Apple has a problem. It’s not a problem that pertains to its high-end iPhone 5s, and it’s not even a problem with the mid-range, somewhat superfluous iPhone 5c. It’s actually the iPhone 4S that is an issue for Apple. Sitting at the bottom of the company’s smartphone range and being offered for peanuts if not free, the iPhone 4S was previously thought of as a rather capable budget handset. And it still is.

The problem that Apple now faces is that all those cheap Android phones that we’ve all laughed at over the years are starting to get a bit big for their shoes. In fact, some are downright great handsets, with one in particular doing its best to shake up the way we think about smartphones and what we should be paying for them.

I am, of course, talking about the Motorola Moto G

Now as some of you reading this may know, I’m not in the United States, but rather the UK. England to be precise, and we’ve had the Moto G for a little while already. We’ve been waxing lyrical about its prowess and buying them in droves for weeks. But the Moto G is a relatively new phenomenon to most of you keeping abreast of technology news from over the pond, so let me explain why it’s so interesting. Especially to someone who’s a self confessed iPhone fan. I’ve tried Android and come back to iOS on plenty of occasions, and I’ve written about that plenty. Even so, this Moto G thing can’t be ignored by anyone, especially Apple.


So yes, obviously the Moto G is Android-powered. It’s got a big 4.5-inch screen that houses pixels of the 720×1280 resolution variety. That’s a higher-than-retina density of 329ppi for those who like that kind of thing.

It’s fast too. 1GB of RAM and a CPU that clocks in at 1.2GHz fast. The camera could be better, but at 5-megapixel it’ll still take photos that won’t have you throwing the damn thing out the window, that’s for sure.

The Moto G is getting stellar reviews across the internet too, and I know half a dozen people that have either picked one up already, or are in the process of doing so.

Oh, and it’s $179. Unlocked, without a contract. And if you shop around, it can be found for less, too. On-contract, it’s free.

So, that’s the budget Android handset of choice at the moment. What about iOS?

Well, we’ve a two-year old iPhone 4S. It’s smaller, with a 3.5-inch screen. A similar density of 326ppi gets you the original Retina display, and a resolution of 640×960.

The thing’s powered by a two year old Apple A5 chip that runs at 800MHz and that’s backed up by 500MB of RAM. Oh, and it may or may not be worth mentioning that that lower-clocked A5 has half as many cores as the chip in the Moto G. Still, until the iPhone 5s Apple didn’t really seem to care about the specs race anyway.

Of course, that was with good reason. Apple’s iPhones always had a knack of being super-responsive. Super-slick. Tap something, and the phone reacts. Swipe through a list and everything scrolls in what at least appears to be a 1:1 movement. Android couldn’t compete with that.

But this is where the problems begin to creep in for Apple and its aging iPhone 4S. Post-iOS 7, the budget iPhone can’t boast such performance. Swiping is laggy, tapping things doesn’t always mean something happens, and we’re starting to see games that really want an iPhone 5 or above in order to work as the developer intends. That’ll be that fragmentation we always like to accuse Android of, then.

So, as I amble towards the point I set out to make when I sat down to write this, I can’t help but wonder why Apple didn’t do the decent thing and make the iPhone 5 the new budget option for those of an iOS persuasion.

The answer, of course, is that iPhone 5c. Apple wanted a three-tiered approach to its iPhone sales, and it couldn’t expect people to pay a premium for the iPhone 5c over the iPhone 5 when the only difference was going to be some colored plastic shells. In fact, some would argue that the iPhone 5 is the more premium-looking device, which would have caused all kinds of problems with branding.

Instead, we’re left with the iPhone 5 being end-of-lifed, and the iPhone 4S given a stay of execution. Which was fine, until someone at Motorola decided to show us all what budget phones can do. Before the Moto G was conceived, and before the iPhone 4S became a liability for a company that just isn’t willing to let it go.

  • Matt

    Oh here we go, brace yourselves because a war is comming.

  • Rot Kelfer

    I’m using iOS7 on my 4S and I haven’t experienced any lagging… things always happen when I tap something… everything is fast and responsive. So I’m not sure what are you basing your opinions on

    • RarestName

      I thought that I was bored of iOS before I switched to a 5s, but it turned out that I was only bored of how slow it was as compared to other devices.

      • Rot Kelfer

        I’m not saying that my 4S isn’t slower than, I don’t know, iOS7 on a 5S, it surely is. I’m saying that it’s not THAT slow to cause any lagging or unresponsiveness.

      • Sandeep Roy

        Agree, they’re probably referring to iP4

      • RarestName

        I’m just tired of applications closing themselves when paused. This never happened on iOS 6. I can literally have WhatsApp close itself in the background after going into another application for less than 10 seconds.

      • Rot Kelfer

        Never happened to me.

      • Rot Kelfer

        I wish I could understand why my previous msg got downvoted twice.

    • Mozaik

      and iphone 4s has better gpu than moto g.

    • s0me

      With the first release of IOS 7, the 4s was really laggy. After the 7.0.* updates it became fast, like back in the days of IOS 5/6. Maybe some of you fans didn’t notice this.

      • Jackson Grong

        The iPhone 4S will be way faster with iOS 7.1, where even the iPhone 4 is kinda fast, otherwise unusably slow with 7.0.X.

      • mehrab

        Exaxtly just is stutters abit every now and then which is fixed in ios 7.1 beta 1 and beta 2 is even faster i recently got to use a 4s with 7.1 beta 2 its BLAZING fast and i play hard core games like asphault 8 without lagging. It still has a great camera also.

    • Jackson Grong

      I also want to point out that the iPhone 4S runs the latest GTA San Andreas with no lag, just like the iPhone 5. It’s not a slow device by any means!

    • mehrab

      Exaxtly just is stutters abit every now and then which is fixed in ios 7.1 beta 1 and beta 2 is even faster i recently got to use a 4s with 7.1 beta 2 its BLAZING fast and i play hard core games like asphault 8 without lagging. It still has a great camera also. !

    • dc9super80

      Yeh The 4s is un a different category, it’s processor might be older and has les ram but it runs very well (I had one a few weeks ago, and since went to the 5) and that’s what really matters. The camera is also quite stellar and it is a premium built phone. The only thing the G has on it is the bigger screen and the price. I hear G can be quite slow after a few apps are opened. That said, the G is a great phone for the price. If it were to dethrone anyone I think it may be the other cheap Android and Windows phones.

  • RarestName

    I’m getting one three days later 😀

  • Mohammed Sahib

    Google is turning the mobile market upside down with the pricing of its Nexus and Motorola phones. Healthy competition IMO.

    • Rowan09

      Not really because I’ve never heard the sales figures, no one knows how much the Nexus sells. To say they are turning the mobile market upside down would mean people are flocking to those phones. Google can do this because they don’t care much about hardware their main focus is on search and advertising. They can sell a phone for nothing and be perfectly fine but Apple, Samsung and some others can’t really follow this model.

  • And for an added bonus, you can watch Homeland on your favorite flash player on the Moto G.

    • Umut Bilgiç

      Flash? Dayum

    • Rowan09

      That flash argument is no longer valid, I can watch flash videos on my iPhone and iPad.

      • Nate McKelvie

        Your 100% right The flash argument has been dead for years, there has always been a way to watch flash, with or without jailbreak. And also mobile flash has been discontinued by Adobe anyways

  • Sandeep Roy

    I think the 4S should be substituted with iPhone 4 in this article to make better sense. The 4S still preforms well !

  • Fardeen Beharry

    my iphone 4s runs perfectly on ios 7.1 beta 2. what are you talking about??? u should have talked about iphone 4 which is showing its age

  • s0me

    Nice article. First unbiased Apple fan on this blog?

  • Rowan09

    I don’t think Apple has a real problem because people well in the US wouldn’t buy a brand new phone in majority to a 3 year old phone. To most consumers the Moto G is a new phone competing against other phones like S3-S4, etc, people don’t really care much unless you’re a tech person about a budget phone being a phone with less features. The Moto X wasn’t popular and I would assume the same for the Moto G especially in the US.

  • n0ahcruz3

    I got mine yesterday, its ok for a 179 phone. My only gripe is no SD card, only 3G speeds and the camera. But overall good it’s smooth, the screen is absolute beauty, the screen size is perfect battery life is amazing, its very sturdy. Its almost stock android. I cant wait for the next moto g 2 or whatever they name it.

  • FrankensteinBlack

    Waiting to hear the KABOOM! When Amazon steps into the Mobile Phone Room!

  • Taylor Evans

    “The problem that Apple now faces is that all those cheap Android phones that we’ve all laughed at over the years are starting to get a bit big for their shoes.”
    Please tell me that this is a joke.

  • Brandon Jiang

    Jesus christ so many fanboys! I am an Apple user but I at least acknowledge the truth! Less than $200 simply cannot be beat for a device that has a better display than every single iPhone and decent enough other internals to offer very respectable performance. Please keep an open mind guys!

    Instead of denying it how about encourage this competition to push Apple to cook up something new? Isn’t that what we want?

    • Vserp

      I agree. The Moto G is a good device for those that want a mid-range device at a budget price. I am in that camp.

      The Nexus 5 is better than the 5s though at the high end. I honestly don’t know why people get Apple products now outside of just fashion status symbols.

  • Your Mother

    I’ve long said that Apple does not need the 5c or some other new phone to serve as a budget phone. All they need to do and should do is use the previous year’s iPhone as the budget phone.

    The Moto X is indeed a great phone, I’m getting at least one as an Xmas gift.

  • Nirvana

    Long time, Oliver. Is posting articles for iDB his part -time work?

  • Samuel Nazario

    Iphones screen sucks and the iphone breaks almost istantly if u drop it once moto g has a bigger screen and gorilla glass that one of the stringest glasses out there plus moto g will be getting updates of course and itll only get better and faster

    • Rot Kelfer

      I dropped my 4s about eight times, on stone floor too. Never broke.

      • Jonnie Green

        What a fanboy

      • Rot Kelfer

        so…telling the truth now constitutes being a fanboy?

      • Roy Chao

        I agree, Im still using my iphone 4s (2years 4months) and ive dropped it on the cement floor couple times as well as it falling out of my lap getting out of the car. No broken glass, only dents and scuffs to sides/metal.