As expected, Google has earlier today brought the Android One initiative to India, forming a united front with local handset manufacturers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice to offer a Nexus-like user experience for the budget-conscious masses.
Ever since the Android creators publicized the audacious, somewhat reckless One program, thick clouds of skepticism enclosed the horizons of Asia-based low-cost mobile audiences. They wanted to believe, they just had a tough time wrapping their brains around the concept of sub-$100 Nexus “clones”, with close-to-stock up-to-date Android pre-loaded and steady subsequent software support.
And as credible inside sources reported Big G’s hardware-producing partners were pushing for greater pricing leeway, a fiasco looked unavoidable. Only in the end, it seems the Android One-involved parties reached a compromise everyone should be happy to live with.
No, you won’t be able to purchase a vanilla KitKat-running device with Android L looming for less than 100 bucks. But a measly $5 extra can score you a Micromax Canvas A1 or Karbonn Sparkle V. Later today, mind you, at least in India, where the regional Amazon and Snapdeal plan to get the show on the road at INR 6,399 list prices.
Once again, that’s roughly $105, though folks living on the Western hemisphere shouldn’t start making plans. Android One is, for the time being, aimed squarely at emerging Asian markets, with Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal slated to follow India’s suit by the end of 2014.
The distant future may however bring ultra-affordable stock Android-powered gear to new shores, since Google went on record to confirm big names such as HTC, Asus, Acer, Lenovo or Qualcomm want a piece of the One pie.
Back to the program’s debut, we should mention Spice has a low-cost Nexus ready to ship out as well, dubbed Dream Uno. Headed exclusively to Flipkart, the Uno is bizarrely priced at $115 (INR 6,999), although it’s an exact replica of the Canvas A1 and Sparkle V as far as specifications are concerned.
That last part is no surprise, given Google conditioned the entries of the three companies in the fledgling project by their fulfillment of a very specific instruction list.
Namely, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice had to deliver 4.5-inch smartphones with FWVGA displays, quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek processors, 1 GB RAM, 5 MP rear-facing cameras, 2 MP front snappers, FM radios, 1,700 mAh batteries and dual SIM support. Which they of course did. Add Android 4.4.4 in the equation and you get quite a lot for fairly little, don’t you think?