the front of the device so you can take selfies and so you can use video chat programs, which is a huge deal. You can see some Moto E 2o15 camera samples below.
From a software standpoint this may be the only $150 smartphone running Android 5.0 Lollipop. This is the latest version of Google’s software and there are minimal customizations so users get a great overall experience. In addition to stock Android users get Moto Display, mentioned above, and two other customizations. Users can swivel their hand to launch the camera and the phone can also learn your sleep and meeting schedules to avoid interruptions.
The Moto E 2nd Gen is on sale from Motorola today and will make it to retailers in the near future. The Moto E 2 is available in white or black. The color bands are $19.99 and there are also $19.99 grip-shell cases available.