Moto E Review

For dirt cheap, the Moto E is the phone that you might as well own, but its low price comes some major limitations. The Moto E is a budget smartphone in two variants. It is a lower end model than the Moto G (which itself is marketed as a low-end device). It is an extremely affordable phone, with bargain prices even off contract (for the Straighttalk model), and bundle deals on Tracfone.

Disambiguation - Model Code Chaos

The Moto E comes in several variants in the US and globally. The model reviewed here is the XT830c, which is sold in the US under Tracfone, Net10 and Straightalk (though they are not interchangable). There are also XT1020, XT1021, XT1022 and XT1025, which are slightly more powerful. And, new second generation models, XT1527, XT1511, and XT1505 which are a completely updated model of the same name.

The XT830c is the odd man out of the group. It has no announced upgrade to Android L (the XT10xx series does), and it has no custom rom community (Cyanogen for Moto E is only available on XT1020 series).

The specs

The Moto E (XT830c) features Android 4.4.4, 1.2ghz dual-core processor, 1gb ram, and 4.3” qHD display. Loaded with Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) the OS is very well polished and snappy. I had low expectations for the price, but honestly, for such a cheap device, it has been a surprisingly pain free experience. My apps run, Chrome browser works well, it places and receives calls, I don’t think I have had a single lock up, app crash, or issue. It has just turned out to be a good all around phone.

Fast enough and lots of features

It is fast enough, but with so little memory on board you have little wiggle room. An errant app could eat up your space in no time, leaving you scrambling - simply not a problem on most new phones. Following the tradition of many in the Motorola Droid series, the Moto E comes with an FM radio (usable only when headphones attached). (Why can’t someone make an onboard FM antenna?) The Gorilla Glass and qHD display make it feel like a polished, modern phone. The biggest hardware limitation I saw was the lack of front facing camera.


While the XT830c had the most recent software at time of release, it was pretty much abandoned at the gates as a too-cheap-to-bother-with model. It was left off Android L press releases (while the XT102X variants were included) and forum posts from Moto developers confirm that it will not be upgraded.

If you are going to be stuck on an Android version, 4.4.4 is not a bad release to be stuck on. And, the Moto E seems to handle everything well, with snappy app switching and good-enough all around performance.

Wrap up

If you are considering this phone because it is bundled with a desirable plan, then I would say go for it. It really is a great buy. If you have the option between the Moto E and Moto G and the price difference is not that great, I would say spend the extra on the Moto G. If you must have a moddable, upgradable phone, then unfortunately this is not the phone for you. The Tracfone model is available at Amazon.


Moto E (XT830c)
Reviewed by Cheapest Data Plan on
Great phone at a low price, but with some major limitations: no path Android L and no front camera.