Motorola's Moto G Targets Emerging Markets

Motorola thinks the Moto G can win over smartphone buyers who want more performance at a lower price point.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

November 13, 2013

3 Min Read

Motorola has introduced the Moto G, a smartphone that takes a page from the Moto X in basic design, but dials down the specs so it can be sold for less money. The Moto G, announced Wednesday from Brazil, puts many other devices in its class to shame, since it offers a midrange experience for an entry-level price.

There's a reason Motorola announced the Moto G from Brazil. Brazil and other markets favor prepaid services and therefore consumers buy smartphones and other devices at the full retail price. U.S. buyers, by way of comparison, often sign contracts and buy phones at subsidized prices. The Moto G is available in Brazil starting Wednesday, according to Motorola, and it will expand to other Latin American markets in the weeks ahead. Brazil is exactly the type of market in which a device such as the Moto G can thrive.

The Moto G features a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen. That's a solid screen for a midrange device, and a luxurious one for an entry-level price. Most devices in the same price class as the Moto G offer screens under four inches and at 800 x 480 (or similar) resolutions. The G is powered by a quad-core 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1 GB of RAM. This isn't Qualcomm's best chip today, not by a longshot, but at least it is from Qualcomm's 2013 processor lineup, and not its 2012 or 2011 processor class. Motorola told the audience Wednesday that the Moto G will be able to run future versions of Android and all apps without trouble for years to come. That's not a promise other entry-level devices can claim. Many offer crummy performance thanks to outdated specs.

[ Android will get even more open, if Motorola has its way. See Motorola's Project Ara Promotes Modular Smartphones. ]

The Moto G looks like the Moto X, but it isn't quite the same. For starters, there's no Moto Maker to custom design the Moto G. Instead, it comes in black or white. To counter the lack of Moto Maker, the G has a removable back cover. Motorola is offering 19 different colors for the back shell to help Moto G owners personalize their device at least a little bit. It is also offering two colored cases, including a bumper and one that has a folding cover.

Other specs of the Moto G include a 5-megapixel main camera and 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera; 8 GB or 16 GB of included storage; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G; and a 2,070-mAh battery. It will run Android 4.3 out of the box, and will be updated to Android 4.4 shortly after launch. (The Moto X will receive Android 4.4 KitKat in a matter of weeks, according to Motorola.)

The Moto G costs $179 for the 8-GB model and $199 for the 16-GB model. It is being sold unlocked and unsubsidized. Most devices that include the same specs as the Moto G sell for between $250 and $300 when unsubsidized. As Motorola pointed out, the Moto G costs one third that of today's flagship devices, such as the Apple iPhone 5s, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S4. The Moto G won't be available in the U.S. until January. Expect to find it on the shelves of prepaid providers, such as MetroPCS, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, and others.

Making decisions based on flashy macro trends while ignoring "little data" fundamentals is a recipe for failure. Also in the new, all-digital Blinded By Big Data issue of InformationWeek: How Coke Bottling's CIO manages mobile strategy. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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