Last year we expected Apple to come up with a cheaper version of the iPhone, but the iPhone 5c, turned out to be a cheaply colored iPhone, rather than a cheap iPhone. There ended all our hopes of seeing a budget device from Apple. Apple has always neglected the mid and low end of the market and that is where Windows and Google excels. Microsoft Windows Phone OS has set some base line reference for hardware specifications and even the low end Windows devices are highly optimized to work seamlessly with the operating system. The Nokia Lumia 520 is a classic example. Yet, Windows was able to reach only the mid tier market and now Google is all set to reach to the people all the way down.
Cheap Android phones are common. Today, you can get an Android device starting from Rs 3500. But they are inferior in quality. They have inferior hardware specs and outdated version of the Android operating system. Until yesterday, you will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 10000 to get a decent Android mobile.
With the Android One initiative, Google has set strict guidelines for the device manufacturers. The devices must be priced around $100 (~Rs 6000) and they must confirm to certain hardware standards set by Google. These reference guidelines will be revised from time to time, and this year we see three devices under the Android One program. Micromax Canvas A1, Karbonn Sparkle V and the Spice Dream Uno. They are all priced around Rs 6000 and they share exactly the same specifications as below:
- 4.5” FWVGA display (480 x 854)
- Cortex A7 1.3 GHz Media Tek Quad-Core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB storage (expandable up to 32GB with microSD slot)
- Dual micro SIM
- Front and rear facing cameras (2MP and 5MP)
- Rechargeable lithium-ion, 1700mAh
- Android™ 4.4, KitKat® (upgradable to Android L)
The two devices in the market which comes pretty close to the price point are the Moto E and the Xiaomi RedMI 1S. Both these devices are not easily available to the users who are not familiar or comfortable with online purchase. The Android One devices will be available across all brick and mortar stores by Diwali and they are already available online.
Airtel will be giving 200 MB of free data usage per month to the buyers. These mobiles will also get the youtube feature to download videos and play is offline. But the major plus point we see here is the quick updates. These devices will be treated on par with Nexus devices, when it comes to pushing the OS updates.
That being said, I am not suggesting you to jump the guns and go for it. The hardware specs doesn’t excite the power users and the storage capacity doesn’t excite the entertainment lovers. But these are budget devices and not value for money devices. You get what you pay for. In my personal opinion even the $100 will not completely penetrate the low end segment of buyers. It has to be cheaper than that. That segment of the market will not care for the OS updates and the youtube videos. But I sincerely appreciate Google for having the mind to care about the low and mid end segment. This program is at its infant stage. There are more devices coming in from other manufactures. Let us wait and see how it all shapes up.
A wise man (my dad) once told me “Anybody can run fast, but it takes special skills to run slowly”. I dunno why I remembered this, but I wanted to point out that iPhone can make fast hardware work fast with fast software, but Android here is trying to run the fast software on a slow hardware. Kudos to that!!!