Hands-on with the Motorola Moto E

This affordable smartphone looks like a fantastic bargain - we find out if it looks and feels the part, too

The much rumoured Moto E has arrived, serving up Android KitKat and serious specs for a ridiculously low price.

The Moto G won big, big sales for Motorola, so it'll have high hopes that the 4.3in E can repeat the trick.

And after spending some hands-on time with it, we think there's a good chance it will do exactly that.

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Chunky but sturdy design

Hands-on with the Motorola Moto E  - Chunky but sturdy design  2Hands-on with the Motorola Moto E  - Chunky but sturdy design  3

The Moto E has a curvy build that nestles nicely in the hand. It's all plastic but doesn't feel plasticky - something of a holy grail for cheaper handsets. 

There are 20 swappable Motorola Shells to choose from, allowing you to pick a colour and feel that suits you. Regardless of your choice, it's a chunky handset at 12.3mm thick and 140g in weight. It feels nice and solid, though, unlike many creaky budget handsets, and comes in a slightly smaller form factor than the 4.5in Moto G. 

Pick up a Moto G and the more expensive device instantly feels more premium, less toy-like - but the Moto E has charm of its own. The headphone jack is smack bang in the middle of the top edge and the single speaker has been moved to the front of the device for improved mobile video sonics. 

Removing the Shell reveals a non-swappable 1980mAh battery and microSD card slot for up to 32GB of extra storage. Motrola confirmed that both media and Google Play apps can be stored on microSD on all its phones, the Moto E included. 

READ MORE: Motorola Moto G review

More after the break...

Nice screen, pure Android... and a very basic camera

Hands-on with the Motorola Moto E  - Nice screen, pure Android... and a very basic camera 2Hands-on with the Motorola Moto E  - Nice screen, pure Android... and a very basic camera 3

The Moto E's 4.3in screen is lovely considering the device's price. At 960x540, it didn't exactly blow us away with sharp fonts and crisp video, but its contrast in particular has been pumped up and colours are reasonably punchy. Side-by-side with the Moto G it's not as bright and viewing angles aren't as expansive, but compared to the sub-S$200 competition, it seems a superb performer. 

Motorola has stayed true to its promise to keep the device's Android KitKat 4.4 operating system as clean as possible - the number of additions, such as Motorola's new location-based Alert service, can be counted on one hand. That means the Moto E presents a clear, uncluttered and modern-looking interface. Android purists will be smitten.

There is one downside, though. The Moto E's 5MP camera is underwhelming, with no LED flash and distinctly grainy photos. There's no front-facing camera at all.

If your smartphone is your main snapper, the Moto E is unlikely to be for you, then - but that's as we expected. Phone photography wasn't the Moto G's forte either and, on the plus side, the camera app is at least a simple one-tap number.

READ MORE: Xiaomi Redmi review

Motorola Moto E hands-on review: Summary

From our first play, the Moto E looks to be a tidy, fuss-free Android that offers a whole lot more than it has any right to at that £90 (S$189) UK price. 

It's on sale this week, so we'll be filing a full review soon. Stay tuned to Stuff.

Correction: This article originally stated that the Moto E has 4G which is incorrect. If 4G is essential for you, try the new Moto G on for size, instead.

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