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.

UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS

More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.

UPGRADE

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

View gallery - 8 images