Google's Android One initiative launches in India with three $100 phones

The search giant's plan for conquering the cost-conscious hardware space bears fruit with three new devices -- Spice, Micromax, and Karbonn -- from India-based handset makers.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read

The Spice Android One Dream UNO is one of the first three Android One devices. Spice

Google has just unveiled the three new smartphones based on the previously announced Android One initiative at an event in New Delhi, India. Android One was the company's solution to cut down development time for low-cost handsets and was announced back in June at the Google I/O conference.

The three new handsets are the Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498, the Micromax Canvas A1 and the Karbonn Sparkle V.

The phones share similar specifications -- 4.5-inch FWVGA display with a 854x480-pixel resolution, quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek processor, dual-SIM capability, 1GB RAM and 4GB of onboard storage alongside a microSD card slot for expandability. There's a rear 5-megapixel camera and a removable 1,700mAh battery as well.

As all three smartphones are based on the Android One platform, this means that Google has designed the phone's minimum hardware requirements to keep its retail price to around $100. Furthermore, Android One phones will run stock Android like the Nexus line of devices.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that all three phones are ridiculously cheap. The new Android One devices come with a starting price of Rs 6,399 ($100, £65, AU$115), though some models may cost around $10 more. The phones will feature support for Hindi, a language used by 40 percent of the population in India, and this includes voice commands.

As an additional benefit of the Android One experience, the phones will come with Google Play Store installed and Google will also provide two years of updates directly to the phones instead of the manufacturers. Google has also stated that the Android L update will be heading to the currently KitKat-powered phones.

Indian carrier Bharti Airtel will have a special data plan for Android One users -- the aforementioned 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.

Those living in India can get their hands on the phones via online stores such as Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Google is expected to roll out more Android One devices to Indonesia, the Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014, with more countries to follow in 2015. Alcatel, Panasonic, Asus, Acer, HTC and Lenovo are set to be the next manufacturing partners for Android One.