Moto G update ships today for $180 without contract

Motorola Mobility has upgraded the Moto G with a bigger screen and a better camera in an effort to build on the success of the original.

The first Moto G and its LTE variant helped inject new life in Motorola’s flagging business, so the second generation of the smartphone is important for the company.

To get existing users to upgrade and new users to join the fray, Motorola has first increased the screen size from 4.5 inches to 5 inches. The resolution is still 1280 by 720 pixels.

But the larger screen comes at a cost. The new model is noticeably wider and longer, and less than a millimeter thinner at its thickest point. The weight has also increased, from 143 grams to 149 grams.

Motorola has also upgraded the main camera from 5-megapixel resolution to 8 megapixels. The resolution on the front camera has also been upgraded, to 2 megapixels. And to improve sound output, the Moto G now has two speakers on the front.

The new version is still powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.2GHz. Motorola has also kept the basic design of the original the same.

Users can choose between single and dual SIM versions and 16GB or 32GB of integrated storage. If more storage is needed, there is a microSD card slot under the removable rear cover. The device will ship with Android 4.4, but Motorola says buyers are guaranteed of an upgrade to Android L.

One thing missing from the new version is LTE, which means the existing 4G version is still a viable alternative for people who want a speedier, more responsive network connection. The problem with developing a low-cost smartphone is making the hard decisions about what to spend money on, and Motorola decided to skip LTE for now.

The new Moto G is available starting Friday in the U.S. from US$179.99 on Motorola.com. The phone goes on sale the same day in India, France, the U.K., Brazil, Spain and Germany.

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