Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside introduces the Moto G

Motorola today announced the Moto G, a mid-market smartphone designed to give consumers a high quality experience for the fraction of the price. The Moto G is the global successor to Motorola’s well-received Moto X and sports better quality hardware than most cheaper smartphones sold around the world.

The Moto G has a 4.5-inch display with 329 pixels-per-inch and a quad-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. It comes with a removable back in a variety of colors—called Motorola Shells—and runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The battery is 2070 mAh, which Motorola promises will run “all day,” and has a 5-megapixel back camera.

The real news though is the price. The 8 GB of internal storage version will retail at $179 without a carrier contract and an unlocked SIM card. The 16-GB version will cost $199. The Moto G is available today in Brazil and parts of Europe today and will be available in other parts of the world in the coming weeks. Motorola said that the Moto G will be available in the United States at the beginning of January 2014. 

“Most people in the world can’t afford a $500 or $600 smartphone,” Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said at the device’s launch announcement in Brazil. “We think the industry should provide more value for the consumer dollar.”

The price and specifications of the Moto G do what many people hoped Apple would do with its lower-end device, the iPhone 5C. It provides quality hardware while not breaking the bank. The iPhone 5C with 16 GB of internal storage retails off-contract at $549 (32 GB at $649). These are prices that disappointed many people in the world who were looking for a quality Apple smartphone that they could afford. If you put the hardware specifications of the Moto G against the iPhone 5C, Motorola’s budget smartphone compares favorably while being less than a third of the price.

The Moto G is not an exact iPhone 5C competitor and does suffer from some lack top end features. For instance, it does not have 4G LTE connectivity but rather 3G GSM and CDMA support. That makes it attractive to many consumers across the globe that do not have LTE but will make the device a much harder sell in the United States. 

The Moto G does not sport some of the more intuitive features of its big sister Moto X. It does not have the Active Display that shows notifications from the lock screen or the gesture or voice control that make the Moto X one of the smarter phones on the market. It does run a “pure” version of Android (without a custom skin or launcher) and is heavily integrated with Google’s software services. Outside of the Motorola Shells, the Moto G will not have the consumer customization options that the Moto X has with Moto Maker in the U.S. where consumers can have their smartphone built in a variety of colors. 

All in all, the Moto G is the type of device that should push other smartphone manufacturers to up their game. It provides good (though not cutting edge) hardware, one of the most recent versions of Android (with the promise to update to version 4.4 KitKat by January 2014) and a quality Android experience. The price immediately puts it at the head of the class for cheap and mid-market smartphones against the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, Nokia and Apple.