The Motorola Moto G is now available through some U.S. carriers, Motorola announced Nov. 26. Its arrival comes well ahead of the January timeframe the company promised when it debuted the smartphone Nov. 13.
"We're giving people plenty of mobile goodness to gobble up this holiday season," Motorola said in a blog post. "Starting today, people in the U.S. can purchase the Moto G (GSM version) on Motorola.com with no contract, no SIM lock and an unlockable bootloader for USB$179 with 8GB of storage or USD $199 for 16GB."
The CDMA version (for Sprint) will arrive on schedule, in January.
The Moto G might be called the Moto X's iPhone 5C—it's a less-expensive version of the Moto X, Motorola's first smartphone collaboration with parent company Google. But unlike the 5C, it's available at a price that's likely to find it serious audiences in emerging markets, like Latin America and China, and make a difference for Motorola, which Google is still working to turn around.
While Apple sells the iPhone 5C for $99 with a two-year contract, the Moto G starts at $179 without a contract (the Moto X, in contrast, starts at $549 without a contract). In China, a market that analysts expected Apple to create a lower-priced iPhone for, the 5C's price is even higher, putting it out of reach for many Chinese consumers. (Analysts had hoped for a 5C priced between $300 and $450.)
The Moto G features a 4.5-inch HD display that Motorola calls the "sharpest in its class." (It has 329 pixels per inch, just over the 326ppi on the iPhone 5S.)
It runs the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor—Motorola says it performs some tasks more quickly than the Samsung Galaxy S 4—will upgrade to KitKat 9( Android 4.4) in January and promises 24 hours of battery life.
Like the Moto X, the Moto G has a curved back that tucks nicely into a palm and, though to a lesser degree, is customizable. Motorola is selling what it calls Shells, back panels in different colors that users can snap on, along with FlipShells (backs with privacy-offering front covers) and Grip Shells (rubbery Shells intended for maybe more active lifestyles).
The Moto G is now available in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Canada, and is headed for Latin America, Europe and Asia. By early 2014, it will be available in more than 30 countries through 60 carriers.
Moto G Early Reviews
Android Central had some hands-on time with the Moto G and was most impressed with its display, which it called its "most powerful asset" and "absolutely fantastic" and "all the more impressive considering the phone's price point."
"It's bright and clear with colors that are vivid, but not over-saturated. What's more, viewing angles impressed with no discoloration when viewed off-angle," it added.
In summary, Android Central called the Moto G comfortable to use, with great build quality and "speedy performance for the price." On the downside was the 8GB model, with its fixed storage, leaving "little breathing room." And maybe the greatest consideration for U.S. audiences: no LTE connectivity.
The Guardian called the Moto G the "best budget smartphone" and one that lives up to its "game-changing" hype. "In testing I found the Moto G to more or less live up to Motorola's claims, far exceeding the battery life of smartphones more than three times its price, lasting just about two days of general usage," wrote reviewer Samuel Gibbs.
Gibbs offered in conclusion: "Motorola described the Moto G as disruptive and game changing, and for once, I almost agree with the hyperbole. The Moto G is a far better smartphone experience than it ought to be. ... Compared to competing smartphones ... from Samsung, Nokia, HTC and a variety of Chinese phone manufacturers, Motorola completely blows them away with the Moto G."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to fix an error in the pricing of the Moto G. The Moto G starts at $179 without a contract.