When Google Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome & Apps Sunder Pichai first announced Android One earlier in June, not too many specifications were revealed. Now, within 3 months, as promised, Google on Monday launched its Android One initiative in New Delhi.
The program is designed both to reduce the ultimate cost of Android smartphones, giving more-budget conscious consumers a chance to try out the devices, and to bring a better Android user experience.
Google has initially partnered with three OEMs: Micromax, Karbon and Spice—to create three $100 smartphones, as well as teamed up with the Wireless provider Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile carrier in India, with 40 percent of smartphone users in the country on that network. The first set of devices – Micromax Canvas A1, Spice Dream Uno and Karbonn Sparkle V are all priced upwards of 6,399 INR, that’s approximately $105.
In terms of specifications, all the three OEMs have met the minimum requirements set by Google. The phones feature 4.5-inch screens, 1GB of RAM, 4GB storage, microSD card for expansion, 5-megapixel main and 2-megapixel front cameras, 1.3 GHz quad-core Media Tek processors, dual slim slots and FM radios.
This specification set ensures a more consistent Android experience for the user, as opposed to other inexpensive smartphones that are already available in the market.
Indian customers on carrier Airtel are allowed to download Android updates free of charge for the first six months, as well as 200 MB worth of apps—which won’t count against their monthly data intake.
Android devices in India will come with support for seven languages—including English and Hindi- with multi-lingual support for many apps. Google is also launching a special version of YouTube in the coming weeks which will allow Indian users to download any videos and watch them later anywhere, any time without incurring excessive data charges.
At the event Sundar Pichai also announced the next set of partners for Android One handsets. This includes HTC, Asus, Acer, Panasonic, and Lenovo. In addition, chipset manufacturer Qualcomm is the new hardware partner for the Android One Program which means that future handsets will be equipped with Qualcomm processors in addition to the current Mediatek.
Although India is the second biggest mobile market in the world, its smartphone penetration remains low. After India, Android One phones are set to roll out to Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal before the end of the year.