When you cover mobile technology, it's easy to zero in on the high-end. And for good reason: Gizmag is about emerging technology, and you usually find the most "emerging" features in expensive devices. But sometimes breakthrough pricing can be a cutting-edge feature in itself. Let's take a look at the specs and features of two devices that push that barrier, the Motorola Moto E and Moto G.
Dimensions are pretty close, though the Moto G is slightly bigger. It's 4 percent longer and 2 percent wider than the Moto E. The Moto G is, however, 6 percent thinner.
Weights are nearly identical, with the Moto G just adding 1 g (0.35 oz) of heft.
In budget phones like these, you wouldn't expect to see exteriors made of anything other than plastic. And you won't.
The most interesting item here is both phones' exchangeable "shells." While you can't customize either phone's colors at the factory, like you can with the flagship Moto X, you can buy interchangeable back covers in a variety of colors. Extra shells start at US$15 for either device.
The higher-end Moto G gives you a bigger screen. You'll get over 9 percent more screen real estate on the G.
Neither phone has high-end specs, but this is one of the biggest sacrifices you'll make if you go with the cheaper Moto E. At 256 pixels per inch (PPI), I'd still describe its display resolution as "solid." But the Moto G should be noticeably sharper, with 329 PPI.
Another big compromise from the Moto E is its mere 4 GB of storage. That's a pretty skimpy amount, though its microSD card slot will help to augment that some (just know that Android has some limits on what you can move to external storage).
Free Google Drive storage
The Moto G may not have a microSD slot, but Motorola took advantage of its (former) Google ownership to throw in some free Google Drive cloud storage with your purchase. Moto G owners get 50 GB of Google Drive space with their purchase, free for two years.
The standard versions of both phones only support 3G wireless (though they do allow for HSPA+, which can be pretty fast in its own right). But if you want the fastest mobile data speeds, Motorola just announced an LTE-capable version of the Moto G. It will set you back an extra $40 over the 3G edition.
These days, you'll see Snapdragon processors in just about any notable non-Apple smartphone. That even includes budget handsets like these two, with the mid-range Snapdragon 400 and 200 appearing, respectively, in the Motos G and E.
We're looking at 1 GB of RAM in either phone.
We haven't yet put the Moto E through the paces, to see how its battery life compares to the Moto G, but, for what it's worth, it only holds a little less juice than the Moto G.
This isn't the same degree of water resistance that you'll see in the Galaxy S5, but both phones do have a "water repellent coating." This kind of water resistance is more about protecting your phone from the occasional splash. In other words, you probably won't want to dunk these puppies in a pool or tub.
Don't expect anything mind-blowing from either camera. And, in the case of the Moto E, don't expect a front-facing camera, period. But both phones will make for serviceable enough point-and-shoot replacements – for less than the price of a lot of dedicated compact cameras.
Now here's a feature you don't often see in a modern smartphone. Both budget phones have FM radios built-in, so you can tune into some annoying DJs, erm, local radio stations while on the go.
Another perk of Motorola being owned by Google (at least during the phones' development) is that they both run the latest version of stock Android, Android 4.4 KitKat. Some high-end phones could learn a thing or two from these two.
It's hard to believe, but the Moto G has already been around for six months (though the LTE version is just set to launch). The Moto E is up for pre-order now.
Starting prices (off-contract)
Why would you consider a couple of mid- (or worse) range phones like these? Here's your answer. These are hardly the first two smartphones in this price range, but they give you much more bang for your buck than cheap phones are typically going to give you.
This is obviously big for emerging markets. But it could also simply mean folks who could afford a more expensive phone can instead save a few hundred bucks and still come out with a very solid handset. These aren't high-end specs, but when you consider their price tags, you could say that they're relatively high-end.
To see how the Moto G stacks up next to some of the most popular high-end flagships, you can check out our 2014 Smartphone Comparison Guide.