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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.

Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.