- Low price
- Solid screen
- Excellent battery life
- Sluggish day-to-day performance
- Moto G6 Play is better value
- Review Price: £129.99/$169
- 5.7-inch 1440 x 720 pixel screen
- Android 8.0.0
- Snapdragon 425 CPU
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage
- 4000mAh battery
What is the Motorola Moto E5?
The Motorola Moto E5 is a cheap phone. It costs just £129.99/$169, making it £20-40/$26-52 cheaper than the Moto G6 Play.
Great battery life, a solid screen and friendly handling are the positives of this ultra-accessible handset.
However, you’ll wish Motorola hadn’t used a quad-core processor, which makes this device significantly slower than the Moto G6 Play. That extra speed is worth paying £20-40/$26-52 for.
I used the Moto E5 Plus recently, and my first grumblings were about the phone’s rear. I’d take a guess that Motorola wants the Moto E5 to look as though it’s aluminium, but in my opinion it looks like silver-coloured plastic.
If the Moto E5 didn’t sport the characteristic circular camera housing and Moto-logo fingerprint scanner, this would be a design so bland it would be worthy of Vodafone’s own-brand mobiles. But you can at least spot that it’s a Motorola. And being someone who has routinely recommended Moto G phones to almost everyone who’s asked for the past five years, this is a good thing.
Nevertheless, I’d still class the Moto E5 as looking fairly boring. Its buttons and sides are plastic, too, although those sides are so hard I spent five minutes knocking my teeth against them, half-convinced they were metal.
The E5 feels great in the hand. While this phone has a 5.7-inch screen, the 18:9 aspect leaves it feeling more like a 5-inch phone of previous years.
The front of the Moto E5 has nicely rounded edges, and for a phone that includes a 4000mAh battery, the handset feels surprisingly slender. It’s 9mm thick, and the back is lightly curved.
Its rear fingerprint scanner is relatively slow, yet still faster that inputting a password. The Moto E5 uses a micro-USB charge socket, like the Moto G6 Play. However, if you’re considering this phone you probably haven’t experienced the reversible delights of USB-C anyway.
The Moto E5’s 5.7-inch screen is, alongside the E5 Plus, the first time Motorola has included an 18:9 screen in one of its E-series phones. It fills out more of the handset’s front with display, and is an issue-free upgrade.
A resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels isn’t nearly as sharp as the Moto G6’s Full HD+, though. This initially seems like one of the clearest spec sacrifices, but you get used to it within a day.
The Moto E5’s screen is sharp enough to satisfy. You may want to switch from the standard ‘vivid’ colour mode to the ‘standard’ one, however. This is a solid panel, but still an entry-level one, and its take on ‘vivid’ colour is less convincing than what you’d see on a more expensive phone.
Still, brightness is high enough for use outdoors, contrast is perfectly solid, and brightness drop-off at an angle is far better than the cheap screens of several years ago.
The Moto E5 uses the same approach to software as the Moto G-series phones. You get Android 8.0.0 and a clean interface on top.
There are plain and simple homescreens, a vertical-scrolling apps menu and, in generally, an overall appearance that’s unadorned. Those who aren’t fans of app bloat will be thankful for the number of additional Motorola apps installed: there are two.
Moto Help is a digital phone manual and Moto lets you control the light smattering of extra Motorola features. These are Motorola Actions, which are simple gestures that, for example, let you silence notifications by laying the Moto E5 down on its screen. Motorola Display is more interesting, and has been a staple addition to Moto handsets for some time now.
It’s a display that pops up when the E5 is in standby, and you pick it up or move it. It shows the time, and icons representing any recent notifications.
Moto Display shows up a little less readily than in the Moto E5 Plus, perhaps because that phone has an even bigger battery. Any significant movement stirs it, though.
One little sting of the Moto E range is that you get only 16GB of storage. A year or so ago, I’d have been completely happy with this. However, the Moto G6 Play has 32GB and is only slightly more expensive.
16GB gives you less scope to load the phone up with apps and photos. A couple of large games will fit, but after a while you’ll then see your photos start to clog up the storage. However, if you just use smaller apps such as Facebook and the browser, 16GB should suffice.
The one major issue of Motorola Moto E5 is performance. A quick flick through the main pages of the Android interface won’t make this obvious, though. Start using apps and the shortfall becomes apparent.
Web pages and apps take longer to load. Quite often there are pauses within apps that you just don’t experience when using the Moto G6 Play. Even low-level activities such as working out routes in Citymapper appear to be affected, much as you’d expect this would be determined by the network connection.
There’s a simple explanation. The Moto E5 uses a quad-core CPU, the Snapdragon 425. It has four 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 cores, and is paired with 2GB of RAM. A few years ago, this would have been enough to make Android fly. But in Android 8.0.0, apparently not.
In Geekbench 4 the E5 scores 1837 points (652 per core), which is around half the score of the Moto G6 Play, as you’d expect.
Performance isn’t fantastic, then. However, it’s appreciably better than the Honor 7C or Alcatel 5. While you won’t need the levels of patience those two handsets demand, this phone could in no way be described as ‘nippy’.
The Moto E5 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a front 5-megapixel camera. Both have LED flashes.
Results are much the same as those of other good budget phones. In daylight you can take fairly sharp and detailed images.
Scenes that don’t have a huge variance in light intensity look particularly good. But while the Moto E5 does have an Auto HDR mode, you’ll see plenty of overexposed parts in images that do have very bright areas.
Night photos are poor, although you can often make them look a little clearer with some post-processing.
Simple scenes equal decent results
Night photos are not great, although you can bring out more shadow detail with a photo editor
Even with HDR the phone struggles with the sky here. But it’s not bad
Death by overexposure
There’s just a little shutter lag when shooting normal photos, and more of a delay with HDR images, just like the Moto G6 phones. The camera app is prone to the same load lag as other apps too, though.
You often have to wait around three seconds for the camera to initialise. It’s no surprise in a cheap phone, but may get on your nerves.
The Moto E5’s camera app is a custom one, and is clean and easy to use. You don’t get mounds of extra modes, but there is slo-mo video and YouTube live streaming.
For normal video, you can shoot at up to 1080p 30 frames per second: nothing special to see here.
The selfie camera is a typical so-so 5-megapixel model. It can take reasonable seflies, but tends to leave fine details looking soft or fizzy.
The Motorola Moto E5 has a 4000mAh battery, a much larger-than-average cell. Its stamina is excellent.
You can hammer this phone and still have battery to spare at the end of the day. A particularly long weekday that started at 7:30am, involved a few hours of podcasts streaming, perhaps 45 minutes of YouTube, saw the E5 still cling onto 40 per cent charge by 1:30am.
This phone all-but guarantees you all-day use. And light users should be able to get two days out of a charge. As long as you don’t stay up ’til 1:30 am, anyway.
The Moto E5 is a phone you’ll want to charge overnight, though. It doesn’t have fast charging, and a full recharge takes several hours.
There’s a microUSB charge plug rather than a USB-C, but this is still fairly common among cheaper phones (in 2018).
Should I buy the Motorola Moto E5?
The Motorola Moto E5 has plenty of elements that made previous Moto-series phones to successful. It’s a low-priced no-nonsense phone that lasts for ages off a charge.
However, like a budget car with a truly wimpy engine, there’s not quite enough power to make this a phone you’ll love. Press the accelerator asking for power and there’s nothing there.
It may outperform the rivals from Honor and Alcatel, but when the Moto G6 Play is much more powerful and only a little more expensive, it’s a better choice if you want afford the upgrade.
The price is right and battery life excellent, but day-to-day performance isn’t quite good enough