REVIEW: Moto E7 – Basic Essential Phone With Not-So-Basic Camera
Motorola is hitting the bang-for-buck arena at full-speed with a slew of newly launched mobile phones, with all models squarely aimed at the mid-tier market.
According to the brand, this is only the first lot of new releases to come for 2021, with the second half of the year potentially seeing some 5G action.
For now, the phones are still 4G but Motorola has been hard at work ensuring its latest offerings can keep pace with leading brands in the functions we hold most dear; the camera being a big one.
Motorola’s ‘E’ family of phones represents the entry level choice of the lineup, offering the most basic functions for a very affordable price. There’s the Moto E7 Power, whose main focus is on battery life, bolstered by an Octa-core processor, 32GB of storage and Google Assistant.
A step up from the Moto E7 Power is the Moto E7, which is what we’ve taken for a test drive here. This one prides itself on its camera and display, claiming to achieve image quality unheard of at its meagre price point of $199.
The big deal with this phone is its ability to capture images in various lighting, day or night, with its 48-megapixel dual camera system. There’s also a night vision mode that you can activate when you want to bring out details from a darkened scene.
If you’re shooting at night or there’s minimal light available, the camera’s sensor works in conjunction with quad pixel technology and light sensitivity that’s been improved x4 upon past models, so that photos turn out sharp and bright in any light.
Look and feel
So, for $199, let’s not go expecting sparkling crystal and futuristic metal. The Moto E7 does feel like what it is: a glass fronted IPS LCD screen, backed with plastic. This does make it a little lop-sided in the hand, with all the weight being entirely at the front (or top, depending on how it’s held).
The plastic caseback manages to look somewhat fancy with its faux-brushed-steel effect, but as soon as this hits the hand, its flimsiness is evident. Because of this, it does feel like the E7 would quite easily fall from your hand and land face-first, its glass front far outweighing the thin back.
Little details, like how prone this phone’s glass is to smears and fingerprints compared to high-end phones, is noticeable when you’re accustomed to those major brands. You can also tell the difference when viewing the screen in sunlight – the glare affects this phone far more easily than the more sophisticated screens that are built to combat high intensity light.
Performance and usability
The Moto E7 operates on Android 11 and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 662 with an Octa-core processor – enough to keep its head above water in the premium-tier pool.
Audio isn’t great but it isn’t bad either; visually, it processes and plays HD streaming video hitch-free and picture is fine. It’s not anything stunning in the way of graphics or video but at this price, it’s pleasing enough and does a better than basic job of functions that other budget-priced phones might trip over.
The E7’s drawcard, basically, is its camera, which is admittedly better than expected for a couple of greenbacks.
Motorola knows what the people want and wisely put its eggs into the camera basket. If there’s one thing that makes this phone a standout for being so cheap, it’s the 48-megapixel camera, capable of capturing subjects ten times closer than Motorola’s standard lens.
We tested the camera with a few snaps indoors and outside, in day and night conditions. Images overall are clear and detailed to the average eye but if you’re an enthusiast with a keen eye for detail and depth of field, you’ll spot the inadequacy fairly quickly. But then if you’re that keen on producing high-quality images, you probably wouldn’t be shopping in this end of the pricing spectrum.
Images captured using Night Mode are more brightly lit and detailed than expected of a dusky shot but they’re also somewhat reminiscent of when you fiddle with the edit settings, post-production style. Kind of like when you’ve whacked up the brightness level on a photo and then realise it’s starting to lose its authenticity, along with some detail that only natural shadowing can achieve.
There’s a plus for phones that may lack in the whizz-bang features department and that’s battery life. Motorola has made charge longevity a must for its phones, and the Moto E7 has powered on through a day and a half of social media scrolling, YouTube bingeing, video and photo capturing, and music streaming. That proves its claim of 36 hours of battery life.
Phones at the budget end of the scale make excellent companions for camping trips, multi-day events and travel – with no power-guzzling features to feed, the battery can kick on and on.
Let’s say you’re capping your spend but you don’t want it to look like you are. That’s where this phone shines. On the outside, it’s a good dupe for an expensive phone. Camera-wise, it can produce some clear and vivid shots, and record without much grain or blur. Just don’t study any of these things too closely though and you’ve got yourself a very good stand-in for a mega-brand model.
Motorola’s mission here was to provide premium camera functions to its most budget-friendly range. In the E7, it’s succeeded, as long as you keep expectations in check – it is, after all, an entry-level model and sacrifices will be made.
If you’re looking for a backup, temporary or travel phone and don’t want to sink money into an expensive smartphone, but you still need high-quality camera functionality, then this phone will do the job well without draining your wallet.