Google Launches First Android One Smartphones In India

Google has announced the first ‘Android One’ smartphones in India as the company seeks to expand the reach of its mobile platform in emerging markets.

The devices, manufactured by Karbonn, Spice and India’s largest smartphone maker Micromax, all adhere to the minimum specifications of the Android One programme, which aims to make it cheaper and easier to produce low-cost smartphones.

Google has sourced many of the components and allows manufacturing partners to choose an approved CPU, GPU, camera, storage and battery. By standardising these components, Google can test the software itself, saving manufacturer’s time, while it will also keep the platform secure and provide updates.

Android One devices

The Indian devices could be available for as little as £65 without a contract and Airtel customers will be able to download software updates separately from their data allowance for six months, while they will also be able to get 200MB of apps. They handsets also have a special version of Google Now which displays railway timetables and cricket scores as well as a choice of local publications on Google Newsstand.

All Android One handsets must be at least 4.5 inches in size, have 1GB of RAM, a five megapixel front-facing camera and two megapixel front-facing sensor and a quad core processor from Taiwanese manufacturer MediaTek. The devices run stock Android and there is room to add market-specific features such as FM radios, MicroSD card slots and replaceable batteries.

MediaTek’s rival Qualcomm has also signed up to the Android One programme, while Lenovo, Asus, HTC, Asus, Panasonic and Alcatel are also on board.

The programme is set to expand to the likes of Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka with more countries set to follow in 2015.

The hope is that Android One will extend the reach of Google’s services to more markets and fend off competition from the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Samsung-backed Tizen. Earlier this year, the first Firefox OS device to be based on a $25 turnkey reference design was launched in India.

For manufacturers it presents a chance to increase market share in developing nations amid fears that the market is saturating in the developed world. It is expected that devices from other Android One partners will arrive later this year.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

View Comments

  • Why do all of these phone and web sites offer the like of this to those countries and not the rest of the world. I know we might be earning more but if they reduced the end price, they would then be able to help the less well off at home.

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