moto-g-cases

Just like the X, the Moto G is heavily customizable and comes with a range of colourful accessories. (Anand Ram/CBC)

Motorola Mobility today announced the Moto G, a new entry-level Android smartphone designed for emerging markets. The company is hoping to change the image the world has about this class of phones.

With its bright 4.5-inch display and fast processor, the Moto G boasts an impressive price for what’s inside: $200, unlocked and off-contract.

“Most people in the world can’t afford a $500 or $600 phone,” said Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility via videoconference from the phone's main launch event in São Paulo, Brazil, a country where Motorola has been active for 40 years.

Motorola estimates that next year, 500 million people around the world will be buying a smartphone in the $200 range.

“The problem is that the experience that smartphones [in that range] provide [is] really, really bad," Woodside said. "We believe half a billion people deserve better...Full access to mobile internet is a right, not a privilege.”

Typically, entry-level smartphones are targeted at developing nations and offered at lower prices than the higher-end phones that are popular in North America, such as the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy series. Most Android phones in the entry-level tier tend to have dated software.

A key selling point of the Moto G is it runs the latest version of Android, 4.3 Jellybean, with a promise of upgrading to 4.4 KitKat by January of next year.

The phone also packs a quad-core processor, where most mid-tier phones are dual-core. The 720p display is also made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass — a standard in durability in the industry.

Design similar to Moto X

This is the second device that Motorola Mobility has launched since it was bought by Google, and it bears a lot in common with its older brother, the Moto X. Just like the X, the Moto G is heavily customizable and comes with a range of colourful accessories.

At a launch event at Google's Toronto office Wednesday, Odile Guinot, general manager of Motorola Mobility Canada, said the similarities in design, such as the curved back, were intentional.

Moto G: What’s inside?

  • 4.5 inch, 720p display made of Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor (1.2 GHz, Quad-core)
  • Android 4.3 (Guaranteed Android 4.4 upgrade by January 2014)
  • 8 GB / 16 GB storage
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 5 MP back camera / 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weight: 143 grams
  • Customizable colours and styles for backplates

“Your hand is not flat!” she joked, adding that a lot of audience research and testing was done on the Moto G.

“People were very clear about what they wanted: A great display... They also want the phone to keep up with them — you know, to multitask. And we’ve really focused on a simple user interface, free of extra pieces.”

The target market for this device, according to Guinot, are consumers that may not be able to afford a $600 device or don’t want to be tied down to a contract.

Canada is moving into the era of the two-year smartphone contract with the new CRTC Wireless Code, which goes into effect on Dec.2. As a result, carriers could raise prices.

WIth a $200 unlocked option, consumers could bring their own device to carriers and pay less monthly than if they chose a subsidized phone.

The Moto G launches in Brazil and parts of Europe today, and within the month in Canada. Telus and its discount carrier, Koodo are currently the only Canadian retail partners. Motorola hopes to have this phone in more than 30 markets around the world by next year.