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Thread: Our Moto E Second Generation review

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    Our Moto E Second Generation review

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    When Motorola released the original Moto G, it really turned the industry on its side. Before it came out, all the brand name phones at its price point where not very good. The Moto G was really one of the first affordable phones that didn’t make any serious compromises.

    Motorola followed it up with the original Moto E. With an even more budget friendly price tag, many hoped it would bring the cost of getting a decent phone down even more.

    However, when it launched it was clear it had some serious compromises. The 4.3” screen was too small and cramped, it came with very little storage (4GB) and while it had plenty of megapixels, the camera was terrible.

    Now Motorola has a new Moto E that addresses most of the original’s shortcomings plus it comes with an unexpected extra - LTE support. Let’s check it out:

    Pricing:

    The new Moto E with LTE launches in Canada later this month for $150 locked on TELUS and Koodo. It’s also available in the US unlocked for $120 for the HSPA version and $150 for the LTE. Boost and Sprint have a locked version for $100.

    No carriers here picked up the original Moto E here but here in Canada it was $179 unlocked or around $120 unlocked in the US.

    Canada Moto E2 HSPA Moto E2 LTE
    TELUS $150
    Koodo $150
    Videotron ? ?
    Chat-r ? ?
    MTS ? ?
    Wind ? ?
    US
    unlocked $120 $150
    Boost $100
    Sprint $100


    Motorola Moto E:

    • 4.5” 960x540 IPS display
    • 1.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
    • 1GB RAM
    • 8GB storage
    • MicroSD
    • 5MP autofocus camera with no flash
    • Android 5.0 Lollipop
    • LTE bands 2, 4 ,5 ,7, 12, 17
    • 2390mAh battery
    • WiFi 2.4Ghz 802.11N
    • BT 4.0
    • 129.9 x 66.8 x 5.2 - 12.3mm
    • 145g


    What about the first gen Moto G?

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    Motorola Moto G 1st Gen Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen
    Display: 4.5" IPS 4.5" IPS
    Resolution: 1280 x 720 960 x 540
    Processor: 1.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 400 1.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 410
    RAM: 1GB 1GB
    Storage: 8GB 8GB
    MicroSD: No Yes
    Battery: 2070mAh 2390mAh
    Camera: 5/1.3MP, autofocus/flash 5/0.3MP autofocus
    LTE: No Yes
    Dimensions: 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6mm 129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3mm
    Weight: 143g 145g


    Just to clean the air, I’m comparing the Moto E 2nd gen with the original Moto G variant which supports HSPA with 8GB of built-in storage and no memory card slot. They can be picked up for as low as $120 on prepaid, while in the US, they can go for under $100.

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    Both have 4.5” displays. The Moto G rocks a 1280 x 720 screen with a PPI of 329. The E2 has to make do with just 960 x 540 (40% less pixels) and 245PPI. To me eyes, there’s a noticeable difference between 329 and 245PPI. Don’t forget that the 4.5” display is a bit small and most people will tend to hold it a little closer so the sharpness or lack there of is easier to see. Both also use on-screen menu buttons so the usable screen area is a little bit smaller than 4.5”.

    The Moto E2 hides this weakness by making text a bigger than it is on the Moto G by default.

    You also get a little less off-angle colour and contrast shift with the Moto G.

    There’s a 1.2Ghz Snapdragon 400 SoC in the Moto G while the E2 gets a newer, 64bit 1.2Ghz Snapdragon 410.

    As it turns out, clock-for-clock, the 410 offers around 20% more browsing performance. I’m not sure if part of this difference is because the Moto G I’m comparing it with is running Android 4.4.4 while the Moto E2 has Android 5.0.

    In case you’re wondering, the only Moto G I have lying around is an XT1040 variant with LTE which is standing in for the original G. As of right now Lollipop isn’t available for it yet.

    However, the Adreno 306 in the E2 is actually slower than the 305 in the Moto G. The E’s lower resolution display sort of balances things out.

    When you boil things down, the Moto G has the screen advantage while the E2 gets points for having a MicroSD slot, LTE, a faster SoC, a bigger battery, a better sounding and a front-facing speaker.

    You’d think the E2 takes it but guess what, when you use your phone you’re usually staring at the screen so choosing between the 2 is very difficult.

    What about the ZTE Grand X Plus?

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    To me, I reckon the E2’s biggest competitor right now in Canada isn’t the Moto G1 but actually the ZTE Grand X Plus on Fido.

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    Unless you’re budget is so strict that you can’t spend a penny more than $150, you should really consider forking out another $50 and getting a GXP.

    ZTE Grand X Plus Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen
    Display: 5.0" IPS 4.5" IPS
    Resolution: 1280 x 720 960 x 540
    Processor: 1.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 400 1.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 410
    RAM: 2GB 1GB
    Storage: 8GB 8GB
    MicroSD: yes yes
    Battery: 2300mAh 2390mAh
    Camera: 8/2MP autofocus, flash 5/0.3MP autofocus
    LTE: band 4/7/17 band 2/4/5/7/12/17
    Dimensions: 144.6 x 73.9 x 9.6mm 129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3mm
    Weight: 150g 145g

    The only areas where the E2 beats the GXP are that it has better battery life and a slightly faster processor.

    The GXP biggest win is that it comes with a 5” 1280x720 display which really makes it a much nicer phone to use. Digging deeper, the 2GB of RAM vs 1GB makes the GXP a better multi-tasker plus its camera is better.

    What about the Moto E1?

    Unless you’re getting an obscenely good deal on the first gen Moto E, there’s no reason to get one over an E2. The 4.3” screen is too small, it doesn’t come with enough built-in storage and the camera is awful.

    What about the Moto G second generation?

    The Moto G2 is a really nice phone but in Canada it’s currently $250 unlocked which is considerably more than the E2.

    What about the rest?

    Other competitors include the HTC Desire 510 and Nokia Lumia 635. The Lumia 635 is especially tempting since they go on sale for $99 UNLOCKED. If money is tight you should look at that.

    Otherwise, while the Desire and Nokia are not bad phones, they come with lower resolution 854 x 480 displays which aren’t as sharp as the E2’s.

    Remember, when we use our smartphones most of the time is spent staring at the screen.

    Body:

    In my hand, the E2 is a little thicker than I’m used to but it does make it feel substantial.

    The back is covered with a soft-touch finish that really attract a lot of dust.

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    The edges of the back can be removed and swapped with different coloured edges.

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    I like how they’re ribbed, it makes it a pleasure to grip.

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    My E2 came with black, red and blue edges.

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    Removing the edges reveals the MicroSD and MicroSIM slots along the right side. Is that an extra MicroSIM slot behind the cover?

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    The slot on the other side holds documentation for the E2 since there’s no where else to put a sticker with the serial number.
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    You get a 5 megapixel camera and a microphone on the back but no flash.

    While the back edges are removable, the back itself isn’t. This makes the E2 feel much more solid though you can’t easily swap out the battery. Then again, the Moto G, E, X and Nexus 6 all have built-in batteries too.

    Notice the divot where the Motorola logo is. Motorola says you can rest your finger there but I find I end up putting my finger over the camera instead. Go figure.

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    The long silver speaker in front resembles the Moto G 2nd gen (and Moto X/Nexus 6) though the E2 only has one of them.

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    There's a MicroUSB slot at the bottom.

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    Nothing to see on the left.

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    The volume and power buttons on the right have an excellent feel to them.

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    Headphone jack on top.

    Display:

    You get a 4.5” 960x540 IPS display. At 245 PPI it’s not tack sharp - you’ll definitely notice some jaggedness from time to time. That said, it’s usually good enough to get the job done.

    As you move off-angle, the display goes dark at around 30 degrees off-angle. It’s quite annoying.

    Otherwise, it’s an adequate display. It’s not super bright but it should be bright enough to use outdoors. Colour is pleasant.

    My problem with the display is that it’s only 4.5”. These days, Android needs at least 5”. Since the E2 tries to cover up the lower PPI by making text larger, it really makes the screen feel cramped.

    I think this is the E2’s biggest weakness as a lot of the competition are now packing 5” and it really makes a big difference.

    Camera:

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    While the resolution is unchanged, the rear-facing camera is a huge improvement over the first gen E. If I were to describe the first gen E’s camera in one word it would start with the letter “S” and rhyme with “Hit”. The original E camera was so horrible it was basically unusable. The fact that it didn’t have autofocus was the least of its problems.

    The E2’s camera has autofocus and it works fairly quickly and has very good shot-to-shot speeds. It’s a little on the noisy side and sometimes could use a little more dynamic range (blows out sometimes) but all-in-all, you’ll get the occasional keeper from it so it’s a huge step up.

    It can capture HD video but watch out, while the microphone sounds fine, it picks up a lot of handling noise.

    Software:

    The E2 I’m reviewing has Android 5.0.2 Lollipop - this is great since most competitors are still on 4.4. Based on previous experience, I’d expect Motorola to release updates soon after new versions of Android drop.

    Motorola doesn’t mess around with Android so the E2 is mostly stock Android.

    Motorola just includes a few extra applications; Moto Alert, an FM Radio, Moto Migrate and Moto.

    Moto is automation software. It will periodically show you notifications even if your phone is locked and the screen is off. I’m not sure how useful this is since my phone is usually in my pocket when I’m not using it plus it tends to light the screen up at night. The screen is mostly black when it does this but since the E2 has a LCD display it still creates a lot of light.

    It can launch the camera automatically if you hold the E2 and make a twisting motion like you were turning a door knob. This works even when the screen is off.

    You can also tell Moto to keep your screen turned off at night when you’re sleeping (a must because of the notifications). If you’re in a meeting you can have it automatically send replies to numbers whose calls you’ve ignored.

    One of my favorite Lollipop features; the notification area flashlight shortcut, is missing from the E2 because it doesn’t have a flash to double as a flashlight.

    Performance:

    This is first phone that has come across my desk that is rocking Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 410 SoC. If you’re keeping track, it’s a chip that’s powered by ARM’s new 64bit Cortex A53 core. Most of Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon 400 SoC’s were powered by ARM’s older 32bit Cortex A7.

    You’re probably wondering if the new core brings any additional performance or if it’s unchanged. As they say; the bottle has change but is the wine any different?

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    Turns out, clock-for-clock. the 410 brings around 25% faster browsing performance than the 400 which is a nice improvement:

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    However, the 410’s GPU, the Adreno 306 is actually slightly slower than the Adreno 305 found in the 400.

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    Still, since the E2 only has a 960x540 display, so in tests that run at the E2’s native resolution it’s still more than up to the task.

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    Media Capabilities:

    Compared to the Moto G, the second E2’s speaker sounds like it has been tuned more. As such; while it sounds better, it’s not quite as loud. The fact that it’s now front-facing is a welcome improvement over the original E.

    The headphone jack is extremely powerful with good sound quality. Seems almost every phone I try these days has an excellent headphone amp.

    You get 8GB of storage which is much more useful than the original’s 4GB. If you have a lot of media you can add a MicroSD card.

    As a Phone:

    Battery life is excellent; let me put it in perspective for you, the E2 has a 4.5” display and a 2390mAh battery. The just announced Samsung Galaxy S6 is endowed with 5.1” and a 2550mAh battery. So, the S6’s display is nearly 30% larger but the battery is less than 7% bigger. Don’t forget that the S6 has a super bright, power sucking AMOLED display while the E2 has a more pedestrian display that has average brightness.

    With a battery that’s large for its screen size the E has excellent battery life. Pretty much every one will make it through the day. Less demanding users may even see a second.

    RF performance is very good.

    Maximum earpiece volume is average. The speakerphone isn’t very powerful plus it has this annoying tendency to take a second or 2 to actually activate when turn it on. When I turn the speakerphone I usually end up turning it off right away because the lag makes me think it didn’t get turned on.

    Sound quality is nice and smooth.

    You also get support for LTE. You’d think a budget phone like the E would get very basic LTE support but according to the Motorola webpage it supports bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12 and 17. That’s pretty comprehensive and remember, 2, 4, 7, 12 and 17 are all used here in North America.

    It includes LTE Cat 4 support so you can get speeds of up to 150Mbps (up to 112.5Mbps on TELUS).

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    Conclusion:

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    When Motorola released the original E last year it was their attempt to make an affordable phone for the lowest possible price. However, their cost cutting resulted in a phone that wasn’t up to snuff.

    For the price, the new Moto E is tough to beat. The fact you get LTE with a Snapdragon 410 SoC, 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage in a phone for only $150 makes it a positive steal. More importantly, it fixes a lot of the original E’s show-stopping weaknesses.

    It’s only real weakness is that it comes with a smallish 4.5” screen. I guess people who find 5” phones too big will disagree but these days, Android phones with screens smaller than 5” just feel really cramped.

    If you’re in Canada and thinking about picking up the Moto E2 there is another problem - for only 50 bucks more you can swing a ZTE Grand X Plus. Pretty much everything on the ZTE is a big step up from the E: You get 2GB RAM (double the E’s 1GB and the same amount as many 2014 flagships), a decent 8 megapixel that has a flash and most importantly, a 5” high definition display.

    Either way, one thing’s for sure, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a great phone.

    3 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    1. LTE
    2. 8GB of storage included
    3. large battery
    4. ships with Android 5


    Cons:
    • Screen needs to be larger
    • Screen doesn’t look that great
    Last edited by howard; 03-26-2015 at 05:23 PM.

  2. #2
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    And fyi, bootloader unlocking instructions can be found here.

  3. #3
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    Low res 4.5" screen and no flash, even for $150 I say no thanks. This is 2015 and phone prices are coming way down. With Asus releasing the Zenfone 2 in the coming days and weeks, in terms of value it makes the Moto E look extremely overpriced. The Zenfone 2 comes with a 5.5" 1080p screen, 1.8 GHZ, 2 GB, a 13 MP main camera an 5 MP front facing camera and all for $199. Also the new Microsoft 640 5" screen ($160-ish) and 640 XL 5.7" screen ($220-ish) seem MUCH better values if you like or are willing to try Windows phones. Sorry the Moto E second addition doesn't seem like a deal to me at all. If Motorola kept the priced the same, with the improvements, it would be a decent deal, but to be honest this seems like it should be a sub $99 phone even with LTE.

    P.S. I do like the edges on the Moto E, makes for a good look.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie500 View Post
    Low res 4.5" screen and no flash, even for $150 I say no thanks. This is 2015 and phone prices are coming way down. With Asus releasing the Zenfone 2 in the coming days and weeks, in terms of value it makes the Moto E look extremely overpriced. The Zenfone 2 comes with a 5.5" 1080p screen, 1.8 GHZ, 2 GB, a 13 MP main camera an 5 MP front facing camera and all for $199. Also the new Microsoft 640 5" screen ($160-ish) and 640 XL 5.7" screen ($220-ish) seem MUCH better values if you like or are willing to try Windows phones. Sorry the Moto E second addition doesn't seem like a deal to me at all. If Motorola kept the priced the same, with the improvements, it would be a decent deal, but to be honest this seems like it should be a sub $99 phone even with LTE.

    P.S. I do like the edges on the Moto E, makes for a good look.

    The zenfone you aare talking about is $299...

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    It would have been better if they called it the Moto F instead of the "E Second Generation". Too confusing, especially when buying used. Makes search results less meaningful too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by da_sok View Post
    The zenfone you aare talking about is $299...
    Nope, it's $190 for the 5.5" 720p 1.8GHz 2GB 16 GB variant. $220 for the 5.5" 1080p 1.8GHz 2GB 32GB variant. $285 for the 2.3GHz 4GB 64GB variant.

  7. #7
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    Moto should have used the 720p screen from the Original Moto G on this new Moto E. I mean, they are the same damn size!!

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    Agree. It is hard to believe that that Motorola offers a phone like this. Actually, the price seems high for waht you get (not much ).

    "Low res 4.5" screen and no flash, even for $150 I say no thanks. "

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    This phone should be worth like $99. Not $150. The LG Ultimate 2 sells for $129 and it has all the things this has, plus flash and a better camera. This phone is way overpriced.

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    It is already $99 or less from several carriers. Give it a few months and we'll see some $49 sales before the end of the year I bet.

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    I could probably get over the lesser screen, but why compromise? Nearly every interaction with the phone is screen and IMHO that should always be as good as possible for the price range. The real showstopper for me on this phone is the lack of the flash. Ironically I hardly ever use the flash on a phone as a picture flash, but I do use it often as a handy flashlight. The full on screen just isn't the same.

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    I could probably get over the lesser screen, but why compromise? Nearly every interaction with the phone is screen and IMHO that should always be as good as possible for the price range. The real showstopper for me on this phone is the lack of the flash. Ironically I hardly ever use the flash on a phone as a picture flash, but I do use it often as a handy flashlight. The full on screen just isn't the same.
    Don't know about the Moto E screen, but you can't just go by specs or even what reviewers say. If possible, take a look for yourself and see what you think. I think reviews tend to be slanted because they are constantly looking at only the highest end phones with huge screens in test environments. That makes any other screen look terrible side-by-side. Whereas in the real world that same phone will have some scratched screen protector on and/or be buried in a case that has a screen cover making the $600 phablet look worse than a naked Moto E. That's one great thing about a cheaper phone--you don't have to bury it in crappy cases and screen protectors that ruin the look, feel, and performance of your phone.

    My daughter is in college. When we visit I look around me at tons of iPhones mostly, but also high-end Androids. Almost 100% of the phones without cases have cracked screens--that will ruin the look on any screen.

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    Well put. Something to consider.

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    This should have been priced at $119 or something like that.
    Why pay $150 for this when you can pay $30 for more for Moto G with a much better specs (but non LTE)

    This is like Lumia of the Motos and it's overpriced. I think Microsoft will grab a lot of marketshare with newer Lumia 4xx with front facing cameras.

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    One of the charts says the E2 has 1GB of RAM and other says it has 2GB of RAM.

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