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Motorola Moto E hands-on review

We fiddled around with Motorola’s amazing-value Moto E at today’s launch, an £89 Android KitKat smartphone that packs some great features for the price. Here’s our full hands-on review, plus the full specs and UK info…

Motorola launched two new handsets today, a 4G version of the Moto G, and its first sub-£100 Android KitKat phone dubbed the Moto E. For £100 it’s hard to expect much from an Android handset, with performance and features inevitably taking a serious hit – the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is the only decent cheapy Android we’ve come across lately. But the Moto E is a whole new experience, just like the Moto G before it, and from our play around so far it looks like a solid secondary mobile or handset for younger/older relatives.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review: Design

Once again Motorola has crafted a fun, colourful little smartphone that feels a lot nicer than it has any right to. The Moto E is almost the same size as the Moto G despite its slightly reduced screen size – the Moto E rocks a 4.3-inch display compared to the 4.5-inch Moto G – but it still feels nicely compact and pleasingly light, and you’ll barely notice it when you slip it inside your pocket, even though it’s a wee bit chunkier.

Motorola was keen to point out the Moto E’s robustness at the launch, remarking that it’s been ‘built to last’. Certainly it felt pretty durable when we gave it a few raps, and the body doesn’t flex under pressure. For £89 you’re getting some good build quality. The rear end is also curvaceous, to help the phone fit neatly in your palm, so it’s comfortable to grip.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review at Motorola's big launch May 2014

Once again the back snaps off (although it sits firmly in place normally) and can be replaced with one of many different colours – the full rainbow is covered, so you’ll have no trouble picking out a design you like. Inside the Moto E you’ll find a non-removeable battery, the SIM card slot, and the bit we’re a little overexcited about – a microSD memory card slot. Considering there’s only 4GB of built-in storage, that slot will be your new best friend.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review at Motorola's big launch May 2014

Motorola Moto E hands-on review: Screen

We’re impressed so far with the Motorola Moto E’s 4.3-inch screen, which is still spacious enough to browse around online and enjoy apps. It’s a bright panel, similar to the Moto G, and also colourful. Best of all, the 960 x 540 pixel resolution (256ppi) produces sharp images, making this one of the best in its league. Motorola compared it with the Samsung Galaxy Fame, claiming the Moto E’s display is 55% sharper, as well as 23% bigger.

The touchscreen was perfectly responsive too, great news for games fans.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review: Performance and features

The Moto E’s dual-core processor, backed up by 1GB of RAM, seems to cope admirably with Android KitKat 4.4 and all of the apps we tried out. One of the only games on there was good ol’ Angry Birds Star Wars, so we got stuck into a few levels and the frame rate stayed consistently smooth. Likewise, zipping through Android’s menus and loading up apps such as the browser was a slick experience.

We couldn’t test the 1,980mAh battery, but Motorola reckons the Moto E has twice the talk time of rivals such as Samsung’s Galaxy Fame. We’ll be testing that out for our full review, coming soon.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review at Motorola's big launch May 2014

Motorola has added a few little apps and tweaks of its own to the Moto E, including the new Motorola Alert – this allows you to contact relatives or friends with a quick tap in an emergency situation. Your over-paranoid parents can also track your progress at all times using the location mapper.

We were a little perturned at the sheer number of random apps on the demo handset, but hopefully the Moto E won’t come bogged down with tons of crapware when we see the full retail version.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review: Camera

The Moto E seems to pack a similar camera to the Moto G. Once again it’s a 5-megapixel snapper, although the LED flash has been cut to save costs. The camera interface seems to be the same as before – tap anywhere on the screen to shoot, and drag the focus wheel if you wish to refocus your shot. You can also drag your finger from the left side of the screen to bring up the camera options, such as HDR and Panorama modes.

The camera took a little time to shoot after tapping the screen, and there was some motion blur if our subject was moving, but we’ll be sure to fully test out the snapper when we get our review unit. There’s also no selfie cam, bad news if you want a device for Skyping your buddies.

Motorola Moto E hands-on review at Motorola's big launch May 2014

The Motorola Moto E is due out later this week for just £89 in the UK, and we’ll bring you our full review very soon. In the meantime, what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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