Monday, 8 June 2015

MOTOROLA MOTO E 4G PENULTIMATE REVIEW SYNAPSE CIRCUIT

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
MOTOROLA MOTO E 4G LTE PENULTIMATE REVIEW
A REAL BUDGET 4G HANDSET?
PRICE: £89.99
Check online for best prices.


Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! As always it is great to see you! I hope that you are enjoying wonderful weather where you are! And I also hope that you are making the most of the tech available to you! What? You aren’t doing a project? C’mon! Get that website built for your hobby, school or whatever! Quit complaining about how bad music is today and make your own!

In the meantime if you are looking for a budget Android smartphone you could very well be in luck as I think I may have a solution for you! Read on!

#Motorola #Lenovo #Google #MotoE4GLTE #MotoESecondGeneration

THE SPEC
Operating system
Android™ 5.0 Lollipop

System Architecture / Processor
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 410 processor with 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU, Adreno 306 with 400 MHz GPU

Memory (RAM)
1GB

Storage (ROM)
8 GB*
Removable storage: Supports up to 32GB microSD card

Dimensions
Height: 129.9 mm
Width: 66.8 mm
Curve: 5.2 - 12.3 mm

Weight
145 grams (5.11 ounces)

Display
4.5" qHD 540 x 960 245 ppi IPS
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
Anti-smudge coating

Battery
2390 mAh
Mixed usage up to 24 hours**

Water Resistant Coating
Yes***

Networks
GSM / GPRS / EDGE, UMTS / HSPA, 4G LTE

Bands
GSM / GPRS / EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA (900, 2100 MHz)
4G LTE (1, 3, 7, 20)

Rear Camera
5 MP
f / 2.2 aperture
Quick Capture
Tap anywhere to capture
4X digital zoom
Slow motion video
Burst mode
Auto HDR
Panorama
Tap to focus

Front Camera
VGA

SIM Card
Micro-SIM

Connectivity
Micro USB, 3.5mm headset jack

Bluetooth® Technology
Bluetooth version 4.0 LE

Wi-Fi
802.11 b / g / n

Speakers
Earpiece, loudspeaker, 2-mic support

Video Capture
480p HD Video, 30 fps (MPEG4, H.264)

NFC
No

Location Services
GPS, AGPS, GLONASS

Sensors
Accelerometer (x2), Ambient Light, Proximity, Sensor Hub

Base Colour: Black or White
Removable Motorola Band

Motorola Bands: Golden Yellow, Turquoise, Blue, Raspberry, Purple, Red (sold separately)

Motorola Grip Shells: Yellow, Charcoal, Turquoise, Blue, Raspberry (sold separately)

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL:
PART 1

Thankfully the one thing that is reassuring with regards to the above specifications is that Intel is absent from CPU duty! I don’t know about you but the words “Intel inside” fill me with trepidation whether it’s a PC or mobile device because it has become very apparent to me that Intel is currently sailing on hype! One the PC the AMD FX octo-core CPU is as powerful – if not more so – than the Intel i7. On mobile devices Intel has so much competition – especially from Qualcomm – that is drowning out its (Intel) efforts. Intel, in my most humble opinion, seems to be overestimating its CPUs... The single-core 2 GHz CPU in the Motorola RAZRi (2012) was supposed to be powerful but has not stood the test of time... The Intel dual-core 1.6 GHz CPU within the ASUS Fonepad 7 LTE (2013) is not happening where the latest version of the Facebook app is concerned. However, the 2011 Samsung Galaxy S2 is able to handle the same latest Facebook app a whole lot more efficiently than the devices mentioned above. So much for yesterday’s premium handsets becoming today’s budget ones...

All that said above it is so comforting to know that the Motorola Moto E 4G LTE model features a quad-core 1.2 GHz CPU! You would have thought that the 1 GB of RAM wouldn’t be enough for demanding apps but I found that the combination of the quad-core CPU, 400 MHz GPU and 1 GB RAM has proven to be very, very satisfactory indeed. Again, using Facebook as a benchmark, I found that the Moto E 4G LTE is quite zippy! I now have a door stopper in the form of the Motorola RAZRi what with its sloping chin and a hi-tech coaster with the Fonepad 7 LTE that can hold two large mugs. Great! That’s evolution / progression for you! Somehow I don’t think that I will get any device with an Intel chip in it ever again!

Yes, I have to state it again that the performance of the Moto E 4G LTE is very, very pleasing! This brings me to...

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL:
PART 2

I have always warned you, my Dear Readers, to give sub £100 Android handsets the wide berth as they are 99.9% crap! What is a wonderful idea turns into a nightmare after key apps such as Facebook, G Plus, WhatsApp, etc has been updated the handset slows down to a crawl. You may as well use an old fashioned – by today’s standards – candybar phone – the ones that you can pick up for around £10 - £19 if you are looking for a cheap phone! The Huawei and ZTE sub £70 handsets appeared to be exceptionally good value but alas no...

I am so very, very pleased to tell you that this handset, the Moto E 4G LTE, is what I expect of a budget smartphone. It is fast, it can hold a good amount of apps on the 8 GB internal storage – I installed all my favourite apps and I still have 2.7 GB left to fill! For my pictures, video, music and other miscellaneous downloads I can make use of up to 32 GB of microSD card storage! There is a removable band surrounding the Moto E 4G LTE that conceals the Micro-SIM and microSD card slots on the left and on the right it covers up the power button and volume rocker. The band has a roughened texture not too dissimilar to a nail file and you can get them in different colours: Golden Yellow, Turquoise, Blue, Raspberry, Purple and Red (sold separately).

Although the Moto E 4G LTE is made of plastic there is no compromise where the build is concerned; it’s quite a thick, solid and robust compared to some of these premium dainty affairs. The Moto E 4G LTE is the kind of phone you can put in your front or back jean pocket and not worry too much – if at all – about breaking it by tying your shoelace of momentarily forgetting that it’s in your back pocket as you take a seat! I have to say that I do prefer a thicker phone! The 2390 mAh battery can last up to a couple of days on standby before it needs to be recharged. I think there is not much point in talking about the battery when used because you know for yourself that if you spend a long time on your phone listening to music, playing games, watching YouTube videos and so on the faster the battery will deplete. With moderate use I still had a good percentage of the battery left. Oh, the battery is non-removable!

The 4.5” 540 x 960 245 ppi IPS screen is quite good for a phone of its class... ...it’s in a class of its own as I’ve yet to see a similar handset with the same or similar price tag of £89.99 (that you actually want and can live with afterwards). I have been testing it in bright sunlight and with the brightness turned all the way up I can’t say that I was irritated by glare – especially when taking photos and videos! Using the camera is potentially where you will notice the presence of glare! It’s sunny and the opportunity to take a picture / video will present itself...

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL:
PART 3

I do LOVE and ENJOY taking pictures with my handsets so very much as I find it relaxing... I am happy to state that the 5MP camera on the Moto E 4G LTE is good. Naturally, you can’t expect the quality to be a good as what is found on the premium handsets but the Moto E 4G LTE is more than good enough for updating social network profiles. It has no flash and therefore relies on good lighting conditions for best results. Some pictures that I took at night weren’t a total disaster! It even has an HDR setting that I took advantage of! The video comes out as 720p HD and there is a setting for slow motion video!

In use I found that the camera was pretty fast in terms of finding the point of focus when launched and from there it is a matter of clicking on the screen and the photo is taken! There are those times where you think that you have the focal point in focus and you hit the screen to take the photo and the camera will do its best to adjust to make the photo sharp but it misses more than it hits. I found that the camera needs precision handling i.e. I found myself having to wait a little longer to focus before taking the shot and when photographing people they’d have to pose as it is not good for action shots. With HDR whether set to “on” or “auto” it’s game over for moving objects (as it is on most cameras) but even when trying to capture people and objects moving at a moderate pace the end results in a blur. That said the results from the camera aren’t bad at all! The video was surprisingly good in good to adequate lighting conditions. So, the Moto E 4G LTE may not be the camera you use for party / club and / or live performance situations.

The front-facing VGA camera is not going to be good for selfies... It’s just about reasonable for video calling... But what do you expect for under £100?

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL:
PART 4

Remarkably the Moto E 4G LTE runs Android 5, Lollipop 5.0.2 and it makes for a really enjoyable experience. I didn’t notice any lag in the operating system itself but there is a noticeable lag when it comes to launching CPU and RAM intensive apps... For example I would typically unlock the Moto E 4G LTE and launch the Facebook app which took about 3 to 4 seconds to fully launch. But once Facebook was up and running it was very, very quick to go from status to notifications, pages and so on... Once again I use Facebook as a benchmark because I find that it is a resource hungry application that will have underpowered devices struggling. If you use Facebook a lot then you will be relieved to know that it runs smoothly on the Moto E 4G LTE – Facebook was updated several times during the test period. And another point I am making is that if a device has to run a skin (manufacturer user interface) on top of Android it could prove to slow down the general operation of the handset. The Moto E 4G LTE is very much a vanilla experience with a few embellishments from Motorola baked in rather than resorting to yet another skin! Things like Moto Assist / Motorola Services is what pops up on the Moto E 4G LTE... ...it’s a little irritating at times and I guess I tend not to bother with these services as I am testing the handset for a short period. Preferably I would test a handset for up to 4 to 6 months as a lot can happen in that time i.e. system updates, making the Motorola Services a part of my life for the duration of a long term test to see if they make a difference to my lifestyle. In my test thus so far, a little over two weeks, it has been all good!

It very well could that the Moto E 4G LTE will get the Android M (Moon Pie) update which could be quite significant as Google have done a U-turn on external memory thus making it possible for apps to run from the microSD card.

LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT...
Google isn’t, as reported by lazy cheap headline grabbing media, abandoning Samsung as the prolific manufacturer has forgone the microSD card expansion on its latest Galaxy S6 & Edge handset. If that were true then you could say that Google is abandoning its own Nexus line which never had a microSD card expansion slot. You will find that a handset with 32 GB of onboard storage more than enough for the most prolific hardcore user! I still have about 23 GB left on my Nexus 6! I also opted for the 64 GB version of the Galaxy S6 Edge with plenty of storage to spare!

When the Galaxy Note 4, for example, gets the Android M update, in due course, owners are not going to try and install just about every app going on Google Play onto the microSD card! Seriously, how many of the same apps do you need? How many of you have all the free calling apps going? Anyway, what Android 6, M means is that budget handsets with a low internal storage capacity, such as the Moto E 4G LTE reviewed here, can benefit through the microSD extension (and allowing apps to run from it). The 8 GB Moto E 4G LTE becomes a 40 GB device (adding the highest external capacity of 32 GB).

I would imagine that Google will allow for a microSD card on the forthcoming Nexus range of devices later this year. And perhaps Samsung will return to the microSD card on its premium devices (it remains to be seen if the Galaxy Note 5 – scheduled for September – will retain the microSD card slot). If you have a premium handset with a minimum of 32 GB or even 16 GB I don’t think Android 6, M will mean a great deal to you in terms of the new microSD card embellishment / functionality.

DAY 2 DAY
Using the Moto E 4G LTE on a daily basis in the relatively short time I had with it I found it to be a very enjoyable experience.

To recap or encapsulate the Moto E 4G LTE experience... I felt totally at ease with it; I could place it in any pocket... I carry all 8 of my Android handsets around with me for various reasons that I won’t get into... Lol! To be able to slip the Moto E 4G LTE in a trouser pocket or shoulder bag was / is a boon because the Gorilla Glass 3 protection puts my mind at ease that it will not scratch or crack through everyday usage. In other words I found myself not being prissy with it.

Taking photos and shooting videos was a stress free process as the handset is nice and thick which makes handling very natural. I don’t need a flip-case to steady it for the purpose of using the camera like I do my premium babies! Lol!

The sound coming from the one speaker at the front is loud and not tinny; taking calls and playing Dead Trigger 2 was very pleasurable. The sound is crystal! I just wished that it featured stereo speakers like its Moto G cousin! There again I think adding an additional speaker would have increased the size a little which would have been pointless as the Moto G exists already. I immediately want to replace all my underperforming devices with this brilliant budget handset! Out goes the RAZRi, Fonepad 7 LTE (what was I thinking?) and HTC One X – potentially! I do need to replace these underperforming handsets soon! Could it be that I’ll get 3 Moto E 4G LTE devices? We’ll see...

RECOMMENDATIONS
I would not hesitate in recommending the Motorola Moto E 4G LTE as a main handset for young people. Sadly, society is revealing a very ugly side of itself of late and if I had a child or children going to school I would want him / her / them to have a handset so that I know where he or she or they are, if they are going to be off schedule and / or track them through location apps (if necessary). That’s just me as a would be parent.

For sure I would have it as a secondary (hee hee) or third handset (or even a tenth); it is inexpensive enough to purchase outright and therefore one could take out a SIM only contract.

I can also recommend it as an only handset for those who do not require the power of premium handsets; yes there are some people out there who don’t appreciate these powerful do-everything-but-make-coffee handsets. Some users just want to use social networking apps and aren’t too fussed about taking print quality photos that could appear in magazines (digital or printed) and / or get email on the fly.

THE SCORE
I do believe that the Motorola Moto E 4G LTE is worthy of the title “Budget Smartphone”. It performs very well on an all round basis. This is the first time in my testing career that I can say that I am “happy” with a sub £100 handset that is pretty much a smartphone. Some of these sub £100 handsets aren’t powerful enough be affixed with the word “smart”.

Think about it... What sub £100 smartphone you know of that is capable of running a game like Dead Trigger 2 without any discernible lag? I say “discernible” because I am not a game fan / player! I tend to use my handsets for work purposes or with the crappy ones I sometimes use as an MP3 player. I am not one of these reviewers that actively play games and scrutinize for game lag and / or dropped frames. I could, however, become a games addict thanks to the Moto E 4G LTE – it would help if I could prevent my game character from being killed off in seconds on the second level! Yeah, I suck at games. But with the Moto E 4G LTE I am a winner! 

The Motorola Moto E 4G LTE gets a well deserved Synapse Circuit Platinum! Awesome!

THE EYE OF THE MOTO E 4G LTE
Check out the results of the Moto E 4G LTE camera using the links below:-

Photo Slideshow (including HDR and some unfocused shots)

Video - Unaltered / unedited video from the Motorola Moto E 4G LTE

Slow Motion Video – This video was created using the Android app, CyberLinkPowerDirector on the Moto E 4G LTE

Thank you so much for reading Synapse Circuit!
Expect more reviews, news, opinions, competitions and more from Synapse Circuit!

Please check out the Synapse Circuit site here: SynapseCircuit.com