Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Motorola Moto E – Where ‘E’ Stands for Exceptional!

Pros: Maximum bang for the buck, Performance, Fresh Android, Expandable Storage, Gorilla Glass3 Protection, Build Quality & Screen.
Cons: Poor Fixed Focus Camera, Non-user removable battery and Availability issues.



The Motorola Moto E has been launched in India in May 2014 with a price tag of Rs. 7,000. The youngest phone in the Moto family is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 302 GPU, 4 GB internal memory with expandable storage upto 32 GB, 5 MP primary camera, 4.3 inches capacitive LCD touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection and Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system.




Prologue

There are very few instances when a company rises from the ashes by launching a new product which redefines the segment, gains consumer’s confidence and again launches a product which again redefines another segment. Motorola did it with Moto G and now they are planning to do the same with Moto E. The 10k and sub10k mobile phone segments are very competitive and creating a product which identifies that segment is not a fun. But Motorola seems to have nailed it. They have launched very impressive phones recently in Indian Market – Moto G, Moto X and now the little Moto E. Let’s have a closer look at Moto E. 

Screen & Build Quality

When you first grab a Moto E in your hands, the sturdy build quality and premium feel will amaze you. Though at 143 grams it is not a light phone in any manner but thanks to its compact dimensions, it is easy to carry around Moto E. Build quality is pretty good, on the similar lines of Moto G. Back cover is made of plastic which doesn’t feel as plasticky as we have in, for example, Samsung phones. The back is removable and can be interchanged with colourful back covers available as separate after-market  accessories. On the back there is a conventional Motorola logo along with 5 MP camera minus a flash.





Moto E has 4.3 inches capacitive LCD touchscreen with 540 x 960 pixels resolution and ~256 ppi pixel density. It is Multitouch screen and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. So when was the last time when you saw a phone worth 7 grands with corning gorilla glass protection? The screen on this phone is good enough for a budget smartphone with good color and contrast ratios. Day time visibility under direct sun is not very good attributing to the reflective nature of the screen. Otherwise it is just good. Reading text, watching movies/videos and viewing photos on Moto E is perfect as such. Touch response is decent. There are on screen back, home and menu buttons. The earpiece and mouthpiece grills are silver finished. This is just to differentiate with the biggie Moto G.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

Motorola ships Moto E with a fixed focus 5 MP camera without a flash which captures images of 2592 х 1944 pixels. Being a fixed focus camera one can assume the limitations of the lens as macro or close up photographs are simply impossible to take with Moto E. Also the indoor shots suffers from poor grain which again is result of inability of sharp focus. Outdoor photos are pretty satisfactory as far as segment of the phone is concerned but the quality of photos are nothing to write home about. The camera app supports basic features like geo tagging, panorama and HDR mode. Video recording is possible at 854x480@30fps resolution. Again the quality is pretty basic. If you want a phone with a better camera, you better extend your budget and get Moto G. There is no front camera in Moto E which was never expected either for a budget smartphone. Cost cutting is clearly evident in this department. Mobile Photography enthusiasts will be disappointed.



(Two Moto Es along with a Moto G)


(Notice a rather poor indoor quality photo from Moto E's lens)


Moto G has standard button configurations like most other smartphones including power button and volume controller on the right hand side of the phone. No dedicated camera button out here. 3.5mm audio jack is on top of the device along with noise cancellation microphone. USB cum charging port is on bottom side of the phone. Call quality is very good comparable with Nokias and Blackberrys! Speaker phone is very loud yet clear. Ear phones supplies with this phone offers average sound quality.

OS/Performance and Battery

Moto E has a modest processor when compared to Moto G's Quad Core chipset. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU coupled with 1 GB RAM and Adreno 302 GPU, Moto E easily handles all essential and basic tasks of a smartphone. With 4 GB internal memory on board and SD card expandability upto 32 GB, there is plenty of room to store your multimedia stuff. Now thanks to Motorola/Google tie up, Android 4.4.2 is running out of the box on a budget smartphone like Moto E which costs Rs.7000! There are phones in the market which are about four times priced higher than this yet running dated JellyBean OS under the hood. And the best part is, there will be guaranteed updates available OTA with Motorola/Google backed phones.  





Motorola has provided couple of proprietary apps to add a ‘Moto’ touch to it while not playing with neat and clean Android 4.4.2 interface and functionality. All essential apps came preinstalled with the phone. The phone app is the stock Android app with neat interface which is easy to use. Music player is trusted Google’s Play music.  Messaging app is Google hangout only.  Browser is Google’s very own Chrome. Browsing is very smooth with google chrome. In a nutshell there is hardly a third party app for basic functionalities which is mostly overridden by third party apps as in case of other manufactures providing their own interface layer over stock Android. Moto E also offers FM radio.






Overall performance is pretty smooth. Though it lacks the snappiness of the Moto G, Moto E performs quite decently. After all Moto E was never intended to be a power user phone. It is a phone for average daily smartphone user who requires all basic and necessary functionalities of a smartphone.  There is no lag as such, all basic games are playable on this phone. Moto E is a dual sim phone with active standby. 







HD movies can be played using after market players like MX player. There are no complaints of the phone getting heated up upon prolonged use as such. Moto E comes with a non-removable Li-Ion battery with capacity of 1980 mAh. Considering a Moto E’s humble hardware and screen, the battery life is satisfactory which lasts for a day easily on average use. Motorola provides 1 year manufacturer warranty for Phone and 6 months warranty for in the box accessories.

Conclusion

With Rs. 7,000 price tag, Moto E ticks most (in fact all) of the right boxes. There is no other phone in sub 10 k segment which comes closer to Moto E in terms of performance, design, sheer value for money and latest operating system running out of the box with future update guarantee. At the time of writing this text, Moto E is already setting the sales charts on fire!

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality *****
Screen ****
Camera ***
Performance ****
Value for Money *****


Overall *****

 Specs at a glance

Screen
4.3 inches LCD capacitive touchscreen with resolution of 540 x 960 pixels and ~256 ppi pixel density
Processor

GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Chipset, Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU
Adreno 302 GPU
RAM
1 GB RAM
Storage
4 GB internal memory with microSD support up to 32 GB
Camera
5 MP Primary camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS, GPRS/EDGE, 3G, FM Radio
Battery
Li-Ion 1980 mAh battery
OS
Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Dimensions
124.8 x 64.8 x 12.3 mm
Weight
142 grams


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