(Pocket-lint) - Given the announcement of the ultra-budget Moto C and refresh of Moto G (in the G5 and G5 Plus models) in 2017, we weren't entirely convinced that Lenovo would continue to produce the Moto E series.

But produce it has, and in two guises: the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus. Available worldwide from 12 June 2017, both devices will be universally unlocked (quite a big deal for our American friends), with a feature set that, depending on which E4 you choose, is knocking on the door of Moto G5 territory, making either device a savvy budget purchase.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Design and display

  • Moto E3 & E4: 5-inch, 1280 x 720 resolution panel
  • Moto E4 Plus: 5.5-inch, 1280 x 720 resolution panel
  • Moto E4 & E4 Plus feature new metal design
  • All models are splash-resistant (no IP rating)

In 2016 the Moto E3 settled on a 5-inch display size. For 2017 the Moto E4 sticks with the same scale, while the E4 Plus - as its name suggests - goes one bigger, with a 5.5-inch display. All are 720p resolution.

The design is wholly different in the E4 models, however, opting for a new metal build (again, much like the Moto G5) and doing away with the giant speaker "slits" of the earlier E3 model. Ultimately the E4 models look more like part of the current Moto family - and all the better for it.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Fingerprint scanner

  • Both E4 models feature front-facing scanner, which E3 lacks
  • Scanner offers One-button Nav gesture control

A big new feature for the E4 models is the presence of a fingerprint scanner on the front - something the E3 lacks. We're surprised to see such tech available at this entry-level point, but it's a great addition.

This new scanner can be used for fingerprint gestures, too, (what Moto calls One-button Nav), which means swipe-based gestures rather than using the on-screen trio of Android soft keys. It's not essential to use, and is only activated from within the pre-installed Moto app.

However, at the time of writing, there's no confirmation of NFC for mobile payments and proximity connections. Motorola told us it's "possible, depending on the partner", which may yet mean we'll see the feature in the Plus model in the UK.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Cameras

  • Moto E3 & E4: 8-megapixel rear, 5-megapixel front
  • Moto E4 Plus: 13-megapixel rear, 5-megapixel front
  • On the cameras front the E series doesn't offer the creme de la creme of what you can get in a smartphone, but it's passable. The Moto E3's
  • camera remains the same in the Moto E4: an 8-megapixel snapper, albeit in a raised rear position for the newer device.

The Plus enhances things a touch, by offering a 13-megapixel rear camera - the same as you’ll find in the Moto G5, hence the cross-over between Moto's close-positioned ranges.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Battery and hardware

  • Moto E3 & E4: 2800mAh battery; Moto E4 Plus: 5000mAh
  • Moto E3: 140.6g; Moto E4: 151g; Moto E4 Plus: 198g
  • Moto E3: 1GHz quad-core, Mediatek MT6735P, 1GB RAM
  • Moto E4 & E4 Plus: 1.3GHz quad-core, MediaTek MT6737, 2GB RAM (Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 will be used in some regions)
  • All devices: 8GB storage as standard, microSD slot for expansion

When it comes to hardware, the base Moto E4 model features the same 2800mAh battery capacity as found in last year's Moto E3. The newer model ups the performance considerably, however, by doubling the RAM to 2GB this year, while utilising a faster MediaTek chipset (will be Qualcomm in some regions).

The Moto E4 Plus, however, is a totally different prospect. It features a huge 5000mAh battery capacity, along with the same internal hardware features as the smaller Moto E4. If you want longevity, then, the Plus is definitely the model to go for.

More battery means more weight, though, with the Plus model touching on the 200g mark. The E4 is almost a 25 per cent lighter, at 151g; the earlier E3 is lighter still, at 141g.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Software

  • Moto E3: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Moto E4 & E4 Plus: Android 7.1 Nougat

Motorola's latest software goes light on additions to the standard Google Android operating system. The Moto E3 runs the older-gen Android 6.0, while the Moto E4 and E4 Plus each run Android 7.1. The newer software means better battery efficiency, plus Google Assistant.

The only notable addition to the software is a pre-installed Moto app. This contains Actions, available on all three E devices, to control the device in different ways with physical input - a karate chop to activate the torch, for example. The difference in the E4 models, of course, is the One-button Nav gesture control in conjunction with the fingerprint scanner, which the E3 lacks.

Moto E4 vs Moto E4 Plus vs Moto E3: Conclusion

As we said straight off the bat, we're surprised to see the E series continue in-between the C and G series - especially in a standard and Plus format, given the cross-over that begins to occur between Moto E4 Plus and Moto G5.

Nonetheless, the Moto E4 and E4 Plus will offer cost effective solutions for those seeking a budget purchase with plenty of features, such as fingerprint scanner and gesture controls. And if battery is a major gripe for you then the E4 Plus looks like it’ll last for nigh-on forever given that huge battery capacity.

Both Moto E4 and E4 Plus will be available worldwide from 12 June. The Moto E4 will cost £129, while the Moto E4 Plus will cost £159.

Writing by Mike Lowe.