When I think about the old way of buying a smartphone, I want to throw up.
Traditionally you’d have to spend a couple hundred bucks on the hardware, then spend the next two years locked into a contract that could easily cost you $80, $90, even $100 per month.
Thankfully, the days of the contract are nearly over. But if you want a decent unlocked, unsubsidized smartphone–I’m looking at you, iPhone 5S and Galaxy S5–plan on paying anywhere from $500-700. Ouch.
But guess what? Motorola just took the definition of “decent unlocked, unsubsidized smartphone,” put it in the blender, and pressed Screw It. The company’s new Moto G is the single best deal in the history of smartphones.
If you’re scratching your head right about now, it’s because you know the Moto G debuted late last year to mixed reviews. So how does it suddenly deserve a spot on every phone-shopper’s short list?
Simple: Motorola just updated the phone with two key improvements. First, the Moto G now supports 4G LTE. (It was kind of ridiculous that the first version topped out at 3G.) Second, it has a microSD slot, meaning you can easily (and inexpensively) expand the rather paltry 8GB of storage.
Although the original currently sells for $179, the new one will cost $219 when it goes on sale next month. That’s for an unlocked model, mind you, meaning you can hook up with one of the Big Four carriers or shop it around to any number of smaller carriers.
UppWireless, for example, offers a fairly comprehensive plan (unlimited calls/texts, plus 1GB of 4G data) that’s just $15 per month. It runs on T-Mobile’s network, so coverage should be pretty good.
See what I’m driving at? A couple hundred bucks and you own the phone outright. Then you take it to whatever carrier is offering the best deal. If you find a better one a couple months down the road, you switch. You don’t pay penalties because you’re not under contract. How freakin’ awesome is that?
All this would be less exciting if the Moto G was a crummy phone. It’s a lower-end model, yes, but Motorola has redefined that description as well. You get a bright, 4.5- inch HD screen, quad-core processor, 5-megapixel camera, and the very latest version of Android: KitKat. Oh, and big points for style: the G features removable color backplates, some of which include screen covers.
Plus, now you get 4G connectivity and microSD expansion as well. All for $219. There’s simply no better unlocked-smartphone deal to be had–not now, anyway.
Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.