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Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Moto G: Off-contract Android Heaven

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments

There's never been a better time to be carrier contract-free, thanks to the latest Nexus phones and Moto G.

There's been never a better time than now for consumers looking to get a new Android smartphone (that doesn't suck) without being tied to a ball-and-chain sort of contract with one of the big wireless carriers.

Google together with LG shook the pricing model of the high-end smartphone with the introduction of the Nexus 4. Even without (official) support for LTE, the Nexus 4 was a runaway hit thanks to its $299 price point. It was sold out for months in Google's Play Store, and commanded much more than sticker price on the buy-and-sell markets.

The just-released Nexus 5 replaces the Nexus 4 but boosts the entry price to $349, albeit with 16GB in the starting model. Like the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5 boasts the same top-end Snapdragon processor of other smartphones twice its price.

Motorola takes the value proposition of the Nexus line and takes it even a step further with today's Moto G reveal. The Moto G smashes smashes through current pricing models (and expectations) with a starting price of $179 from Motorola, with no contract, carrier unlocked.

Like the Nexus 4 and 5, the Moto G gets to that amazing price point with some compromises. For one, it doesn't have LTE, but given that 4G is still roiling out worldwide (with a whole mess of different bands), it's understandable. Motorola set out to deliver a modern Android experience to those who would otherwise be relegated to years-old models, and chose to spend the money on the 720p display that looked very good in our early impressions and the quad-core Snapdragon 400. Sure, the SoC is a step behind that of the Nexus 4, but in regular tasks it feels just as snappy -- further highlighting the wise choice of sticking closely to stock Android.

It may actually be a shame that the Nexus 4 is no longer offered. If it were, even at original prices, then a consumer could pick from a modern-day Android phone at $179, $199, $299, $349, and $399 -- all at no contract, unlocked prices.

This new trend supported by Google (and its subsidiary Motorola Mobility) is a boon to phone users at almost even level. The Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 delivers enthusiasts top-of-the-line mobile processors at prices half of other flagship devices, all while providing what we feel are superior software experiences. The Moto G, on the other hand, will accomplish the very same but for a different segment. Customers with prepaid plans with less than $200 to spend often had to settle for a slow device with already-outdated software. Now the Moto G lets them buy in to the modern Android experience at only a fraction of the cost.

Could this be Google's secret plan to capture the worldwide market? Possibly. Before the release of the latest iPhones, the buzz about the iPhone 5c was that it was going to be Apple's invasion into the low-cost market. The iPhone 5c's unlocked, off contract pricing of $600 isn't going to do that, but the Moto G could very well blaze the trail to Android world domination.

Moto G vs. Nexus 5 vs. Nexus 4

From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From left: Moto G, Nexus 5, Nexus 4From top: Moto G, Nexus 4, Nexus 5From top: Moto G, Nexus 4, Nexus 5From top: Moto G, Nexus 4, Nexus 5From top: Moto G, Nexus 4, Nexus 5

For more:

Motorola Announces the $179 Moto G

Moto G Video Hands-on

Follow Marcus Yam @MarcusYam. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Display 29 Comments.
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  • -5 Hide
    gladosiri , November 13, 2013 1:33 PM
    Good stuff. Phones for everyone.
    Too bad this encourages even more kids to own a phone now..
  • 4 Hide
    BulkZerker , November 13, 2013 2:49 PM
    Waiting fr my contract to expire now before I pull the trigger on a nexus 5 myself
  • 3 Hide
    burnley14 , November 13, 2013 3:23 PM
    Just got my Nexus 5 in the mail. Woo!
  • 2 Hide
    Patrick Tobin , November 13, 2013 4:26 PM
    I love my Windows Phone but I will be switching to Android as I cannot afford Apple nor can I get all the features I need for my work now with my Windows OS. It is unfortunate as I love the interface and snappiness of WP8.
  • 6 Hide
    vern72 , November 13, 2013 4:27 PM
    ...and this is the part of the formula that Apple doesn't get: different price points. That's why Android is at over 80% saturation.
  • -2 Hide
    cmartin011 , November 13, 2013 5:13 PM
    only am i seeing elephant in the corner of the room... no replaceable batteries!
  • 3 Hide
    ipwn3r456 , November 13, 2013 7:43 PM
    Quote:
    only am i seeing elephant in the corner of the room... no replaceable batteries!


    I bet you never own a smartphone before...
  • 0 Hide
    ioconnor , November 13, 2013 8:24 PM
    No copy editor? The punctuation and grammatical problems in this article were distracting.
  • 0 Hide
    ioconnor , November 13, 2013 8:31 PM
    This evening I ordered the T-Mobile $70 unlimited 4G prepaid plan to go with my Nexus 5. T-Mobile's plan is suppose to be unlimited with no throttling.

    Has anybody actually tested this plan?
  • 0 Hide
    Bloob , November 13, 2013 9:37 PM
    Quote:
    ...and this is the part of the formula that Apple doesn't get: different price points. That's why Android is at over 80% saturation.

    Apple does get it, but they choose to not care, they still have about 50% market share in high end devices, and they still get the most of the best apps first. Not sure how long that will last, but people who own iDevices tend to be more likely to use money on apps as well. Of course, Nexus -devices are little more than advertising platforms, so they are usually best value for money hardware -wise.
  • -1 Hide
    allanitomwesh , November 13, 2013 10:40 PM
    If they actually sell it outside the USA and UK,maybe. But their "oh it's only on Verizon" nonsense has them broke. They have how many phones? Droid Maxx,Moto X,Atrix HD,Razr HD,Razr HD Maxx, Photon Q,And now Moto G and guess how many of those work outside of Verizon let alone America?
  • -2 Hide
    shriganesh , November 13, 2013 11:20 PM
    No SD Card slot? Cheap phones with no SD Card slots don't make sense at all! This is ridiculous !
  • 3 Hide
    bombebomb , November 14, 2013 5:34 AM
    No 1080 screen, no sd card, no 3000mha battery, no money printer, no core I7, I think ill wait till the next model.

    Without the I7 or money printer this phone is worth $178 at best, and not a dollar more!
  • 3 Hide
    allanitomwesh , November 14, 2013 5:39 AM
    Quote:
    No 1080 screen, no sd card, no 3000mha battery, no money printer, no core I7, I think ill wait till the next model.

    Without the I7 or money printer this phone is worth $178 at best, and not a dollar more!


    You forgot the nail clipper and can opener. And of course it has to have Radeon R9 graphics at least.
  • 0 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , November 14, 2013 5:53 AM
    I just found out that I'm somehow off-contract (some sort of clerical error between my carrier and where I bought my Note 2) and knowing these phones are out there makes switching to pay-as-you-go seem like the only sane option.
  • 0 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , November 14, 2013 5:59 AM
    At this price, I really don't think I care if the battery is removable. The SD card thing does bother me, but even though I have a 64 GB card in my current phone, I'm still using less than 11 GB total between the internal flash and the card. I realize other people's usage patterns vary, though.
  • 0 Hide
    godfather666 , November 14, 2013 6:30 AM
    NO HDMI?!!? This is a DEAL BREAKER.
  • 0 Hide
    teh_chem , November 14, 2013 6:41 AM
    I think 1GB of RAM doesn't cut it on Android 4.1+ systems. For the unlocked price, the Moto G is a great deal; but I think it's not the best comparison to the N5 or even the N4 (though the point of this article isn't really to be a shootout between the phone spec's).

    That being said, 8GB and 16GB options with no SD card slot...I wouldn't buy it. I can get by with a 32GB phone without a SD card, but 8 or 16? I couldn't get the most out of it that I expect.
  • 0 Hide
    JD88 , November 14, 2013 8:06 AM
    Quote:
    I think 1GB of RAM doesn't cut it on Android 4.1+ systems. For the unlocked price, the Moto G is a great deal; but I think it's not the best comparison to the N5 or even the N4 (though the point of this article isn't really to be a shootout between the phone spec's).

    That being said, 8GB and 16GB options with no SD card slot...I wouldn't buy it. I can get by with a 32GB phone without a SD card, but 8 or 16? I couldn't get the most out of it that I expect.


    1 GB should be decent in this case. Stock Android with limited carrier bloat is not nearly as bad as something like Touchwhiz or Sense where tons of RAM is necessary for all the crap running in the background. Things should even be better once it gets KitKat.
  • 0 Hide
    fozzie76 , November 14, 2013 12:27 PM
    Nokia 520 should be in this list too.
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