Motorola Moto E5 review: A budget phone with serious battery power

Alex Kidman 12 June 2018 NEWS

The Motorola E5 isn't a flashy phone, but it has a battery that won't quit at a price point that will appeal.

Quick Verdict
The Motorola E5 isn't a fancy phone, but it's well built and is especially notable for its exceptional battery life. If you're in the market for a budget handset, it's well recommended.

The good

  • Great battery life
  • Good design
  • Dual SIM

The bad

  • Ordinary app performance
  • Low resolution display
  • Mediocre camera performance

Motorola's stock in trade in the smartphone space is in providing good quality handsets at budget to low mid-range prices. The Motorola E5 is the cheapest of Motorola's 2018 crop of phones, and while that has its appeal, you've often got to carefully balance the trade-offs that phone makers have to decide on to deliver a product at this kind of price point.

Thankfully, Motorola makes that easy because there's one very obvious reason to buy the Motorola E5 if you're already looking in the budget space.

Motorola E5: Design

It probably isn't the design since aside from the inclusion of an 18:9 5.7-inch display, the Motorola E5 very much looks the part of a low-cost phone. It measures 154.4 x 72.2 x 9mm with a carrying weight of just 174 grams. Despite the gold finish of our review sample, there's no escaping the fact that this is a plastic body phone through and through.

It's not all doom and gloom on the design front. It's simply ordinary, with power and volume controls down the right hand side and a dual SIM/microSD card reader on the left. Around the back, you'll find the fingerprint reader. One neat design touch here is that the fingerprint reader also houses the Motorola batwing logo, if you're into brands.

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Motorola E5: Camera

Likewise, the Motorola E5's camera isn't likely to set your heart fluttering. At a base specification level, Motorola is offering up a 13MP f/2.0 rear lens and a 5MP f/2.2 front lens for you to capture photos and selfies alike.

Cameras are often where budget phones show their limitations, and the Motorola E5 is no real exception here. The basic camera app is easy enough to use for simple shots, but if you push the Moto E5 for any kind of fast motion or low light, get ready for blur and noise. Again, that's very much par for the course in this kind of price bracket.

Here's some sample shots taken direct from the Moto E5's rear camera

Motorola E5 Sample Photos
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Motorola E5: Performance

The Motorola Moto E5 runs on Qualcomm's low-cost Snapdragon 425 SoC, paired with just 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. That's not a powerful configuration, and it shows with low benchmark performance that's largely matched by its real-world application performance.

Here's how the Motorola Moto E5 compares against a range of low-cost competitors using Geekbench 4's CPU test:

The Adreno 308 GPU on the Moto E5 isn't compatible with our current 3DMark Slingshot Extreme test, but straight games testing rather did suggest that this isn't a gaming powerhouse either.

Then again, this isn't unexpected, and the day-to-day performance of the Moto E5 is essentially fine for the market it's targeting. You can expect the odd delay when scrolling web pages or updating social media feeds, and many other apps will take a while longer to load, but this is absolutely par for the course in the budget space. While Motorola has jumped to 18:9 displays for all of its 2018 phones, the Moto E5's resolution of just 720x1440 means that this isn't a high resolution handset either.

While we've seen a number of other manufacturers jump into the Android Oreo Go space, that's not what Motorola's done with the Moto E5. It's a full Android 8.0 ("Oreo") phone with Motorola's own additional software loaded on. However, this is pretty low-key beyond simple actions such as options for picking the phone up to stop it ringing or flipping it to put it into "do not disturb" mode. It's not quite pure and clean Android, but it's appreciably close.

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Motorola E5: Battery life

Cheap phones often have cheap low-capacity batteries, and if you've been wondering where the Moto E5 redeems itself, it's right here. Motorola packs in a hefty 4,000mAh non-removable battery into the Moto E5. That's a lot of juice to run a very low-power processor, and the end results are nothing short of spectacular. Here's how the Moto E5 compares against similar budget handsets using Geekbench 4's full battery test with screen dimming enabled:

Now, the Moto E5's battery score in this test is nothing exciting, but then the Snapdragon 425 isn't an exciting CPU. However, its battery endurance was exceptional. The comparison above is against budget and mid-range handsets, but the Moto E5 actually has battery stamina above any other handset we've tested to date. Yes, that does include every premium model from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and Huawei.

Not that the Moto E5 performs like a premium handset in other respects. Still, the news gets even better in day-to-day testing, where single and even two-day battery life is entirely achievable. It will take you a while to charge the Moto E5 back up again via its microUSB socket, but you simply won't have to do so all that often.

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Motorola E5: Verdict

The Moto E5 is a budget handset and it doesn't shy away from that position. While it's not the prettiest design we've seen in the budget space or the best performing in either photographic or processor terms, its exceptional battery life is very much its calling card.

That means that it's a good choice for the very basic smartphone user who doesn't want to spend a lot of money, but also who doesn't want to stress about battery power that'll last the working day. You'd have to absolutely flog the Moto E5 to exhaust its power in a single day, and its performance really isn't such that you'd want to. If you have a modest budget and want an easy all-day recommendation, the Moto E5 is it.

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Motorola E5: Pricing and availability

The Motorola E5 is available in Australia outright for $229.

Motorola E5: Alternatives

The Moto E5's price point puts it up against a range of budget alternatives, all with their own strengths and weaknesses.

If you're after a phone that's rather optimised for performance at a low price point, consider the Android Oreo Go sporting Nokia 1 handset, which is also rather cheaper than the Moto E5.

Kogan's Agora 8 Plus has tumbled down to a similar price point to the Moto E5, although it's more of a jack-of-all trades rather than a budget device with a particular specialty.

We're still waiting to review Alcatel's new range of budget handsets, but those include similar 18:9 displays to the Moto E5, so may be worth your consideration as well.

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Product name
Motorola E5
Display size
5.7 inches
282 ppi
Snapdragon 425
Operating system
Android 8.0
Front camera
Rear camera
154.4 x 72.2 x 9 mm
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