Moto E camera test: shooting on a shoestring budget


A 5MP fixed-focus camera with no flash, no stabilization, no front-facing selfie-shooting counterpart, and no fancy features to speak of.

Yes indeed, the Moto E camera is about as bare-bones as it gets. On Motorola’s specs page for the Moto E, where even the most minor features are called out in elaborate detail, the optics section is laughably spartan:

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.13.20 PM

Of course, such is life on the low end of the smartphone spectrum. We already have some guidance that’s helped set our expectations in this area: the Moto E’s Windows Phone-based competitor, the much-cheaper Lumia 520, went under our review microscope several months back, with Adam Z. Lein finding its 5MP shooter “usable.” The Moto G –the Moto E’s slightly pricier sibling– wasn’t far behind, but its camera didn’t enjoy so charitable a reviewer: Taylor Martin called the Moto G’s image quality, on both cameras, “laughable by today’s standards.”

Thanks for the visual aid, Taylor.

Thanks for the visual aid, Taylor.

But the Moto E is something different: an Android smartphone from a major manufacturer that sells for $129 unlocked. It was built not for nitpicking by tech ninnies, but for introducing the other 70% of the world’s mobile users to the power of smartphones. So while the question of “what can this camera do wrong?” is still valid for the purposes of our forthcoming review, we think the question “what can a $129 smartphone camera do well” is a much more interesting one.

moto e camera

To find out, we took the Moto E on a quick jaunt across Manhattan, testing its still and video performance as best we could in the short time we had before our train to Boston. We tried to cover various lighting scenarios, changing up the distance to our subjects as much as the camera’s fixed-focus lens would let us. Sometimes it worked out well; other times, not so much.

Enjoy the stills and the video reel from today’s experiment, as well as our Moto E hands-on if you missed it this morning. Then let us know down in the comments what you think of these pics, and what you most want Pocketnow to cover in our Moto E review!


Moto E camera samples


Moto E camera: video sample


Moto E hands-on and hardware tour

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About The Author
Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA. Read more about Michael Fisher!