Moto G Fast vs. Moto E: Here’s which sub-$200 Motorola phone to buy

Moto G Fast vs. Moto E: Here’s which sub-$200 Motorola phone to buy


Though Motorola has a few choice premium phones, like the foldable Razr phone and the 5G-enabled Edge Plus, the phone maker is mostly known for its affordable, well-made handsets. Case in point, its $300 Moto G Stylus and excellent $250 Moto G Power, which were released earlier this year. But there are two more, even cheaper new phones under Motorola’s belt, the $200 Moto G Fast and the new Moto E, which repackages some of last year’s tech from the fabulous Moto G7 into a new body that costs $150.

Both phones are solid options if your budget is under $200 and you’ll likely be able to buy them for even less given that Moto G and E phones are usually discounted or bundled with a contract from carriers with a digital rebate. Currently, you can buy either phone from Best Buy and receive $50 off the price when you activate it on AT&T, Verizon or Sprint. And $50 really changes things because that means you can snag a Moto G Fast for $150, which is simply an amazing deal, or get the Moto E for just $100 — a great price that seems too hard to believe for the phone you’re getting.

Between the two, the Moto G Fast is better in pretty much every way and that would be the phone I’d choose to buy. But here’s the wrinkle, Motorola’s more expensive budget phones also get discounted. That means you might find the Moto G Stylus for $200 or get the Moto G Power for $150. Both the Stylus and Power represent a much better value at those discounted prices than the Moto G Fast or Moto E.

Patrick Holland/CNET

From its solid build and striking iridescent white and chrome looks, the Moto G Fast doesn’t seem like it would cost $200. That’s because it largely has many of the features of the more expensive Moto G Power, like a 6.4-inch hole-punch display, a triple-rear camera array, a Snapdragon 665 processor, Android 10 and all of Moto’s clever software shortcuts like twisting your wrist to open the camera.

But with the phone’s low price, it does make some sacrifices. The Moto G Fast has a smaller battery than the Moto G Power, as well as less RAM and half the storage. The screen has a lower 720p resolution. These compromises aren’t exactly negatives when you consider the price and I’d still pick it over the new Moto E.

Read more.

Motorola Moto E

A Moto G7 in a new shell

Patrick Holland/CNET

Though it’s not as good as the Moto G Fast, I still like this device and it’s Motorola’s most affordable option. It blends old features, like a teardrop notch display and last year’s Snapdragon 632 processor, but with a modern, sleek body and Android 10, so you’re not necessarily getting an obsolete phone.

On the back there are two cameras that include a 13-megapixel main shooter and a 2-megapixel depth camera for portrait mode photos. Curiously, instead of a USB-C port it has a Micro-USB port. Don’t worry, I checked and it’s still 2020.

How we tested






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Moto G Fast vs. Moto E: Sub-$200 phone battle





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Design: The Moto G Fast has a ‘better’ screen albeit with a low resolution

Both phones have a 720p resolution LCD screen, which in 2020 is pretty low. In use, the displays look just OK. Text often looks a touch soft and you can even see the pixels that make up app icons and animations. I should clarify that these displays aren’t bad or unusable, but it’s definitely one area where you get what you pay for. I do miss the higher resolution screens on the Moto G Stylus and G Power.

The screen on the Moto G Fast has better color accuracy and is much brighter than the Moto E’s display. The hole-punch camera on the Moto G Fast’s screen looks incredibly premium compared to the water drop notch on the Moto E, too. 

motoroloa-moto-g-fast-and-moto-e-3

The Moto G Fast looks sporty in its white iridescent finish. The Moto E goes for a more business casual look with its navy blue color.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Both phones come with 32GB and support expandable storage via a microSD card, which you might need to use seeing as I easily filled my review units with photos and videos during the couple of weeks I had the phones.

There’s a fingerprint reader on the back of both phones, which works excellently and each phone has a rating of IP52 for water-and dust-resistance that protects against splashes and light rain.

Unfortunately, both phones have a single bottom speaker and they sound OK at best. When watching YouTube videos or playing games, I found it very easy to cover it up with my hand and muffle the speaker. On the upside though, both have a headphone jack.

Winner: The Moto G Fast has a better screen, even if it’s not the best screen on a budget phone.

Motorola Moto G Fast and Moto E

The Moto G Fast has three rear cameras while the Moto E has a main rear camera and a depth camera for portrait mode photos.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The Moto G Fast has three rear cameras

Probably the biggest difference between the phones are the cameras. The Moto G Fast inherits its triple-camera array from the Moto G Power. In bright conditions, photos are good, but pictures taken indoors or in low light look soft and suffer from image noise. Ultrawide-angle photos have decent image quality but are a “pinch of salt” too soft. The macro camera is a blast and can be used for photos and videos. That said, I just don’t know if this is more of a novelty or a nice-to-have feature. Oh, and you need a lot of even light when using it because the macro camera is easily susceptible to image noise.

Motorola Moto G Fast

This was captured with the Moto G Fast in HDR. Notice the detail in Cheddar the cat’s fur and how the highlights in his white fur aren’t blown out.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola Moto G Fast

The ultrawide-angle camera can produce some dramatic pictures even if details are the sharpest.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola Moto G Fast

Here is a macro photo of a key that I took with the Moto G Fast. Macro shots need a lot of even bright light otherwise they suffer from a lot of image noise.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola Moto G Fast

A photo from the Moto G Fast with soft morning light coming in from the left side of the photo.


Patrick Holland/CNET

And as far as video, the Moto G Fast can shoot 4K. Take a look at the video below.

On the front of the Moto G Fast is an 8-megapixel camera which shoots 1080p video. I used the camera in a few video chats including Zoom and it was fine.

Motorola Moto G Fast

When beauty mode is turned off, selfie photos from the Moto G Fast can be good. That said, it has a limited dynamic range. Look at the blown-out highlights on my coffee mug.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The Moto E has two rear cameras, though you’ll only really capture photos with the 13-megapixel main camera because the 2-megapixel depth camera only helps with portrait mode photos. Generally, the Moto E doesn’t capture as much detail as the Moto G Fast, but I like the punchy contrast and colors it produces even if its dynamic range is limited.

Motorola Moto E

I am genuinely surprised by the photos I can capture with the Moto E. They have nice color and contrast.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola Moto E

This shot has great colors and a punchy contrast; however, it also shows the Moto E’s camera pushed to its max. Notice the image noise in the sky and the vignetting around the corners of the photo.


Patrick Holland/CNET

One bright point on both phones is that they are excellent at taking portrait mode photos. It’s really nice to see how refined the effect is and that it works on both the front and rear-facing cameras.

Motorola Moto E

Sorry for all the photos of myself, but it’s a consequence of the times we’re living in. This is a portrait mode photo taken with the Moto E’s rear camera.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola Moto E

A portrait mode photo from the Moto E of Cheddar the cat.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Winner: At its price, it’s amazing that the Moto G Fast has an ultra-wide camera, a macro camera and 4K video. (Though, if cameras are important to you, you’re best to pay nearly twice the price to get a Google Pixel 3A or iPhone SE which have much better camera systems all around.)

The Moto G Fast is faster and has a longer-lasting battery

Both run a nearly-stock version of Android 10 and include Motorola’s fun and helpful gesture shortcuts like doing a double-karate chop to turn on the flashlight. Motorola is committed to one major OS update with the phones and two years of bimonthly security updates. That’s really important since Apple keeps older phones updated with software and security updates for four to five years. Because of this, a phone like the iPhone SE costs twice as much as the Moto G Fast but will mostly likely last you twice as long. Nevertheless, it’s good that Motorola has plans to keep both phones relatively updated.

The Moto G Fast comes with 3GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 665 processor, while the Moto E just has 2GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 632 processor. Keep in mind the Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power both come with 4GB of RAM.

When it comes to opening apps, using Google Assistant and editing photos, the Moto G Fast feels slightly peppier. When I had multiple apps open and running in the background on the Moto E, it became laggy. Not horribly so, but I wonder what this means in, say, a year or so and how it will handle newer versions of apps as well as Android 11.

I played games like Alto’s Odyssey and PUBG just fine on both phones, but when I played Asphalt 9 on the Moto E, the phone immediately got hot. However when it came to performance tests, the Moto G Fast unsurprisingly scored the same as the Moto G Power, while the Moto E scored the same as the Moto G7 and better than the new Samsung Galaxy A01. See below for test results.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Battery wise, the Moto G Fast has a 4,000-mAh battery and it had no problem making it through a day. At the end of two days the battery was down to 11%. The Moto E has a 3,550-mAh battery. It made it through a day no problem, but I found myself having to charge it midway through the second day.

Winner: With a faster processor and bigger battery, the Moto G Fast is the clear winner.

Motorola Moto E specs vs. Samsung Galaxy A01, Moto G Fast, Moto G Power, Moto G Stylus

Moto E Samsung Galaxy A01 Moto G Fast Moto G Power Moto G Stylus
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch LCD; 1,520×720 pixels 5.7-inch LCD; 1,520×720 pixels 6.4-inch LCD; 1,560×720 pixels 6.4-inch LCD; 2,300×1,080 pixels 6.4-inch LCD; 2,300×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 271ppi 295ppi 268ppi 399ppi 399ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.29 x 3.01 x 0.34 in 5.81 x 2.79 x 0.33 in 6.37 x 2.98 x 0.36 in 6.29 x 2.98 x 0.38 in 6.24 x 2.98 x 0.36 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 159.77 x 76.56 x 8.65 mm 147.5 x 70.9 x 8.3 mm 161.87 x 75.7 x 9.05 mm 159.85 x 75.8 x 9.63 mm 158.55 x 75.8 x 9.2 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.52 oz; 185g 5.32 oz; 151g 6.68 oz; 189.4g 7.01 oz; 199 g 6.77 oz; 192 g
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10 Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 13-megapixel (standard), 2-megapixel (depth camera) 13-megapixel (standard), 2-megapixel (depth sensing) 16-megapixel wide-angle, 2-megapixel macro, 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle 16-megapixel wide-angle, 2-megapixel macro, 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle 48-megapixel wide-angle, 2-megapixel macro, 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 16-megapixel 16-megapixel
Video capture 1080p 1080p 4K 4K 4K
Processor Snapdragon 632 Snapdragon 439 Snapdragon 665 Snapdragon 665 Snapdragon 665
Storage 32GB 16GB 32GB 64GB 128GB
RAM 2GB 2GB 3GB 4GB 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB
Battery 3,550 mAh 3,000 mAh 4,000 mAh 5,000 mAh 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Rear No Rear Back Back
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special features Stylus, Action Cam
Price off-contract (USD) $150 $150 $200 $250 $300



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