First came, Motorola’s Moto G, a phone that packed most of the features present in any flagship device in a Rs. 12,499 ($179) phone. Then came, $129 Moto E, a phone that was destined to shake the affordable segment. And today, Google announced Android One, a new program that will bring handsets costing under $100 (Rs 6,000) in partnership with Indian mobile maker, Micromax in India. Thanks, Google! The company says it will soon extend Android One to other developing countries.
But why are these companies looking into the low-budget segment, one might ask. There are two reasons. Firstly, as of last year, there are 1.9 billion smartphone subscribers across the world, and the ever-so-reliable Ericsson report estimates the figure to reach 5.9 billion in the next five years.
The number suggests that in the coming few years, we will have twice as people using smartphones than today. People will be using internet-enabled handsets that they couldn’t afford before.
The second reason is, the decline in the average selling price of the handset. Market analysis firm IDC forecasts that in the emerging nations, the average selling price of the handset will be about $200 in the coming years. Even in the developed nations, the price of handsets will be trickling down.
We have learned that the phone has very similar specification as Moto E, though it might not run on the latest Android version out of the box. With 4.5-inch screen, and Dual-SIM, the device looks pretty decent for its price point.
Much like Moto G and Moto E, the Micromax device will also sport stock Android — the pure Android experience that discards any OEM and carrier bloatware apps. Google has always wanted to get people to have the pure Android experience at very reasonable prices — which is the point of existence of Nexus devices.
As for the high-end, especially flagship phones, we have reached a point of incremental improvement. No earth shattering features are coming any time soon, in fact, we all have a rough idea of what the next iPhone or high end Android device will have. That’s what puts the limelight on cheap, $100 smartphones. We just don’t know what a company could pack in at such deteriorated price point.
More often than not, these devices mock the high-priced handsets. Being low priced, you don’t expect a lot from them, however, they do challenge and even beat the best in class devices, in several aspects. See how a Rs 7,000 Moto E clocks better software performance than a Rs. 40,000 Galaxy S5. Or how the Moto G outperforms a Nexus 4.
Chrome and Android Chief, Sundar Pichai announced Android One. It runs on Stock Android, and will feature Play Auto-installs and grab Automatic Updates directly from Google. There is an SD Card slot too, and FM Radio. Pichai also said that the company is working with other Indian OEMs Karbonn Mobile and Spice Mobile as well. Android One will soon extend to other developing countries.
A cheap handset will make it possible for millions of Indians to finally get a smartphone, and connect to the internet — which they couldn’t afford earlier. The cheap smartphones are rising, and they are the NextBigWhat!