The five most important things from Motorola's Moto X event

A new wave of cheap, colorful, customizable phones

In 2013, Motorola Mobility introduced the Moto X, its first smartphone since being acquired by Google. The Moto X didn't have the best specs on the market, but it did have something virtually no other phone had: customizability. The Moto Maker store let buyers pick the color of the phone's backplate and accents, eventually adding options like a bamboo case. Motorola followed up with the Moto G, perhaps the cheapest usable smartphone on the market.

We're now on the third generation of Moto phones, and Motorola didn't have many surprises for us at its event today — especially since most of the details leaked out beforehand. It announced three new but widely expected phones at different price tiers, all of which will come out between now and September. But it's also trying to fix some of the fundamental problems that have held Android phones back.

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition photos

Motorola's new flagship is the Moto X Style

Motorola isn’t exactly shaking up the look of its phones. The new Moto X Style uses very similar design language to its predecessor, though it’s a little larger, with a 5.7-inch screen instead of a 5.2-inch one. But that’s a good thing, because the Moto X’s problems were never aesthetics. Motorola is focusing on shoring up basic features like the battery, which it claims will charge 50 percent faster than the Samsung Galaxy S6. It’s got universal LTE banding, which means LTE data will work on any carrier — Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and so on. And like earlier Moto X phones, it’s customizable. For US buyers who aren't fans of Motorola's custom software, there's also a stock Android version that’s been dubbed the "Moto X Pure Edition."

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition photos

The Moto X Play has a smaller screen and a giant battery

The Moto X Play is a smaller, cheaper version of the flagship Style — almost a competitor to the low-cost Moto G. It’s 5.5 inches instead of 5.7, and one of its big selling points is a massive battery; Motorola claims it will last two days at a time and can get 8 hours of power from a 15-minute charge. The rest of its specs and design are a bit less impressive than the Style’s, and it doesn’t include universal LTE support. A few years ago, Motorola’s Droid Razr Maxx phones were known for having the best batteries on the market. The Play follows in this tradition, but without the Razr’s notoriously clunky design and terrible software. Unfortunately, it's apparently just coming out across Europe, Latin America, and Canada for now, with no US release planned.

Moto X Play

The new Moto G is out today and fully customizable

Motorola’s recent phones have been pitched with the idea that specs are getting less and less important — even a low-end phone can be perfectly usable. With that in mind, it announced a third generation of its low-cost Moto G this morning. The Moto G is notably less powerful than either the Play or the Style, and it’s got the same 5-inch screen as its predecessor. Unlike earlier generations, though, it supports LTE networks. It’s also got the same sort of intricate customization options as the Moto X, instead of just offering a handful of colorful, swappable backplates. And it’s the first of Motorola’s new phones to see release — you can buy it starting today.

Moto G (2015) hands-on photos
Moto G (2015) hands-on photos

Motorola really wants cameras to be good

Cameras have historically been one of the biggest problems with Android phones — at best, they’ve got one or two major drawbacks, and at worst, they’re a complete mess. Motorola is promising to fix this on all its phones. The Moto X Style and Play both come with 5-megapixel front cameras, and they’ve got 21-megapixel rear cameras that have supposedly been rated highly by independent reviewers. The Style can also record 4K video, while the Play can handle a more quotidian 1080p resolution. The Moto G, meanwhile, gets the less ambitious label of "best in class" for a low-cost phone, with a 13-megapixel rear camera.

Moto G (2015) announcement photos

The prices are still low

By normal smartphone standards, Motorola’s phones range from "cheap" to "incredibly cheap." The Moto X Style will be released worldwide in September with a price that’s "$200 to $300" lower than other flagship phones — the stock Android edition costs $399 in the US, compared to $650 for the iPhone 6. The Moto X Play isn't available in the US, but it's coming to Canada, Europe, and Latin America in August for "$300 or $400 less" than a standard flagship phone. And the Moto G (which is out today) costs as much as its predecessors, starting at $179.99.

Correction: The first-generation Moto X came out in 2013, not 2010 as originally written, and the Moto X Play will be available in August.

Moto G (2015) hands-on photos
Verge Video: Hands-on with Motorola's new flagship phone