Skip to main content

Android One is a Nexus Line for the Developing World

Google's Nexus line is known for being pretty affordable. The company long ago stopped trying to release phones with the highest-end specifications. Instead, for the last couple of years, Google has focused on producing phones with powerful specs at a great price. Most users don't need the maximum level of power of which smartphones are capable, so why spend more than you must?

Google is taking that to the next level with Android One. Android One is targeting the developing markets where smartphone ownership isn't as prevalent as it is in developed markets. This means budget smartphones with stock Android and great specs. The sample device shown at I/O was manufactured by Micromax and comes equipped with a 4.5-inch display, dual-SIM support, SD card support, and an FM radio. This device will run stock Android, will have automatic updates (just like the Nexus line), and will cost less than $100.

The fact that the updates will be released automatically is big. It's so common for affordable phones to run older, out of date software, simply because the devices themselves are older phones. And though Google didn't go into too much detail on this, it did say that there would be minimum standards for these phones, which should help keep the experience above a certain level. Hopefully, that means these devices will have to at least be able to run the latest version of Android.

For now, Android One is focused on India, but other emerging markets will follow. Google didn't specifically say that Android One devices wouldn't be available in places like North America, but we're assuming the company would rather target budget shoppers with the Nexus line than these lower-powered devices.

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • vern72
    Sure, NOW you put in an SD Card slot...
    Reply
  • tobalaz
    Android NEEDS a push forward.
    Go to Walmart or the Dollar Store and look at all the Android phones running 2.2 still. Its sickening and causing a world of fragmentation that brings the brand down and makes Android more difficult to develop for.
    Making it where all phones have to be able to run the latest version by retooling the OS for lower system requirements will help push forward and unify the Android experience.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    I could use a decent ~$100 smartphone with SD-card but I bet Canadian carriers will charge $250 if not more for it.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    13584658 said:
    Making it where all phones have to be able to run the latest version by retooling the OS for lower system requirements will help push forward and unify the Android experience.
    Only if the device manufacturers actually bother keeping their devices' Android builds up to date. Many, like Google, officially drop support for older devices around the 18 months mark. Many Galaxy Nexus owners got cheesed when the 4.4 upgrade notes said there would be no update for them since they are outside the 18 months support window.
    Reply
  • captaincharisma
    I could use a decent ~$100 smartphone with SD-card but I bet Canadian carriers will charge $250 if not more for it.

    yep canadian carriers alweays tack on 100 extra dollars if you buy a nexus phone off contrcat and you have to activate an account with them. it was a super bonus when i was able to get the Nexus 4 for 250.00 from google play store and all i had to do was get a new sim card with my carrier
    Reply
  • hp79
    Please stop using that stupid ONE naming.. man I'm tired of seeing those everywhere, it's almost like iWhateverDevice or e-whatever. Sounds stupid too. I think HTC One started it, and that was really stupid too especially searching on google.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    13585839 said:
    I think HTC One started it, and that was really stupid too especially searching on google.
    Google's first Nexus-branded phone was the Nexus One which launched in 2010; three years before HTC launched their HTC One.

    Of course, in the Nexus' case, the "One" simply meant it was the first in the line, which makes legitimate sense... not an on-going out-of-the-blue branding effort like the HTC One and XB One which are nowhere near being their respective vendors' first devices in their respective fields. This does annoy me somewhat.
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    Please stop using that stupid ONE naming.. man I'm tired of seeing those everywhere, it's almost like iWhateverDevice or e-whatever. Sounds stupid too. I think HTC One started it, and that was really stupid too especially searching on google.

    Xbox Started it
    Reply
  • ddpruitt
    ..
    Making it where all phones have to be able to run the latest version by retooling the OS for lower system requirements will help push forward and unify the Android experience.

    Problem is the manufacturers. I've built 4.2 for an old Gingerbread device and it ran quite happily (better than the original version that was on there). The problem is the throw away society where most throw away their devices after two years for the latest and greatest. There isn't an incentive for manufacturers to keep the devices up to date without all of the extra bloatware. I had a Droid Bionic that didn't get the official 4.0 update until 4.3 was released, what was Verizon's response to this "Just get a new phone!".
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    Android NEEDS a push forward.
    Go to Walmart or the Dollar Store and look at all the Android phones running 2.2 still. Its sickening and causing a world of fragmentation that brings the brand down and makes Android more difficult to develop for.
    Making it where all phones have to be able to run the latest version by retooling the OS for lower system requirements will help push forward and unify the Android experience.

    If you want a more efficient phone, get a windows phone. If you want bells and whistles with plenty of eye candy, get an android. Google doesn't just tack on features and not think about the horsepower needed to run it. Ultimately it's a balance of what people want and efficiency that they have to decide on. The moto G is probably the best prepaid phone you can buy which is fully up to date for $180.
    Reply