Posted by Jim Martin 19 November 2013
How Motorola made the Moto G so cheap: the bargain £135 smartphone
When mobile phones first became affordable to the average Joe, Joe had no desire to buy his handset outright and look for a cheap SIM-only deal for his calls, texts and WAP data. No. Back then, everything was about contract prices and the handsets themselves had very little value in Joe’s eyes.
Of course, the free or cheap handset price was subsidised by Joe’s monthly payments so he ended up paying handsomely for the handset (see Calculating the true cost of your phone, tablet or laptop) over the course of a couple of years before getting an upgrade to the latest and greatest feature phone, while continuing to pay monthly.
Many Joes still do that today, but smart Joes realise that buying their smartphone outright and choosing a SIM-only package works out cheaper in the long run. Prices have tumbled recently, starting with Google’s Nexus 4 which cost £239, a figure that seemed too good to be true.
Now, there’s Motorola’s Moto G, reviewed, which offers a respectable specification that would make some £400 smartphones blush. Yet you can buy one for £135.
Motorola says it’s making a profit on every Moto G sold, and when you look closely at the specs you can just about see how the maths works. The screen is big and bright, but doesn’t have the full HD resolution of today's flagship models.
There’s no card slot to add more storage and no NFC, nor wireless charging. Instead of uber-megapixel cameras, the Moto G sticks with a 5Mp snapper that shoots 720p footage. Likewise, the processor isn’t the fastest available and there's no support for 4G.
Every one of those components saves money, yet the average Joe won’t notice or care. If local storage fills up, Joe can store and access his files from the cloud (a deal with parent company Google means 65GB is included).
Photos and videos look pretty good, so Joe isn’t likely to complain. The same goes for the screen resolution and performance. They’re more than acceptable. Average Joe won't pay extra for 4G, so being limited to 3G isn't a problem. There's unlikely to be UK-wide, affordable 4G until the Moto G has long since been superseded. Plus, since Motorola hasn’t changed Android much, the associated development costs are minimal.
The final trick, which is by no means unique or particularly clever, is to offer replaceable backs. Since there are 15 different colours to choose between, Joe can personalise his Moto G so it doesn’t look like every other Joe’s.
The price might seem too good to be true, but the Moto G is a genuine bargain. Could the days of the £600 smartphone be over? Don’t bank on it, but rejoice that you don’t have to spend that amount any more to bag yourself a great smartphone.