Motorola is the first brand that comes to mind when I think of my mobile experience. I have been an owner of Razr, original Moto X, and even a BlackBerry like EX115 in the past. When Motorola decided to shut shop and then announced a turnaround in the form of Moto X series in 2013, I didn’t think once before buying the device on Flipkart.
Motorola’s Moto X packed very modest specs, a plastic body and near stock Android software. It was a Nexus sans the branding. The Moto X basically managed to bind software and hardware well together. Motorola immediately followed up with its Moto G and Moto E series. Moto G series still happens to be the best smartphone one can buy under the Rs 15,000 category and with Moto E, the company went super budget.
The budget smartphone space is heating up with Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3s setting a benchmark. Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, hesitated from bringing e3 to India, but now it arrives in the form of Moto e3 power. Here is our first impressions of the super budget offering from Motorola
Design and Display: Moto e3 Power follows the design language first seen on Moto G4 and G4 Plus. The front is very much a standard affair. There is a 5-inch display placed between and the earpiece and speaker. The earpiece and speaker grills are narrower than before, and they don’t hide stereo speakers, which is a letdown for me. We are looking at a budget smartphone so it skips on the fingerprint scanner seen on Moto G4 Plus.
The Moto e3 Power is the sibling G4 and G4 Plus needed for quite sometime. Moto e3 Power is more curvier than its predecessor, and thus easy to hold. The plastic back is textured which feels reassuring, and the Moto logo sits right in the middle, exactly where your forefinger would rest when you hold the device. The back is removable, and battery is user replaceable, which is rare among modern smartphones. It would be apt to say Moto e3 brings modernness to the original design language of Moto series.
Moto e3 Power features volume rocker and power button at the right, a microUSB port at the bottom and yes, headphone jack at the top. The headphone jack is again placed right in the centre of the upper curved part of the phone. The power button again has been textured like HTC One A9 which makes it easier to differentiate from the volume rocker.
Moto e3 features a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. The display is neither sharp nor extremely bright, but it is significant improvement over the qHD (960 x 540 pixels) display found on Moto E2. The display works well under direct sunlight thanks to superior auto-brightness feature working under the hood. The display is also decent for watching YouTube, but I felt some of Lenovo’s Vibe series offerings better Moto e3 Power in this department.
Processor, Memory and Battery: Moto e3 Power, as the name implies is a version of e3 that brings improvements to Moto E2 in every aspect. While Moto E2 was powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 series chipset, the Moto e3 Power gets the guts of a MediaTek processor. During my time using the device, I didn’t find any noticeable difference in terms of speed or performance. The MediaTek chipset coupled with 2GB RAM offers very smooth user experience. The phone is priced at Rs 7,999 and will be a Flipkart exclusive.
Most of average usage like accessing Facebook, messaging on WhatsApp or Messenger work smooth. However, I observed the frame rates drop significantly while playing Asphalt 8: Airbone, which is a demanding game. Moto e3 Power is ideal for people who use their smartphone primarily for chatting, browsing the web, reading news and most importantly staying updated and with MediaTek chipset, all of that is easily accomplished.
So what sets Moto e3 Power apart from e3? Well the answer is memory and battery. Moto e3 offers more memory and a significantly larger 3,500mAh battery. I got two full days of normal use on this battery. The low duty processor, low resolution display mean that there is not much battery drained by the device. The best part here is Motorola’s near stock Android UI (more on that later) which consumes less battery than other forked Androids.
Camera: If there is an area where Motorola needs to learn a great deal from its competitors then it has be camera. Motorola, even in 2016, feels like a laggard in the smartphone camera world. With Moto e3 Power, we get a very basic camera that delivers in broad daylight and while the software doesn’t oversaturate colours like Samsung or Lenovo phones, it also ends being muted at times.
I observed HDR mode delivers significantly better pictures in dimly lit environment, but I would advice not to use this one for night photography. The camera is also not quick, there is a noticeable shutter lag which I have come to expect from all smartphones in this price range.
The bright picture here is the new 5MP front camera. The second generation Moto E had a very basic VGA front camera. I still remember VGA cam
era was default almost 10 years back and not in 2015. So that is highly welcome. The new 5MP front camera also delivers nice selfies compared to its predecessor. If selfie is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed here.
OS: If you are going to love something about Moto e3 Power, then it will be its software. Moto e3 Power runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow (yeah, no Nougat) with near stock Android experience. The smartphone came with June security patch, which definitely needs an update. The device is extremely smooth to use and I never once faced an issue where the launcher stopped or an app crashed.
Motorola really knows how to make a balanced software and e3 Power could get a taste of Android 7.0 Nougat too.
Conclusion: Moto e3 Power is a great budget smartphone, one that offers excellent battery life and fluid performance. The biggest problem for me is the approach adopted by Motorola lately. Motorola was never known for offering multiple device in a single series. With new parent company, Motorola is following other smartphone brands to offer multiple option under one umbrella.
Also with Vibe series, Lenovo has brought some of the goodness of Motorola to its own platform and Motorola seems to be fading away. If all you need a zero gimmick budget smartphone, this is where your money should be.