Motorola’s new handset strategy took another step forward this week: The company launched its $129 Moto E phone, which follows the $179 Moto G and now $349 Moto X. The third model is targeted squarely at feature phone users ready to step up to a smartphone but don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to do so.
The idea has merit as Motorola notes only 30 percent of the world’s population uses a smartphone today. There’s still plenty of growth in various regions as a result. And the company already has some proven success: The low-cost Moto G is already the best-selling smartphone in Motorola’s history. That device makes for a good first smartphone too — it actually got an LTE edition this week if you want to spend $219 for one — but it’s not accessible to as many budgets.
So what’s the Moto E like to use? It’s actually difficult for me to say. Not because I didn’t use one — I have a loaner Moto E on hand — but because it’s challenging to have a “first smartphone” perspective after using so many poweful handsets over the years. Having said that, I think the Moto E offers a great experience for someone who’s currently on a feature phone and has a limited budget.
Does it have the fastest processor or best display? No. It actually has one of Qualcomm’s slowest (but current) dual-core chips inside and the 4.3-inch touchscreen display has a resolution of 960 x 540; something we saw on Android phones a few years ago. Yet apps run fine and fast enough; if you haven’t used a flagship Android phone, you’d would know the phone is running “slower” than them. There’s only 4 GB of memory but there is a microSD card slot. The camera won’t compete with that of Apple’s iPhone yet it takes reasonably good photos. And while the battery won’t rival that of the feature phone it replaces, the Moto E should easily last all day on a charge for most people.
While the Moto E will appeal broadly around the world for first-time smartphone owners, Google’s Nexus line of phones represents the other end of the spectrum. Only it looks like there won’t be a Nexus 6.
Noted tipster @evleaks posted this tidbit on Friday: “There is no Nexus 6. Farewell, Nexus.” As a fan of the Nexus line — I still have the original Nexus One I bought in 2010 — that’s disappointing to hear. But it also makes sense when you consider recent rumors of Google’s forthcoming Android Silver initiative. Several reports of Silver cropped up last month with The Verge reporting Google will debut high-end handsets with pure or nearly pure Android software in place of the Nexus line.
That may sound like the current Nexus strategy but a difference here would be two-fold. First, Google is expected to get the Android Silver phones in more carrier stores, which would help sales. And second, Google would use the opportunity to tighten control over Android’s software, removing manufacturer bloatware and such for a potentially better user experience. I’ve also seen reports that Google will support the handsets directly and assist with setup and sales. Perhaps Google will finally have kiosks in stores if not stores of its own.
Even if there is no Nexus 6, the Nexus spirit may live on in under a new name. And if Android Silver is that name, it just makes my old Nexus One that much more meaningful to this Android user.