Moto E5 Play Review: A Below-average Smartphone

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By Omoyeni Araokanmi


My take on Moto E5 Play


An affordable price tag, a removable battery, and a fingerprint sensor are things to consider in the Moto E5 Play. A durable body, large storage, and an impressive camera are things anyone shouldn’t expect in this smartphone. Other negatives are just one SIM slot and also has slow charging.



  • Affordable
  • Removable Battery
  • Battery Optimization Features


  • Just One SIM Slot
  • Slow Charging Speed

Moto E5 Play: At First Glance

One beautiful thing about Motorola is its ability to provide smartphones to suit everyone’s budget. While they released the more premium Moto E5 Plus, they decided to provide a more affordable, low-end variant called the Moto E5 Play.

Quite a number of smartphone manufacturers have been able to provide reliable devices for less. Well, it looks like this is Motorola’s attempt at joining the queue.

The E5 Play was selling at less than $100 as of November 2021. Let’s find out if Motorola’s effort in making this a cheap but reliable phone is worth it.

Moto E5 Play: Design, Dimensions, and Weight

Motorola made the hardware of this smartphone very similar to the Moto G6 and G6 Play. To start off, this phone has a plastic unibody and the phone’s back has a fine matte finish.

Not only does the phone look good, but it also feels durable and lightweight. The Moto E5 Play weighs 150 g and is moderate in its dimensions of 151 x 74 x 8.8 mm.

A lighter smartphone in this same price range is the Nokia 3.1. Nokia 3.1 weighs less and is smaller in dimension than Moto E5 Play

To be more specific, Nokia 3.1 weighs 138.3 g and measures 146.2 x 68.6 x 8.7 mm.

Still on the dimensions of Moto E5 Play, there’s the headphone jack at the top area of the phone’s frame. As for the lower area, you’ll see the charging port.

Surrounding this phone’s frame are thick bezels. The bezels are where Motorola makes it obvious that a 2018 smartphone with this price tag cannot have slim bezels.

Although, this level of thickness is not the same for all sides. The low and top bezels are a lot thicker than what you’ll see for the side bezels.

Perhaps to justify the thickness, these bezels are not empty. Occupying the top area is a speaker, front-facing LED flash, and selfie camera.

On the low area of the phone’s frame, you’ll see just the “Motorola” text logo. This finely built device comes in a black, dark lake, and flash gray colors.

When it’s time to power on the Moto E5 Play, you’ll find the power button on the right side of the phone. Just beside the power button is the volume bar.

Asides from powering up this phone, the power button can also serve as a shortcut to opening the camera. Simply by double pressing this power button, the camera app opens up.

Once you flip the Moto E5 Play, there’s the single rear-facing camera lens and LED flash. Both the camera and flash are framed with a circular camera bump in the traditional Motorola way we often see in moto phones.

Right below all that is the dimpled “M” logo which is actually the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Unlike most smartphones, the back cover of this phone is actually removable. It is by removing this cover you get access to the microSD card slot and the single SIM card slot.

If you’re a user of two SIM cards, you’ll have to say goodbye to one because the Moto E5 Play will not accommodate it. On a slightly positive note, like the other Moto E5 series, the Moto E5 Play is splash-proof.

This means you won’t be able to comfortably drop this phone in a bowl of water. However, it would handle some splash of water here and there.

At the end of the day, there’s little to hate about the design features of this smartphone. On that note, I believe the Moto E5 Play deserves an eight out of ten in this design review section.

Moto E5 Play: Display Features

Display on the Moto E5 Play is made up of an LCD display type, HD (1280 x 720) resolution, and 5.2″ size. To start off, the LCD display type is not something to expect much from.

To be exact, colors on an LCD display can be hazy sometimes. However, color reproduction is quite decent.

Unfortunately, the display brightness on this smartphone is a NO! The Moto E5 Play has 390 nits of maximum brightness.

If you’re wondering the effect of this, it means this phone won’t be so usable in direct sunlight. We understand that some features had to be sacrificed to make Moto E5 Play an affordable device but the brightness could have been better.

In comparison, the Nokia 3.1 which is in the same price range as the E5 Play, has about 500 nits. Moving on, contrast on the display of the E5 Play is equally not pleasant but nothing too disturbing as well.

For viewing angles, you will actually lose some clarity when you tilt the display. Regardless, it’s not something you won’t be able to live with.

As for the 5.2″ display size, it’s not too large nor too small – it’s just moderate. If you need an idea of what it looks like, the Moto E5 Play has the same display size as the Samsung A5, OPPO A57, and the Nokia 3.1.

In a word, we weren’t expecting an impressive display from Moto E5 Play – and you shouldn’t either. Having such average display features, the Moto E5 Play does not deserve more than a seven in this display review section.

Moto E5 Play: Camera Features

As one would expect, the cameras on the E5 Play are nothing to die for. The rear-facing camera is 8 MP with ƒ/2.0 aperture and a front-facing 5 MP camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture.

With the inclusion of LED flash beside both cameras, the effect of poor lighting is fairly solved. Even in daylight, the main camera does a good job.

More precisely, images come out looking decently sharp. However, auto-focus takes a while to come through, and even when it does, it results in overexposure.

The overall image quality of the rear-facing camera sometimes appears pale and with low contrast. For the selfie camera, however, colors and skin tone are accurate and pleasing.

In the aspect of videos, they can be recorded in 1080p at 30 fps and appear clear. However, that can only happen if you can hold still like a robot while recording the video.

This means you should forget about image stabilization on the Moto E5 Play. The absence of the image stabilization feature makes it tasking to move while recording and still get a non-blurry video.

For an entry-level smartphone, we can say that the camera in Moto E5 Play is not as disappointing as we would expect. This doesn’t mean pictures taken with this camera will be social media material.

With that in mind, I will be rating Moto E5 Play an eight in this camera review section.

Moto E5 Play: Battery Life and Talk Time

The battery size of Moto E5 Play is a bit disappointing. This smartphone comes with a 2800 mAh removable battery.

We can all agree that 2800 mAh is small battery size, but the phone’s removable b battery feature is a plus. This is especially true because its older siblings – the E5 and E5 Plus come with non-removable batteries.

It is worth mentioning that the E5 and E5 Plus come with larger battery sizes of 4000 and 5000 mAh respectively.

If you’re still wondering about the benefit of a removable battery here is more explanation. Having a phone with a removable battery means that you can easily replace the battery yourself with a new one.

So, in comparison to its older siblings – the E5 and E5 Plus, the E5 Play is more beneficial in this regard.

This simply means you can survive with this small battery size by purchasing an additional battery. A fully-charged additional battery comes in handy when this battery gets low and you don’t happen to have a charger at the time.

Moving on, you’re probably wondering what the battery life of a 2800 mAh battery is like. Well, this battery lasts 6 hours 18 minutes on continuous web browsing.

Comparatively, the 2900 mAh battery in Nokia 3.1 lasts longer at 9 hours 20 minutes also on continuous web browsing. Apparently, the Moto E5 Play will barely survive a day of heavy use.

As for its fast charging feature, the Moto E5 Play doesn’t have much to offer. Unlike the E5 and E5 Plus that come with a 10W charger in the box, the E5 Play has a less-efficient 5W charger in the box.

When the E5 Play is completely drained, it takes over three hours to fully charge the phone. Unless you can live with that, the alternative is to purchase a 10W charger which will cost you extra but will be worth it.

Overall, this phone has a battery that pretty much defines its price so we cannot complain. Being a removable battery is very advantageous and that makes this Moto E5 Play worth an eight in this battery review section.

Moto E5 Play: Storage Options and Performance

As an entry-level smartphone, the Moto E5 Play has decent storage for its price tag. This smartphone comes with 16 GB of storage.

If you are not big on media files or you need a second phone for simple communication, 16 GB should be enough. However, it is important to note that instead of 16 GB, what you get when you power the phone is about 12 GB.

This is because the operating system takes up about 4 GB.

Nonetheless, the Moto E5 Play is not limited to just that number of storage. More precisely, this phone can support additional up to 128 GB storage expansion via microSD card.

By inserting a microSD of 128 GB, you get more storage, making it 144 GB. As a whole, the storage features of this smartphone are not phenomenal nor disappointing.

For that reason, a rating of eight is fair enough for the storage of the Moto E5 Play.

Moto E5 Play: Security Features and Sensors

The sensors you’ll find in the Moto E5 Play are not the best of AI technology but it is sufficient for a 2018 smartphone. These sensors include the accelerometer, ambient light, e-compass, fingerprint, magnetometer, proximity, and sensor hub.

First, there’s the accelerometer sensor which is one of the oldest and most common sensors. Whenever your phone responds to auto-rotation, have it in mind that the accelerometer sensor is responsible for that.

Then there is the ambient light sensor that detects the present lighting environment where the phone is. If this sensor realizes that there is sufficient light in that environment, it responds by reducing the screen brightness.

Another common sensor we are used to in smartphones is the proximity sensor. The function of this sensor is to turn off the screen light whenever the screen gets close to your ears – mostly during phone calls.

A great advantage of both the ambient and proximity sensors is their battery-saving function. This is made possible because they both reduce the level of light the device emits.

For the magnetometer and e-compass sensors, they work collectively in letting the phone know the orientation of the earth. This explains how a device can indicate which way is north, south, east, and west just as we see in digital maps.

Next is the sensor hub. If you’re hearing this term for the first time, it’s not exactly new. In fact, the sensor hub made its first appearance in the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

The essence of this sensor is to aid the work of the processor. Instead of the processor handling the transmission of data to the various sensors in a device, the sensor hub is the dedicated feature that deals with the matter of other sensors.

Asides from aiding the phone’s processor, the sensor hub also helps with battery optimization.

A rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is the security feature you’ll find for this smartphone. This sensor is very responsive and quickly unlocks the device with your fingerprint.

Overall, a responsive fingerprint sensor and other sensors that improve battery optimization are impressive for this device. Such features make Moto E5 Play deserving of an eight in this sensor review section.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Moto E5 Play have a removable battery?

Yes. The battery on this device is removable and can easily be replaced.

2. How much is Motorola E5 Play?

At the time of writing this review in November 2021, this smartphone had a starting price of $88.88.

3. Is the Motorola E5 Play 5g?

Definitely not. The Moto E5 Play supports a maximum of 4G network connectivity, not 5G.

4. Does the Motorola E5 Play have NFC?

No. There is no NFC (near field communication) support on this device. This means wireless data transfer and contactless payments won’t be possible with the Moto E5 Play.

5. Does the Moto E5 Play have a fingerprint sensor?

Yes. There is a responsive rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Moto E5 Play.


To summarize, it’s only normal to expect some compromises for a smartphone less than $100. We understand Motorola’s intention of providing a cheaper option for the E5 series, however, the E5 Play is way below standards.

Unless you need an additional smartphone with a removable battery, other than that, the E5 Play doesn’t offer much. If you can afford to spend some more, the E5 is a more suitable smartphone.

To offer more details, the E5 and E5 Plus are everything the E5 Play is not. Better display, better camera, bigger battery, and more storage.

I hope you found this Moto E5 Play review helpful. If you did, kindly click Yes to “Was this page Helpful?” below.

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About the Author

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Omoyeni Araokanmi

Omoyeni Araokanmi is a Content Writer at She has a B.Sc. in Sociology. Omoyeni loves everything tech. If she's not writing tech reviews, she's either reading, watching movies, or enjoying the outdoors. She writes product reviews and buying guides for

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