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Motorola’s new budget phones look surprisingly nice

Motorola announced a couple of new budget phones — spotted by Phone Arena — for markets outside the US. That’s not notable — it does that all the time — but the Motorola e22 and e22i caught my eye because, damn, they look pretty good. Budget Motorola phones — particularly the ones sold in the US over the past couple of years — have all looked very much the same, with curved edges and pill-shaped camera bumps crammed with as many lenses as the price point allows. But these new e-series phones look a little different, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.

Right off the bat, you can see the flat back panel and side rails on the two devices that set it apart from other recent Motorola phones. Ever since Apple brought back the flat design with the iPhone 12, other manufacturers have been slowly adopting it across their lines, replacing the curved side rails that have been popular for years. Long live flat rails! They’re easier to hold onto and better looking. Fashion and function, what could be better?

The colors are a little more interesting, too. Most Motorola phones I’ve used over the past year have been grey with a hint of blue or green sprinkled in to spice things up. Maybe this is a me problem, but when you photograph the fifth gray phone in a row, you start to get a little depressed. The e22 comes in astro black or crystal blue, with attractive contrasting logos, and the e22i comes in (naturally) gray or an eye-catching winter white.

The pill-shaped camera bump is gone, too, replaced by two camera lenses with a more rectangular, rounded-off housing. First of all, it looks much less boring. Second, thank you for stopping at two rear lenses, Motorola engineers. You could have crammed in a pointless 2-megapixel macro, but you didn’t. I see you, and I appreciate you.

The e22 and e22i’s whole deal seems to be that they have 6.5-inch 90Hz displays and dual stereo speakers, which aren’t too common in the budget class. The e22 ships with Android 12 and includes a dual capture camera mode that lets you use the front and rear cameras simultaneously. The e22i includes Android 12 (Go edition), a lighter version of the OS designed for phones with very little RAM. The e22 will cost $140 USD, and the e22i will cost $129 USD. Both are on sale now in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

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