Motorola says it wants to equip the world with the latest smartphone technology, at less than a third the price with its new “Moto G.”

Google’s Motorola Mobility unit is seeking to jump-start sales by targeting consumers who can’t afford higher-end devices from bigger rivals.

The Moto G will cost $179 in the U.S. without a wireless contract, compared with more than $600 for some other premium devices, the company said. The phone will be sold in more than 30 countries and aims to pack enough power, screen resolution and features to make it a real alternative at an affordable price, said Motorola Chief Executive Officer Dennis Woodside.

“When we looked at the smartphone market, we actually think the industry has really failed 5 billion people,” Woodside said in an interview. “With Moto G, you’re going to have consumers who have not had a smartphone before.”

Motorola is seeking to win back market share lost as buyers opted for sleek, heavily marketed handsets from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Motorola’s third-quarter revenue fell 34 percent, even as the company began selling Moto X, the first smartphone introduced since its acquisition by Google last year. It accounted for just 1.7 percent of global smartphone shipments in that period, according to Strategy Analytics.

The mobile-phone industry is projected to expand 5.2 percent in 2014 after 3.7 percent growth in 2013, according to researcher Gartner Inc. The increase is being driven by middle- market and lower-priced smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, Gartner said.

“The opportunity for high-average-selling-price” smartphones is ending, Gartner said in a report last month. “Growth is expected to come from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets.”

In the past, the company said, those consumers were limited to phones with technology that’s at least a year old and thus unable to run the latest apps and services.

The company is targeting not just emerging markets, but budget-conscious consumers in the U.S. Although people can often get phones with contract at the lower price, service fees are higher because they include the cost of subsidizing those phones. And many people don’t have good enough credit to qualify and are limited to so-called pre-paid plans, which aren’t eligible for the subsidized prices.

With the Moto G, Motorola is trying to offer a device that is closer to what leading high-end phones currently offer.

The phone’s 4.5-inch screen, measured diagonally, is capable of high-definition video, but only at 720p, not at the better, 1020p standard found in leading phones. The resolution is 329 pixels per inch, which is comparable to the 326 pixels in the latest, 4-inch iPhones but short of the 441 pixels in Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy S4.

The $179 price is for a phone with 8 gigabytes of storage, not the 16 gigabytes typical with high-end phones. A 16-gigabyte version is available for $199.

The phone also has a recent processor from Qualcomm and runs a recent version of Google’s operating system, Android 4.3, also known as Jelly Bean. The newest version, 4.4 or Kit Kat, is promised by January. Kit Kat was designed to work well with older phones and the latest devices alike.

The phone starts selling in Brazil and parts of Europe on Wednesday. It will be available in Canada, parts of Asia and the rest of Europe and Latin America over the next few weeks. It is expected in the U.S., India, the Middle East and additional markets in Asia in January. Motorola didn’t announce any plans for Africa.

Moto G will have a removable back to allow for customization. Motorola’s flagship Moto X also allows customization, but it must be ordered in advance and can’t be changed.