Skip to main content

Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen) Review

Motorola’s second generation Moto E receives significant enhancements, including a faster 64-bit SoC, front-facing camera, and bigger battery. There’s even an LTE option. Is this budget smartphone worth more than its bargain price?

Moto E (2nd Gen) Hardware Design

The slightly larger second generation Moto E is an evolution of the original all-plastic design and has the same style as Motorola’s other phones from the past couple of years. The latest Motorola devices all share similar traits such as a slightly curved and smooth back, rounded corners and edges, a depressed circle with the Motorola logo on the back, and front-facing speakers (only one for the latest Moto E). It also feels quite solid and well-built, typical for Motorola’s latest smartphones, although it’s slightly more hollow feeling than the Moto G (2nd gen).

At 12.3mm (the same as the old Moto E), it’s almost twice as thick as some of the latest flagship smartphones, but it’s not a major issue for day to day use. The bezels are slightly thinner, improving the screen to body ratio to 64.3% versus 63% in the previous generation. This is still a bit chunky compared to the Motorola-made Nexus 6, which has a ratio of 74.1%. However, reducing bezel size adds to the cost, and the Nexus 6 has more internal volume to accommodate the motherboard.

Centered above the screen is the single earpiece/speaker, flanked on either side by the front-facing camera and ambient light sensor. The lack of the second speaker on the front does make it look less Moto’ish.

The depressed circles on the back of Motorola’s phones have been praised for their ergonomics, making it comfortable to rest your finger on the phone’s back during a phone call. In the Moto E’s case, this dimple is more aesthetic than functional because of its size. Even with small hands, the index finger ends up resting closer to the camera rather than the dimple.

The Moto E (2nd gen) does not have a removable back like the older model. Instead, Motorola offers colored bands to liven up and personalize your phone. The plastic bands have the metal volume and power buttons built into them, and are easily snapped on and off by placing a fingernail in a small gap in one of the corners.

The base white and black phones come with a matching colored band, although the black band is of a slightly lighter black than the phone itself. Additional bands can be purchased in two packs of three for $20. The first pack includes turquoise, purple, and raspberry (pink), while the second pack contains red, blue, and yellow.

If you would like to add some protection to the phone while adding some color, Motorola sells optional Grip Shells. The shells also have a colored plastic band around the perimeter, but add a color-matched, translucent plastic shell to protect the back of the phone. The Grip Shells attach directly to the sides of the phone in the same way the bands do. They cost $20 each and come in the following colors: blue, yellow, charcoal, turquoise, and raspberry.

The SIM card and microSD slots are located on the left side opposite the power and volume controls. In order to access them, the band or Grip Shell needs to be removed.

  • emad_ramlawi
    Lenovo k30-W for the win
    all the above +
    HD ready resolution 720p
    internal storage 16GB
    the only con, is there OS, which is good, but not really vanilla android
    Reply
  • atljsf
    i bought one and had to return it, it restarts while charging and motorola at this moment hasn't solved the problem, a shame because it is a nice fast phone
    Reply
  • tekelymailcom
    The only international variant mentioned is the XT1505 but there are more. I found very interesting the XT1523 which has 16GB, dual sim and digital TV reciever.
    Reply
  • HideOut
    There might be an error in the speaker/sound part above. "Plugging in a set of good headphones provides a similar listening experience. Relative to the iPhone 6, bass has less punch and the Moto E lacks clarity; the signal-to-noise ratio seems higher." The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.
    Reply
  • HideOut
    There might be an error in the speaker/sound part above. "Plugging in a set of good headphones provides a similar listening experience. Relative to the iPhone 6, bass has less punch and the Moto E lacks clarity; the signal-to-noise ratio seems higher." The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.
    Reply
  • HideOut
    site posting is not working well...Either nothing or multiples
    Reply
  • MobileEditor
    The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.

    Good point. I must have been thinking of THD, which is expressed as a percent. I've made the necessary correction.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
    Reply
  • Dr3amCast
    I also purchased this phone and experience the restart while charging issue. Also, the performance is on par with a very, very basic Lumia 510 I had the misfortunate of having to use for a short time. The phone chugs while multi-tasking. And I mean by just hitting the home screen instead of closing out of apps. And even that takes an inordinate amount of time. I'm talking a noticeable 3-4 seconds after you hit home: your background wallpaper shows up, but no icons or app try icon, then another second or 2 later the icons show up. It's performance is dreadful. As well is its 1GB of memory. If I'm in the car I use bluetooth and Google Play Music / Google Maps. If I begin navigating to a destination and begin playing music Maps will close. I'm assuming due to lack of sufficient RAM. If I'm at a stop light and open snapchat, Google Play Music, Maps or Waze will close if I view a Snap. It's really rather frustrating the more you use the device. And I don't have many apps on here at all. Essentially just FB, Twitter, Snapchat, Waze, WatchESPN, HBOGo. That's all. It's frustrating seeing reviews like these on this phone that don't actually put it through its paces for a decent amount of time.
    Reply
  • MobileEditor
    I also purchased this phone and experience the restart while charging issue. Also, the performance is on par with a very, very basic Lumia 510 I had the misfortunate of having to use for a short time. The phone chugs while multi-tasking.

    I'm sorry you had a poor experience, but thanks for taking the time to add your story. This is why we included the HTC Desire Eye in our performance evaluation, so our readers could see the performance delta between some lower-cost devices and last year's flagships running Snapdragon 801 SoCs, which are now considered mid-tier.

    Our unit did not experience the restart while charging issue, and while this comes as no solace to you, the Moto E handled its 1GB of RAM better than the Lumia 830 did during our testing and evaluation.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
    Reply
  • quadrider21
    I've experianced BT connectivity problems with both the Moto G and this new Moto E when connected to various cars. I'd be wary purchasing these phones if you rely on BT connectivity in your cars.
    Reply