Motorola unveils the affordable Moto G

Motorola unveils the affordable Moto G

Summary: With a decent specification and a competitive price, Motorola's Moto G looks likely to shake up the entry-level smartphone market.


Motorola has thrown down a gauntlet to its smartphone competitors with the launch of the Moto G — the company's second handset to appear since its acquisition by Google in 2012. Earlier this year saw the introduction of the well-received Moto X, but only (so far) in the Americas: today's London launch event (with a live video feed from São Paulo in Brazil) was the first glimpse in Europe of the fruits of the Google-Motorola partnership.

Starting at a SIM-free price of £135 (€169, $179) with 8GB of storage, the new Moto G slots in at the entry level of Google's Android handset portfolio, with the recently launched Nexus 5 (£299 / €349 / $349 for 16GB) as the flagship.

Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside launching the Moto G, on a live link to London from São Paulo, Brazil. (Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet)

Aimed at the multitude of potential and price-sensitive smartphone users, Moto G has a solid spec based around a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.2GHz and 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. It runs the 'pure' (skin-free) Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and, like the Nexus series, will get timely OS updates — Motorola promises that the latest 4.4 (KitKat) version will be available in January 2014. To enhance its consumer appeal, the Moto G comes with removable backplate shells in seven colours, along a with range of flip-cover shells and other accessories.

The 4.5-inch Moto G comes with a range of colourful accessories, including flip-cover backplates. (Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet)

Speaking at the São Paulo event, Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility said: "most people in the world can't afford a $500 or $600 smartphone: in fact, the average price of a smartphone is close to $200 — the problem is, the experience that smartphones in this class provides is really, really bad". It's this experience — generally provided either by a new low-end handset or a 2-3-year-old flagship device — that Motorola is seeking to improve with the Moto G.

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Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

To this end, the Moto G sports a 4.5-inch, 1,080-by-720-pixel display with a pixel density of 329ppi — a class-leading spec, according to Motorola. Similarly, the quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm SoC with its 450MHz Adreno 305 GPU and 1GB of RAM is a cut above the usual budget smartphone fare. You get either 8GB ($179) or 16GB ($199) of internal storage, with 50GB of free online Google Drive storage available for two years.

Mobile network connectivity is limited to quad-band GSM and 3G (UMTS), with CDMA available for US markets. No LTE support here. Also wi-fi doesn't run to the latest 802.11ac standard as in the Moto X, covering 802.11b/g/n only. Bluetooth 4.0 is present, along with GPS (with GLONASS support).

The Moto G is heavier than its X sibling, at 143g compared to 130g, but with its curved back and understated design feels anything but 'budget' in the hand. The handset is powered by a 2,070mAh battery, which Motorola claims will deliver up to 24 hours 'mixed usage time'.

The Moto G will eventually be available in over 30 countries, starting immediately in certain territories.

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Mobility


Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • Sao Paolo in Brazil

    Correct city : "São Paulo".
  • Good Price

    That's a lot of phone for the money.
    Alan Smithie
    • Lumia 520

      The Lumia 520 seems to be a much better value for an entry level smart phone and it lists for $99 and has been reported as low as $75....that is a no contract price.
      • The 520

        Isn't even in the same ballpark.

        Nice try, here is your 50c.
        Alan Smithie
      • Price

        A good price, but for Windows Phone vs Android? I think most people would consider the much larger ecosystem of Android to be worth the extra money.
        • Much larger ecosystem, to people like you, means number of apps,

          but that doesn't mean that the ecosystem is superior in any way. I'd rather have a smartphone that offers a lot more from the outset, and with a much better OS, than the Android junk, which is mostly apps the nobody wants or use or just use once and throw away.

          The 520/521 are a much better value than even some of the higher priced Android devices. And hey, I do own an LG G2, which is a very nice device, but, I'm also looking for a Nokia 1020, but, I might opt for the bigger 1520 soon.
          • You get what you pay

            Lumia 520 is affordable, but there are no free lunches, Prices in the US are not like in all other places.
      • Lumia 520, huh? Not in the same league

        Are you kidding? Snapdragon 4 instead of the Moto's 400? 4" vs. 4.5" screen, 800x480 vs. 1080x720? 512MB vs. 1GB?

        And don't give me the "WinPhone runs better" crap - we have an LG F3 with a Snapdragon 200, Android 4.1.2, and it runs great, less stutter than WinPhones better than the 520.
        • Btw, the LG F3 is a pretty sweet little phone

          Just a tangent, but $150 for an LTE phone ... we thought it was going to suck at everything else, but it just doesn't. And the battery life? 20% after 2 whole days of moderate use with no charging.
  • more realistic pricing, thank goodness

    This is what the Moto X should have been priced at -- instead of trying to fool people into thinking it was a top tier phone worth $600 off contract. There's a place for phones like this, so glad Motorola is putting it at the level it deserves. 4.5" - 4.7" 720p is LAST year's specs.
  • Good Phone For The Price

    That phone is mine as soon as it comes out.
    • Price

      It sounds like solid value for the price. A good starter phone.
  • Nice looking phone...

    ...But which carriers will have it? Any no contract carriers. This would be a dandy TRACFONE but that is just a dream.
    • In US, T-Mob and Sprint, plus their MVNOs, no doubt

      I'm sure the VirginMobiles and MetroPCSs will pick it up.

      Oh - no LTE - maybe not MetroPCS.