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Following disappointing Moto X sales, Motorola unveils $179 Moto G

Motorola Moto XComputer HardwareBrazilThe Wall Street JournalQualcomm Inc.Apple iPad

Motorola is following the release of its slumping Moto X smartphone by releasing the Moto G, a mid-range device that's set to arrive in the U.S. in January and be available with no contract for $179.

The Google-owned phone maker unveiled the device in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday morning. It is using the Moto G to target markets such as Brazil, where carriers don't typically subsidize smartphones the way they do in the U.S.

The Moto G will go on sale in the South American country and several European countries this week, Motorola said.

The Moto G features a 720p HD 4.5-inch screen, a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-megapixel rear camera and an all-day battery, according to Motorola. The device runs Android 4.3, and Motorola promises it will upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat early next year. Users will also be able to switch out the back cover of the Moto G, giving the device a small level of customization.

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The low-cost device will be available for $179 for an 8-gigabyte model and $199 for a 16-GB model. At those prices, the Moto G is one of the most inexpensive yet technically capable smartphones to be announced. That could help the Moto G find success, which would be a good thing for Motorola because the Moto X sales have been a disappointment thus far.

Motorola unveiled the Moto X earlier this year to much hype. The device is customizable and it is assembled in the U.S., but after months of being available for purchase, Motorola has only sold 500,000 units, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cites research firm Strategy Analytics.

By comparison, Apple and Samsung normally sell millions of their flagship smartphones when they first come out.

The Moto X may have struggled because Motorola sold it for $200 -- on a par with top-of-the-line devices -- despite the Moto X's inferior spec sheet. Motorola also decided to limit the customization of the Moto X to just AT&T customers for the first few months of the device's availability. That meant that customers on other networks could only purchase the Moto X in black or white options.

Now, Motorola is hoping the Moto G can pick up the slack. 

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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