Moto G makes its debut as Google eyes emerging smartphone markets

Motorola is expanding its smartphone line with a low-priced successor to the Moto X, the Moto G. Above, an attendee inspects the Motorola Mobility Moto X phone, displayed during a launch event in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

Google took aim Wednesday at the lower end of the smartphone market, introducing a cheap phone targeting a price-conscious overseas audience.

The Moto G will pack a quad-core processor, sharp 4.5-inch display and plenty of color options for an unsubsidized price of $179. That makes it significantly less expensive than other top-tier smartphones or even midrange phones, such as Motorola’s recent flagship release the Moto X, which is $500 at full price.

Sporting a similar look to the Moto X, the Moto G will also share that phone’s philosophy of customization. Motorola did not say how much customers will be able to customize the Moto G, but the new phone comes with a back plate that can swapped for different colors. Customers can also opt for a flip-cover plate, which has a magnetic flap that goes over the front of the screen, or a more rugged plate with rubber grips.

The move is an effort to pursue emerging smartphone markets, which are vital to any company looking to expand. While the U.S. smartphone market is nearing saturation, countries such as China, India and Brazil are recording significant growth.

Outside the United States, wireless carriers tend to offer far smaller subsidies to offset the price of new phones. That means consumers can pay $600 or even more than $800 for a top-tier device such as Apple’s iPhone.

Motorola Mobility, which is a division of Google, said the Moto G will first go on sale in emerging markets such as Brazil and parts of Europe. Consumers there can pick up a phone Wednesday. Motorola will roll out phone in the United States and Canada more slowly. U.S. customers won’t be able to get one until January.

The Moto G comes with additional perks, especially for Google devotees. Not only does the phone run Google’s speedier version of the Android operating system — Android 4.3 and a guaranteed upgrade to the latest build, 4.4 KitKat — it also includes an extra 50 gigabytes of space on Google Drive for two years.

In addition, Motorola has said its Motorola Migrate feature will make it a breeze for users to transfer call logs, texts and other information from Android phones to the Moto G.

Follow The Post’s new tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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