back to article Motorola Moto E: Brill budget blower with one bothersome blunder

Motorola couldn't have asked for more from the affordable Moto G. It bumped the company’s UK smartphone market share from next to nothing to 6 per cent all by itself. For the first time in more than a decade, it gave European stores a Motorola device people actually wanted. Motorola Moto E budget Android smartphone Motorola …


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  1. Jim 48

    Front facing camera

    "The Moto E doesn’t have a front facing webcam, an omission that rendered me slack-jawed with surprise when I first noticed it. Initially, I assumed it was an oversight on the spec sheet."


    My eldest needs a new phone and I would have been all over the Moto E but this is a deal breaker. As it is I got a 16GB Moto G for £20 more and son-of-mine can have my Galaxy Nexus.

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: Front facing camera


      (some letters)

    2. Jim 48

      Re: Front facing camera

      A down-vote, really? I'd love to hear the chicken-shit excuse for down-voting a personal anecdote that backs up a statement by the reviewer.

      It must be the latest hipster must have (not); "hey, my phone is so cooool that it doesn't even have a front facing camera, other people photo _my_ beard"

      Some people seem to be so small minded that they can't imagine a scenario why they'd want to use something (x-ref; Facebook & Twitter articles) so they seem to feel they can slag off anybody who might be able to.

    3. Necronomnomnomicon

      Re: Front facing camera

      So the lack of a camera made you give them £20 more than you would have otherwise - I'd say that £2 saving in parts worked out quite well for Motorola!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Front facing camera

        Possibly a market for an attachment with two small mirrors that allow you to video conference using the rear camera?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Front facing camera

      What are you - a bunch of 12-year old girls? The last time I used the front cam on one of my phones was .... let me think .... NEVER.

      Oh wait - sorry - there was that time I had to apply eye liner and my compact mirror broke. NOT. Get a freaking life dudes.

    5. Lamont Cranston
      Thumb Up

      Re: Front facing camera

      For a phone priced such that it's likely that parents would buy one for their child, I'd say that Motorola are performing a valuable public service, if the absence of the front camera helps to stem the tide of duck-face selfies.

  2. jb99

    I don't see this as a problem.

    I use the back camera all the time but in the entire time I've owned a phone I've never one used the front camera. I have zero interest in taking "selfies" or video chats. I'd rather they didn't bother and made the phone £2 cheaper.

    I can't be the only one!

    1. eSeM

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Ditto, I have never used a front facing camera on a phone. I don't see this as a problem.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Ditto… I've owned two phones that were dual-camera jobbies: both Telstra-branded ZTE devices (T54 and a T81, the latter runs Android 4.0). The previous two I had before them didn't have cameras (Ericsson A1018S and a Nokia 3310).

      Not once on either of them have I used the front-facing camera. I do sometimes use the rear facing one, then regret it when I see the result. About the only thing I find the camera useful for is for a barcode scanner: particularly with my line of work programming the odd handheld computer/barcode scanner, it's useful to have a device to give you a second opinion on what a barcode says.

      As for taking photographs, yes, it can do it. Not well. I'm thinking a small compact camera might be a good investment for such tasks, it'll do a better job with less buggerising around.

      1. frank ly

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        When I got my Nexus 4, the first thing I did was put a matte protective sheet on the screen. I accidentally positioned it so that the edge of the sheet went over the front camera lens. This made my selfies look much better. I can recommend this process.

        1. HollyHopDrive

          Re: I don't see this as a problem.

          Its horses and courses but my kids love a bit of video chat if myself and/or the wife is away for a night or so. Bless the little blighters but it does provide them with comfort. So while it wouldn't bother me it would them. And while its not an essential feature its a daft one to miss out.

          Given this is the kind of thing I'd buy the kids (if they break it you don't get too anoyed at this price point) it does seem silly. My son has the original moto g and I'd be quite happy with the moto g myself (especially now its 4g) if I didn't have a nexus 5. The ssd slot gives it the leg up too imho.

          Still, probably for my mum and dad who don't give a toss it may be the way to go.

          Maybe its the E for the olds and the G for the yoof'.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: I don't see this as a problem.

            Nobody's mentioned the possibility of using a front-facing camera for sign-language. Given that they've skimped on the rear camera (if this one's worse than that on the G it must be awful) they could have put something very basic on the front for a quid or two extra. It's all marketing, isn't it?


            1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

              Re: I don't see this as a problem. (sign language)

              > Nobody's mentioned the possibility of using a front-facing camera for sign-language.

              Probably because it's a little daft? Why would you want to sign on a crappy camera, wobbly device held at arm's length so that you can actually see the signing hand, single-handed, possibly over a laggy/choppy connection when the same device can send perfectly legible text messages, and faster?

              1. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: Probably because it's a little daft?

                Yeah, stupid hearing impaired people. Why should they get to communicate in the way they choose? Surely anyone who can sign can write, it's not like they teach signing to kids. They should use texting and be grateful they're allowed to do that!!

                1. Eradicate all BB entrants

                  Re: Probably because it's a little daft?

                  I also found little need in the front camera until the other week. Some pesky little insect decided to crash land into my eyeball, with no mirrors around the front camera worked a treat at helping remove it.

                  As it saved me from walking around the high street acting like I had a hyperactive tic I for one will never get a phone without a front camera again.

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

                3. ElReg!comments!Pierre

                  Re: Sabroni: Probably because it's a little daft?

                  Ahem, sorry to interrupt a perfectly good fit of all-out whiteknightery, but signing on a mobile phone is a very specific issue; it is, as you surely know given you high-horse-powered rant, nearly infeasible witha hand-held device; the preferred way is to have a 2-parts device and put it upright on a table. That's because otherwise you can only sign single-handed, which is very limited and akin to typing (only much slower and much more prone to errors etc). As this here thing clearly can't stand on a table by itself, that's signing pretty much out the window already. But wait, there's more! Signing on a low-res, low-bandwidth device like a cameraphone is a nightmare EVEN if the device stands by itself on a table, because the video is low-res, often laggy and choppy. Signing is made feasible thanks to services that enhance specifically the head and hands regions of the video. Of course you have to check for support of these before buying... So, for deaf and hearing-impaired people the choice of a mobile phone is quite a bit more complicated than just grabbing the latest budget (or shiny) phone... complaining about the lack of front-camera for sign language on this phone is a bit like complaining about the lack of heliograph support.

      2. tk666

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        Well, Barcode scanning won't work here as the camera is fixed focus.....

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Al Taylor

          Bar code scanner

          Quite right, the fixed focus camera does indeed put the kibosh on scanning bar codes. I should have mentioned that in my review.

          1. James Hughes 1

            Unfuckingbeleivable some attitudes here

            There are many many many people out there who use video chat - I do when talking to other half and offspring when abroad. As other have said - just because you haven't got anyone to talk to, don't tar everyone with the billy no-mates brush.

            As for the photosnobtwats above. Whoopie fucking do. So you have a DSLR and take pictures with it. Do you have it on you ALL THE TIME? What about that compact - do you have that on you all the time? I expect not. Phone cameras are as good as many compacts nowadays anyway, and very useful for all sorts of thing that happen when you don't have the large DLSR or compact with you - you know, that accident you just had in your car or that chance meeting with Kylie etc etc.

            (I have a DSLR that I use for 'good' pictures when I have the time and capacity to carry it around, and a Nokia 808 for everything else. I take more pictures and video with the 808)

      4. billdehaan

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        Unless you're carrying around a Nokia Lumia 1020 or the like, it's pretty much a given that even the cheapest camera will outperform a cell phone camera. However, having a camera in the phone is beneficial, because unless you're a professional photographer or a camera buff, you'll often not have your camera on you.

        As the saying goes, "the picture you take with the camera you have on you is better than the better camera that's back home". Cell phone cameras are particularly useful for taking pictures of car accidents, altercations where it's legally useful to have proof of something, etc. In scenarios like that, things like colour separation or proper lighting aren't really a concern as much as just providing a photographic record of the event.

    3. Irongut

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Same here. I've owned every previous version of the Galaxy S (not got the S5 yet) but never taken a selfie or made a video call. The front camera is of no interest to me and for the majority of the customers this device is aimed at I bet most won't miss it.

    4. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      I've never used either camera on a phone. I own proper cameras that take proper photos (I'm kinda photonerdist, you see). For that reason IF I ever had to use a camera on a phone it would probably be for videochat not for lolcats, so it would be the front cam. But I'm not really into videochat, especially not on a tiny wobbly device. So, no problem for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        >> I've never used either camera on a phone. I own proper cameras that take proper photos (I'm kinda photonerdist, you see).

        Your photo-snobbery is preventing you from using a valuable tool that has many more uses than simply "taking pretty pictures."

        Let's see, when I park my car in a parking garage and need to remember where it is, I can take a picture of the nearby "Floor 5 Row J" sign much faster than I can type it in in my "notes" app. When I rent a car, it only takes a minute to take pictures of any damage (and the milage) before driving it off the lot... are you going to bother to get out your awkward "proper" camera to do the same? I can use my phone to take pictures of receipts or business cards that I want to throw away but *might* end up being important later. If I see anything that I want to follow up on in the real world (like a billboard, shop, interesting magazine article, poster for a movie, etc. etc. etc.) then I can take a picture of it in about ~4 seconds with my phone vs. >> 4 seconds to type a note to myself.

        So go ahead and keep taking pictures of sunsets and fruit and stuff with your proper camera while I use my camera phone to make my life easier several times per day.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Re: I don't see this as a problem.

          "Let's see, when I park my car in a parking garage and need to remember where it is, I can take a picture of the nearby "Floor 5 Row J" sign much faster than I can type it in in my "notes" app."

          For this I have the latest of tech. I believe they call it "brains". I'm told it will be available in the US anytime now...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        "I own proper cameras that take proper photos"

        I am with you there...I have a smallish Compact for snapshots, and a nice DSLR for real photos.. and the quality difference is amazing.. most people who take pictures with phones have never taken a photo with a dslr and really SEEN the difference...

        the thing is, I plug the camera into my phone to transfer the photos once taken, no need to carry my laptop anymore when out and about I can do 99% of things with my phone, freeing up 2-3kg in my luggage for more lenses :-D

    5. Lionel Baden

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Im guessing you've never used skype on your phone either.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      "I've never one used the front camera. I have zero interest in taking "selfies" or video chats"

      I've ever used the Bluetooth radio on my HTC One but I'd sure as shit expect the Reg to make an issue of it if a phone it was reviewing didn't have Bluetooth or did but it was piss-poor implementation.

      The "I don't personally use a feature so don't want it" argument is simply hubristic cock. As with several other posters here I often video Skype my better half when away from home. The E would have made a fine back-up device for either of us especially when out and about overseas, but as it is, no sale.

    7. jgarbo

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Exactly. Why would you want to look at someone during a phone conversation? Maybe during a conferenced business call to show products?? Long lost relative found in Africa??? Dunno. Never used mine.

      1. lotus49

        Re: I don't see this as a problem.

        You need to communicate with better looking people then.

        I use Skype and the front facing camera to talk to my wife and children on a regular basis and I rather like to be able to look at them. Whether they feel quite the same about looking at me may be another matter.

        I don't know what's got into the commentards today but this is a Luddite's convention. You may be stuck in the 1990s but most people are not and front-facing cameras are almost universal on smartphones these days because most people like and use them.

    8. MrXavia

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      Just because you don't use the feature, does not me others don't,

      sure when Google replaced talk with hangouts on android, they ruined their own video chat option on smart phones, but hey hangouts are 'hip' its not like you ever want to talk to a single person is it? or call them using google talk from your contacts right?? all that I could do easily before they changed it...

      anyway back to my point.. video chat is great when you away from your family, it lets you keep in contact with loved ones on a more personal level, such as reading a goodnight story to your children and letting them SEE you read it... A front facing camera is a must for me...

      Now if only google can sort out their damned hangouts so its more part of the phone than an annoying app....

    9. billdehaan

      Re: I don't see this as a problem.

      You aren't. Years ago, a friend got a then-new iPhone, and was marveling at all the new features it had. One was the front-facing camera, which was a Big Thing, apparently.

      I, with my two year old Nokia 5800, was left out in the cold for video conferencing on my 2.8" phone. Until I actually looked at my phone, and discovered that the 5800 *had* a front facing camera, which I'd been carrying around for about two years without knowing. Even knowing, I still never used the thing.

  3. Lazlo Woodbine

    Can't say I've ever had to use the front camera on any phone I've owned.

    In fact the lack of one is a bonus, as I won't have to put up with a full screen image of myself when I accidentally hit the swap camera button instead of the effects button.

    The lack of a decent rear camera & flash is a deal breaker however, which is a shame, as this would have made a very nice, inexpensive route back to android for my girlfriend, who doesn't like the Ebay & facebook apps on her Windows phone

  4. tsdadam

    Another one here

    Never used the front camera. If my facebook feed is anything to go by, there are some that would miss it, but I'm certainly not one of them.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Another one here

      I'd never used the front camera on my phone until recently, when I ended up having a video chat with my niece on her birthday.

      So while it's not a must have feature for me, I can start to see the attraction, if you have loved ones* who you'd like to see more often.

      * "ambivalent ones" doesn't really have the same ring does it

  5. returnmyjedi

    I used the front facing camera on my phone for the first time the other day and it was extremely useful in locating the bit of spinach that had lodged itself in my upper incisors.

    So if you like food that is fond of getting stuck in your teeth, pay the extra few coin and get the G.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "pay the extra few coin and get the G."

      +1 .

      The Moto G is nigh on the best bang for buck in the smartphone world. Not only is it very capable, it is pretty resilient, judging by the lack of marks after being in a pocket with keys and money, too. I can forgive the fixed battery, which is not to bad to do anyway, but if they had included the microSD then it would have attained "Elite" status, as opposed to just "Deadly".

    2. jgarbo

      Stuck food

      "food...getting stuck in your teeth..." For that task I employ my tongue. Or does your phone also have a tooth pick?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm with the author on this - I don't use the webcam on my S4 all that often, really only on my occasional overseas business trips so I can see the kids on Skype, but like a condom I'd rather have one and not need it than the other way around. And as he points out, how much would a basic front facing cam have added to the cost? Very little I suspect.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: webcam

      Me too. I almost never use the larger camera at the back*, but I use the webcam whenever I'm away for business. No webcam means no sale for me.

      *I'm not into to taking photos of my dinner at restaurants.

  7. Jamie Kitson

    Buzzfeed Subheading

    What's with the Buzzfeed Subheading?

    > Cheap'n'cheerful Android phone – but which one thing drove Reg man mad

    You won't BELIEVE what happened next.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Buzzfeed Subheading

      Haters gonna hate.


  8. Ambivalous Crowboard

    "but which one thing drove Reg man mad"

    What is this, viralnova?

  9. Tsung

    No Front Camera, not a deal breaker!

    Just buy a mirror!

  10. JDX Gold badge

    I'm not sure video-calling is that widely used even on top-end phones,,, by which I mean there is certainly a big market segment of people who don't use this and would buy a phone without the capability.

    As for selfies (ugh) it's not that hard to take a photo of oneself surely?

  11. Alan Denman

    and the iMessageWall does not like outsiders. ...

    so what about the webCam?

    It is called choice.

  12. Thomas 6


    This is the beauty of Android though. There is choice.

    If you want a front facing camera, don't buy this phone and get one that does - Moto G? You can't expect a low-budget phone to have all of the features of a high end phone. You do get to pick which features are important to you though.

    The only issue I have is how much knowledge the customer has up-front. As a front-facing camera is pretty much the norm, I would expect it to be on all phones unless told otherwise.

    I was caught out with this by the Nexus range's lack of FM radio (it is an obsolete technology apparently, albeit one that is infinitely preferable to internet radio outside of major cities and / or any place where more than 2 people congregate). It wasn't enough to stop me going back for another one but I would have felt better knowing in advance (I know I should have read the specs more carefully but it is easier to spot the things that are there than the things that are not).

  13. PaulR79

    Fantastic value for money

    The lack of front facing camera wouldn't bother me in the least. I distinctly remember being very happy that the T-Mobile G1 had no front facing camera and I don't use them anyway so it is no deal breaker to me. I'm sure I'll be in the minority but there are a lot of people that hate them being there and wouldn't mind a phone without them.

  14. A Butler

    Reg criticising Android gear - camera must be AWFUL

    A first the reg criticising Android gear, we can only assume the Camera must be so shockingly bad a review without mentioning it would not be credible journalism, or else it would be glossed over....

  15. Barry Rueger

    Move Prices Out Of The Stratosphere.

    When I started shopping for a new smartphone last month I had two specific goals: to pay something like $250 CDN, and to buy it outright without giving more money to our greedy wireless service provider. I absolutely refuse to spend the better part of a thousand bucks on something that will likely last me no more than 1 1/2 to 2 years.

    The Nexus 5 was the number one contender, and the Moto G would have been if I could buy it directly in Canada instead of handing money to Bell or Telus.

    As it turned out I got a good deal on a Blackberry Z10, which I'm liking an awful lot. The final deciding factor was a presumed likelihood that the BB would be good for writing e-mails and text messages, and generally being used for text communications as well as voice.

    And it is - the predictive text is amazing - much better than what I've had in ICS or even Jellybean.

    Ultimately though this story makes me happy - the Moto E is another phone that is more than adequate for most people, and priced sensibly. That will tend to force down prices from other manufacturers, and will encourage people to just buy a phone instead of locking into some wireless company's two year plan in order to get it for "free."

  16. heyrick Silver badge

    Retarded camera

    While not wishing to get into the debate about whether or not a front-facing camera is necessary, I note that the rear camera cannot do HD video, cannot autofocus... What is this, 2008?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Retarded camera

      Why do you need to shoot HD video, especially on a device that's going to be shaking around in your hand? All you'd end up with is really crap, poorly lit/coloured video, with awful sound quality, in HD.

  17. Grubby

    Perfect for me

    I have a moto g having previously had a £600 iPhone and the £500 xPeria Z. I have worked in the mobile phone industry for about 10 years and this is the best phone I've had. It doesn't claim to be the best thing in the world like the other 2, it know's it isn't waterproof and it isn't shatter proof (and neither are the Xperias despite their many claims); it's not a 'cool' gadget that all the hipsters will be looking at and thinking wow you are 'so. coo.' like the appled or samsung devices. It's just a phone, with a few nice features.

    There probably isn't room for a third device to split the existing moto phones, for the sake of £20 or £30 people will always be drawn to the one with better spec.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perfect for me

      "it know's it isn't waterproof"

      Au Contraire...

  18. polandro

    52 comments? Pick a card, any card...

    ...omg, don't buy it if you need a front camera, eh?

    1. A Butler

      Re: 52 comments? Pick a card, any card...

      Or any kind of decent camera..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 52 comments? Pick a card, any card...

        If you need a decent camera, buy a decent camera. Simple.

        They're small enough these days you can easily fit one in your pocket with your phone. And you'll be able to start snapping pictures faster than you'll get the camera app on any camera-equipped phone. As a bonus they'll generally look better too.

        Really they just need a camera that can talk to a smartphone over Bluetooth/Wifi with a suitable app to receive it. Then the phone can do what it does well: cellular comms, and the camera can do what it does well: taking pictures.

  19. maheshmehta

    I will go for it... because the phone is pretty awesome and as far the budget is concerned most of them would go for it...

  20. willi0000000

    one thing i noticed that was not in the article and i wonder if the omission was intended.

    how well does it work as a phone?

    1. Dabooka


      "To wrap on a more important note, I experienced no problems with call quality or signal reception, both of which proved well up to snuff."

  21. Dabooka

    Blimey, talk about escalating quickly....

    It's straight forward isn't it, if you need a forward camera FOR WHATEVER REASON don't buy it. If you don't need one, then it might make your short list. The lack of it is as significant as the lack of 4G in my mind; it is what it is and it does what it does.

    I don't understand the baiting of those who do need it, anymore than I grasp the need of those that do in bashing the handset for lacking one.


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