Reviews

Moto E7 review: budget, but good

Motorola unveiled their latest G and E series phones earlier this month. The new range addresses use cases for customers, with the Moto E series offering entry level features for an affordable price. 

The Moto E7 power launches with a focus on power with a 5,000mAh battery, while the Moto E7 still has good battery life, but prioritises the camera.

There’s a $40 price difference between the Moto E7 ($199) and Moto E7 Power ($159), and it nets you some decent updates including double the RAM and on-board storage, and almost quadruple the MP count on the main camera, while still including an impressively large 4,000mAh battery.

Motorola sent over the E7 for us to check out and I’ve been using it for 2 weeks, here’s how it went.

Hardware and Design

It’s a pretty basic design for the Moto E7, there’s a simple polycarbonate body melded with a big 6.5-inch ‘MaxVision’ display. The plastic rear, coloured in ‘Mineral Grey’, has a brushed metal-like texture which won’t show up fingerprints, and should protect the phone decently if it lands on the back.

While the rear won’t show fingerprints, the screen will. That said though, it is a nice big IPS LCD panel with a HD+ (1600×720) resolution in a 20:9 aspect ratio which is great for watching video. It’s not quite as bright as some of the higher end models around, and struggles a little in the bright daylight, but it works. 

There’s not a lot of protection, either in terms of a free TPU case in the box, or for IP rating. Motorola says the phone is ‘Water repellent’ but there’s no qualification beyond ‘Never let spills or splashes get in your way. Whether going out for a drink or getting caught in a little rain, a water-repellent design keeps moto e7 protected inside and out‘. It’s a good start, but I prefer to know for certain what conditions I should be worried about.

There’s also no Gorilla Glass on the display, so you may want to factor in a screen protector – or be very careful.

As far as the rest of the design goes, you get the usual volume rocker and power button on the right, with a Google Assistant shortcut key on the left hand side. There’s a USB-C connector on the bottom, and a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top.

The headphone jack is still worth having for a lot of people, and it works pretty well which is good because the speaker setup on the phone is pretty poor. It’s an underpowered speaker, and prone to distortion.

Performance

Under the hood, Motorola are using a MediaTek Helio G25 processor, with 4GB RAM and 64GB of on-board storage (with microSD card support up to 512GB). 

While MediaTek aren’t the flagship vendor for CPUs, they do a respectable job and for the most part that’s the story of the Moto E7. It chugs along just getting through what you need without a lot of fanfare. That said there are times when the CPU seems under-powered, with the phone locking up to the point of not responding for a few seconds. 

The MediaTek Helio G25 also only supports 4G, but does a decent job on the speeds with the hotspot on though it can seem slower when surfing the web or checking apps. 

The MediaTek platform is fairly good overall, and the only thing I have to note is the lack of NFC which is a hassle when purchasing at stores that prefer Tap & Pay to cash in this new world defined by COVID-19. 

Battery

The past few generations of Moto phones have included an impressively solid, one to two day battery life. The Moto E7 is no different, easily getting through a day, and stretching into a second, sometimes with ease – dependent on your use.

I was able to eke out a fairly solid life on the Moto E7 averaging from 5-7 hours of screen on time, though if you want more you’ll lessen the overall life. 

The Moto E7 is rated for 5W of charging (with a 10W charger in the box) – as you’d expect, the charge times from this aren’t impressive. The phone takes around an hour and a half to 2 hours to charge fully. There is of course no wireless charging offered on the Moto E7. 

One finicky part of charging is that the phone has a limitation on charging. I plugged in the 18W Pixel charger I normally use and it wouldn’t charge, nor would a number of others. I do recommend using the charger that comes with your phone, but it’s frustrating to not be able to use existing USB-C chargers.

Camera

Of course the big question in phone reviews is ‘How is the camera’ and the answer with the Moto E7 is that it has a camera. On paper, the Moto E7 has a dual-camera setup on the rear with a 48 MP sensor with Quad Pixel technology and 2MP macro camera included as well as a single LED flash, and on the front you get an 8MP selfie cam slotted into a teardrop notch in the display.

The 48MP sensor – you get a 12MP final shot thanks to pixel binning – works fairly well if you have the time to wait for focus to snap-in, and you have decent light. It’s not perfect, but in the right light, and with some time you can get a pretty good shot that’s going to look great on your Insta.

There is a night mode but the results are fairly average. It’s really the same story as the main camera, take your time and you get a decent low-light shot with some AI brightening. There are some focus issues with low-light under some conditions though as you see below.

The selfie camera is great for a quick shot, and again, if you have time to wait for focus it can be a decent shot. The low-light performance is not exactly ideal though.

The Motorola camera software is quite basic and straightforward with settings like HDR easy to access.

Software

For some time Motorola has been a leader in terms of software with the ‘MyUX’ overlay placed over Android a clean, user friendly update to Android adding in all manner of improvements like their gesture support. 

The Moto E7 continues the clean Motorola software tradition with another clean build offering Android 10 with the January 5th security patch out of the box.

Motorola will be updating the E7 with security updates, but it is late April and there’s no security update as yet. There’s alsod no word on an Android 11 update – though Motorola advised they would offer 2 years of updates (Security and feature). 

There’s not a lot to mention about the Motorola MyUX skin, it has a minimal software load with no bloatware – including no sign of the Moto app which usually comes pre-installed. 

The gestures (chop to launch flashlight, double-twist to launch camera) and things like Peek display are useful. There’s some tweaks to the launcher for selecting widgets, background etc. but overall it’s clean and works well. 

That Motorola uses such a clean Android build benefits the performance of the phone overall, and with a MediaTek processor on board it definitely makes a difference.

Should you buy it?

The Moto E7 is a decent buy for entry level smart phone phone buyers, offering a decent platform for a very good price. 

There are occasional rough spots on the Moto E7 with 4GB of RAM which can be annoying and there are compromises in sound, camera and charging, and the lack of NFC but they’re not showstoppers. The battery life on the Moto E7 is a big plus though and you can work with the camera to get a decent result.

When it comes down to it, the Moto E7 is where an entry level smartphone buyer should be looking in the Motorola range. It’s a great device to transition from a feature phone to a smartphone with a decently long battery life.

The Moto E7 is available now in Mineral Gray and you can check it out at JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Mobileciti, Big W and the Motorola online store

Moto E7 review: budget, but good
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