With the launch of its inexpensive Moto E, Motorola is hastening the demise of the feature phone. Much like the Moto X and Moto G, this smartphone will run Android and be built to last -- but it is also the company's cheapest smartphone to date at just $129. The Moto E goes on sale today in the U.S. and on May 19 in the U.K.
From the company's point of view, some consumers still choose feature phones instead of smartphones because they are relatively less expensive -- around $100. On the other hand, the average smartphone costs $337, still well out of reach for many people. However, at $129 off contract, the Moto E could very well appeal to those individuals and provide one of the final blows to the diminishing feature phone market.
A Lot For A Little
Just a few years ago it would have been impossible to bring a worthwhile Android smartphone to the market for $129. Now that the market has changed and manufacturing costs have dropped, many smartphone makers are beginning to target the low end of the market, particularly in China, India, and other less wealthy nations.
The difference between other budget smartphones and the Moto E is that Motorola's smartphone will be released in dozens of other countries in addition to the U.S. and the U.K. For $129 customers receive an Android 4.4.2 handset with a 4.3-inch 540-by-960 Gorilla Glass display. Internally, the phone is equipped with a 1980 mAh battery, Snapdragon 200 processor , and 1GB of RAM.
These specs may not be impressive when compared to a Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5S but when stacked up against a feature phone, customers will get a lot more for their money. Additionally, Motorola is not offering a stripped down device that lacks any notable features. Instead, it has made the Moto E water resistant and scratch-proof, two features that certain high-end phones do not even offer.
End Of An Era
Motorola has not hid the fact that the Moto E targets feature phones rather than mid-tier smartphones. On its company blog, Motorola pointed out that people can now take advantage of smartphones without having to spend a lot of money.
"We believe it’s time the feature phone era came to an end and that quality smartphones are made accessible and affordable for all. Say hello to Moto E and join us in officially saying goodbye to the feature phone forever," according to the Motorola blog.
The Moto E won't single-handedly deal the finishing blow to feature phones but it will give an additional boost to the smartphone market, which is already overtaking regular cellphones. In February, Gartner released its data on the 2013 handset market pointing out that for the first time, more smartphones were sold than feature phones.
Reports like those from Gartner are great news for smartphone companies and they do seem to validate Motorola's contention regarding feature phones. However, in 2013, consumers still purchased 839 million feature phones. Although people will most likely buy fewer feature phones this year, that number indicates that feature phones will probably not be totally wiped out any time soon.