Mobiles & Tablets

One-on-one with Android One

Sabyasachi Biswas | Updated on March 12, 2018


Everything that you need to know about the three new low-cost Google smartphones

Last month, Google, along with its hardware partners Micromax, Spice and Karbonn launched the first wave of Android One phones. Three handsets, one each from the three manufacturers, are now in the market, at very attractive prices.

We at Technophile spent some quality time with all three devices, the Micromax Canvas A1, the Spice Dream Uno, and the Karbonn Sparkle V, understanding these entry-level smartphones better. And also to answer the basic and most obvious questions that one may ask before buying this new genre of smartphones.

What exactly is Android One?

To put simply, Android One is Google’s own initiative to provide users with a good Android experience at a very low cost. It is basically aimed at first-time Android users, especially those upgrading from a feature phone to a smartphone. It is also aimed to make Google more directly involved in the fastest growing segment in the smartphone market, the sub ₹10,000 price point.

So how are Android One phones different from other Android smartphones that are already available at the same price?

Android One is different from the other Android phones in the same price segment because the OS is tailor made by Google, for these specific handsets, so that the user gets a fluidic experience with minimal hardware. Other Android phones use the Android Open Source Project, or AOSP, to customise according to their hardware.

With Android One, you get what Google has in mind for you – a pure Android experience, without any hassles. With Google choosing both hardware and software, you get the best experience. Also, Google’s direct involvement assures timely updates. In other phones, you get the version of Android that the manufacturer wants you to have.

So what do I get with an Android One phone?

The three devices are all entry-level Android phones, and it means that they make use of very modest hardware. All three come with a 4.5-inch screen with 854x480 pixels resolution (so don’t expect stellar HD video experience), a MediaTek quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz with 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, support for microSD card, a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front camera.

This essentially means that the devices, as we found out from our usage, are very good for regular surfing, IMs, chats and social media apps, reading stuff and playing basic games that don’t require a lot of memory and processing power. The cameras work well in daylight. Low-light shots are a bit grainy, but work well enough in case you’re sending impromptu pictures on WhatsApp to a friend from the fast-food stall you’re eating at. In all three, you get a full day’s worth of charge from the battery (you’ll find a detailed review of all three devices on our website soon).

So all three devices are identical?

Yes, and no. In terms of pure specs, they are basically the same thing. The difference between the three is just a couple of hundred rupees, and it looks like the only difference is the name and branding. But each of these devices has a different feel altogether – the Micromax Canvas A1 has a better overall design, the Karbonn Sparkle V has the best build amongst the three, and the Spice Dream Uno felt most ergonomic.

So if you’re looking for an Android One, it comes down to your own brand preference, and that may also be influenced by which one has a service centre closer to your work or home. Spice sells its Android One device on Flipkart for ₹6,299, you can find Karbonn’s offering on Snapdeal for ₹6,399, and Micromax has put up its Canvas A1 on Amazon for ₹6,499. So if you have your preferences there, that can be a differentiating factor too.

What about the Moto E? It looks very similar. Or are there any other Android One options?

Surely, you’re bound to get slightly better specs from the Moto E, but most importantly you get really good build quality from that smartphone. Google has lined up other hardware partners too, including HTC, Lenovo and Panasonic, so you can expect a second wave of Android One devices too, probably with better specs and build. We don’t know when that will be out, but it certainly depends on whether or not the current lot sells well.

Published on October 08, 2014

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