Nokia 2V vs. Motorola Moto E5 Play: Ultra-affordable phones face off

moto e5 play headphone jack
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Phones don’t have to be super expensive, and what makes a phone great for you might not be the latest display, design, or specs — it might be a rock-bottom price. The smartphone market stretches all the way from the most expensive super-premium phones, all the way down to budget smartphones you can grab for under $100. Nokia has released some great budget handsets in recent years, and the latest is the Nokia 2V — a Verizon exclusive super-budget handset.

But should you buy this phone, or plump for a tried-and-tested budget superstar, the Moto E5 Play? We put them both to the test.

Specs

Nokia 2V Moto E5 Play
Size 153.6 x 77.6 x 9.67 mm (6.05 x 3.06 x 0.38 inches) 151 x 74 x 9 mm (5.94 x 2.91 x 0.35 inches)
Weight 174 grams (6.14 ounces) 150 grams (5.29 ounces)
Screen size 5.5-inch IPS LCD 5.2-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution 1280 x 720 pixels (267 pixels per inch) 1280 x 720 pixels (282 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition) Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage space 8GB
16GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 128GB Yes, up to 128GB
Tap-to-pay services None None
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 Qualcomm Snapdragon 425
RAM 1GB 2GB
Camera 8MP rear, 5MP front 8MP rear, 5MP front
Video 720p at 30fps 1080p at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroUSB 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroUSB
Fingerprint sensor No Yes
Water resistance None Splash-resistant coating
Battery 4,000mAh

Fast charging

2,800mAh

Fast charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon
Colors Blue, Silver Black, Dark Lake, Flash Gray
Price $70 $95
Buy from Verizon Motorola, Verizon, Amazon
Review score Coming soon 3.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

moto e5 play screen in hand
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

While you’re not going to get incredible power out of either of these phones, both provide a respectable performance that should see you through most day-to-day tasks. Both come with the Snapdragon 425, so should be about equal in performance. The E5 Play may have a slight advantage in RAM and storage though, with 2GB and 16GB respectively. But the Nokia 2V runs Android Go, which is a version of Android optimized for budget hardware. There’s a good chance it could perform better than the E5 Play, especially since there are various “lite” apps installed, like Google Maps Go. Thankfully, storage can be boosted with a MicroSD card for both phones if needed.

The E5 Play can manage over a day on its 2,800mAh battery, but it’s the Nokia 2V we’re expecting real staying power from, thanks to a 4,000mAh battery. While we haven’t tested it yet, expect excellent battery life from this beast. There’s fast charging on both too, with 10W fast charging through the MicroUSB ports.

While the E5 Play may have an edge in power, we don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference. The difference in battery sizes is more substantial, which is why the Nokia 2V takes the win.

Winner: Nokia 2V

Design and durability

“Basic” is the best way to describe both phones here, with chunkier bezels than usual and lightweight builds. The E5 Play feels good, with rounded edges and a plastic build — even if it does feel a little cheap. The Nokia 2V is much the same, but it’s a little heavier — which offsets the lighter, cheaper feel — and it comes with metallic edging that sets it apart. However, there’s no cutting-edge design here. The E5 Play’s battery is removable though, which is a plus if you’re looking for that — and it’s the only one of the two that comes with a fingerprint scanner.

There is no water-proofing on either phone, which is not unexpected at this price. You’ll probably want to slap a case on as well — while plastic is more durable than glass backs, it’s likely to take damage and look worse over time. Both come with MicroUSB ports and headphones jacks.

We find it difficult to separate the two phones, since design is rather subjective as well, but the E5 Play’s fingerprint scanner is a must.

Winner: Moto E5 Play

Display

moto e5 play clock widget
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

The Nokia 2V comes with the larger display of the two, with a 5.5-inch LCD display running a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution. The E5 Play packs the same resolution into a smaller 5.2-inch screen, so it’s slightly sharper — but it’s unlikely to be something you’ll notice. The E5 Play’s screen is good, but it had some issues being bright enough to see in sunlight sometimes. We haven’t tested the Nokia’s screen yet, but we’ve had similar issues with cheaper Nokia phone displays before. We can’t call this until we’ve tested the Nokia 2V properly. This is a draw.

Winner: Tie

Camera

nokia 2v vs moto e5 play 2 v camera

Camera performance is generally where budget phones fall flat, and it’s likely the case here. The camera suites are identical on both of these; an 8-megapixel lens around the back and a 5-megapixel selfie lens at the front. Don’t expect much from either of these — we expect decent performance in strong light that rapidly falls as day turns to night.

There’s not much to separate the two phones here again — this is a deadlock.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

moto e5 play apps
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Both phones run versions of Android that are close to stock Android, but in slightly different ways. The E5 Play comes with a fairly bare implementation of Android 8.0 Oreo, with only the Moto app installed extra — contrary to most recent Motorola phones. The Nokia 2V runs Android 8.1 Oreo, but as Android Go — the stripped down version of Android specifically for lower-end phones. We’ve seen Android Go on a Nokia phone before, and it ran with little lag or stuttering.

The Nokia phone has one major advantage though — it’s far more likely to be updated. The E5 Play is excluded from ever receiving any updates to Android 9.0 Pie, but Nokia’s track record with updates has been exceptionally strong, and we expect the Nokia 2V to get updated when the Pie version of Android Go is available.

Winner: Nokia 2V

Special features

nokia 2v vs moto e5 play 2 v front screen

Being equipped with a basic Android Go interface, the Nokia 2V doesn’t come with much in the way of special features. You’ll find access to all of Google’s tools, including the Google Assistant, but that’s about it. The E5 Play is similarly basic, but it does come with some specials features of its own. You’ll find a reduced number of Motorola’s gestures here, like twisting the phone to launch the camera. It’s not the biggest suite of extra features around, but it beats out the Nokia 2V.

Winner: Moto E5 Play

Price

The Moto E5 Play is currently available, and you can pick it up for $95 from Verizon. We’ve reviewed the Verizon-exclusive model here for the purposes of equality, but you can pick up other, more powerful models of the E5 Play too — but expect the price to rise with it.

The Nokia 2V is even cheaper. It’s also a Verizon-exclusive, and you can get it from the carrier for $70, which isn’t a bad price at all.

Overall winner: Tie

This was always going to be a close competition, and it shows in the analysis. You’re getting good bang for your buck from both of these phones, and there’s a lot to recommend with either of them — and at the moment they’re so well balanced that we’re struggling to pull them apart. For the moment, this has to be a tie. We’ll take another look at this once we’ve had chance to really play with the Nokia 2V — but for the moment, buy whichever has the best deal at the time. Both will admirably fulfill their roles as a basic smartphone.

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