Google Unveils 3 Budget Smartphones for Android One
Google announced the first three smartphones that will be part of Android One, the company’s initiative to bring affordable Android smartphones to developing markets.
Each of the three devices, manufactured by Micromax, Spice and Karbonn, has a 4.5-inch display and will first ship in India. The phones will also come to Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka by the end of the year; Google said it would make Android One available in more countries next year.
Starting price for the phones is 6,399 Indian rupees ($105), according to a blog post by Google Android head Sundar Pichai.
To make the devices affordable, Google is working with smartphone partners like Acer, Asus, HTC and Lenovo, as well as silicon chip makers to use lower-cost components. The Android One devices are a step up from entry-level phones: Each phone has both a front (5MP) and rear-facing camera (2MP), dual SIM card slots, a replaceable battery and a built-in FM radio. Other specs include 1GB of RAM and a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processors.
The phones will run on Android L, Google’s upcoming mobile operating system, and will be eligible for all software updates, including security patches. Google first announced the Android One initiative in June during the Google I/O developers conference.
There are more than 1.75 billion smartphone users worldwide, but a huge opportunity still exists for companies like Google to grab the attention of the 5 billion people without mobile devices.
Google focused on India first because of the country’s typically pricey hardware and data plans, as well as limited access to apps, the company said.
“Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250),” Pichai wrote in his post. “Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.”
It makes sense that Google wants to bring budget phones to regions with less access. In addition to added mobile connectivity, it also gives new users access to its app store, Android ecosystem and, of course, its search engine.
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