Google announced that it’s launching a new line of “affordable” Android One smartphones in India in a bid to get smartphones in more people’s hands.
“There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality smartphone,” writes Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps, in a blog post. “First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.”
“Android One aims to help tackle these challenges,” Pichai. “By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.”
The devices will always get the latest versions of Android directly from Google so they’re up to date on security patches, and have all the latest features. They’ll even be first to be updated to the Android L release later this year.
All software updates will be free for the first six months if users have an Airtel SIM card. As part of that deal, users will also be able to download up to 200MB per month worth of apps from Google Play without it counting toward mobile data usage.
The first phones come from hardware partners Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek. They’re available noew from retailers in India starting at Rs 6,399. Google is also working with Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and Qualcomm on additional devices.
The Android One initiative will be expanded into Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka by the end of the year, and to additional countries next year.
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