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Motorola Moto E32 review: Good for cash-strapped phone buyers

Quick verdict: The Motorola Moto e32 is a cheap phone that outperforms its budget rivals. You’ve still got to temper your expectations, but for those on a strict budget it’s a fair buy.

Pros

  • 90Hz display
  • Generally clean Android UI
  • Decent battery life
Cons

  • Slow app performance
  • Old Android with slow updates
  • Ordinary cameras

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Details

Display

Display Size
6.5 inches
Resolution
1600 x 720px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
268 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
16MP + 2MP + 2MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/2.2 + f/2.4 + f/2.4
Video recording
1080p
Front camera megapixels
8MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.0

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
163.95mm x 74.94mm x 8.49mm
Weight
184g

Connectivity

NFC
No
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

RAM
4GB
Operating system
Android 11
Internal storage
64GB
External storage support
Up to 1TB
Battery capacity
5,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
Yes
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
IP52
Launch price (RRP)$0
Motorola Moto E32

Motorola has been quite busy of late, releasing a lot of phones to cover a range of price points. The Motorola Moto E32 is one of its cheaper models, with an official price of just $229, although it's not that hard to find it even cheaper than that.

Cheap phones have a reputation of being terrible phones. There are some compromises with the Motorola Moto E32 that definitely mark it out as a budget model, but against its cheaper competition it compares quite favourably, especially if you're looking for a no-nonsense phone at a lower price point.


Design: 90Hz at a budget price is good, everything else is ordinary.

Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola's design language for its phones right now leads to a lot of very similar looking handsets. The Motorola Moto E32 is a 6.5-inch Android smartphone with more than a passing resemblance to the Motorola Moto G22 which I reviewed just before starting in on the E32.

I'd like to say that I never confused the 2 during testing, but this would be what top scientists call a blatant lie.

Still, the Motorola Moto E32 is a cheaper phone, officially listing at $229 but already available at sub-$200 price points at the time of writing if you shop around, which you totally should do.

Cheap phones have a reputation for ordinary design, and that's very much the case here. The Motorola Moto E32 sells in Australia in just 2 shades, with either Misty Silver or Slate Grey to pick from. Motorola sent me a Slate Grey model to test. The slate in this case is a slight blue tinge in certain lights. I'm a bit of a sucker for blue phones, but your tastes can of course vary.

Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Like so many other Motorola phones, you do get a protective slipcase on the phone to keep it from accidental bumps. You certainly wouldn't expect any level of water resistance at this price.

What you might not expect as well is any kind of fancy screen technology. At 1600x720 it's not a high resolution screen, but what's notable here is support for 90Hz refresh rates. Most budget phones are locked 60Hz models, and the benefit here is in smoother scrolling on web pages or other content. In theory that also extends to gaming, although the limitations of the Motorola Moto E32's processor make that a less compelling prospect.

Unlocking is via a side mounted fingerprint sensor. It's not particularly fast, although I didn't hit too many issues with false negatives during my review period. I just had to wait a while for the Motorola Moto E32 to unlock most of the time.

That story of waiting isn't uncommon in the budget space, because there's definitely still a performance gulf between phones priced under $300 and those that stretch above that price. Of course, if all you can afford is a basic phone, then this doesn't break too many rules along the way. Charging is via USB C, which is nice and handy, and like so many other budget handsets there's still a 3.5mm headphone jack if you're rocking wired headphones.


Motorola Moto E32: Buy a cheap phone, get simple cameras

Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Motorola Moto E32 packs in a triple lens rear camera and front-facing selfie camera housed in its centrally mounted holepunch lens. That might sound like a lot of camera flexibility, but don't get too excited.

At the rear, the 3 lenses are a 16MP f/2.2 wide lens and 2MP f/2.4 macro lens for actual shooting, alongside a 2MP depth sensor.

Nearly every budget or mid-range phone released in the last couple of years has dropped a macro lens on board, and virtually all of them have been exercises in frustration. It's not that they absolutely won't take photos with the macro lens, but lining them up and getting good shots is a lot of work. If you're trying for insect macros for example, you'll need a lot of luck to get the Motorola Moto E32 to focus, expose and take an acceptable shot before your bug of choice shifts away.

That means that most of the rear shooting will be done on the 16MP primary lens. You do get zoom capabilities, but only just. A 16MP sensor can only crop in so far before it becomes junk, and Motorola wisely limits this to just 4x digital zoom.

Even then results can be mediocre.

Here's a wide beach shot taken with the Motorola Moto E32:

Motorola E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The same shot at 2x digital zoom, where there are already issues creeping in:

Motorola E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

And at 4x, where the digital cracks become really apparent:

Motorola E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Even without zoom, the Motorola Moto E32's camera capabilities can only be described as modest at best. Exposure issues abound, as does a fair degree of noise if the lighting isn't absolutely spot on.

At the front, the 8MP selfie camera offers up an artificial portrait mode, but again results aren't likely to blow you away.

Here's me with the regular selfie lens.

Motorola E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

And again with the portrait lens.

Motorola E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

It is true what they say about the best camera being the one that you have with you, and you certainly can take photos with the Motorola Moto E32. However the results are very much what you'd expect out of a budget handset.

Motorola Moto E32 sample photos

Motorola Moto G22 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola Moto G22 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola Moto G22 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola Moto G22 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Motorola Moto G22 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder


Motorola Moto E32 performance: Acceptable for a cheap phone

Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Motorola Moto E32 is built around a Unisoc T606 processor with just 4GB of RAM. In 2022, anything under about 6GB of RAM is going to deliver a compromised experience, and that's very much the story here. Again, this is a budget phone, so I really did temper my expectations.

That budget sensibility extends through to its onboard storage at 64GB, although at least you could pump that up with microSD cards if you found it too poky for your desired app load.

Within the budget space, the Motorola Moto E32 compares quite well against other similarly priced handsets. Here's how that T606 processor compares using Geekbench 5's CPU test.

And here's how its Mali G57 GPU compares using Slingshot Extreme, for the phones that can run it in this price space.

However, while those charts look impressive, the reality of using the Motorola Moto E32 is one of waiting for apps to load, whether it's a browser, Twitter, camera apps or any gaming pursuits. Lag is a common experience for just about any use of the Motorola Moto E32.

It does mean that the 90Hz screen can't quite be pushed to its full extent, because it's a tad faster than the processor running the entire phone, especially for Android gaming.

The Motorola Moto E32 is based on Android 11, which isn't unexpected for a cheap phone, but it's also kind of disappointing. Cheap phones have a terrible track record when it comes to Android updates outside of Nokia/HMD Global, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Android 12 or any other future updates. To give you an idea, during the review period the Motorola E32 was only up to the February Android security update… in June.

Anyone buying a cheap Android phone has to accept that it's going to run on the slower side. The Motorola Moto E32's performance is technically acceptable for its price, but I couldn't say that it "ran" apps as much as it begrudgingly accepted them.


Motorola Moto E32: The 5,000mAh battery might not last as long as you think

Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The journey into average performance continues with the Motorola E32's battery performance. For a phone in its price bracket it's slightly impressive that Motorola packs in a 5,000mAh battery, because this is still an area where many cheaper phones skimp on power.

However, there's that 90Hz display to consider, because faster refresh rates do come at the cost of increased power consumption. As always, what you do with a phone will absolutely affect its battery performance. I've never hit a phone that I couldn't kill stone dead within a day if I was, for example, playing a lot of games on it for a long period of time.

To test the Motorola E32's battery performance, I first ran it through Finder's battery test. Here's how it compared to other budget phones.

That 92% battery figure isn't the best in class, but considering it was running at 90Hz at the time, it's not half bad, even if it's equally not fully great. Phones that hit above 90% in that test are usually good for a day's battery life in moderate use conditions, and that's absolutely what I found with the Motorola E32. You'd definitely want to plug it in overnight to recharge though. Charging is predictably very slow, with the supplied 10 Watt charger only trickling the electrons through to the phone. That's again in line with its budget ambitions.


Should you buy it?

  • Buy it if you're on a budget and your phone needs are modest.
  • Don't buy it if you need sharper cameras or app performance.
Motorola Moto E32 review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

One of the challenges for any brand bringing a lot of very similar models to market is that it can make it hard for consumers to pick the optimal option. The Motorola Moto E32 shares a lot of DNA with the similarly inexpensive Motorola Moto G22, but it's clearly the "cheap one" of the pairing.

That doesn't automatically equate to being a bad phone, but there are compromises to bear in mind if you're going to buy one. The experience is not fast, and the cameras can be frustrating to use. If you can stretch to the Moto G22 it's a better handset, but then it should be, given the price difference between the 2.


Motorola Moto E32: Pricing and availability

The Motorola Moto E32 retails in Australia for $229.

Motorola Moto E32

Specifications

Display

Display Size
6.5 inches
Resolution
1600 x 720px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
268 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
16MP + 2MP + 2MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/2.2 + f/2.4 + f/2.4
Video recording
1080p
Front camera megapixels
8MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.0

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
163.95mm x 74.94mm x 8.49mm
Weight
184g

Connectivity

NFC
No
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

RAM
4GB
Operating system
Android 11
Internal storage
64GB
External storage support
Up to 1TB
Battery capacity
5,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
Yes
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
IP52

How we tested

The Motorola Moto E32 used in this review was loaned to me by Motorola Australia. I tested it over a 1-week period with extensive benchmarking, camera usage and battery testing to evaluate its performance both in an anecdotal sense, and to see how it compared to other budget smartphones.

The reviewer has more than 2 decades of tech product reviewing under his belt and is a multi-time Australian IT Journalist award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.

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