Motorola on Wednesday made the news official: The Moto G is out, at a lower price than its older sibling the Moto X, missing some of the Moto X features, but with a different target and advantage in mind. Motorola Mobility wants the Moto G to be the affordable phone with very decent performance for under $200 that millions of people around the world can afford.
Moto G announced at a press event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is targeting emerging markets as well as budget-conscious consumers in the U.S, but American consumers will see the Moto G later than sooner. The Moto G launches today in Brazil and parts of Europe. The device will be available within the next few weeks throughout Latin America, Europe, Canada and parts of Asia. Motorola also said the phone will be available in the U.S., India, the Middle East and more of Asia in early January. In all, Moto G will be in more than 30 countries by 2014.
The Moto G has a 4.5 inch display, a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB storage. Motorola is offering 19 customization options, including interchangeable shells in different colors. The Moto G is out now with Android 4.3, but by January will get the Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade. The phone carries Google's services such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome and Hangouts.
Of course, as the Moto G has been promoted in pre-launch chatter as the low-cost smartphone to come out of the Google-owned company, the key question has been at what price? The cost of the Moto G in the U.S. with no contract, no SIM lock and an unlockable bootloader is $179 for 8GB storage and $199 for 16GB.
The Dollar Difference
Some smartphone market watchers have commented that that price range is still hardly trivial for people in emerging market countries and may not be such a deal-maker when people on very low budgets can shop around for cheaper models.
On Wednesday, however, Motorola Mobility chief Dennis Woodside took center stage at the launch to explain what that price means to the Motorola team who designed it and to the consumers who can buy it.
"It has been 83 days since we introduced Moto X in the Americas and the reception to the phone has been absolutely fantastic," he said. "Now we are setting our sights on the world and in solving what we think is a very big problem, for hundreds of millions of people."
That problem is not merely affordability but quality. Yes, there are cheap phones in the marketplace, he argued, but, if one wants clarity, reliability, and decent performance, at what real price? Most people in the world cannot afford a phone for $500 or $600 and so consumers, seeking less expensive phones, are left with "two very bad options," he stated.
The first option is to buy a cheap new product built with yesterday's technology -- yesterday's screens and processors, he said. The second option is to buy an old phone that does not run the latest apps. "We think people deserve better for a phone under two hundred dollars. That is why today we are introducing Moto G."
The key pitch to support Moto G adoption is that the phone can deliver a premium smartphone experience with today's latest technology for around $200.
Time will tell if the Moto G fulfills company expectations. On the plus side, besides price, the phone's 4.5-inch screen is a good size for a budget phone. Charlie Tritschler, who leads product management for Moto G, noted at the Wednesday launch that the team focused on design principles such as a back sculpted to fit comfortably in the hand. He also noted that the display, in size and resolution, was the sharpest display in its class.