How do you go about making a quad-core, Android 4.2.2 smartphone like the Moto G for just £100? We've been speaking to Motorola to find out...
Have you seen our new range of easily affordable smartphones? We’re excited to be stocking the brand new Moto G as just one of our line-up, not least because it offers a huge amount of mobile power for just £100 on Vodafone Pay as you go. But it’s got us wondering: how do you go about putting ‘high power’ and ‘low cost’ into the same sentence? What was the thinking behind making such an ambitious phone?
We’ve been talking to Motorola’s Vice President and General Manager for the UK & Ireland, Andrew Morley, to find out.
Changing your options
“We started with the assumption that hundreds of millions of people don’t want to spend so much on a smartphone,” Andrew tells us. “And the problem is that, in the past, they’ve been given two bad options. One is that they’ve had to buy an old, second-hand handset. The other option has typically been that they’ve had to buy a new device with big compromises on hardware and software.”
But Motorola thinks there’s a different way. “We don’t believe that price should stand in the way of anyone being able to have a premium experience,” he explains, “or being able to get exactly what they want. So the whole premise around what we’ve tried to do with the Moto G is to build an exceptional phone at an exceptional price.”
And, as is usually the case, the Motorola’s specs do all the talking.
“What this price point tends to have is devices with smaller screens. But the Moto G has a 4.5-inch HD screen. That’s 53% bigger than an iPhone 4. There’s often a compromise on processor, too, but the G has a quad-core processor. Also, some cheaper Android™ devices only run older versions of Android.
Again, the Moto G shines here: “It runs on the very latest version of Android software, 4.4.2 KitKat right out of the box.”
As newer and newer versions of Android roll out, it’s increasingly rare to find any phones that launch with the latest iteration, which is why it’s such a talking point that the Moto G, at just £100, has done just that.
“Offering the latest version of Android is absolutely crucial,” Andrew explains, “because there are so many applications and services which work so much better on the latest version of Android. As such, we aim to bring the latest version of Android to all of our devices as quickly as possible.”
“When we want to upgrade Android, we’re not starting from scratch…
And to do that, you need to strip things back to their core. “What we do is we run our devices on a vanilla version of Android, and on top of that we port a small number of high-impact applications. Vanilla Android is just a fabulous experience to start off with, but what we try to do is innovate with a small number new features.
“An example is Motorola Migrate. What that does is allows you to transfer photos, videos, SIM contacts, call and text history from your old Android device to the Moto G wirelessly and with the click of a button. So you can load all your data – everything important from your old phone – onto your Moto G almost instantly.
“The idea there is that when we want to upgrade Android, we’re not starting from scratch – we’ve got a core version of the software to build on. We think that’s the best balance – keeping the Android experience pure, but adding on just a few new services that add value to make the device stand out.”
Rubbing shoulders with the greats
Of course, updating the Android OS is made easier when you share a connection with the platform’s owners. For more than a year, Motorola has lived as a sub-division of internet giant Google, which took ownership of the brand in 2012. Now Chinese computer powerhouse Lenovo is about to take the reigns, but the influence Google’s had on Motorola in that time is clear. And Andrew says it’s all stemmed from one main ethos:
“The one thing that was quite striking about our relationship with Google was the absolute focus on the consumer. At Motorola we’ve always thought we’ve had a strong consumer focus, but Google took that to a whole new level. Everything they do is focussed around the consumer,” he adds. “If they’re happy, then business success naturally comes as a result.
“For example, on the Moto G, you get an extra 50GB of Google Drive storage for two years, for free. That’s on top of the standard 15GB, and it’s just to say that we know storage is really important to people. Consumer focus is the key – that’s the thing that’s made the difference.”
“The one thing that was quite striking about our relationship with Google was the absolute focus on the consumer.”
So how will things evolve now that Lenovo is acquiring Motorola? “Our strategy remains the same: to focus on a few key products that solve real consumer problems. Andrew tells us, “and we’re all very excited about the future.”
What he will tell us, though, is that a lot of what Motorola will continue to focus on is already present in the Moto G’s DNA:
“For us, one of the biggest trends right now is all about individuality. What we’ve found to be really popular so far with the Moto G has been the take-up of our new user-removable shells that let you take off the existing back and replace it with different colours, shells and cases.
“That gives people the ability to make their device more ‘them’ – rather than having loads of devices on the table that all look the same, you can add your own touch and personality to your device. I think that’s a real opportunity for innovation – giving people the option to make a phone their own.”
Customisation is one big trend for Motorola’s future, but it’s not the main one: “We think accessibility is key,” Andrew says in closing. “We want to make great devices with no compromises accessible to a wider audience.” And with the Moto G, it looks like Motorola has succeeded. What do you think of the new Moto G? Let us know below.
Interested? You can order the Motorola Moto G here. All of our easily affordable smartphones can be found here.