The mobile world was forever changed the very instant that the Google Nexus 4 was unveiled to the masses. A powerful flagship device with a price point that was decisively mid-range? It seemed nearly impossible.
After that day, most hardcore Android users would rethink smartphone pricing structures, and from then on you’d often hear mobile websites describe a budget or mid-range handset as “not too bad, but it’s a rip-off compared to the Nexus 4”.
A year later, and now it is Motorola’s turn to upset the status quo with the newly announced Moto G. At $179 unlocked, the Moto G is without a doubt the most impressive handset you’ll find for under $300.
Just how good a deal is the Moto G?
To fully understand just how amazing the Moto G’s pricing is, we need to first dive in and look at other handsets in the $170 – $250 range.
Samsung Galaxy Fame S6810
Sony Xperia M C1904
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
|Display||4.5-inch LCD, HD (1280 x 720), 326ppi||3.5-inch TFT, 320 x 480, 165ppi||4.0-inch TFT, 480 x 854, 245ppi||4.0-inch Super AMOLED, 480 x 800, 233ppi|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, quad-core @ 1.2GHz, Adreno 305||unspecified single-core CPU @ 1GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core @ 1GHz||NovaThor U8420 dual-core @ 1GHz, Mali-400|
|Storage||8GB, 16GB||4GB with microSD||4GB with microSD||8 GB, microSD|
|Battery||2070 mAh||1300 mAh||1750 mAh||1500 mAh|
|Cameras||5 MP rear LED flash, 1.3 MP front||5MP rear LED flash, .3 MP front||5MP rear LED flash, .3MP front||5MP rear LED flash, .3MP front|
|Connectivity||GPS, GLONASS, microUSB, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, optional dual-SIM||GPS, GLONASS, microUSB, Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, optional dual-SIM||GPS, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi a/b/g/n, optional dual-SIM||GPS, GLONASS, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, microUSB, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wifi a/b/gn|
|OS||Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, KitKat update guaranteed||Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean|
|Dimensions||129.9 x 65.9 x 6-11.6mm||113.2 x 61.6 x 11.6 mm, weight: 120.6g||124 x 62 x 9.3 mm, weight: 115g||121.6 x 63 x 9.9 mm, weight: 111.5g|
|Colors||Black/White, replaceable colored backplates||White/Blue||Black/White/Purple/|
|Price||$179 for 8GB, $199 for 16GB||$170||$230||$240|
As you can see by looking at the chart above, the Moto G puts the competition to absolute shame! While the chart might only show us three budget alternatives to the Moto G, you’ll find the same pricing and low-end specs across the board when it comes to low-cost handsets from brands such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG.
The only way to get even close to the Moto G’s price/value is if you import a smartphone from China, and even then you are dealing with off-brand processors and lower-end components. With the Moto G you get Motorola’s quality builds, and a high-performing Qualcomm CPU.
Is the Moto G perfect? No, but it’s pretty close. Really the only real issue with the device is that there is no microSD support, but that’s a pretty minor problem when you consider that most of the Moto G’s specs are better than even many $300 – $400 mid-range Android devices.
What the Moto G means for the competition
According to marketing firm ABI Research, roughly 238 million low-cost smartphones will be shipped globally this year, and the number is expected to rise to as high as 758 million by 2018.
As the high-end market slows down, the future of Android growth will largely be found by attracting new users in emerging markets, and budget-conscientious users in primary markets like the United States.
Despite the low cost moniker, research has shown that the feature gap between low- and high-end smartphones is decreasing, making low cost smartphones a ‘good enough’ solution for price sensitive consumers in all markets.
Senior analyst, ABI Research
Google has already expressed interest in reaching the “next billion” Android users by way of emerging markets, but up until now this is a market that has been primarily dominated by Samsung.
Samsung currently has more budget handsets that you can count, but as our comparison chart shows, they don’t come anywhere close to the Moto G’s price/value ratio. For that reason, Samsung has the most to lose when it comes to the Moto G’s arrival — though really all manufacturers (and carriers) should be paying close attention to the Moto G.
Google and Motorola have clearly thrown down the gauntlet here. If Samsung wants to continue to be looked on as the low-cost champion, they will need to push marketing hard and will likely need to reevaluate their pricing and feature structure. Other manufacturers are wise to do the same.
Will the Moto G find success?
A low-priced handset with near-stock Android and mid-range components should sell itself, right? Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as all that. For starters, Motorola doesn’t enjoy the same kind of global brand power that Samsung and other competitors have.
The Moto G’s pricing and specs certainly help set the device in a league of its own, but the next step will be to aggressively market the device against the competition. The good news for Motorola is that they are backed by Google, which has the knowledge and funds needed to break into these new markets.
If Motorola and Google play their cards right, the Moto G has the potential to disrupt the smartphone world in a way that even the Nexus 4 (and 5) couldn’t.
Let’s be honest, the Nexus line is amazing but it only matters mostly to ‘hardcore’ Android users. Even the killer Nexus pricing only applies to select Google Play markets. In contrast, the Moto G is a handset that is designed to appeal to mainstream audiences and is expected to have sub-$250 pricing in most markets across the globe.
The Moto G could be the beginning of a new era, one where low-cost devices are no longer synonymous with low-end specs.
What do you think, will Motorola’s Moto G forever change consumer’s expectations when it comes to budget devices? Will the handset force the competition’s hand when it comes to pricing and value? Or will it largely remain a niche device in a way similar to the Nexus series? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Samsung, if you are reading this article, time to get to work.