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Monday, November 10, 2014

Gadget of the Week - Google Android One

Over the last two months, we have highlighted a gadget that presents unique features that are of great benefit to the end user.
Our focus area has been and remains phones and computing devices.

This week, our gizmo is the Google Android One smartphone.

Essentially, Android One is not a particular phone but rather, it is a standard. It was created by Google for Android devices, specifically smartphones in developing markets. It is targeted at those buying their first device.

So far, three Android One phones have been launched in India. These are Karbon Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, and Spice Dream UNO.

This is how Android One has been introduced:

Where it stands out

As mentioned above, Android One represents a standard that Google has already set, whose objective is to maintain a rich smartphone experience at an affordable price.

For starters, the phones will all run close-to-stock Android without heavy manufacturer customizations. In addition, Google will be able to push software updates itself. This solves the prevalent situation where older, low-end Android phones are stuck with old versions of Android, which cannot run modern apps.

Android One smartphones are designed with a battery that lasts all day, a front and rear camera, dual SIM, a quad core processor and expandable storage through micro SD.
The three devices already on sale in India all have 4.5-inch screens, 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel main and 2-megapixel front cameras, 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processors, dual-SIM slots, microSD expandable storage, and FM radios.

Expert Reviews

CNET dubs the Android One initiative Google's push to rule the smartphone world. Thanks to an an unmodified version of the Android software, without the technical and user interface flourishes that manufacturers add, users stand to benefit in several ways:
  • reduced price of Android smartphones.
  • no more problem of running out-of-date Android software
  • access to Google Services.
The Verge emphasizes Google's effort to put its stamp on the user experience. Since the devices will run near-stock-Android devoid of heavy customization, Google will be able to push software updates itself.
To encourage this, Google has partnered with carriers to address the data cost barrier that keep budget device owners from applying updates.

In India for example, Airtel India subscribers will be able to download software updates free for the first six months of ownership.

Still in India, BGR considers Android One impressive, but not ground-breaking.
If Google could spearhead a coalition of manufacturers, device vendors and carriers, it could provide a pure Android experience at a great price achieved by economies of scale.

the beauty of Android One is not in how the device looks or its specifications. Instead it is about how it works. The magic is in getting the pure Android experience and the promise of timely Android updates as soon as they come.

User Opinions

The Calm Critic says:
A hundred dollar Android phone that's guaranteed Google sanctioned updates for up to 2 years, which is better than a Nexus is ground breaking enough if anyone ask me.

Amit Kumar, has some praise for the Micromax A1:
Best phone. loving every function of this phone. Perfect A1

Pricing and Availability

The Android One price ranges just about $100.

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Android One presents an opportunity for customers in emerging markets to break free from buggy manufacturer customizations of the Android OS in their phones. Also, the worry that their phones will be stuck with old`er versions of Android as manufacturers opt to only push updates for their top of the range smartphones.