Moto E5 Play
Price: £89 inc VAT from fave.co/2PkKo8N
The E series is Motorola’s budget range, and the E5 Play is the budget-est of the current budget phones, clocking in at just £89 in the UK. Inevitably any phone this cheap comes with some serious compromises, and anyone used to a faster phone may find the E5 Play a challenge to get along with – but at less than £100 it’s really hard to complain too much.
The E5 Play looks surprisingly attractive for its price, though make no mistake: you won’t fool anyone into
thinking this is a flagship device. The 5.3in display is in the thinner 18:9 aspect ratio that’s become more popular in recent years, though is still flanked by thick bezels at the top and bottom of the screen – the latter of which includes the Motorola logo.
At 147.9x71.2x9.2mm the phone is comfortable to hold, and any fans of smaller phones will likely get on with it. The choice to build the body out of plastic rather than aluminium makes it feel a bit cheaper, but unfortunately hasn’t really made the phone any lighter: at 152g it’s hardly heavy, but you’d hope for something more lightweight given the size and build.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the rear, emblazoned with the Motorola stylised ‘M’, but the placement is a bit low – I have to arch my finger to reach it comfortably, though anyone with smaller hands might find it more natural.
While the other E5 phones have a choice of colour options, the E5 Play is only available in black.
The 5.3in LCD screen is really the first giveaway of what you’re in for. It may boast a modern 18:9 aspect ratio, but the 960x480 resolution is a different matter entirely. To anyone used to even your average modern smartphone the display will look outdated, with the knock-on effect of forcing you into an over-sized UI, with limits to how many app icons you can fit on a screen. Viewing angles are poor, with noticeable saturation problems if you’re looking at any angle other than dead-on, and it’s not especially bright either, making it challenging to use outdoors.
Processor, memory and storage
Internal specs are also decidedly limited. The E5 Play runs the same Snapdragon 425 processor as the rest of the E5 series, but pairs it with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage – which isn’t much once you take into account the fact that Android itself takes up about a quarter of that. Luckily you can expand storage with a microSD card up to 128GB if you wish.
Those specs are limited, but about what you should expect for a phone below £100. Things run a bit slowly – expect a particularly noticeable delay when you switch between apps – but there’s not a major impact on simple stuff like web browsing or checking email.
In our benchmarking tests the E5 Play lagged behind the regular E5 and G6 Play in processing power, but made up for that in the graphics tests
– benefitting from rendering to a lower resolution. It also outperformed the similarly priced Vodafone Smart N8 on every test, making it a clear winner there.
Connectivity and audio
Connectivity is better at least. The big downside is that the E5 Play uses Micro-USB for charging, rather than USB-C, so you’ll have to keep using the older cable. This also limits the charging and data transfer speeds the phone can manage. You also get a headphone jack, which is always welcome, and there’s a microSD slot if you want to expand your storage. Naturally, you also get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, though there’s no NFC – which we’d never normally expect on a sub£100 phone, but is included on the £119 E5.
Cameras are another serious weak point here. The main shooter is just 8Mp and f/2.0, with a 5Mp selfie camera – a noticeable drop from the 13Mp rear camera in the regular E5.
There’s a distinct lack of detail in photos, though the colour range is admittedly better than we expected, with support for basic HDR. Low light performance is very rough though, with limited light correction, faded colours, and consistent grain throughout photos.