Google has announced it is releasing a quad-core smartphone for just $US179, purchased outright and unlocked, taking a big swing at rivals Microsoft and Mozilla in the low-end market in the process.
The new smartphone, the Moto G, will be built by the company’s Motorola Mobility hardware division.
The device will be sold for $US179 outright with 8GB of storage and $US199 for 16GB, making it more expensive than Firefox OS smartphones such as the LG Open, but significantly less expensive than most flagship smartphones, which usually cost more than $600.
While initially shipping with stock Android JellyBean, the company promises an upgrade to the most recent version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, during January.
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The device is built around a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, which is significantly faster than the single-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon in the ZTE Open.
It also features a 4.5-inch HD display, with a screen resolution of 1280 x 720 and 326 pixels-per-inch, again significantly better than the ZTE Open’s 3.5-inch 640×1136 display.
Another key selling point of the device is its interchangeable covers, with Google making 19 shells available.
The new device marks a continuation of a push the company began while unveiling Android 4.4 KitKat earlier this month.
At the time, the company surprised some experts by announcing the newest version of its operating system would use less memory than its predecessors in order to create a better experience for low-end device users.
In it official announcement, Google takes pot-shots at its rivals in the low-end market, suggesting Mozilla’s Firefox OS is “second-rate technology” while Apple’s iPhone 5c is “already obsolete”.
“The smartphone industry has relegated hundreds of millions of smartphone buyers to second-class status, preventing them from experiencing the mobile Internet at its best.
“That’s because price-conscious consumers who don’t want to pay $US600 [outright] or more for high-end smartphones have been left with two bad options.
“The first is to buy cheap, new smartphones made with second-rate technology that don’t do justice to modern apps and experiences like navigation, video chat and games. The second is to buy ‘low cost’ versions of premium products that were released two or three years ago and are already obsolete.”
While there is no official word on its Australian release, the company says it will be available during the next few weeks throughout Latin America, Europe, Canada and parts of Asia.
It will be available in the US, India, the Middle East and more of Asia in early January.