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Moto E: Low-cost smart phone for students

Priced at just $150 off-contract, Motorola's Moto E offers good specs for a low price. And that could have implications beyond saving you money on smart phones.

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    The newest entry-level smart phone from Motorola, the Moto E, is priced at $150.
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What features are you willing to sacrifice to purchase an unlocked smart phone for $150?

If the answer is not many, you’re actually in luck.

The newest entry-level Motorola smart phone, Moto E, packs a decent processor, front facing camera, and Android 5.0 Lollipop, but with an impressively low price. Though it isn’t top-of-the-line tech, it is affordable and accessible, and according to some industry watchers, could disrupt the bloated price of long-term wireless contracts.

Motorola has introduced several entry-level, affordable smart phones, but the Moto E offers the best bang for the buck yet. The upgrades from the previous Moto E include a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, a 5-megapixel auto-focus rear facing camera, a front facing camera, and 8 gigabytes of memory. Another welcome addition: it runs on 4G LTE.

The Moto E also has a larger screen size – 4.5 inches – with the same resolution as before: 960x540. If you want a bigger display with quality images, this will do just fine. If you want the small details that come with a 720p or 1080p resolution, this display won’t compare.

Motorola is also keeping the same customizable features that have made its brand distinct. The Moto E comes with a rubber outer band that can be replaced with multiple colors (sold separately). As a base, the phone comes in black or white.

The cheap phone has recently made waves in a world of metallic iPhones and high-end Android devices. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern wrote in a column last week that with competition growing between wireless carriers, customers have more options than ever to find cheap, month-to-month contracts that can be paired with unlocked phones. You might pay more up front for an unlocked phone, she says, but it is probably better than being locked into a two-year commitment that may not be a good fit for long.

“Take StraightTalk, which charges $45 a month for 3GB of LTE data and unlimited talk and text—on AT&T’s network. AT&T charges $65 for the same basic plan,” she says.

The downside to these is ensuring that the company has solid customer service, reliable coverage, and your phone is compatible. But with phones like the Moto E, offering an excellent device for the cost of some monthly phone bills, going off-contract may end up being a better option for consumers.

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