Motorola Moto E 4G vs Motorola Moto E full review

We’re big fans of Motorola’s strategy for cheap Android phones. Pair plain Google Android with the bare essential hardware necessary for a smartphone today and sell it for a competitive price. The new Moto E improves on the original, and here was compare the first-generation Moto E with the 2015 Moto E so you can see why the new model is a much better buy.

You can also read our in-depth reviews of both smartphones for more information:

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: 4G

While we really like the 2nd generation Moto G, it’s strange that Motorola still doesn’t offer a 4G version. Not everyone wants or needs 4G, but it’s great that the 2015 Moto E is available in a 4G LTE version from the off.

Yes, it’s £20 more expensive than the original Moto E, but it isn’t only faster mobile data you’re getting.

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: Front camera

One of the problems with the first Moto E was the lack of a front-facing camera. The new Moto E fixes that, albeit with a low-quality 640x480-pixel sensor. So it’s not good for selfie queens, but it does mean you can use Skype or record video clips to send via other services.

The rear camera has the same 5Mp sensor as on the old Moto E, but now has auto-focus instead of fixed focus. It also supports auto HDR and slow-motion capture, and captures video at 720p (1280x720) instead of the paltry 854x480 of the original Moto E. Video quality still isn’t great, but it’s a big step up.

The only niggle is the continued absence of an LED flash, which would also double as a torch.

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: display

There’s not much of a change as far as the screen is concerned: the size has increased from 4.3 to 4.5in, but resolution stays the same at 960x540 pixels. It means a slight drop in pixel density from 256- to 245ppi, but it isn’t noticeable. It’s a shame Motorola didn’t opt for 1280x720 as you get on the 2nd gen Moto G, but it had to save money somewhere.  

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: Processor and storage

As ever, Motorola has spent the budget in the right places, and the upgrade to a Snapdragon 410 processor – a quad-core chip rather than the original Moto E’s dual-core part – makes a noticeable difference to the phone’s responsiveness.

It’s worth noting that even though the 410 is “64-bit capable” Motorola has chosen to use the 32-bit version of Android Lollipop. It’s unlikely it will ever move to 64-bit Android since this really requires a minimum of 2GB of RAM. On a budget phone, this is of little consequence to most people.

There’s still 1GB of RAM, but the updated processor integrates slightly faster graphics too. In our benchmarks the new Moto E was significantly faster than its predecessor in benchmarks such as Geekbench 3, but only a little faster in game tests. You can see how the two phones compare in all our benchmarks, as well as many other phones in our article what's the fastest smartphone 2015

Storage is doubled to 8GB – another welcome update – and you can pop in a 32GB microSD card for a maximum of roughly 40GB.

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: Software and battery life

The new Moto E ships with Lollipop, and it runs very well. (The old Moto E is also upgradeable to Lollipop). On the new Moto E, Motorola leaves Android virtually unchanged, but sparingly sprinkles handy features on top, such as the ability to flick your wrist twice to launch the camera app.

There’s also Moto Display which lets you check on notifications without unlocking the screen. As on the Moto X it shows a monochrome icon which you can drag upwards to see a summary of the notification – such as an email or text message. On the Moto E, it doesn’t save as much power since the phone doesn’t have an AMOLED screen: it’s a more common IPS panel.

Still, the battery capacity has been increased by around 20 percent, and in our tests so far, the new Moto E easily lasts a day before needing a recharge. If you’re quite sparing and don’t play lots of games or stream video via 3G or 4G, you could eke it out to a full two days without much trouble.

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: Design

A casual glance at the old Moto E made you think it had stereo speakers because of the two metal bars (just like the second-gen Moto G). In fact, it didn’t: the top speaker was for phone calls, and the bottom one for hands-free calls.

The new Moto E is easily identifiable because it has only one metal bar at the top, and also has only a mono speaker for hands-free calls, music and other audio.

We like the new removable band which covers the microSIM and microSD slots. You can buy replacement bands in different colours and there’s a choice of a black or white phone. Motorola also sells ‘Grip shells’ for the new Moto E, but we suspect there will also be a choice of third-party cases for those who don’t want to spend £20 on a case.

The new Moto E is marginally larger at 130x67mm, and the same thickness at 12.3mm. The edges taper to 5.2mm, making it feel a lot thinner. Weight is up 3g to 145g, which is no difference at all.

Old Moto E vs New Moto E: Verdict

The choice of budget smartphones is bigger than ever, and the £109 Moto E is by no means the cheapest. However, it’s the most phone you can get for this price, and it’s well worth spending the extra £20 on top of the first-generation Moto E.


Motorola Moto E: Specs

  • Android 4.4 KitKat OS
  • 4.3in qHD display (540x960), 256 ppi
  • 1.2GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 CPU
  • Adreno 302 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage
  • microSD up to 32GB
  • 5Mp rear camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • GPS
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • CDMA 850/900/1900MHz 7.3Wh (1980mAh) non-removable battery
  • 65x125x12.3mm
  • 142g

Motorola Moto E 4G: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (with guaranteed upgrade to the next version of Android)
  • 4G LTE bands 1/3/7/20, 3G 900/2100MHz, 2G 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • 4.5in qHD (540x960, 245ppi) IPS display, with Gorilla Glass 3 and anti-smudge, splashproof coating
  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor
  • 400MHz Adreno 306 GPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB of storage, expandable through microSD up to 32GB
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LTE, GPS
  • 5mp rear- and VGA front cameras, 720p video at 30fps
  • 2390mAh battery
  • 66.8x5.2-12.3x129.9mm
  • 145g