Just when you thought unlocked smartphones couldn't get any cheaper, Motorola came along and -- oops! -- they did it again.
I'm talking, of course, about the company's new Moto E -- the $129 entry-level phone introduced last week. Motorola's making it crystal clear whom it's going after with the Moto E, and news flash: If you're a regular reader of this blog, it probably isn't you. But that doesn't mean the device doesn't matter.
The Moto E is designed to appeal to flip-phone holdouts -- folks who haven't yet made the leap to smartphone territory. Think parents or possibly grandparents here, along with those for whom cost is a major consideration (including people in developing countries).
At a price of $129 unlocked and off-contract, the Moto E is about as cheap as you can get -- but unlike most budget-level phones, that low cost doesn't mean you're sentencing yourself to a pitifully painful experience. I've been using the phone for a few days now, and while it's not gonna blow any of us away, it actually does a really nice job for what it's intended to do.
So what's the Moto E like to use? In the simplest possible terms, it's basically like the Moto G -- only another notch down in quality. First things first, you've got a 4.3-in. 540-x-960 LCD display. Flagship-caliber? Of course not. But at 256 pixels per inch, it's perfectly respectable and looks quite decent -- almost shockingly so for a phone of this class. (The Moto G, for comparison, has a 4.5-in. 720p LCD display with 329 pixels per inch.)
The Moto E is pretty similar in form to the Moto G, too -- kind of like a cheaper and chunkier Moto X. It's a little shorter than the G, thanks to its sized-down screen, but the two devices are pretty comparable other than that. The E feels solid and sturdy in the hand, and its plastic casing has a warm and comfortable if somewhat pedestrian feel. Like the G, the phone's back also pops off and can be replaced with a variety of multicolored shells (which Moto sells for 15 bucks a pop).
The E packs a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM. It's not what you'd call a speedy or particularly snappy phone, but it also doesn't feel laggy or at all unbearable to use. If you're coming from a flagship-level device, it's gonna be less zippy than what you're used to -- no question there -- but it also won't make you want to gouge your eyes out like most low-end phones do. It's perfectly usable and an interesting reminder of how much difference proper software optimization can make.
The Moto E has a mere 4GB of internal space, which isn't much -- even compared to the 8 or 16GB you get with the Moto G. It does have a micro-SD card slot, though, so you can tack on up to 32GB of extra local storage with that.
What else? The phone's got good battery life and the usual excellent "stock-plus" software Moto's known for these days. And speaking of software, while most budget-level phones are abandoned by their manufacturers as soon as they're released, Motorola's guaranteeing "at least one" upgrade to the next version of Android for the E (the phone ships with the current Android 4.4.2 KitKat release).
You won't have LTE with the Moto E but can connect to HSPA+ networks on AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S., which should give you solid data connections in most areas. I actually rely on T-Mobile HSPA+ for my own personal phone and frequently get speeds around the 18 Mbps mark, which is higher than what you'll see on LTE in a lot of places here in the States.
So all said and done, who should buy the Moto E? Simple: Someone who's ready for a smartphone but doesn't need anything more than the minimum. If you're interested in technology but trying to keep costs low, I'd go ahead and drop the extra $50 to get the Moto G, which starts at $179; for anyone who's reasonably tech-savvy and can justify the extra 50 bucks, the difference between the two phones -- in performance, storage, and display quality (not to mention the inclusion of a front-facing camera, which is lacking on the E) -- is meaningful enough to be worth that chunk of change.
But the type of person who should get the Moto E is the type of person who genuinely doesn't care about those differences -- and who consequently doesn't have any reason to pay more than $129 for a basic but solid starter smartphone experience.
I ordered one for my mom this weekend. She's pretty excited to leave her old flip-phone behind.
How to make free VoIP calls on Android -- without GoogleNext Post
Behold: The always-available bubble-based Twitter app for Android
One of Microsoft's biggest decisions this year will be whom to charge for Windows 10, and how much.
Don't want your home address or other personal info published to the world? This weekend, take an hour...
Google's Android 5.0 release is more than just a pretty makeover. Here are 10 fun features you'll...
Sponsored by Intel
Sponsored by Informatica
Apple's recent patch to fix a serious privilege escalation vulnerability in OS X Yosemite can be easily...
Without proper information governance, enterprises are likely to lose out on valuable insights....
Contrary to conventional wisdom, most job-seekers aren't active on weekends. Tuesday is the 'magic day'...
We all rely on email too much to share sensitive information, and we’re all at risk.