Google announced the Android One project as an initiative to bring more people to the connected world and to bring better software experience to the budget segment. Android One was meant for developing countries like India, where most of the people were stuck with feature phones or budget smartphones with a terrible user experience. Google planned to overcome this situation by introducing entry-level smartphones with stock Android and all software updates handled by Google itself. Google partnered with local OEMs in various countries to bring Android One smartphones. India received three devices in 2014 under the Android One program – Micromax Canvas A1, Spice Dream UNO and Karbonn Sparkle V. These devices were priced well under INR 10,000 mark, but they failed to impress the masses due to the lack of proper distribution strategies and the entry of Chinese vendors who brought with them devices which offered better value for money in the market. The second generation of Android One devices came out in 2015, but they didn’t create any buzz. With that, Android One was considered to be a failed attempt by most people in the tech community.
Fast forward to 2017, Xiaomi launched Mi A1 (Android One version of its China-exclusive Mi 5X) in India, marking the return of Android One. According to Google and Xiaomi, Mi A1 will be available across 40 countries including India.
MI A1 sports mid-range specs unlike the previous Android One devices, and it is the most expensive Android One smartphone till date costing Rs.14,999. It features a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 625, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal memory with microSD expansion, a 12MP f/2.2 regular lens and a 12MP f/2.6 secondary lens which supports 2x optical zoom. There is a 5MP front-facing camera for selfies. The device is powered by a 3080 mAh battery. Check out the detailed specifications here. And make sure to watch our video for first thoughts and impressions here.
Though it doesn’t stop with Mi A1, Google is planning to launch more phones under Android One program. Let’s take a look at some upcoming (rumored) devices.
Moto X4 (Android One version)
Motorola introduced the Moto X4 recently at IFA 2017 held in Berlin. A few days after the announcement, famous leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks) posted an image of a Moto X4 with an Android One logo on the back. This means we can expect the Moto X4 being launched under Android One program soon after the release of original Moto X4. Name of the Android One device will be different though.
Moto X4, unlike the old generation Moto X, comes with mid-range specs. It sports a 5.2-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD display, Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal memory with microSD card support, front mounted fingerprint scanner, 3000 mAh battery with turbocharging via USB type-C and IP68 water resistance. The rear dual camera setup consists of a 12MP f/2.0, 1.4 m lens and an 8MP f/2.2, 1.12 m lens with 120° wide field of view. There is a 16MP f/2.0 sensor for selfies. Check out the complete specs of regular Moto X4 here. The Android One edition phone will have same hardware specifications as the Moto X4.
The highlighting feature of Moto X4 is a new Wireless Sound System that’s powered by French company Tempow, which enables the phone to play music simultaneously on up to four Bluetooth-powered devices. Whether this feature will make its way to the Android One edition is yet to be seen.
HTC U11 Life (Android One Version)
According to the custom ROM developer @LlabTooFeR on Twitter, HTC U11 Life or Ocean Life will be released under Android One program. The name may vary, but it’ll have same hardware specifications as the U11 Life. Famous leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks) also confirmed it later (here). It is a mid-range version of HTC’s flagship U11. The phone is rumored to feature a 5.2-inch Full HD display, 16MP cameras on the front and rear, Snapdragon 630, water resistance, and HTC’s Edge Sense squeeze gestures. @LlabTooFeR also stated (here) that it’ll keep some HTC specific features like EdgeSense, USonic, Zoe and HTC Camera.
According to early rumors from January, LG has also shown interest in launching an Android One device. As of now, we are not clear about the specs or any other details.
Taking a look at the above-mentioned devices and the recently launched Mi A1, we can clearly see that Google has chosen a new way to deliver Android One devices. Instead of designing a new phone from scratch, Google is trying to bring Android One editions of already available smartphones from various manufacturers. This is essentially a win-win situation for Google, manufacturers, and consumers, as we are left with more choices to select from. With more people moving towards mid-range devices and with growing concern about software updates, there is no better time than now to bring back the Android One series. A lot of companies like Lenovo, Motorola, and Nokia ships their phones with Stock Android-like UI, but at least some of them are not very punctual regarding security updates or even version updates. This is where Android One becomes significant. As the updates are controlled by Google, these devices are supposed to get fastest updates just like Nexus or Pixel.
Do you like this approach from Google? Are you interested in Android One program? Do you want to see Android One smartphones from more manufacturers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.