Unlocked Moto G handset offers quad-core Snapdragon for $179

Well hello, Moto. Google-owned Motorola Mobility has introduced a budget handset that looks quite impressive considering the price. The Moto G starts at just $179 for the 8GB version, and bumping up to 16GB raises the price by only $20. Those are all-in prices, by the way; the Moto G will be sold sans contract. It has an unlocked SIM slot and and unlocked bootloader, too.

As one might expect, the Moto G is a study in compromise. The 4.5" screen is a little smaller than some may prefer, and the 720p display resolution is nothing special. But the 326 PPI pixel density is still pretty respectable given the price point.

Too bad there's no 4G connectivity. 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are included, at least.

Most smartphones at this end of the spectrum are equipped with dual-core processors, but the Moto G ups the ante with a quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip from Qualcomm. The SoC's Cortex-A7 cores top out at 1.2GHz according to specifications posted by GSM Arena. An Adreno 305 GPU provides pixel-pushing power, while 1GB of RAM rides shotgun.

The Moto G is a little light in the RAM department, but it should benefit from the memory optimizations built into Android 4.4 KitKat. Although the Moto G will ship with version 4.3 of the OS, a KitKat upgrade is promised "at the beginning of 2014." Motorola notes that the OS will have "no skins to clutter or slow the experience." Can I get an amen?

Interestingly, the Moto G offers a hint of customization. Users will be able to choose between 19 different back pieces, each with a different color and texture combination. Some of these "shells" will also include a flip cover that protects the screen.

At 11.6 mm (0.47") thick, the Moto G isn't as svelte as the latest high-end handsets. The lack of microSD expansion is annoying, too, especially considering limited internal flash capacity. Still, I'm pretty impressed by the overall value proposition.

American shoppers won't be able to get their hands on the Moto G until January. However, the device will be available in Brazil, Latin America, Canada, and parts of Asia and Europe in the next few weeks. Motorola expects to be selling the thing in more than 30 countries by next year.

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