Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system, with over 1 billion monthly active users as of July. But according to Google that's only the beginning. Android One is Google's initiative to target the other 5 billion people on the planet; people who may live in areas where purchasing the latest $700 flagship device simply isn't an option. In some of the countries Google is targeting, the average monthly income may be as little as the equivalent of $250. This is an enormous barrier for smartphone adoption. At Google I/O the stated goal of Android One was to bring a high quality smartphone experience to the masses in a $100 package. Today the first step is being made, with the launch of three new smartphones in India from manufacturers Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice.

Starting at 6399 Rs (~$105) the devices are slightly higher than Google's initial price projection but still within a price range that should be affordable by many people in countries like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They feature SoCs from Mediatek, and include features like dual SIM cards and FM radio support which are more popular in those countries than in others like the United States for example.

To avoid the issues that have traditionally plagued performance and software on low-end devices, Google has been working with various hardware suppliers and manufacturers to create a reference platform for Android One devices. This specification consists of a 4.5" 854x480 IPS display, a 1.3GHz quad core CPU from MediaTek, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of NAND, MicroSD support, a 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, and a 1700mAh battery. At $105 that's a very good value proposition.

Google will also be supplying all software support which means that updates will come directly from Google and Android L support is a guarantee. Google has partnered with Indian cell carrier Airtel to allow users to download 200MB per month from Google Play without counting against the user's data allowance. For the first 6 months, software updates will also be free to download over the air using cellular data.

The Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, and the Spice Dream Uno can be seen at their respective manufacturer's websites. The devices are currently for sale at major Indian retailers including Flipkart, Amazon India, and Snapdeal.

Source: Google

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  • tuxRoller - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Moto g. It's more than $100, but still the cheapest phone I know of that's good given your criteria.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Sorry, make that the moto e.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    And it's $129, no contract. If you're interested in this phone keep in mind they just released a new version that had some nice updates iirc.
  • laytoncy - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Keep in mind Moto E doesn't have a front camera, so no video calls. Moto G has a faster processor, a front camera and a higher resolution display.
  • laytoncy - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    I saw that and to get the E in 4G it goes up in price.
  • Nimer55 - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    The moto E goes for $119 amazon, but I'd strongly suggest getting the current generation Moto G, for 159 if you can afford it, as its a vastly superior product, but if not, the Moto E will get the job done.

    (I don't get any sort of benefit from you clicking those links, I just included them because I thought it would make it easier for you)
  • laytoncy - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the reply. I'll take a look at those.
  • sremai - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Lumia 520 (ATT) costs $49.99 at Microsoft Store runs WP8.1 (if bought new). Most of the Tier-I apps are available and you will miss many Tier-II apps and some Tier-I apps. For its price its performs smooth and is a clean device in many respects.
  • laytoncy - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Thanks. I've been looking at either the 520 or 635 and have also been reading about the new 730/735. I've only seen good things about the 520 and I'll have to do some reading on what apps I may miss and what tier I is vs tier II.

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