So, the race to the bottom gets another device steadfastly refusing to play the specs game and instead looks to bring a whole new demographic to the smartphone market. Is the Moto E enough to tempt smartphone virgins to part with $100 and dump their dumb phones? These are my first impressions of Motorola’s Moto E.
The Moto E is an interesting beast. It takes it’s design cues from the Moto G, and the X in turn, but is decidedly bottom of that particular list in terms of specifications. It has a comparatively paltry price tag to back that up also, weighing in at just $100, or, for the UK friendly readers, between £69-£89 unlocked/off contract. See the links below for pricing and availability options.
So, with that price tag in mind, it’s something of an interesting task to review such a unit. Most of the time as a reviewer you are expecting to take the latest flagship for a spin, with it’s plethora of features, superstar specifications, and catwalk price tag to match. It’s a very interesting task tackling the opposite end of the spectrum.
That brings me to my first point in this first impressions piece; Specifications are no longer everything in terms of performance. With Android software being heavily optimised in recent times, to not only bridge the fragmentation gap that previously showed no signs of relenting but also to provide a platform upon which developers can increase user visibility, it should be little surprise that the Moto E manages most daily functions without so much as a sniff. The Snapdragon 200 manages scrolling through screens, launching applications, and browsing the net with the fluidity you’d expect from a modern Android smartphone. Performance in these specific areas are comparable to those on the Moto. whilst the latest flagships will have this beat quite considerably in terms of almost any benchmark, the performance gulf of general UI interaction would not generally be noticeable unless you had both devices in front of you for comparison purposes, and many mainstream consumers would not have an issue using this device for daily tasks.
That’s not to say that it never slows down. With it’s limited 1GB RAM, you will find that occasionally switching between open applications and multi-tasking provides the odd hiccup. This is nothing to write home about, but for those power users amongst you, it’s something that could quickly become tiresome if you’re used to the latest and greatest.
This is precisely the point however. Those aforementioned power users are not the intended market for the Moto E. The Moto E is aimed at individuals who are looking to either migrate to Android for the first time, or indeed, and more emphasis is being put on this by Motorola themselves, those who are first time smartphone users. This is something I’ve specifically had to bear in mind when using this device.
The 1980 mAh battery is more than adequate (more to come in the full review) and moderate use will see you lasting a full day.
The camera on the other hand is one are where the proverbial corner has been cut to hit a price point. It’s a standard 5MP shooter, but unfortunately uses a fixed-focus approach. This coupled with no flash of any sort makes taking “good” shots, in any lighting, difficult.
Let’s end on a high note however. The design of the device is, yes, slightly more cumbersome and bulky than it’s G or X counterparts, and a fr cry from the sleek and slender curves of HTC’s M8 for example, however it manages to continue to impress by virtue of it’s rubberised, curved backplate, with it’s now legendary “Motorola” dimple. It sits very nicely in the hand and you simply never feel like you’re going to drop it. It’s extra 0.7mm width compared to the G is easily offset by it’s lighter 142g weight. Yes it still feels bulky, but not unbearable by any means.
So, there you have it, my first impressions of the Moto E can be summed up in few short words: “Compromises required, but not necessarily resented”
Stay tuned for the full review coming shortly.