Grab a cigar, my friends: Motorola just added a new member to its Android family.
I'm talking about the new Moto G, officially revealed during a press event in Brazil this week. At a glance, the Moto G looks pretty similar to the company's flagship Moto X phone, but make no mistake about it: The devices have significant differences.
In short, the Moto G is designed to be a low-cost phone aimed primarily at emerging markets. It'll be sold in the U.S., too, however, starting in January; it'll run $179 for an 8GB model or $199 for a 16GB version, unlocked and off-contract.
For perspective, the Moto X would currently cost you close to $500 off-contract, which is actually relatively low for a high-end off-contract phone (with Nexus devices being the main exception). Of course, if you buy the device with a two-year carrier contract -- as most smartphone shoppers do -- you'd be looking at a $99 price with the carrier's subsidy (and accompanying elevated monthly service rates).
So price aside, what sets the Moto G apart from its older sibling? It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect, given that we're talking about a lower-end version of the phone. The Moto G has a 4.5-in. LCD display compared to the Moto X's 4.7-in. AMOLED panel. It has a slower processor with half the RAM and none of the "X8 mobile computing system" business that makes the Moto X's most impressive features possible.
That means the Moto G doesn't have Touchless Control, the Moto X feature that lets you wake the phone anytime with your voice and then proceed to give it verbal commands. It also lacks Active Display, which causes relevant information to periodically flash on the phone's screen. The Moto G does, however, have the same near-stock Android user interface as the X, which is a plus.
Moto G at left, Moto X (with Moto Maker customization) at right
What else? The Moto G lacks LTE support (but does work with HSPA+-level 4G networks) and doesn't offer support for NFC. It has a smaller battery than its brother, too, though Moto promises it'll deliver "all-day" performance. And its camera is a step down from what the Moto X packs; we'll have to wait to see what that means for its real-world image-capturing capabilities.
The two phones are roughly the same size, though the Moto G is a bit thicker and heavier; it also has a different finish on its outside and has no native options for hardware customization (though it will be available with a handful of "interchangeable shells").
All in all, what we're looking at are two very different phones designed to address two very different needs. The Moto G seems to be a perfectly decent budget phone at an impressive off-contract price; as far as budget phones go, it looks like it'll elevate the playing field, which has been pretty abysmal up to now. The Moto X, meanwhile, is geared toward smartphone shoppers who are willing and able to spend a little more (or sign a carrier contract) to get a higher-level experience.
It boils down to this: If you're looking for a low-cost off-contract option, especially for use with a prepaid plan, the Moto G is a promising new contender to consider. Given the choice, though, the higher-end Moto X is definitely the more desirable device -- and if cost and availability aren't holding you back, it's almost certainly the one you'll want.