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Motorola Moto E 2015 review

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Motorola Moto E 2015 review

A quick recap: Motorola launched the Moto G back in 2013.

It was one of the best budget handsets around, and forced other phone makers to up their game with their entry-level models.

Motorola followed this with the Moto E, which had a slightly smaller screen, but was even cheaper.

Now the second-generation Moto E is here, with a bigger screen and 4G for superfast browsing, streaming and emailing.

But is worth a look? And how does it stack up against the new Moto G, which also packs 4G? Let’s find out.

First impressions and design

motorola moto e second gen joe 1

One of the most notable difference between this and the first-generation Moto E is the look.

While an excellent budget blower, its predecessor was a little dull and uninspiring looks-wise.

The new Moto E keeps the rounded corners and slightly podgy build, but has some neat tweaks that make it more appealing.

While the first-generation model had interchangeable backplates – called ‘Shells’ – that you could swap to add a flourish to your handset, this model has Grip Shells.

motorola moto e second gen joe 4

These are basically the same as the standard Shells, but offer extra grip and protection.

They come in golden yellow, charcoal, turquoise, blue and raspberry and cost £14.99 each.

You can add more colour too, with Motorola Bands.

These are rubberised straps that fit around the border of the phone, and serve to make the handset more personal.

They come in six colours – red, turquoise, raspberry, blue, golden yellow and purple – and cost £14.99 for a pack of three.

A word to the wise: after struggling to get the back of the Moto G recently, we came at the Bands with the same force and promptly broke one.

motorola moto e second gen joe 3

They’re a bit fragile, so don’t go charging in like we did, and try and rip one off.

Other changes? The phone is a bit taller and wider than its predecessor – that’ll be to make room for the slightly larger screen – and the bottom front-facing speaker is now built into the earpiece.

Other than that, it’s business as usual. It feels solid, with reliably sturdy build quality. The screen is also made of Gorilla Glass – usually only found on much pricier handsets – for extra toughness.

That dimple with the Motorola M is still on the back, too. It’s handy for resting your finger in while on a call.

Software

motorola moto e second gen detail

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes as standard. Lollipop is only on 3.3 per cent of all active Android devices, which is pitifully small for an operating system that’s been out for about four months.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see budget handsets like this coming with the OS out of the box.

Lollipop brings Google’s design language called material design. Notifications have been redesigned, there’s a new battery saving mode, and the graphics have been improved.

It also comes with certain Motorola apps preloaded.

moto alert

Moto Alert lets you send notifications to predefined contacts in case of emergency, Moto Migrate transfers your contacts and other content from your old phone, while Moto Assist tailors your notifications to fit your location and calendar.

For example, it will set alerts to silent when you’re in a meeting. Which your boss will thank you for.

It borrows some features from the Moto X, too. Pick up the phone, and the screen wakes up, showing you notifications like emails and letting you jump straight to them from the lock screen.

Hold the phone and twist your wrist twice, and you’ll open the camera app, no matter what you’re doing. Both are handy.

Though any phone running Android 5.0 Lollipop now has notifications on the lock screen, albeit with a different look than the Moto E’s active display.

Features

motorola moto e shells

In terms of specs, it’s not a giant leap on from the original Moto E. But it’s fantastic for the price.

You get 4G, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage (double its predecessor) which is expandable using a microSD card.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor is clocked at 1.2GHz. It’s also available in a 3G version, with a Snapdragon 200 chip clocked at 1.2GHz.

The screen is marginally bigger than its predecessor, at 4.5 inches, but keeps the same 540x960-pixel resolution.

motorola moto e second generation packshot

A water-resistant coating keeps it safe in the rain, but it’s not fully waterproof, so don’t take it diving.

Cameras have been the weakest part of Motorola’s recent smartphones. It has a 5-megapixel snapper – like its predecessor – but adds a VGA front-facer to the mix.

Plus there’s the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, but no NFC.

Usability

motorola moto e second generation angled

Because the screen has grown without upping its resolution, the pixel-per-inch count has dropped slightly.

But you’ll only notice if you place it side-by-side with its predecessor. It’s big and bright, though with slightly less contrast than we’d like.

Then again, we had to keep reminding ourselves it only costs £109 SIM free.

The screen isn’t as responsive as it could be.

Try to scroll quickly on a web page and you’ll get nowhere.

There’s also a slight delay between pressing the power button to lock the phone and the screen going dim.

But these are minor quibbles. It’s perfectly capable of handling everyday tasks like browsing and emailing, and even most games without any slowdown.

The camera has some new features.

You can adjust the focus and exposure by dragging the focussing bracket around the screen, for example.

It’s still the phone’s weakest feature – it’s fine for everyday shots, but really struggles in low light.

One standout feature is battery life. The 2,390mAh battery lasted us more than two days before needing a recharge. That’s unprecedented with today’s phones.

Verdict

motorola moto e second generation duo

The Moto E picks up where the last one left off, with a bigger screen, 4G and better battery life.

The screen could be sharper, and the camera is still a bit of a letdown. But if you want 4G on a budget, this is the handset for you.

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