Motorola is continuing its push to provide Android phones with great hardware and little bloatware for all budgets with a big update to its lower-end Moto E that adds a 4G LTE option and runs Android Lollipop in a phone that costs just US$150 off contract.
The second-generation model also gets upgraded from the dual-core CPU in the original Moto E to a quad-core Snapdragon processor running at 1.2 GHz. The 2,390 mAh battery is also a bit bigger than the 1,980 mAh unit in last year's model – Motorola claims average users will get 24 hours out of each charge.
It's a little humorous to hear Motorola's claims (like in the official demo video at the bottom of this post) that the Moto E comes with a "big" 4.5-inch 540 x 960 display now that we live in a world of 6-inch Quad HD monsters like the Nexus 6, but it is a nice size for a budget phone, even if its 245 PPI density doesn't exactly impress.
There's also 1 GB of RAM on board and internal storage has been upgraded from 4 GB in the original to 8 GB with a microSD card slot to expand that capacity by up to 32 GB.
The second generation Moto E gets a 5-megapixel rear camera and now a second selfie cam that is described as simply being a "VGA camera." There's also an update to include the signature Motorola feature that brings up the camera up by making a wrist-twisting gesture. Now if you twist your wrist a second time, the Moto E will switch straight to the selfie shooter, all without ever having to touch the screen.
The near-stock Android look of other Motorola phones remains in the Moto E, with just a few key additions like Moto Display, Moto Assist and voice control (read more about these features in our Moto X review). Motorola has made the key promise to deliver timely Android updates to the Moto E in the future.
Motorola is also keeping in the spirit of emphasizing personalization with six new color bands to add a custom touch to the sides of the Moto E, which comes in black or white.
It's possible to find cheaper phones out there with higher-resolution displays, but the Moto E brings a high level of design and hardware and software integration to the low-end market, along with 4G and two cameras. This phone puts the mid-range second-gen Moto G from Motorola in an odd position – it offers a better display but no 4G for $30 more.
The new Moto E launches today in 40 countries for $150 for the 4G version. The 3G version will reportedly be available for $120 in fewer markets, but including the U.S. and India next month; it will ship with a less powerful Snapdragon processor.
Product page: Motorola