From a 3G-only phone in late 2013 to a fully functional high-speed (and low-cost) alternative in 2015, the new Moto G carves a niche in the mid-range.

Moto G 2013, and Moto G 2015

What a difference a couple of years can make. OK, call it 21 months. But the journey from the original Moto G (announced in November 2013) to today's model (available now) shows just how far the mid-range smartphone has come. And it's definitely a flourishing segment of the Android ecosystem, with similarly spec'd phones from the likes of ASUS (with the ZenFone 2), Alcaltel OneTouch (the Idol 3), Huawei (the good-but-running-KitKat P8 Lite) and others in the very affordable price range.

But let's take a look back at what Motorola's done. How far we've come from that original Moto G, to what we have today.

You can now walk around with a $200 phone that's not embarrassing to show off in public.

Looking back, Motorola has remained pretty consistent with the Moto G. The screen's gotten a little bigger, jumping from 4.5 inches (remember when that was huge?) to an even 5 inches. Price has ranged from $180 to about $220 — where it is today for the latest version.

But if there's a single spec that's changed the way we look at the Moto G, it's got to be LTE data. The original phone announced in late 2013 lacked LTE data. It wasn't until May 2014 that an LTE-capable model was released. Same 4.5-inch display, but faster data, and expandable storage thrown in for good measure.

We tend to look at these phones in terms of yearly cycles, and in September 2014 we got another new version of the Moto G. That's three or four models, depending on how you're counting SKUs, but the big change this time around was the larger display and a higher-resolution camera. And dual front-facing speakers thrown in for good measure. Where things got a little odd was that there was we didn't get an LTE-capable model. (Not outside Brazil, anyway. It's possible the pricing just never worked out for the rest of us.)

Fast forward to where we are today, and the boxes are mostly checked. Five-inch display at 720p. More RAM (with the 16GB storage/2GB RAM model). Even higher resolution camera at 13 megapixels. The front-facing speakers have graduated to the new Moto X, but that shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Indeed, what we have in the Moto G is a consistently growing mid-range smartphone. If we had to pick one spec that we'd absolutely want to see increase, it'd be the resolution of the display. And the Snapdragon 410 processor is technically capable of pushing that — but numbers on paper are just that. There are other factors at play, of course. (First and foremost is the question of whether you'd want a 1080p Moto G, which definitely would start creeping in on the Moto X with specs at that point.)

Moto G 2013 Moto G 2014 Moto G 2015
Operating system Android 5.1 Lollipop Android 5.1 Lollipop Android 5.1 Lollipop
Display 4.5-inch 720p LCD 5.0-inch 720p LCD 5.0-inch 720p LCD
Processor Snapdragon 400 Snapdragon 400 Snapdragon 410
Storage 8/16GB 8/16GB 8/16GB
LTE LTE version available LTE version available LTE as standard
microSD LTE version only Yes Yes
Front camera 1.3MP 2MP 5MP
Rear camera 5MP 8MP 13MP
Battery 2070 mAh 2070 mAh 2470 mAh
Dimensions 129.9 x 65.9 x 6.0-11.6 141.5 x 70.7 x 6.0-11.0 142.1x72.4x6.1-11.6
Weight 143 grams 149 grams 155 grams
Wifi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0LE 4.0LE 4.0LE