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Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen review: Great value and performance at a budget

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
26 Jan 2017
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Moto E 2015 press shot
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT SIM-free

The camera isn't great, but the new Moto E is still great value, with a bigger, better screen, faster internals and a longer-lasting battery



Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Screen Size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 960x540, Rear camera: 5-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 130x67x12.3mm, Weight: 145g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2

Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen review: Performance

Fortunately, the rest of the phone has received several much-needed improvements since the original Moto E. Now that it supports 4G, the Moto E (2015) is powered by a faster quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and 1GB of RAM, putting it on par with several mid-range phones such as the HTC Desire 620 which is twice as expensive. A cheaper 3G-only version of the handset uses a different, slower chipset; it's not available in the UK but beware if you see a cheap grey import.

With a SunSpider JavaScript score of 1,323ms and a PCMark score of 3,411, the 2nd Gen Moto E is very quick for such a cheap phone. Its document writing score of 4,844 in PCMark is also one of the best we've seen, so composing texts and editing emails should be lightning fast and extremely responsive. Web browsing was equally impressive, as we were able to load and scroll down web pages with hardly any lag whatsoever, and panning and zooming in were smooth and judder-free.

A faster processor usually means better graphics performance as well, and the Moto E was able to produce 23.1fps (or 5,344) in our 3DMark Ice Storm test. It will struggle with more complex 3D games as it only managed 15.5fps (or 2,511) in Ice Storm Extreme, but these scores are still roughly 5-7 frames faster than the original Moto E, and we were pleased to see an average of 44.8fps in Epic Citadel on Ultra High quality settings as well.

Our newer benchmark uses GFX Bench and the Moto E managed 394 frames (6.4fps) in the onscreen test, with 112 frames (1.8fps) in the offscreen test. Neither scores will set the world alight but the Moto E 2nd Gen will happily play more simplistic titles such as Threes! or Candy Crush Saga without too many issues. Gaming performance is significantly better compared to the similarly-priced Samsung Galaxy J1, which was incapable of even completing the GFX Bench test.

Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen review: Battery life

The 2nd Gen Moto E's battery life was even better, as its 2,390mAh battery lasted an outstanding 13h 30m in our continuous video playback test with the brightness set to 170cd/m2 (a little below half brightness). This is more than three hours longer than the original Moto E, which already set a fairly high standard for budget phones with its battery life of just under 10 hours. Again, the Moto E 2nd Gen eclipsed the Samsung Galaxy J1 here as well, with the J1 lasting 10 hours and 7 minutes.

This also beats Motorola's 2nd Gen Moto G, which lasted just 9h 43m in the same test with its 2,070mAh battery. This is outstanding for a phone of this price and gives the 2nd Gen Moto G a serious run for its money. If you want to compare it to recent phones have a look at our Best battery life phones

Motorola Moto E 2015 vs Moto E 2014 rear

^ Like the old Moto E (right), you still can't remove the battery on the new Moto E (left), but we much prefer the removable bands to a removable back panel

Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen review: Display

The Moto G still has a few advantages over its little sibling, though, as its larger 5in 1,280x720 screen is much easier on the eyes than the Moto E's more compact 4.5in 960x540 display. Desktop sites were particularly hard to see on the Moto E without zooming in, and the phone's viewing angles weren't particularly wide either, as the screen would quickly darken when we weren't looking at it face on.

Still, the screen's image quality was very good, as our colour calibrator showed it was displaying 95.2% of the sRGB colour gamut. Its blue and magenta coverage was a little short, but the rest of its colour coverage was evenly spread across the gamut, producing warm, vivid colours that were pleasing to the eye. Blacks were deep, too, measuring 0.35cd/m2, while its contrast ratio of 1,010:1 meant that images showed plenty of detail.

Motorola Moto E 2015 vs Motorola Moto G 2014

^ The 2nd Moto G (left) is larger than the 2nd Moto E (right), but both share a very similar design

Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen review: Conclusion

The Motorola Moto E (2015) is a fantastic budget smartphone. It may not have the best camera in the world and the Moto apps could be easier to set up, but with 4G support, a fantastic battery life and Android 5.0, it's a great value handset that's an excellent alternative to either the 3G or 4G versions of the 2nd Gen Moto G and superior to rivals at this price such as the Samsung Galaxy J1.

However, those looking for a real bargain and don't mind having a massive phone should definitely consider the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, as it's not only much faster and has a much better camera, but it also has a gorgeous 5.5in Full HD display and comes with the same plain version of Android 5.0. If none of these suit your needs, though, then check out our regularly-updated Best Smartphones and buying guide.

ProcessorQuad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Screen size4.5in
Screen resolution960x540
Screen typeIPS
Front cameraVGA
Rear camera5-megapixel
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.0.2
Battery size2,390mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£109
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Part codeXT1505

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