Moto E

Motorola unveiled its Moto E smartphone today. It will go on sale this summer at $180 unlocked, with no contract. (Anand Ram)

Motorola has unveiled the Moto E, its latest budget device aimed at customers who want to get into the smartphone world.

The Moto E sports a 4.3-inch touchscreen made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, a dual-core processor, and a five-megapixel camera. It also boasts "all-day" battery life and runs the latest version of Google’s Android operating system (4.4.2).

The company made the announcement today in six markets: India, United Kingdom, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Canada.

Motorola does not yet have a specific release date, but said it will launch this summer in Canada — unlocked, off contract —  at $180. BlackBerry launched its similarly priced Z3 in Indonesia today. Meanwhile, Apple's lower end iPhone 5C starts at $599.

The device is the latest in the Moto line of phones, which started with its high-end Moto X last August and continued with the Moto G last November. The latter was praised for its low price yet relatively powerful features, a recipe the company wants to repeat.

"Clearly, we want to demonstrate quality," says Odile Guinot, general manager of Motorola Mobility Canada. She says the company’s strategy is to be durable and committed. "You want to make sure the money you’re spending is well-invested ... [and] when you buy your phone, we don’t forget about you."

New Moto G model

To Motorola’s credit, the G delivered software updates in a timely manner. That, along with its price point, made it an unexpected hit for Motorola

“With the G, we went in bullish and we were pleasantly surprised,” said John Carney, a senior vice-president at Motorola. “Moto G is now the best selling smartphone in Motorola’s history, after only five months.”

The company would not say how many total Moto G phones were sold worldwide, but said 6.5 million units were shipped, 150,000 of those were in Canada, in only three months.

Motorola is now poised to launch the Moto G LTE — a high-speed variant coming next month to Canada. The new model will cost $225, unlocked and off-contract. Carney believes that it will help bolster sales in western markets, where customers want more speed.

A company in transition

The new phones come at a time when Motorola is, once again, changing hands. Less than two years after it bought Motorola for $12.4 billion, Google is selling it to Lenovo for $2.9 billion, awaiting regulatory approval in some countries.

The Moto line products were developed under close ties to Google, evident in their approach to an uncluttered Android experience. However, even with solid devices like the G, the company has posted quarterly loss after loss.

Carney sees the upcoming partnership as an easy marriage, as both companies are focused on the low-end of the market.

“Lenovo has said we would maintain a two-brand strategy,” Carney says, adding that Lenovo currently sells smartphones aimed at an even lower-priced market. “Our footprints would be very complementary.”