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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  • jjj - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    The cheapest way is China with no doubt.
    Something like the Moto G goes even bellow 100$.
    Or you have things like the ZTE Nubia Z7 Mini with 5 inch 1080p, Snapdragon 801 at 244$ that even puts the Nexus to shame.
    Or Iuni U3 with 1440p 5.5 inch screen at 325$.
    There are lots of sites that ship worldwide but there is a price premium, still plenty cheap.
    Ofc LTE is just starting in China so very few have LTE ,if that matters, and ofc you need to make sure the device has the bands you need.
    There are hundreds of devices and plenty with great value, ofc you need to research and find the device you need and a decent retailer.
    BUT i would wait , A53 and A57 cores are starting to show up and soon 20nm too. Those are big steps forward and if you can wait it would be preferable.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    I have a ThL phone with their quad core A7 chip.

    I love the idea of Google being behind this, as long as mediatek release sources. My phones stuck on 4.2 because they don't release sources.

    Do you know if these phones will? If they are, they are even better value in the long term.

    Imagine being stuck on 4.3 on your Note 3.
  • Nimer55 - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    The updates will be coming straight from Google, so I would expect similar standard that applies for Nexus devices, so updates for at least 18 month. Hopefully longer, but I wouldn't buy it expecting it.

    Phones getting updated is supposed to be one of the big features of Android One, so it'll do better than most phones. Also, new Motorola devices are also great with updates, so I would look into them. In the US, Amazon has good prices on them (the G and the E), but I don't know about availability outside of Canada and the US, and doubt you are from Canada.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - link

    I'm buying a note 3 very soon as I want support as long as possible.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Too bad it's quad core. I'd love a soc maker to put out a two core a17/a7 chip. Yeah, only two cores, but I'd provide a great balance of very high performance and low battery. Hmm, maybe an a17 + 2 a7...
    GTS FTW!!!
  • aryonoco - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    A17 still requires too big a die and you can't fit them in this price range (yet). This is firmly A5-A7 category.

    However, Mediatek does have A17/A7 bit.LITTLE processors, and Google mentioned that there will be other Android One devices both below and above this initial price range, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see something like that in an upper model Android One next year.
  • anshu87 - Monday, September 15, 2014 - link

    Google has guaranteed 2 YEARS worth of updates for Android One devices.
  • Morawka - Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - link

    Look at a Used Moto X from Gazelle ebay store! $135 good condition. If only these countries had access to used midranged phones, they could get so much more for their money.

    This is a great value tho,
  • r3loaded - Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - link

    Used stuff markets are already gaining traction in India. I was there last week, there were plenty of billboards and TV adverts for OLX and Quikr, two domestic services for selling and buying used stuff.
  • SirPerro - Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - link

    All the people recommending sub $100 chinese phones probably haven't fought against one.

    I bought one for my grandma for 80€, heavily recommended in the forums, and that's the biggest pile of horseshit I've ever handled.

    There's a huge effort behind trying to make one of those work like a non-chinese person would expect. Flashing, adding google apps, dealing with chinese recovery menus...

    Plus, the damn thing died in 1 year. Now go and try to get it repaired. It went straight to the thrash and got a Moto G (No moto E at that time)

    For Android One you pay $20-40 over the chinese hardware and get Android L out of the box and direct support from google. Best deal ever if you ask me.

    Hates gonna hatin' if you ask me, but this is probable a game changer in India.

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