The Moto G comes in 7 base colors. Image source: Motorola.

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Motorola unit just introduced the Moto G smartphone. This long-rumored Android phone comes with upscale hardware specifications, but sells at a very competitive price. The Moto G is aimed at emerging markets and other cost-sensitive consumers.

In Motorola's words, the Moto G "delivers a premium experience for a third of the price of current high-end phones."

The phone will be available in Brazil and "parts of Europe" this week, followed by Latin America, Canada, the rest of Europe, and unspecified Asian markets over the next few weeks. Other markets, including the U.S., will get the Moto G in early January. By then, the handset will have access to the latest Android 4.4 software, codenamed KitKat.

The Moto G lacks truly high-end features such as 4G LTE networking or an OLED display. But the LCD screen supports the same 720p high-def resolution as the pricier Moto X handset, backed up by a beefy quad-core processor.

An 8-gigabyte model will sell for $179 in the U.S. and the 16GB version goes for $199. At these prices, the phones come unlocked and not attached to carrier contract deals. Consumers can choose between a GSM handset (compatible with AT&T and other networks) and a CDMA version (aimed at networks like Verizon).