The first Android One handsets, which are budget-priced smartphones, have been released in India, reports the BBC.
Android One handsets provide a minimum set of features determined by Google.
“Our goal was to develop high quality smartphones at an affordable price, with access to connectivity, done at scale around the world,” Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, told the BBC ahead of the launch in Delhi.
Sundar Pichai, said Android One had delivered economies of scale that meant the first batch of phones could be offered for as low as 6,399 rupees ($105; £65) if bought contract-free.
Google’s minimum standards for Android One include:
- 4.5in (11.4cm) display
- 1GB of RAM (random-access memory)
- 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front one
- quadcore processor sourced from Taiwanese company Mediatek
- the ability to run the next version of Android, due for release soon
In addition, they have been tailored to suit the local market by including a micro-SD (Secure Digital) slot, a replaceable battery, a built-in FM radio and the ability to support two Sim cards simultaneously.
While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. About 400 million smartphones will be sold in India over the next five years, according to a forecast by Pricewaterhouse, with the majority bought at Android One’s price point.
Indian carrier Bharti Airtel, the largest carrier in India with over 200 million subs, will have a special data plan for Android One users — the updates sent by Google as well as app updates will be free of charge and won’t be counted towards a user’s monthly 200MB data quota. Bharti Airtel is the fifth largest mobile operator in the world after China Mobile, Vodafone Group, China Unicom, and America Movil.
Currently, Aircel and Bharti Airtel provide LTE service in India. Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Tikonav, and Augere have acquired 2.3 GHz spectrum for TD-LTE in India, but a lack of ecosystem, is hindering nationwide service.
According to Wireless Intelligence, smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020. The number of smartphone connections will grow threefold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, accounting for two thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time.
Over half the global population will have Internet access by 2017, with mobile broadband over smartphones and tablets now the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the 2014 edition of the UN’s Broadband Commission in their State of Broadband report.