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This Is What a $129 Smartphone Looks Like

by Todd Haselton | May 13, 2014May 13, 2014 2:00 pm PDT

Motorola announced the Moto E early Tuesday morning in London. This afternoon, we had a chance to meet with the company in New York City to talk about the Moto E, its purpose, and the company’s expectations for the new smartphone.

The device costs just $129 without any sort of contract. Just head to Amazon or Motorola’s website, order one, and that’s the last time you’ll pay anything to Motorola for the device. It runs on a Snapdragon 200 processor, offers 1GB of RAM, 4GB of expandable storage and support for global HSPA data networks. A CDMA model is planned, too, likely for the prepaid brands in the U.S., though Motorola didn’t discuss that much.

We’re really impressed by what the Moto E brings to the table. It’s solid — water resistant, even — and handles Android 4.4 KitKat just fine. Motorola even added some new features, like Motorola Alert, that allow you to send your location to friends and family if you’re in an emergency situation. It’s coming to the Moto X and Moto G at some point, but Motorola didn’t say when.

The qHD 960 x 540-pixel 4.3-inch display isn’t amazing, the viewing angles need some work, but it’s perfectly fine for the price point. Motorola even added a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 panel so its extra scratch resistant and strong.

At $129, the phone is meant to replace feature phones in the U.S., but also to attract the billions of unconnected people globally. India has been a hot market for the Moto G, Motorola’s best selling smartphone to date, and the device is still the top selling phone in Mexico and Brazil. The hope is that the Moto E can attract even more people, especially at its lower price point.

From a design standpoint, I can appreciate most decisions, though couldn’t get a straight answer from Motorola why, on a youth-focused device, the company didn’t include a front-facing camera. As far as I understand, those camera modules are cheap enough that it shouldn’t have been a problem.

For $129, the Moto E is an excellent device, at least at first glance, and in developed smartphone markets it should be a great fit for the elderly, children getting their first smartphones, or adults who want a secondary device — perhaps for travel, or to replace an expensive damaged phone that’s still on contract.

We’ll be bringing you a full review, but in the meantime you can enjoy the gallery above.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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