Motorola Moto e7 review: Low cost phone with balanced compromises
Quick verdict: The Motorola Moto e7 primarily sells on the fact that it’s rather cheap, and with that comes a well-balanced set of compromises.
- USB C charging
- 48MP primary camera mostly works well
- Decent battery life
- Mediocre app performance
- Cheap build quality
- Bland design
48MP + 2MP
Finder rated as Good vs similar phones
Power, storage and battery
|Launch price (RRP)||$0|
Motorola has plenty of form in providing generally excellent budget range phones. In recent years we've seen a huge uptick in the quality we expect from our cheaper phones, as well as significant competition from a wide range of competitor brands.
The Motorola Moto e7 doesn't reimagine Motorola's place in the budget arena, and like so many other cheap phones, it's a question of picking the features that matter the most to you, while minimising the compromises that inevitably come with budget handsets.
- 6.5-inch 720p display
- Plain Mineral Gray plastic finish
- Fingerprint sensor and headphone jack
The Motorola Moto e7 is a low-cost phone, and that's pretty apparent from the moment you pick it up. It's a plastic body phone, which you'd totally expect at this price point in a finish that Motorola calls "Mineral Gray".
I'm going to call it dull, because that's basically what it is. Beyond a slight sunburst effect from the rear lens array, you're basically looking at a plastic body that tries to look like a metal one, but not really.
As compromises for budget price points go, this isn't the worst crime. Although it's notable that the Motorola Moto e7's sibling phone, the even cheaper Motorola Moto e7 Power, ships in a choice of colours. Quite why the cheaper phone gets colour choice is beyond me.
At the front, you'll be faced with a 6.5-inch 1600x720 pixel IPS TFT LCD at 269ppi. Displays that top out at 720p are pretty common at this price point, although Motorola does rather buck the trend of "hole punch" style cameras with a central teardrop instead.
You do at least get a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as a standard fingerprint sensor at the back of the phone. Actual recognition from the fingerprint sensor was decent in my tests, with the most lag largely coming from the phone waking up, rather than the sensor mis-reading my digits.
- Dual 48MP and macro lenses
- Decent results in daylight
- Doesn't quite live up to Motorola's low light promises
Cameras have historically been where budget mobiles have cut costs the most, but to glance at the Motorola Moto e7's specifications, you might think you're getting a bit of a bargain.
The primary rear camera on the Motorola Moto e7 uses a 48MP f/1.7 sensor, quite generous for this price point, paired up with a considerably lesser quality 2MP f/2.4 macro lens. At the front, you'll be shooting your selfies with a single 8MP f/2.2 sensor.
That macro lens, just like every other macro lens we've seen in the budget space of late, isn't particularly great. With lots of patience and a slow-moving target you can get some interesting shots, but the slightest twitch from your insect or puff of breeze from the wind can send your flower shot from fascinating close-up to muddy mess in no time flat.
That leaves the primary 48MP rear sensor to do the rest of the Motorola Moto e7's heavy lifting. This includes an interpolated zoom feature – there's no optical zoom here, of course, but 48MP does give the Motorola Moto e7 some scope to down sample for a little cropped zoom functionality. Rather predictably it's not great, and you'd still do better to simply move closer to your subject where possible.
For regular daylight shooting though, the Motorola Moto e7 shoots fairly well for a camera at its price point. Motorola makes a point of pushing the night shooting capabilities of the Motorola Moto e7 as a key selling point, but it's best to keep your expectations low here. Low light and night shots lost a lot of detail quickly when shooting with the default camera's Night Vision mode.
Still, the context that you should view the Motorola Moto e7 within is that it's a sub-$200 handset. It really wasn't that long ago that we'd see single lenses of appalling quality at that price point, and the Motorola Moto e7 shoots well above those expectations.
You'll need a little patience, because it's not a particularly fast camera, and the lack of either ultrawide or telephoto options does limit your creativity a little. However, it's possible to get some quite serviceable photos from the Motorola Moto e7.
- MediaTek Helio G25 is utterly average
- Android 10, but future update path is unclear
Motorola has taken a very standard approach to outfitting the Motorola Moto e7 and keeping it as low-cost as possible, by using an older and cheaper processor as its core. Specifically, it's running on the MediaTek Helio P25, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. The Motorola Moto e7 does include microSD support for up to 512GB, although you'll have to sacrifice a SIM card slot to expand its storage that way.
MediaTek's processors are beloved of the budget phone crowd because they're very low cost, but they're also generally mediocre performers. That's definitely the case for the Motorola Moto e7. Here's how it compares using Geekbench 5's CPU benchmark:
The PowerVR GE8320 GPU that runs its visuals is equally low range; it's one of the first GPUs in a 2021 phone that I've hit that returns a score of zero on 3DMark's newer Wildfire GPU test. Here's how the Motorola Moto e7 compares for 3DMark's GPU tests:
The cheaper Motorola Moto e7 Power runs on the same processor and GPU pair as the Moto e7, but with only half the RAM, so you should expect that device to return slightly lower scores and performance as a result.
Budget phones are rarely fast, and it's very much a matter of tempering your expectations around the Motorola Moto e7 in day to day use. Will it slow down when you're switching between complex web pages and apps? Yes, it will, and a little lag is somewhat to be expected in this price range. You can get faster phones at or near this price, but not much quicker.
The Motorola Moto e7 runs on Android 10. Motorola's approach to updates is to bundle together security updates every two months, rather than monthly. Its track record with actual Android OS upgrades isn't spectacular based on past history. If that's important to you, then Nokia/HMD Global and its range of Android One based handsets would be a better bet.
- 4,000mAh battery delivers decent results
- USB C is nicely welcome at this price point
The Motorola Moto e7 comes with a 4,000mAh sealed battery, while the slightly cheaper Moto e7 Power grabs itself a 5,000mAh power pack. No, I have no idea why Motorola didn't mash the two together to give us a best-of-both-worlds scenario, but there it is.
Motorola's claim for the Moto e7 is that it's got a "36-hour" battery, although it does qualify that claim by noting that "All battery life claims are approximate and based on the median user tested across a mixed use profile (which includes both usage and standby time) under optimal network conditions. Actual battery performance will vary and depends on many factors, including signal strength, network and device settings, temperature, battery condition, and usage patterns."
Or in other words, it's yet another "up to" battery claim, and in the budget space, those always have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.
A 4,000mAh battery is, by 2021 standards, almost a default size for most Android smartphones, but the level to which they perform can vary quite widely.
To test this out, I ran the Motorola Moto e7 through our standard battery test. This involves fully charging the phone, switching brightness to full and volume to moderate, and running a YouTube video at maximum resolution for an hour to get a picture of battery rundown. Typically what we find is that phones that fall under 90% power remaining will struggle to manage a single day's usage, while those that punch higher can last into a second day in most scenarios.
Here's how the Motorola Moto e7 compares against a range of similarly priced handsets:
For a 4,000mAh phone, that battery score is actually pretty decent, although it's not quite a standout figure. As always, if you're heavily pushing any phone, you can send it flat in a single day, while if you leave it mostly alone, multi-day use is feasible.
One nice feature of the Motorola Moto e7 (and its cheaper Power counterpart) is that it uses USB C for recharging, although only at a maximum rate of 10W.
Should you buy the Motorola Moto e7?
- Buy it if you want a generally good budget handset.
- Don't buy it if you want a more stylish looking device.
The Motorola Moto e7 is unashamedly a budget phone, and it has the looks to match. You're never going to fool anyone that it's a higher-priced handset, but if you're after a budget phone that mostly balances out its compromises, it's a decent pick.
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Images: Alex Kidman