After a sudden crash of my phone, a beloved and well looked after LG G-Flex 2 that took a toll on it’s sim-card reader I was in dire need of a temporary replacement phone. No it wasn’t dropped, it just killed it’s own sim-reader somehow.
After some wondering around the internets looking for a budget buy, I came across the Moto E 4G (2nd gen) . I got it for about £80 and you can find it for less if you really look hard enough. What does £80 get you these days? A 4G phone with a 4.5″ display with 540×960 pixels and a Snapdragon 410 chipset, 8 GB of internal memory, expandable storage, a solid build and a clean Android 6.0 (after updates).
As a disclaimer, I own this phone and all the stated opinions are my own. Nobody has either paid me or provided me with the phone for reviewing. The review will be brief and lacking in pictures, and I highly recommend the professional review over at GSMArena.
I’m starting off with the key aspect everybody is always chasing, battery life!
On a typical day it lasts from 7.00 to 22.00 without reaching the bottom 15% of the battery level. You might say it’s not really that great, but you’d be wrong, as I also use it at home as a wifi hotspot (broadband installing issues) and the hotspot is on from 07.00 to 09.00 (circa) and from 18.00 to 22.00, so a total of 6 hours of hotspot and 4G torture. During this time I also use it to browse, listen to music and hang around social networks. It’s by far the best battery life I’ve ever seen in a phone! During work hours I also browse a bit, but rarely, it mostly sits comfortably sleeping on my desk.
The phone runs a mostly Vanilla Android, updated recently to 6.0 (Marshmallow), and the interface is light enough for the processor to be buttery smooth in most situations. Under heavy stress (a lot of apps or tabs open) it tends to struggle a bit, but nothing unreasonable and unmanageable.
The E features some neat Motorola specific gimmicks, such as turning on the screen for a couple of seconds while it’s sleeping if you move it about (as though it knows you just wanna see the time and notifications), and the double-wrist-twist to open the camera.
The 1 GB of RAM is rarely depleted by chrome (unless you forget to close all those tabs) and the 8 GB of internal storage is within reason for several apps and updates. The E also features a microSD card so memory expansion is cheap.
The hardware buttons are all neat and sturdy, the battery is non-removable and to get to the sim and microSD slot you have to take off the side bumper. It’s a unique solution and makes it feel more sturdy, as the back panel does not come off.
The 4G connectivity is good, I’ve never had dropped calls or signal outages, even with only 1 bar of signal! The fastest speed I got (using the Three network in UK) is 44 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload (according to the speedtest app). As mentioned earlier I’ve been using it as a general wifi-hotspot at home, and it seems to cope well with multiple devices at the same time (2 laptops, one tablet and one phone streaming music). The chipset runs cool (even under pressure it barely gets a bit warm) and the in hand feel of the device is nice and sturdy (albeit it may seem a bit chubby for some).
The display resolution is not on par with the best devices, but you can rarely notice pixels or lack of clarity. The display is nice and bright enough to work under full summer sunlight.
The rear camera shoots with it’s minimalistic interface photos at 5 MP and in broad daylight provides accurate colors and nicely balanced shades. Take it inside and the lack of a LED flash takes it’s toll. Most of the indoor photos lack focus, detail and clarity and are utterly rubbish. Knowing it’s limitations might help. The front cam is 0.3 MP and is only good for occasional Skype or other videocalling. The quality goes well with low bandwidth so don’t try taking selfies with it, as it may damage your self-esteem.
All in all the phone is a pretty compelling and complete package, and at a good price. I was actually considering getting a second-hand phone before reading about this bit of kit and I’m glad I made this choice. It’s a good phone, but know it’s limitations and you’ll be able to live with it happily.