First revealed in June 2014 during Google’s annual I/O developer conference, Android One phones run a stock version of Android, and are designed for emerging markets. Google stays in control of the update process to ensure the devices remain up-to-date, and each phone comes loaded with local language support. Google and local smartphone manufacturers launched the first devices under the Android One program in India during September 2014.
Updated on 08-18-2015 by Williams Pelegrin: Added in news of the Infinix Hot 2’s launch in Africa
Android One spreads its wings to Africa
After focusing primarily on Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Google decided to launch its Android One initiative in Africa in the form of the Infinix Hot 2. Coming in black, white, blue, red, and gold, you’ll get 1GB of RAM unless you opt for gold, which nets you 2GB of RAM. Regardless of color choice, however, you’ll find a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 resolution display, as well as a 2-megapixel camera on the front. Meanwhile, on the back sits an 8-megapixel camera.
Powering the Hot 2 is a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek processor, with the feature list revealing dual SIM card support and 16GB of expandable memory. Finally, and most interestingly, the Hot 2 runs vanilla Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with a promised upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The Hot 2 is currently available for purchase in Nigeria for the equivalent of $88, and the handset will also be released in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Kenya in the near future.
Android One in India
The first three Android One phones were produced by Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice, three popular brands in India. All three phones share almost identical spec sheets, based on requirements laid out by Google, and differ mainly by design. The phones are sold through specific online retailers in India, with each manufacturer signing exclusive deals. Networks haven’t been left out either, and will offer airtime packages designed for Android One phones.
Micromax’s Canvas A1 was shown during Google I/O, and is sold through Snapdeal, Karbonn’s Sparkle V through Amazon India, and buyers wanting the Spice Dream Uno smartphone need to visit the Flipkart online store. The phones started to trickle through to high street retailers at the end of October.
All three Android One phones have 4.5-inch touchscreens with a 854 x 480 pixel resolution, and a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6582 processor with 1GB of RAM inside. There’s dual-SIM support, a MicroSD card slot to boost the 4GB of internal memory, a 1700mAh battery, plus 3G connectivity. The rear camera has 5 megapixels and an LED flash, plus it’ll record 1080p video, while the front camera has 2 megapixels. The price is also important, and all three Android One devices cost around $105.
The newest addition to India’s Android One lineup is Lava’s Pixel V1, and it’s a significant step up from its low-end predecessors in terms of hardware. The Pixel sports a stylish metal unibody and a 5.5″ 720p display, and packs a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a a 2650mAh battery.
The handset’s highlight is its camera software — algorithms place two frames over one another to boost the megapixel count of the Pixel’s rear and front-facing shooters. Its 8-megapixel rear camera can put out images at the equivalent of 13 megapixels, for example, and its 5-megapixel front-facing sensor gets a boost to 8 megapixels. The Lava Pixel V1 retails for the local price of about $175.
Android 4.4.4 was the standard operating system at launch on all Android One phones, but devices have since been updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop. Hindi language support is built-in, which is an important feature for smartphones launched in India, where Hindi is the first language for 40-percent of the population.
Android One launches in Pakistan
On July 6, just a few weeks after Android One hardware made its debut in Myanmar, Google’s OS-for-the-world launched in Pakistan. It’s the ninth country where Android One phones are officially on sale, and joins India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey.
Pakistan’s Android One phone is the QMobile A1, which looks very similar to the Cherry Mobile One phone that’s on sale in Myanmar and the Philippines. Sure enough, the specs are identical. A 1.3GHz quad-core processor comes with 1GB of RAM, while the screen measures 4.5-inches and has a 854 x 480 pixel resolution. There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the back, 8GB of internal storage space, a MicroSD card slot, and a 2-megapixel selfie cam.
Priced at the local equivalent of $113, the phone will be available through QMobile soon.
Cherry Mobile One is Myanmar’s Android One phone
The Cherry Mobile One is the same Android One phone that is already available in the Philippines. Running Android 5.1.1 out of the box, it sports a 4.5-inch, 854 x 480 pixel display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot for up to 32 GB of extra storage. On the rear is a 5-megapixel rear camera, around the front is a 2-megapixel camera, and inside is a 1,700mAh battery.
The phone has dual-SIM capability, but unlike the General Mobile 4G that was released in Turkey during May, the Cherry Mobile One is not a 4G phone. It’s only compatible with 3G HSPA+, 2G EDGE and GPRS networks. The Cherry Mobile One costs the equivalent of $100.
Android One now comes with 4G LTE, higher specs, and a higher price
A smartphone running Android One has been officially released in Turkey, and it’s the first to feature 4G LTE connectivity. The phone is the General Mobile 4G, and in addition to the faster data speeds, it has a larger 5-inch touchscreen with a 720p resolution, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM. This puts it well ahead of the Android One phones already on sale in India and elsewhere.
The feature list continues with a 5-megapixel front camera, a dual-LED flash, 16GB of internal memory, and a MicroSD card slot. It also has what’s described as a premium design, and it’s certainly the best looking Android One phone released yet.
However, with the higher spec sheet comes a higher price. Much higher. Google once said it wanted Android One phones to be affordable for all, but the General Mobile 4G has a recommended price of around $270 without a contract, which is nearly three times the price of a standard Android One phone elsewhere. Google’s teamed up with local network Turkcell, where the phone can be purchased with monthly installments.
Two new phones debut Android One in the Philippines
At the end of 2014, Google announced Android One phones were about to launch in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In February 2015, it added Indonesia to the list, and also confirmed the launch of another three Android One smartphones. Later in the same month, Google confirmed the Philippines would get its first Android One smartphones. It’s the sixth country to receive the phones, and Google promises more are on the way.
Buyers in the Philippines have the choice of either the Cherry One, or the MyPhone Uno phones, which have the same specifications as the existing Android One phones, and will run Android Lollipop as standard. Google will also install its Chrome browser data compression extension, which helps minimize data consumption, plus YouTube Offline. Additionally, local networks selling the phones will offer special deals to lessen the cost of installing over-the-air updates and downloading apps from Google Play.
The three new phones for general release in Nepal and Sri Lanka are the Evercoss One X, the Mito Impact, and the Nexian Journey. They join the Symphony Roar A50, which is exclusive to Bangladesh, and was unveiled at the end of last year.
It’s no surprise to find that all the new Android One phones share the same specification sheet. This means buyers will get a 4.5-inch, 854 x 480 pixel touchscreens, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, and 8GB of internal storage space.
Android 5.1 onboard, before everyone else
Reports of buyers grabbing an Android One device with Android 5.1 installed are gathering, making these devices the first to get the latest version of Google’s mobile OS. According to AndroidPit, version 5.1 contains a variety of bug fixes and performance improvements, plus several alterations to the Material Design look introduced with Android Lollipop. Anyone hoping for new features will be disappointed though, as none seem to be present.
Android One in the future
This is only the beginning for Android One. A wide variety of hardware partners have signed on, and Google plans to continue expanding the program internationally. According to Sundar Pichai, Google’s head of Android, nine new device manufacturers have signed up to produce an Android One phone – these are Asus, Alcatel, Acer, HTC, Lenovo, Panasonic, Intex, Lava, and Xolo – and Qualcomm’s onboard to supply processors too.
Updated on 07-27-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news of the Lava Pixel V1’s launch in India.
Updated on 07-06-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news Android One is to launch in Pakistan.
Updated on 06-23-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news Android One is coming to Myanmar.
Updated on 05-13-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news Android One is now available in Turkey, along with a new phone.
Updated on 02-17-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of Android One’s launch in the Philippines, with two new devices.
Updated on 02-06-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of three new Android One phones, plus an update to Android 5.1.
Updated on 12-22-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of Android One’s launch in several new places, plus the announcement of a new phone.
Updated on 09-15-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added in pictures of the Micromax and Spice Android One phones, and a more complete spec list.