Motorola wants back into your life. It wants to be what the Nexus phones can't be, while simultaneously wanting to build the last word in cheap, utilitarian Android for the masses. The Moto E is the company's attempt at the latter, and after an initial hands-on, it goes down a treat.
The Moto E is a tiny little Android smartphone compared to its competition, with a 4.3-inch screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable up to 32GB via microSD) and a 5-megapixel camera.
It's running stock Android with a few behind-the-scenes Motorola tweaks, along with the guarantee that Motorola will push you new versions of Android as soon as Google seeds them. Motorola is prime to make good on this promise for the Australian market, considering that the device isn't being sold on a plan. As a result, updates don't get tied up in carrier device testing for five weeks before release.
You've also go a 1980mAh battery to keep you going all day, and a splash-proof rating of IPX2. Don't be lulled into thinking that the Moto E is something you can drop in the toilet and get away with, however: IPX2 basically means the device is protected from dripping water that hits the device at a 15-degree angle. Basically: you spill coffee on your desk and some of it lands on your Moto E, you're fine. Same with going out in light rain, but don't go washing it off under the tap anytime soon.
Overall, the Moto E is exceptional value. You get a functional, dual-core smartphone with modern Android software for less than $200. You have everything you need to run social networking apps, browsers and the odd game, and you can customise it however you want with a bunch of different Moto Shells for the back cover.
It's easy to import your old stuff into the new phone with the Motorola Migrate app, and you can be sure that if you're buying it for your kids or older parents, they'll be kept safe. Motorola build a new app called Mobile Alert which allows you to geofence particular areas and receive a notification when the device is travelling between the two. That's helpful for when your kid leaves the house on the way to school: you know exactly when they left and when they arrived, and if there's a drama en route, the user can fire off an emergency beacon that sends a priority alert using the cellular network rather than the data network, and lets you know the phone's exact GPS location.
The only real issues we noticed in our brief time with the Moto E is the build quality, which is pretty ropey in places, particularly on the back cover.
When we pulled off the back cover to get a look at the guts of the Moto E, we found that the cover wouldn't sit flush with the device when we tried to put it back on, almost as if the case was too big for the phone itself.
Considering there are around 40 different colour combinations on the Moto E, you might have your back case off pretty frequently so not being able to put it back on completely is an issue.
The other concern is price.
The only thing that's going to trip the Moto E up in Australia is pricing. In the US, the phone costs around $150. In Australia, we don't have a price just yet which means it could end up costing more for no reason. As long as the price is sub-$200, you'll have a winner on your hands. Android for the masses needs to be priced below $200, otherwise you're competing with devices like the Nexus and the Moto X, and that's a mistake considering what the Moto E is without in comparison.
Overall, the Moto E is a fairly solid showing from Motorola, and we can't wait to get more time with it in our review.
Stay tuned for pricing and availability details, as well as a full review