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Moto G on Verizon: A Quick Look at a $99 Prepaid Smartphone, Flip Cases Too

Verizon announced earlier this week that the Moto G will officially arrive on January 9. We first reported this date, thanks to a flyer that was being passed around at Best Buy stores, however, Best Buy doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to it. I bought the $99 prepaid Verizon phone today online with store pick-up, and just about every single Best Buy within 30 miles of Portland had it in stock and available for me to stop by and grab. So I did!

I still can’t exactly tell you why, but there is something about spending $99 on a phone to own it outright that seems so worthy of my money. And, we wanted to give you all a quick tour and answer any questions that you may have. 

Phone and Connectivity

At $99, it really is the same Moto G that we unboxed and dove into a couple of weeks ago, only it connects to Verizon’s 3G CDMA network, not the various GSM networks that the other variant has access to. The size is identical, the specs are all identical, and the brand-less exterior matches up exactly.

Unfortunately, I was unable to boot the phone up and do a software tour since as a 3G phone, it requires activation in order to work. It’s like taking a step back in time, before Verizon had LTE and SIM cards. Thankfully, it’s the same experience as the GSM variant, so a review of our overview video should do you well. Speaking of LTE, though, there isn’t any to be found here. I don’t care what Best Buy’s website says, this phone doesn’t even have a SIM slot.

If you want to use this with Verizon’s prepaid service, you are looking at two plan options. The first runs $60 and gives you unlimited talk and text along with 2GB of data. At $70, the second plan gives you unlimited talk and text as well, along with 4GB of data. Not great deals necessarily, especially since you don’t have access to LTE. And remember, Verizon’s 3G CDMA network is slow – like, really slow.

moto g verizon


One thing I love about the Moto G are the replacement “Shells” and “Flip Shells” that Motorola is selling through their own store. We bought a bunch back when the GSM model first arrived, so now with the Verizon Moto G in hand, we thought we’d show a couple of them off.

In the video and gallery below, you’ll see both the Shells (back covers, $14.99) and Flip Shells (like a Flip Cover, $29.99) in action. There are at least six colors for each type, so while this doesn’t have Moto X customizability, you do still have a handful of fantastic option to make this phone personalized.

The Moto G ships in black, but with a set of fingernails, you can quickly remove the black backside and replace it with one of these shells.

Video Overview


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Anything you’d like to know about the Moto G? We have both the CDMA and GSM models in house now, so we should have no problems answering your questions. I still doubt we’ll do a review, since this is a $100 phone, but we are here for you.

  • Scottington Alston

    Can this phone be used on PagePlus? I mean, it seems as if this would be a perfect match for PagePlus, since you wouldn’t have to flash it to utilize 3G service only.

  • pannna

    Can I use this phone on prepaid services like pageplus?

  • ruben

    come on, i thought it had a sim slot :(, cant i change it for one with a slot? 🙁

    • ruben

      i mean it should have a sim slot if it is a no contract phone, shouldnt it?

  • John D

    Can the Moto G be used as a mobile hotspot I can connect my laptop or tablet to?

  • Allan

    the 99 verizon moto g for 99 dollars is unlocked to use with any company?

  • Lathan Card

    I was able the mess around and get out od activation. I am currently using the phone wifi only. I wonder when it will get kit kat.

  • MG

    not that great of a deal. Your locked @ $60 per month for service. You could pay the $179 @ motorola and get service for 1/2 that. You could make up the difference in a little over 2 months. 35orless

  • Justin Wilson

    You can use any android phone without activating it with it’s carrier. I just got the Boost Mobile variant and am using it as a media device in conjunction with my chromecast at home without activating it. I wish Google gave people an option to put an old Android phone into “tablet mode” to allow it to have multiple users.

  • HarvesterX

    Can’t go wrong here at $99. As long as you don’t mind capped 3G only. But hell as a pay as you go phone. There is lots of sarcasm in me saying you can’t go wrong with this choice.I’m not too sure what to say here

  • jestes

    I picked mine up at Best Buy in Rockwall, TX last night. I didn’t activate it but ran it on WiFi from my Note2 and have it fully set up with Nova launcher etc… It is a fantastic phone–very fast. I’m having no issues with web browsing and it is very smooth with no stuttering/force closing etc…so far. I am extremely happy with my purchase and I’m gonna get the GSM version the moment I can find one. You can’t go wrong at this price. It is MUCH faster than my old Droid RAZR MAXX.

  • Rosie Castro

    Anyone have any luck

  • marien

    Would it be possible to activate this phone on straighttalk or net10.

  • Rosie Castro

    How much is it at bestbuy $99 with taxes?

    • kwubba

      Just bought it 102.89 here in TX. Now i just need to figure out how to get the ESN setup on a Postpaid account.

      • mike

        Good luck with that. Verizon locks their prepaid phones to the prepaid network for a year

    • jestes

      108.24 in Rockwall, TX

  • Ed Callahan

    I’m not liking the screen on the Moto G as much as my Thunderbolt. The screens are basically the same size and the Moto G has higher resolution. But the Thunderbolt screen is brighter, and the whites seem whiter and the lines are crisper. The Thunderbolt screen feels bigger, although it’s not. I guess the fonts are bigger, or something. Moto G makes me feel like I need my reading glasses on, Thunderbolt not so much.

    But battery life is already noticeably better, which is way lousy on the Thunderbolt. And it’s time for the Thunderbolt to go. I’m paying $85 a month now and using under a gig of data a month. If I switch I save $35/month, if I can use the WalMart 1 gig for $50 plan. And it feels faster. So, it’s a good deal for me (I’m locked into Verizon because AT&T/Sprint have basically no coverage here. On their coverage maps, I live in the white spot in Wisconsin).

    • J

      The $99 Moto G only works with Verizon pre-pay, so you could not go with WalMart 1gig plan for $50 unless it’s through Verizon. You could get the Moto G $179.99 version (8GB) from the Motorola website and use it with Straight Talk through WalMart. You pay $80 more for the phone than at Best Buy but you are saving $15 a month with Straight Talk at $45 a month as opposed to Verizon’s $60 a month plan. That’s a $15 savings over Verizon per month, so after about 5 1/2 months the savings pay for the difference compared to the $99 Best Buy/Verizon version and the buy direct price from Motorola and going with Straight Talk.

      • Ed Callahan

        WalMart sells a Verizon pre-paid card for 1 gig a month for $50. Available only at WalMart. But it’s a Verizon prepaid plan card.

        I haven’t seen a StraightTalk Moto G on the Verizon network. If I see one I’ll be bummed, because I’d rather have that.

  • kwubba

    This is a great kids phone. My daughter DINC2 is on its last legs, this better then any $100 used option and she gets a new phone that looks similar to her mothers Moto X. She can choose the color shell to personalize it ( i keep a future upgrade) and i don’t need to upgrade her phone to LTE. All wins too me.

    • Mike Holland

      So I take it that you purchased as a prepaid & ativated it on a post paid account? This is what I’d like to do for my daughter as we aren’t close to an upgrade

  • LTE4G

    So can you immediately use it on Page Plus, or is it truly locked to verizon for 6 months?

    • J

      It only works with Verizon pre-pay, which I do believe you have to use it on there for 6 months and then you can take to a Verizon post-paid account, but regardless the $99 version is locked to Verizon.

  • Dean Cory

    The phone may not suck…

    But Verizon’s 3G neywork sure does!

  • Dean Cory

    Verison has shot itself in the foot with the 3G only Moto G when the other carriers have GSM and 4G LTE.

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  • Ross Newhouse

    Boost Mobile Motorola Moto G 4.5″ Quad Core No-Contract Smartphone $80 after $50 Rebate + Free Shipping

    Thought someone might be interested in this

  • Adam Haas

    So does this ONLY work with Verizon pre-paid plans? Or can you use this with their regular plans?

  • Kanaga Deepan N

    100$ for a HD screen equipped phone and 70$ PER MONTH for operator with painfully low speed 3G data????

  • Mathieu

    Will this phone work with the Verizon Walmart Exclusive $50.00 refill prepaid airtime card? It states it’s unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of data. This is the deciding factor in me buying this phone. Please help me figure it out!

  • Rocky Calabrese

    Anyone know if the Moto G is coming to Sprint? Or will the Verizon CDMA phone work on Sprint?

    • Matthew Merrick

      Verizon one will not work anywhere except Verizon. However, there also is a Boost Mobile version, and that _should_ (theoretically) be able to be activated on sprint, limited to 3G only.

  • jbannach

    Kellen, can you confirm as other mentioned whether touching the 4 corners of the (language?) screen clockwise will bypass the activation? Try it in both landscape and portrait…
    Awesome if we can use this as a media player on wifi.

  • Is there a SIM card slot on this CDMA variant?

    • Michael

      no. if you read the article you would see that

  • ryanballer

    I know it says no 4G capability, but for the GSM models, which should be able to work on T-Mobile’s network, will it get their “4G” speeds.

    • wade_county

      GSM will be limited to HSPA+ 21.1 Mbps, still a lot faster than CDMA

      • ryanballer

        How does that compare to LTE?

        • needa

          in my area on att you will get 2-11mbps on hspa+ with a 170 or so ping. on att lte i get 8mb with 2 bars and 20-33mbps when i am out and around town, 70-100ms ping. its much faster… but as far as navigating the web and such… the lte will load a second or so quicker than hspa. so not that big of a deal.
          in comparison to verizon cdma speeds. you could load five or ten normal, not mobile, pages on hspa+ before you could load one on cdma.

          • ryanballer


  • ddevito

    I bet this was the “other project” Google and Verizon were working on for 2014. *weak*

    • Ben

      well we know it’s not an LTE-equipped Nexus 7! *zing*

  • wade_county

    If I remember correctly, you can bypass the activation screen by pressing “activate it” then ending the call immediately. If you do that 3-5 times you should bypass it. At least thats how it was on the Droid Incredible 2.

    • Ed Callahan

      From the same thread, what worked for me was select your language. At the next screen for activation, pull down the notification shade, click the recent apps button, swipe away the setup app. From there I was able to setup wireless, and do the android setup.

      • turdbogls

        I know this is old, but apparently I didn’t see it and went out and bought my moto G for an MP3 player and we bummed when i read all the posts above. this method worked for me. So I just wanted to say Thanks!! 🙂

  • ceejw

    Since it appears that you cannot even get to the home screen without activating the phone, does that mean anyone wanting to use this as an media device with no service will have to sign up for a plan to activate the phone and then cancel the plan once the phone activates?

    • Christopher Moore

      Back in the old Droid OG and X days there was a tap combo to bypass the activation screen. Only time will tell for this one. I can bet that people are going to be working hard to crack this one.

      • TSK

        I know on old motorola phones you tap the four corners and the home button i believe, Starting in the top left, counter clockwise if im not mistaken. It is used to bypass activation so the phone can be demoed to customers without having to activate it.

        • gabe

          This is still valid for current phones. Top left, top right, bottom right, bottom left. Only need to do it once and itll be bypassed automatically.

    • C-Law

      There’s a guy in these comments with the phone who bypassed activation so it’s definitely possible

  • TSK

    At $100 it is almost worth a look as an android MP3 player. 8 GB isn’t a lot of space for music, but if you use G-Music you could sync albums or playlists on wifi here and there and have offline music, or pair it with a Meenova SD card reader. I mean it is $100 cheaper than an ipod…

    • D Nice

      umm… good thought.

    • Tony Byatt

      According to Kellen you will still need to activate the phone on Verizon before it can be used for anything. So, no go…

      • TSK

        I may be wrong, but I thought there was a way to bypass the activation. Working in a Verizon retailer we have bypassed many 3G phones, but maybe this has special software to prevent it?

        • Eric R.

          You could on Android 2.0, but not on 4

    • Eric R.

      You can’t just buy it and use it as a MP3, it has to be activated at least once and can’t be reset, since it’s CDMA

    • Ed Callahan

      Yup, it definitely works without activating. Music and games anytime, email and web browsing with a wireless connection. Can download Audible books and podcasts, and listen to them later anywhere. A lot cheaper than an ipod touch. But only 8 gb, like you say.

    • Davidjan

      Thanks for your sharing Meenova. It is really useful.

  • Ken

    Anyone know if this could be activated on StraightTalk through their BYOP program? Specifically this CDMA variant.

    • Ben

      No Straight Talk has a pool of valid MEIDs that can be activated. IIT had to be a straight Talk package for their CDMA service. The BYOD for CDMA is only valid once Verizon releases it to be used off their prepaid after six months of being active on it.

      • Alex

        So could I get one of these, use it on Verizon prepaid for six months, then switch it to Straight Talk after that?

        • C-Law


          • J

            From what I was told, the $99 Moto G is limited to Verizon only, even after 6 months on the pre-pay plan, you still have to stay with Verizon either continuing the pre-pay or going to a post-paid monthly (still no contract) plan from Verizon. I was told after six months you still could not take it to Straight Talk. But someone at Best Buy mobile told me this and they could be wrong.

  • Rafa

    How’s the camera? My wife is interested in the phone to replace her Droid 3 on VZW prepaid.

    • ryanballer

      It takes decent pictures. It’s just a little bit worse than what the Moto X was before the patch. It’s 5 megapixels, but its not bad, especially considering its a $100 dollar off-contract phone.

      • Matthew Merrick

        The camera is significantly better than the horrible one used on that-era Motorola phones. That should be enough for your wife 😛

        • Maryjane

          I have the Samsung Legacy now on Verizon prepaid. I like everything except it doesnt have a flash on the camera. This should be a upgrade for me. Im on the 50 dollar Walmart plan.

  • jer85008

    Can you activate it on a non-prepay line?

    • Ben

      Not until it’s been prepaid for 6 months. I’ve been down that road with Verizon fairly recently.

  • Ed Callahan

    I grabbed one form Best Buy too this morning online, in store pickup. When I went to pick it up, they had pulled them from the shelves. The sales guy told me they had put them out too early. But I was able to pick mine up. I’ll try and activate it now, with the $50 1 gig plan available from WalMart.

    • Drew Clouse

      Let us know what happens. I’m rather curious if this works.

      • Ed Callahan

        No joy. I called Verizon customer service. Had my phone number taken off my post-paid HTC Thunderbolt and then I was transferred to pre-paid customer service. They couldn’t activate the phone. After quite a while they said the tech guys said the Moto G couldn’t be activated yet, maybe in the next day or two. So, long hold to talk to a post-paid customer service guy, and he put my phone number back on the Thunderbolt. So no loss, except for an hour of my life.

        • Katrina S

          Did you ask if the $50 plan would work though?

          • Ed Callahan

            $50 WalMart plan worked. One guy I talked to said I’d have to activate with the $60 plan, then switch. But he screwed everything up, I don’t think he know what was what. Once someone else fixed his mess, they put me on the $50 plan. So, they can.

  • Hohlraum

    “I still doubt we’ll do a review, since this is a $100 phone, but we are here for you.” You do realize there are a hell of alot more people the world interested in a $100 phone than a $600 one.

    • StuckOnVerizonForever

      This isnt a full time phone, so why need a review?

      • hkklife

        This particular device, at this price point, has the potential to be a game -changer. The G, especially at $100, really has the potential to shatter the notion that prepaid phones suck, have ancient specs, and never receive updates. On top of that, this thing has tremendous potential to be a sleeper hit as a mini tablet or WiFi PDA/PMP, a market that Apple absolutely has owned for years and no one has bothered to challenge with a solid Android-based device. So yes, I think it deserves a review on its own merits.

        • StuckOnVerizonForever

          Then look somewhere else.

          • Jessica Tiedeman

            my&nbspbest&nbspfriend’s&nbspstep-mother&nbspΜ­­­­­­а­­­­­­κ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­ѕ&nbsp$­­­­­­­­­­­83&nbspevery&nbspհ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­υ­­­­­­r&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspl­­­­­­а­­­­­­р­­­­­­τ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­р.&nbspShe&nbsphas&nbspbeen&nbspunemployed&nbspfor&nbsp5&nbspΜ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ&nbspbut&nbsplast&nbspΜ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ&nbspher&nbspincome&nbspwas&nbsp$­­­­­­­­­­­19390&nbspjust&nbspW­­­­­­օ­­­­­­r­­­­­­κing&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspl­­­­­­а­­­­­­р­­­­­­τ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­р&nbspfor&nbspa&nbspϜ­­­­­­℮­­­­­­W&nbspհ­­­­­­օ­­­­­­υ­­­­­­rs.&nbspcheck&nbspthis,… &nbspW&#87W&#46Festivals&#78ewYear2014beautifulyear.qr&#46&#110&#x65&#116&#x2F&#109W&#113Z&#47

            ☤☤☤☤ ☤☤☤☤୔☤ ☤☤☤☤ ☤☤☤☤☤but if you use G-Music you could sync albums or playlists on wifi here and there and have offline music, or pair it with a Meenova SD card reader. I mean it is $100 cheaper than an ipod…

    • Chris

      this is on Verizon so only americans should care….

      • Adrynalyne

        Newsflash: A review for one carrier with this phone works for all the others.

        • Chris

          as the title says ”
          Moto G on Verizon: A Quick Look at a $99 Prepaid Smartphone, Flip Cases Too

          • Adrynalyne

            And if you had actually watched it, you would see they showed the GSM version, as well as a link to the GSM unboxing.

          • Sam

            Some people dont want. to pay hundreds of dollars for a phone with features they never use.

      • Mike Reid

        Several people are asking about using it as a media player, not a phone, so no.

        $100 for this level of hardware, even without the phone function, is interesting, and some EBayers’ can sell anywhere.

        I wonder if VZN is losing money at this price, and if sales will be notably higher than activations.

        • TylerCameron

          With a company as massive as Verizon, there is no such h thing as losing money. Only making more money or making slightly less money.