As we were expecting, Google revealed the first Android One phones at an event in India yesterday. Three companies will be vying for supremacy in India with their Android One offerings, the version of the Android software specifically built for low-cost devices. Google promised manufacturers their engineering expertise, enabling them to build smartphones delivering a great user experience on very cheap hardware.
The three companies that will be offering these Google-backed phones will be Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles. So what can you really expect from a $100 Android smartphone approved by Google?
Karbonn’s device is called the Sparkle V Red, for example, which comes with dual SIM slots, a 4.5-inch display (480 x 854 resolution), a 5-megapixel primary camera, 1GB of RAM and, importantly, the latest version of Android.
While Android has been dominating the low-end smartphone space (just like every other one), this is the first real targeted push by Google into the developing markets. A lot of other cheap devices run Android, but they almost never get software updates and are utterly useless after 6-12 months. With Android One, Google can manage the software updates directly, ensuring a much better, less fragmented experience.
India is a huge market, of course, and Android One is designed not only to make more affordable handsets, but it’s also a way of bringing a consistent Android experience. These first three Android One smartphones will receive updates immediately, as if they were Nexus devices.
We are extremely excited about this development, because it is very likely to be coming to our shores within the next 3-6 months. I can think of very little that is more exciting in this marketplace than a very cheap Nexus-like Android phone.
Update: Google has also revealed that they intend to launch these kinds of devices in other markets, but we haven’t heard any specifics. It will most likely be in conjunction with local manufacturers.
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