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Best smartphone price: Moto E Android smartphone at $129 off contract

Motorola offers a colorful case for $14 in 7 colors, or black or white, for Moto E, Moto X and Moto G.
Motorola offers a colorful case for $14 in 7 colors, or black or white, for Moto E, Moto X and Moto G.
Susan Walker

Motorola launched the Moto E on May 13. Moto E is a new smartphone from an excellent manufacturer with the extremely low price of $129 and no contract requirement. Compare that to the price of the iPhone 5s which is $649 without a contract while a new iPhone 4s with two-year-old technology costs $450, off contract. This May 13 article on CNET.com quotes Mark Randall, Motorola's chief operating officer, on the thought behind introducing a low-cost smartphone: "If you're a consumer who doesn't want to spend $600 on a phone, you're getting a raw deal."

Motorola introduced Moto E, world's lowest price new smartphone, May 13.
Motorola.com specs

Motorola is in third place worldwide among smartphone manufacturers, after Apple and Samsung. Motorola's leaders believe there is an untapped market for low-cost smartphones. They have priced the Moto E at the low end in an attempt to get buyers who would otherwise buy old-style cell phones that lack the ability to surf the Internet.

At the moment, no U.S. carriers are offering the Moto E. The low-cost smartphones may be more popular outside the U.S. than within as cell phone data plans are priced differently in other countries. The major U.S. carriers charge high monthly prices compared to pricing in many other locations. For example, if you were to buy a Moto E and bring it here, you might easily end up paying from $50 to $100 each month for voice, text and data, even when providing your own phone and selecting the lowest priced carrier. For comparison, a friend in Europe pays as little as ten euros per month, or about $13, for voice and data services.

Motorola has made cell phones for decades. They've been one of the primary makers of Droids for Verizon in recent years. Google owns Motorola and is currently selling the entity to Lenovo, the Chinese technology company who bought the IBM PC line of business about 15 years ago.

Specs: Moto E comes with only 4 gigabytes (GB) of storage so it's not going to hold as many photos and apps as most smartphones. The iPhones come with 16 GB, and Apple has also been introducing cheaper models of last year's phone with 8 GB. Moto E is the first smartphone we'v noticed with only 4 GB. According to Re/Code.net, Moto E will offer dual SIM card capability in markets where there's a demand for that, meaning owners can use one phone to connect to different carriers' networks. Moto E runs the latest version of the Android operating system: Android 4.4 or KitKat.