I've seen some low moves, Motorola, but this takes the cakeAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Motorola has really stepped up in the past year. Although at first I have to admit that the Moto X wasn't exactly what I was hoping for (which was pretty much my own fault for getting involved in all of the hype surrounding it) it was still a nice Android device in the end. The Moto X was the first phone that let you customize the outside of your phone if you so chose to do so with an array of color options, as well as being somewhat innovative by playing up the "hands-free" aspect of smartphones that has become so popular as of recently.
But perhaps more noteworthy than Motorola's flagship device in 2013 was their target aimed at the other end of the spectrum. Their low-cost Android handset, the Moto G, was truly a spectacle of its own. The specifications of the Motorola Moto G were about as good as you would expect a low-end Android to be: 1GB of RAM, 8 or 16GB of internal memory with no microSD card slot, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a Quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor. Certainly not much to write home about when compared with some of Android's pricier competition - which is exactly where the Moto G happens to shine.
The Moto G, although yawn-worthy in the spec department, really stands out when you realize the phone is a mere $179. Just $179. Whether you're in a contract or not, you can purchase the Moto G for that steal of a price anytime you want, which is pretty amazing considering up until this point the Nexus 4 was probably the lowest-priced, highest-praised phone for starting their sales off at just $299. $299 and $179 might not sound like a "cheap" price from the get-go, but when you compare it to the $500 plus it would cost you to get most flagship smartphones (and even some mid-range ones), that's about as cheap as it gets in this industry. Since the Moto G wasn't touting absolutely horrible specs and being more than $100 cheaper than the Nexus 4, some might even say that the Moto G was the real shining star for Motorola in 2013. If nothing else, they made a subtle reminder to people that innovative features aren't the only things that interest people; money still talks a big game.
But all of that is in the past. With it being the start of 2014, we've all got our eyes set on the next several months ahead of us as we wait to see what tech giants like Samsung, HTC, Apple, LG, Microsoft (Nokia?), and Sony all have planned for this year. But while most companies remain mum about what kind of flagships we'll see, Motorola recently confirmed some big news of their own: this year they plan to hit an all new low.
Who ever thought that company would be so proud to make such a statement?
But it's true. Motorola recently confirmed that they're planning to unveil an even cheaper smartphone this year. A $100 smartphone? Nope. $75? Nope. Try a $50 smartphone, which is practically the unthinkable right now. When we think "$50 smartphone", the best you're going to come up with is probably some high-tech Fisher Price toy, not a full-functioning smartphone from a reputable company. While I'm not exactly thinking that their planned $50 smartphone is going be the best thing on the market (or anything close to it), what I do have for Motorola is the expectation that they'll be able to make a decent and dependable rig for such a cheap price. After all, if they were able to move us with the Moto G then I'd be willing to say that if I could expect anybody to create a dependable $50 smartphone that it would be Motorola.
As for what to expect spec-wise, it's still undetermined, but in a search for what others' thoughts were on the subject I came across this list of predicted specs created by Tech Domino's Lucian Armasu that looks similar to what you might expect out of a $50 smartphone:
- Single core Cortex A7 CPU
- Mali 400/450 or equivalent GPU
- 512MB of RAM
- 4GB of storage
- 800×480 resolution
- 4" screen
- 3MP camera
- VGA front-camera (or might skip it altogether)
- Wi-Fi, 3G
- 1,500 mAh battery
- Android 4.4 or later
The majority of tech enthusiasts care mostly about specs at this point, but I feel that there is still something to admire from Motorola making strides to create a smartphone cheaper than we thought could be done at this point. The phone will likely be targeted towards poorer countries, but they could also serve their own purpose here in the U.S.: a teen's first smartphone, a replacement smartphone, or perhaps just a smartphone for somebody that doesn't need all of the bells and whistles and just wants to use a few apps sometimes. As long as the device functions well, which I have faith that Motorola will be able to do, there's not a whole lot more I could ask for in a $50 phone. I'm pretty stoked to see what exactly it is they can do for such a low price.
So, reader, what are your initial thoughts on Motorola's ambitious new move? Do you trust that they'll be able to pull off making a decent $50 smartphone, or do you think that at such a low price that the resulting product can't ever be good? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!