Google Inc has confirmed it is developing a premium smartphone to compete with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S series.

The handset will be developed by Google's acquired Motorola operation and will carry the name Moto X. Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, speaking at the D11 conference in California, US, described a device that would be smart enough to anticipate what users would require of it and cheap enough to start the overdue deflation of smartphone market prices.

Anticipated departures by hardware vendors from its Android OS in favour of open source experiments have left Google with a need to keep a foot in the mobility culture with its own handset. Early open-source mobile platforms have already been unveiled, including Finnish firm Jolla's new Sailfish handset, and reports persist of other projects, such as Samsung's Tizen handset.

"[The Moto X] is more contextually aware of what's going on around it," said Woodside. "It allows you to interact with it more than other devices today. It anticipates [needs]."

Technology already used for sensing tilt and pitch will be integrated into the Moto X to allow the handset to distinguish between being removed from a pocket or travelling in a car. Motorola is developing heuristics around these capabilities so that the phone can predict the most likely required function.

While core components such as processors and screens will be manufactured in Asia, 70% of the assembly of the Moto X is to be done in the US, according to Woodside.