Google’s Android operating system has grabbed a major share of the global smartphone market over the past three years.
Now Google has announced the Android One programme with an aim to reach out to the next five billion smartphone users with affordable yet feature-packed devices.
The company decide to start the Android One initiative from India where smartphone penetration is just about 10% partnering with domestic smartphone brands Karbonn, Micromax and Spice.
The initiative allows vendors to produce low-cost smartphones packed with essential features. The smartphones that come under the programme run a stock version of Android with updates directly seeded by Google, keeping the experience consistent across different devices.
The first set of Android One devices include Micromax Canvas A1, Spice Dream Uno and Karbonn Sparkle V. The phones feature the same internals and sport similar design except for a few minor differences.
The three phones are exclusive to three different e-commerce marketplaces and come with their respective apps in addition to brand specific content store.
- Good performance
- Stock Android UI
- Priority software updates
- Low end hardware
- Low battery life
The Android One smartphones are made of plastic and have a decent look. These phones are durable and provide a good grip with rounded corner and edges.
They have thick bezels and an earpiece that seems to be missing the mesh cover that usually covers the speaker.
The front of the phone sports a glossy finish and a 4.5-inch FWVGA IPS display. The Android One devices come without any hardware capacitive keys for navigation. The front panel also features a 2MP front camera.
On the right edge you can find plastic keys for volume control and power. On the bottom edge there is a micro-USB port while the 3.5mm headset jack is at the top. The rear side features a removable plastic cover.
The Spice and Micromax phones have a rubberized, matte finish whereas the Karbonn phone have a plastic feel while holding. Micromax differentiates the phone with a circular, metallic ring that houses the phone’s 5MP rear camera and LED flash.
The phones are built to last and are durable. The Spice phone has the minimalist design while the Micromax phone looks the most fancy due to the camera ring.
The Android One phones boast a 4.5-inch FWVGA IPS display which provides good viewing angles and decent sunlight legibility. The colour reproduction on the display is good for this price point.
However, the experience is not as good when compared to the 720p display of the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, which is priced at Rs 5,999.
The Android One smartphones run a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat with Google Now launcher and a few non-removable preloaded apps. Swiping to left on the home screen shows all Google Now notifications.
The phone comes with the Google Camera app and users cannot take pictures without an external storage source. Google will directly seed software updates to the Android One phones, which means that these will be one of the first devices to receive a software update.
You can use the ‘Ok Google’ hotword directly from the homescreen and can access Google Now by a simple swipe to the right. But the thing is now you can get the stock Android launcher on any Android smartphone running on Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and upwards.
These phones feature a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and 2MP front camera.
Pictures taken in daylight are decent, but the colours are not accurate, exposing a little colder image compared to the actual subject.
The pictures do not show many details, but there is less noise compared to the cameras of other phones in this price range.
The LED flash is not capable to evenly fill light, so the pictures taken in low light lack details.
The phone supports 1080p videos capture but videos shot with the phone are not very detailed. The front camera takes decent selfies and is good for video chats.
UNDER THE HOOD
The Android One phones are powered by a 1.3GHz MediaTek quad-core processor, Mali-400MP graphics backed up by 1GB RAM.
They have 4GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 32GB capacity. Out of 4GB, 2.27GB is available to the user.
The phones are juiced up by a 1700mAh battery which provides a upto 8-9 hours of mixed usage, which is less as compared to other phones available in the market.
The dual-sim phone offers decent call quality and signal reception. It supports 3G data on both sim-card slots.
Games like Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers can be played without any lag, but minor lag while playing graphics-rich games like Asphalt 8.
Android One is a great initiative for making smartphones with the latest software features and security updates to the masses. However, Google did not do enough to get the pricing right. If Google really wants to attract the users with Android One, these smartphones should be priced at around Rs 5,000.
Out of the three Android One smartphones, the Spice Dream Uno is the most affordable one at Rs 6,299 and it comes with an 8GB microSD card apart from other offers from Flipkart. Considering all three Android One smartphones are essentially the same device, the Spice Dream Uno makes the most sense.
An alternative over the Android One phones is the Xiaomi Redmi 1S. However, the phone’s availability is limited to one online retailer via weekly flash sales, which makes it difficult to get. Asus ZenFone 4 is also a decent alternative.