Despite being a big beefy phone in all dimensions, the E5 Plus is wrapped in a glossy plastic that evokes a sense of cohesiveness with the rest of Moto's new phones and feels awfully nice to hold. Tucked away inside is one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 435 chipsets with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (though you can bump that total up with a microSD card). We'll need to spend more time with the phone before we can pass any real verdicts on performance, but the E5 Plus certainly won't blow you away — what else would you expect from a phone that should sell for around $200? That said, it had no trouble whipping through apps and playing videos, so users with modest needs probably won't need to fret much.
The E5 Plus isn't making its journey to the US alone — there's also an E5 Play model that feels much more like one of the company's traditional cheap phones. Unassuming plastic back? Check. Smaller, less impressive screen? Check — it's 5.2 inches diagonal LCD running at 720p. The camera around back is a purely passable 12-megapixel affair.
To be clear, there are some nice touches here, too. There's a fingerprint sensor mounted in the Moto logo dimple on the phone's back, and Motorola's Moto Actions make what would otherwise be a clean build of Android 8.0 Oreo feel a little more thoughtful and capable. Again, the performance being squeezed out of its Snapdragon 425 (or 427, depending on where you get your phone) and the 2GB of RAM onboard is adequate at best, but that just's par for the course for these things.
Ultimately, Motorola has churned out one highly impressive Moto E and another cheaper, more traditional model. Having more choice definitely isn't a bad thing when it comes to smartphones, but I do find my concerned that Motorola might be harming its own chances by blurring the once-firm lines between the Moto G and E series. Right off the bat, I'd personally splurge on an E5 Plus than a G6 Play, and while we're still not sure about prices, their respective spec sheets hint that they'll probably be pretty close. That raises a question about whether Moto really needs a cheap phone portfolio this broad in the US, but hey, for now I'm willing to see how things go.
Update: Both the E5 and E5 Plus are launching in the UK in early June starting at £119 and £149, respectively.