Google’s smartphone for the next 5 billion — or is it?

A brief look at Android One

Today at a global launch event in India Google introduced its first generation of Android One smartphones. These smartphones are competitively priced at 6399 rupees or around 105 Dollars. Google made these phones in alliance with Indian phone manufacturers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. The three phones that were launched were Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1 and Spice Dream UNO. The spec sheets for these smartphones is pretty decent for their price. Take a look at Google’s website for more details.

Smartphone(s) for the next 5 billion

Google announced these smartphones as “The smartphones for the next 5 billion” and they very well may be. At this price these smartphones are very good. You are getting a lot of smartphone for a mere 105 dollars. And wait that’s not it. Google promises that these smartphones will always get the latest version of Android. Yes that’s true (for atleast next 2 years). That means Android One smartphones will get the much anticipated Android L update. You will also get 200MB of free mobile data each month on Airtel SIM for updating your Android One smartphone to the latest version of Android. Other benefits include a free 12 month subscription for Google Play Newsstand and watching Youtube Videos offline for free (a paid service which Google will be announcing soon). That’s not it, the online retailers (Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal) have some great offers of their own with the purchase of Android One.

But then what was Moto E that Google announced a few month back?

According to Charlie Tritschler, Motorola’s senior vice-president of products: “The Moto E was designed to specifically compete against feature phones in emerging markets. The Moto E’s goal is to end the feature phone, and the device is primarily targeted towards people who have been on the edge for a while but just didn't think they could afford [a smartphone]”.

So in short Motorola (an entity of Google at the time Moto E was announced) itself says that their smartphone Moto E was designed for people who couldn't afford a smartphone otherwise (or what Google refers as “The next five billion”).

But let’s not get cynical here as Moto E was announced 4 months back and maybe Google took some strides forward to reduce the overall price. And also Moto E and Android One are developed by different companies in different countries (China vs India) so that maybe a contributing factor.

Then what’s the deal with the hype over Redmi 1S?

Redmi 1S is a smartphone made by a Chinese company Xiaomi. Xiaomi is famous for manufacturing brilliantly specced phones like Mi2, Mi3 and Mi3. The company is often called as Apple of China for its great products. Redmi 1S is a smartphone which is priced at 5999 rupees or around 98 dollars. It has better screen, better processor, better performance than Moto E or Android One. You can compare the specs of Android One and Redmi 1S yourself.

Holy Sh*!, so is Google lying about launching the smartphones for the next 5 billion?

Not exactly. If you have looked close enough at the comparison between Redmi 1S and Android One smartphones then you might have noticed by now that Redmi 1S runs on Android ver 4.3 whereas Android One phones run on latest Android ver 4.4.4. That’s not the only advantage you get with Android One smartphones, you will also get 2 years of regular updates directly from Google. Whereas Redmi 1S will most probably stay on Android 4.3 forever. Also Android One are made by Indian companies like Micromax which are quite famous in India. Whereas Xiaomi is a comparatively new in India and sells its phones only online via Flipkart.

I am confused. Is Redmi 1S better or Android One?

Let’s break down this question into individual components. First about the updates: If you are designing a smartphone for the next five billion people then you should understand that they don’t care about the updates. Don’t believe me? Take a look yourself at the Android versions marketshare on this Wikipedia page. It says that only 20% of smartphones are operating on Android 4.4.4 and the rest of 80% are operating on Android 4.3 or older version. If I consider myself as one of those “5 billion people” that Google mentioned then I will be quite satisfied with Android 4.3 in Remi 1S as I am getting more hardware for less price.

Now the second point about Redmi 1S being manufactured by a chinese company Xiaomi. For those people who have used Micromax, Spice or Karbonn phones in past, they know that service centers of Micromax, Spice and Karbonn are crap. If your phone gets damaged then you are better off getting it repaired at a local shop. Now let’s the position of Xiaomi’s Redmi 1S. Redmi is a chinese company. It is still in process of setting up it’s service centeres in India. In fact many of them are already operating in various states across India, when you buy their phone from Flipkart you also get the list of service centers currently operating across India. Given the bad condition of service centers of Indian companies like Micromax I cannot expect Xiaomi’s service centers to be any worse. Xiaomi has to make it’s mark in India and it will deliver proper service in order to be more popular. Whereas companies like Micromax are already quite settled in India and have become ignorant of after sale services.

I wrote this article to showcase the truth about Google’s “Smartphones for the next 5 billion”. I am not forcing anyone to buy any smartphone, but merely representing the reality of the sparse Android Smartphone market and the claims of giants.

Source, my blog: Google's smartphone for the next 5 billion — or is it?

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