Google announced three Android One phones on Monday. The devices look a lot similar to the Moto E sold by Motorola, which incidentally is a Google-owned company. In fact, the Moto E is the toughest competitor that Android One phones face. Well, actually, it is Xiaomi RedMi 1S, but fortunately for Google and its hardware partners, the Chinese phone is so difficult to get due to low-supply-high-demand-flash-sale system that we can safely discount it at this moment.
So, back to the main question - the Moto E or an Android One phone?
All three Android One phones have similar hardware and software so we can pit any of them against the Moto E. We will answer this question in detail in our review of Android One phones but if you are looking for a quick comparison, read on.
Looks are subjective but in our opinion all three Android One phones look as good as Moto E, if not better. The build quality too is good. The quality of plastic used in the construction of the Android One phones doesn't feel cheap considering their price and the finishing looks flawless.
The rounded edges and curved back cover makes the Moto E feel little better in hand but the difference is minor.
However, one aspect where the Moto E scores is the glass on top of the screen. The Moto E uses tough Gorilla glass while the Android One phones are probably using cheaper and less dense glass. The Moto E is also water resistant, and that is always a handy feature in a device considering how close we keep our smartphones.
Verdict: Moto E
In terms of colour fidelity, the screens in the Moto E the Android One phones are similar. But the viewing angles are noticeably better on the Motorola phone. It also has higher resolution screen - 960 x 540 pixels compared to 854 x 480 pixels on the Android One phones. Given that Moto E has a 4.3-inch screen compared to 4.5-inch on an Android One phone, the pixel density is much higher on the Motorola phone. This makes it sharper and text and images look better on it.
Verdict: Moto E
The Moto E and the Android Phones each have a 5-megapixel rear camera. The camera is a weak point of the Moto E and while we have yet tested an Android One phone, we don't expect it to lose to Moto E in camera performance. At the same time, we are also not sure if it will best the Moto E.
Core hardware and performance
The hardware in an Android One phone and the Moto E is similar except the processor. The Moto E uses a Qualcomm dual-core processor running at 1.3GHz while an Android One phone is powered by a Mediatek quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz. Both devices have 1GB Ram, 4GB internal storage and support for microSD card.
Theoretically, we expect an Android One phone to be slightly faster compared to the Moto E. But in actual use, we don't feel a user will find much difference. We used the Android One phones briefly and they seemed as fast as the Moto E, if not more.
Based on the fact that the Moto E has a bigger battery - 1980mAh compared to 1700mAh in an Android one phone -- we expect it to have better battery life. Also, we feel that the Qualcomm processor used in the Moto E is more power-efficient compared to the Mediatek one in an Android One phone.
Verdict: Moto E
Android One phones run on the KitKat aka Android 4.4.4. So does the Moto E. And in both it is mostly unmodified version of Android. In terms of customisation, the only additions you will find are some extra apps.
One difference between the software is that in future Google will update the Android One phones to Android L. But in the case of the Moto E, updates will come from Motorola. That is if the update for the Moto E is available at all because so far Motorola is yet to confirm whether Moto E will get the Android L or not. Though for now, let's give benefit of doubt to Motorola and assume that the update will come.
What we recommend
Assuming that Moto E will get the Android L update, we feel it is a better deal than the Android One phones. Though we must add that, at least on paper, the Android One phones also look pretty nice for their price. However, what clinches the deal in favour of Moto E is its better build quality (Gorilla Glass screen, water-resistant coating) and a slightly better screen. It costs several hundred rupees more than the Android One phones, but we feel it might be worth spending that much extra on the Motorola phone.