Motorola officially announces the Moto G; starts at $179.99 unlocked for 8GB model

In case you’ve forgotten, Motorola held a live Google+ event to announce a new smartphone they’re calling the Moto G. This device has long been rumored as a lesser version of the Moto X, which would make it an affordable option for budget-conscious folks (specifically those living in developing countries).

motorola moto g press render

They made that announcement official, and the device is everything we thought it’d be. Motorola wants to give everyone a “today” experience for a third of the price of your typical high-end smartphone — around $200 unlocked, according to their examples. So what does this thing pack under the hood?

Hardware and Specs

The affordable Moto G isn’t dressed to impress, but this spec sheet does impress us when you consider it’s coming at us for less than $200. Here’s what you’re getting:

  • 4.5-inch 1,280 x 720 display
  • 1.2GHz quad-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 400)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB of internal storage
  • 5MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • 2,070mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 130 x 66 x 6-11.6 mm
  • Weight: 143 g
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (KitKat by January 2014)

No, it doesn’t have 2GB of RAM. It doesn’t have a Snapdragon 800. It doesn’t even have an 8 megapixel camera. But folks won’t be thinking about those “shortcomings” when they dig into their wallet for the few bills it’ll cost. (Not to mention Android 4.4 KitKat is designed to work well on smartphones with specs that are even more limited than the Moto G’s.)

Software

Motorola is shipping the device with Android 4.3, which they say is the latest version of the OS that devices in this class are shipped (meaning the cheapo bunch). Beyond that, they’re also guaranteeing a future upgrade Android 4.4 (due by January 2014).

The Chicago company says their software strategy is simple — work with Google’s services, don’t replace them. Don’t bog down the user interface with tons of customization and custom apps. Focus on the fundamentals with extreme attention to detail. We saw all of that in the Moto X and their latest DROID phones, and that hasn’t changed with the Moto G.

In fact, the Moto G might be even “cleaner” than the aforementioned phones — there are no Touchless Controls or Active Notifications (though those features are just as welcome as any other). Motorola does offer a custom camera app, Motorola Migrate, and Motorola Assist to help make life easier, but that’s it — the rest is all Google and all Android.

Accessories

Motorola also mentioned the Moto Shells, a set of colorful interchangeable backplates that also double as cases. They have exposed-display designs for those who just want to protect the sides and the back, and a flip design that also covers the display (opening the cover will automatically wake the phone up).

These join the colorful headphones and other accessories that can be bought from Motorola’s online storefront, of course, so you can express yourself however you see fit without having to cash in on your 401K.

Pricing and availability

To give you an idea of how this thing will be priced around the world, the Moto G has been priced at $179.99 for the 8GB version, and $199.99 for 16GB in the US, with both options being available straight through Motorola with a SIM card. And no, folks, that’s not after signing a new two-year contract — that’s the unlocked, unadulterated price.

Carrier pricing might be different, of course, but we wouldn’t expect two-year contract prices to be in the hundreds range. In fact, this might be the perfect $0 – $50 phone carriers love pushing. We’ll have to wait for their individual announcements, though we’ll worry about which carriers will be looking to offer this device before worrying about price.

The device is available today in Latin America, parts of Europe, Canada, and parts of Asia. Launches in the US, India, Middle East, and more of Asia, will go down by the end of January 2014. Motorola says the device will be in more than 40 different countries with more than 60 partners, meaning it shouldn’t be hard to find one of these no matter where you lay your head.

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  • JPB

    At $200 unlocked, this might make a good phone for the kiddies.

    • Donkey13

      exactly what i was thinking…it’s not a power house phone because most people don’t need power house phones…this is just to help pull market share and grab a younger crowd…same thing the Moto X was designed for

  • Troy

    If this is available for Verizon (and that is probably a very big if), I can see this being popular among the grandfathered unlimited crowd holding onto their aging phones (Like me).

    • Josephus

      exactly, this is a great entry level phone for anyone new to smartphones (like my wife), which there are more of than there are tech aficionadoes who must have the latest and greatest spec heavy devices (like me) I can see this phone being under the xmas tree if available (especially since I will never buy a contract phone again (I hate verizon that bad)

    • Lactose_the_Intolerant

      Putting a non-LTE phone on VZW’s unlimited seems… limited. I’ll keep my Thunderbolt & Rezound rather than getting bumped down to 3G only. Moto G seems more like a new-entry option.

      • Troy

        At the time of my comment, it wasn’t noted that it was non-lte, and only 1gb of RAM. Oh well, back to hoping the Verizon Moto X gets marked down to the $300s.

        • Lactose_the_Intolerant

          I could almost almost live with 1 GB RAM (since that is what I have now) but yeah, lack of LTE makes it a non-starter… keeping my fingers crossed like you are for the X to get a price break.

  • IHATEHIPSTERSSS

    So really a 4.3″ screen because of the pointless on screen buttons. Oh and no micro SD slot because Google hates choice. Haha 8 GB? Welcome to 2007. They won’t even be able to give these away.

    Sad really ™

    • nofearofimaginarymen

      Good thing it is 4.5 ” and there is a 16gb option.

      • worldclassflame

        This guy is an itard troll he posted this same comment on BGR as well as other tech sites, just another sad sheep lol

        • nofearofimaginarymen

          They are up earlier than normal today.

    • JointhePredacons

      Just like the X. Two garbage phones in a row. And they expect us to get excited about phones from Motorolla because Google bought them. Google is using them for their resources, neither of these “phones” are from Google. Google wouldnt put their name on these poor excuses for modern devices. When Google puts out a phone, they have a name for that, its called Nexus. But im still waiting for them to return to HTC for a Nexus, then ill buy one.

      • supremekizzle

        Did you miss the article bub? This is meant to be a cheap ass phone. $200 off contact. And as far as the moto x being garbage; have you read any tech sites? The phone is getting rave reviews. Just because it’s not a spec beast like the G2 doesn’t make it garbage.

        • shooter50

          The X is fine for a mid-level phone

      • NinoBr0wn

        Did you think it was supposed to compete with the Note 3 or something? What’s garbage about the X?

    • Anmol Ghotra

      Let’s say your phone gets lost/stolen. Do you want people going through your SD card?

      I didn’t think so either.

      • shooter50

        wow, fanboys can rationalize anything.

      • Carl Rood

        Let’s say your on a 10 hour car trip with 4 kids. Do you really want to hear them complain because the movie stopped playing due to a dropped connection to your cloud provider?

        I didn’t think so either.

        • Anmol Ghotra

          Granted expandable storage is a nice to have. There are other phones on the market like the S4 which support SD cards. It’s a give and take kind of thing.

          Don’t bash on a product just because it doesn’t meet all of your requirements.

          • Robb Nunya

            It’s more of a bashing Google for a philosophical choice that a lot of people disagree with.

          • http://ecellmobile.blogspot.com/ e_cell mobile

            I definitely agree. Though personally, having a phone that can accommodate an SD card for extra storage gives me peace of mind despite the fact that 8 GB is already enough for me.

        • Donkey13

          if you’re on a 10 hour road trip i’m sure you were smart enough to take along a meenova card reader or the like….

          ALSO, are you really only letting your kids watch 10 hours of video on your PHONE! it’s a phone people!! lol…..

        • sfbaydawg221

          watching a movie on a phone during a road trip? I would think the phone has more important things to do during such a trip.

        • Dylan

          Get them walkmans and coloring books and dramamine. Worked for me and my siblings when I was a kid and we 16+ hr road trips on the regular.

        • Dionicio Castillo

          LOL good one.

    • NinoBr0wn

      Your name is so ironic, I’m almost positive your comment was bait. So much guile.

    • Al Bowering

      If it supports USB OTG, who needs microSD support? I use a 256GB flash drive with my HTC ONE S that only has 16GB and no microSD support, BUT it is one of the few phones that supports USB OTG. It only takes minutes to transfer hours of content to the phone, and unlike cloud services, I don’t have to pay(data) every time i want to use my own content. This support/feature is huge. I don’ know why devices that have the support don’t market it. I also use a standard usb keyboard/mouse on my phone when when i need to be productive.

    • Robb Nunya

      4.5″ Screen

  • nofearofimaginarymen

    Nice form factor, release globally, and at an affordable price. As long as it gets decent battery life, this phone should sell quite a few units. Would be nice to see some Lte bands in there but I understand that they did what they had to in order to keep it affordable.

  • domatau

    this phone should help Android platform grab even more market share in emerging markets

  • Hvacmanjc

    Preliminary, but most specs on different sites are showing 3G only. Doubt the “G” will make it. With Sprint data speeds, there is no way.

  • Wozn2

    The price is right. If they could have launched the Moto X globally and for $100 less than they did, they would have a sales success.

    This will sell very well if they can get it on shelves before Xmas.

  • Aaron Peromsik

    Sounds like this might be exactly the phone I have been waiting for. Just waiting to hear whether the bootloader is locked and how rootable it is. MicroSD support would be nice but I wouldn’t expect it from a Google company, and I think I can live with 16GB.

  • tom-e

    Looks like the Galaxy Nexus, no branding on the front… Great! But I got that phone 2 years ago.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Once again it’s interesting to watch the comments and the negativity. Not top specs? Possibly only 3G? blah, blah, blah. Ill say it again , not every thing is geared towards the U.S. Market only. People seem to forget there are other markets in Developing nations or people that are on real budgets. Some parts of the world are just getting to 3G, some barely have wifi, and you guys want to scream about specs???

    I read their negative comments on every site, I can’t help but imagine overweight, low self esteem, or overly privileged geeks with no life thinking the world revolves around them.

    • Mark Wheeler

      VERY well said!

    • Deads

      Indeed.
      A lot of people seem to forget that 4G tends to only be in the major citys in some countrys and even there the capacity isnt always that great.

      And ofc the price tag. You cant expect a Snapdragon 800, 2GB of ram 4g etc for 180 dollars.

      This phone might become a huge hit if Motorola market it properly.

      My sister for example doesnt spend a lot of money on phones and this phone should might be able to get for less then 100 euro on a 1 year contract.

    • TalkingMoose

      Some people want top tier specs with mass market pricing. Maybe they also expect a free unicorn to be included.

      For a practically minded person, this is a pretty nice phone. No LTE? If you don’t stream media, not a big deal. Most people I know use their phone as a phone, messenger, PDA and camera. Instant media isn’t critical to their needs. Plus, they’re not about to drop $500 on a phone when that money could feed a teenager for a couple of days. This is a good option for them.

      It’s also an excellent gateway to the smartphone experience for late adopters.

      I doubt Google makes a dime off this phone in direct sales, heck they may even lose money, but they’ll gain a ton of market share for Android, and more profitable future sales.

      It also pokes at Apple who wouldn’t, couldn’t release a phone this cheap.

      • Robb Nunya

        “Maybe they also expect a free unicorn to be included.”

        AFAIK, AOKP isn’t pre-loaded on anything yet… :D

    • Lou_Sasshole

      Well said.

      Some people just can’t comprehend that not everyone wants, needs or can afford top tier specs. This phone has pretty damn good specs for this price and I can’t think of any other phone that would be better value for this money.

  • NinoBr0wn

    Wow really great price for what looks like a good device. Can’t believe we live in a time where this is the low end of what’s available. Definitely getting this for my girlfriend. Did they mention network radios and such?

  • objektiv_one

    This looks like a wonderful complementary phone to my Nexus 5. It won’t break the bank and the specs are great for the price. I’m loving it.

  • Unorthodox

    Now we know why Google wanted KitKat to work on low-end devices so badly. This! Can you imagine market penetration with this thing?

    • rebirthofcool

      500M potential buyers is huge!

  • rebirthofcool

    if you can’t get the Nexus5 this MotoG is your next great option…funny thing is Moto thrashed the Galaxy S4 in their presentation

  • wumps13

    Take that samsung galaxy s3 and s4 mini !

  • bkosh84

    This phone is going to be awesome for my wife. She has a iPhone4 right now and HATES IT and wants to come to Android.. But we don’t want to break the bank on buying her an off-contract phone.. And she could care less about whether it has 4G LTE or not (we’re on AT&T in Cleveland).

  • Jeff72

    end of January 2014?

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Why not make it LTE enabled for few extra $$ for U.S? It would make a great device for T Mobile, Virgin/Boost LTE accounts

  • InfDaMarvel

    1gb of ram though. And that bezel at the bottom. Lack on that x8 system. And no 4G? People look up the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 before jumping this.

    • Dominic Powell

      1Gb of ram on KITKAT(within 2 months) is the major difference here.

      • NexusMan

        And, presumably, working radios, and customization, and cheap price (NEW) and off contract, and probably better camera, and presumably better battery life, and customer support, and available on all carriers…

  • Donkey13

    pretty lame that it’s not packing LTE…i mean really moto?!

  • J Cav the Great

    LTE i can do without…im buying two of these for younger brother and neice….

  • sfbaydawg221

    An affordable GSM phone with the latest software to use for someone who travels abroad a lot. Earlier this year at that price range (a few dollars cheaper) one could only buy a used Galaxy S captivate and load it with Cyanogenmod.

  • Robb Nunya

    I think I could actually see myself buying this for the wife.

  • Sanjay Negi

    Moto G is an amazing android phone with quad core processor and 5 MP camera. It is a very good choice for users in emerging markets like India.

    http://www.91mobiles.com/motorola-moto-g-price-in-india

  • schitzengigles10

    If I were the iPhone 5c (or Apple in general) I’d be terrified of this phone

  • izzyt

    ok, well im comparing this phone to my Lg L9 and i would rather have this phone!!!

  • hasan
  • Eric Keenan

    What has me excited about this phone is that it does not have 4g…thats right! Because I can probably activated it on my Verizon MVNO without flashing. OTA program and I should be good to go. Verizon won’t allow 4g on their prepaid or MVNO’s so our phones have basically been stuck in the technology of 2011. No verizon bloatware too…pure Android. There are a lot of us out here limping along on our two year-old phones because we can’t or won’t flash a 4G phone. We don’t want to have to root, mod, hack, flash or nothing. This appears to be a nice upgrade to an Incredible and Incredible 2 that are still going strong but probably don’t have much life left. I was probably going to switch to another prepaid with 4g just so I could have a newer phone. Now, I can keep my plans and my savings. If this is as good as it looks, I’m buying one as soon as I can. Thank you Google/Moto!