It wasn’t that long ago that off-contract pricing – that is, how much you paid for a cell phone or smartphone without a contract or any kind of carrier subsidy – was basically unheard of in the United States. Unless you went for the extremely low-end, pre-paid market (in which case you got whatever your carrier gave you and you liked it, damn it), you basically signed away two years to whomever had the best combination of deals and signal strength in your area.
On the off chance you needed to pay full price for a nice phone, such as when you accidentally destroyed your phone beyond repair and declined insurance (I’m not paying $10 a month for that! I’ll just be careful, okay), or your phone was stolen, you’d likely pass out upon hearing that somebody wanted to charge you several hundred dollars.
We’re much more in tune nowadays with how much a phone costs, due in large part to the fact that smartphones are now an accepted part of life for most Americans – those who don’t use one are the odd exception, especially when viewed by those who do.
Still, unless you’re looking at a device subsidy or T-Mobile’s interest-free payment plan, you’re likely going to be paying a few hundred bucks for a phone if you need one without any strings attached.
There are a few exceptions to this – notably Google’s Nexus lineup, which is designed to let Android developers and enthusiasts have access to cutting-edge hardware and software at just above their own cost; there’s also Nokia’s phenomenal (and phenomenally successful, at least for Windows Phone) 500 series of Lumia devices, which currently cost $99 (although as of this writing, there’s one on Amazon for $79).
In the latter case, there’s some corner cutting – a smaller, lower-resolution display, less storage, and a slower, dual-core processor (which is not to say that it’s slow, as WP8 has been optimized to run very well on that same hardware).
But Verizon and Motorola are taking things even further by offering users the Moto G for just $99.99, full-out, with no contract required. That is a stunning deal for the 8GB model, which was introduced earlier this month for $179.99 (a 16GB cost $20 more).
The Moto G offers users a quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU running at 1.2GHz, Bluetooth 4.0, a 5MP rear- and 1.3MP front-facing camera, a 4.5-inch IPS display with a 1280×720 resolution, etc. In short, just last year, this would have been a pretty high-end phone.
Now, you can get it for a hundred bucks.
The only downside that we can see is that you’re not going to get LTE with this model. For $100, that’s a restriction most people can live with. We don’t know if the GSM radios are locked for domestic use on this version of the Moto G, though it wouldn’t surprise us, given the extremely low pricing.
Word on the street is that some Best Buy stores have already gotten the phone in stock and out for sale; general availability is expected by January 9th.