Motorola makes wonderful budget phones like the Moto G5 and the G5 Plus. Its newest addition is the Moto E4 which packs a lot of features: Android Nougat 7.1, a fingerprint sensor, a removeable battery and a selfie flash all within a body the size of a chubby iPhone 7. The E4 is ridiculously cheap: $130, £129 or AU$249 for an unlocked model. Here in the US, an Amazon Prime version with lock screen ads is $99 and one on a Verizon prepaid plan is just $70.
There are times where the low cost shows. The processor is slow, the display is hard to view in sunlight and the camera is sluggish to process shots. If this is a deal breaker, you can pay a bit more for one of Motorola's other budget phones that have higher specs.
In the US and UK, Motorola also makes the E4 Plus, which has a larger screen, a bigger battery and a higher megapixel camera for $180 and £159, respectively. On paper, the UK version seems worth the £30 upgrade since it comes with 3GB of RAM instead of the 2GB found in the US version.
In Australia, there's the Moto G5, which has a better metal build, a higher resolution display and a higher megapixel camera for AU$50 more.
The reason you buy the E4 is its price. And for the price, it's amazing what Motorola gives you. Its nearest rival is the Samsung Galaxy J3 which costs more, takes worse photos and lacks the overall charm of the E4. But if the E4's compromises, such as an average camera, make you sad, remind yourself how much it costs. Still sad? Get the Moto G5 Plus .
Motorola budget phones in the US
|Moto E4 (16GB)||Moto E4 Plus (16GB)||Moto G5 Plus (32GB)||Moto G5 Plus (64GB)|
|Display||5-inch 1,280x720 pixels||5.5-inch 1,280x720 pixels||5.2-inch 1,980x1080 pixels||5.2-inch 1,980x1080 pixels|
|Processor||1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon (425 or 427)||1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 427||2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625||2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625|
|Camera (rear and front)||8-megapixel, 5 megapixel||13-megapixel, 5-megapixel||12-megapixel, 5-megapixel||12-megapixel, 5-megapixel|
|Video||1080p HD||1080p HD||4K||4K|
It's positively Moto
The E4's slick glass display looks handsome, but in my hand the plastic back feels low-end. The phone's charm comes from details like a textured sleep/wake button, a selfie flash and a fingerprint sensor.
My favorite E4 feature, one button navigation, turns the fingerprint sensor into a mini navigation touchpad. It's also on the Moto G5 and G5 Plus.
The E4 did really well in our looped video battery drain test lasting 14 hours and 20 minutes. That's about 25 minutes longer than its closest budget competitor, the Samsung Galaxy J3.
In testing, the processor fared better than its rival the Galaxy J3. See the chart below. The E4 surprised me handling everyday use really well. The camera is where I noticed the limits of the E4's processor. The time it took to process shots felt long. Though, when I played games like Super Mario Run, OK K.O.! and even Modern Combat 5, the only indication the E4 struggled was when the back got warm.
Sometimes cheap is cheap
The E4 has a modest display. It's fine indoors, but barely visible under direct sunlight.
But the rear camera is the E4's weakest point. When compared to the more expensive Moto G5 Plus, the E4's photos had less detail and dynamic range (the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a photo).
But when compared to other super-cheap phones like the Galaxy J3, the E4 produces photos with more detail and a more realistic rendering. You should have no trouble using the E4 to fill up your social media feed with photo posts.
The E4 has a dedicated selfie flash which produces mixed results. When I used it on myself, my skin looked washed out, but when I took a group selfie the fill flash made everyone look good. This is a luxury you don't see in many phones in this price range, so it's a good option to have. Take a look at some of the shots I took with the Moto E4 in the gallery below.