$20 Android smartphones coming in the next few months, says ARM

by: Bogdan PetrovanMay 6, 2014

So much to choose from, how can you lose?

Companies worldwide have shipped more than 50 billion ARM-based chips since 1993, with 10 billion of them in 2013 alone. Many of those chips ended up in smartphones and tablets, but ARM’s designs are also used for everything from servers, to laptops, to smartwatches. So if anyone in this world has a good idea of where technology is heading, it’s the folks at ARM.

At its second ever Tech Day event, ARM revealed some interesting statistics on the near future of mobile technology. The graph below is a clear illustration of a trend that’s been widely discussed in the past 12 months – the shift towards the mid-range and low-end in the smartphone business, caused by increasing saturation in developed markets. It’s the trend that, analysts say, caused Samsung’s recent growth slowdown, a problem that’s affecting in one way or another every company in the smartphone industry.

arm smartphone segment growth AnandTech

By 2018, ARM estimates that entry-level phones (under $150) will out-ship premium models by two to three times. Not only that, but in the entry-level segment, the race to the bottom will bring smartphones prices to as low as $20. Manufacturing limits prevent prices going down any more than that, thinks ARM.

While a $20 smartphone seems the stuff of fantasy, ARM says the first Android devices will hit the markets at this price point over the next few months.

arm cheap smartphones AnandTech

Sure, don’t expect to see them at your local Best Buy anytime soon, but in developing countries, where smartphones are the primary computers of millions of people, $20 smartphones will make a real, lasting impact.

According to the chip designer, today it’s possible to make a $20 smartphone powered by a single-core Cortex A5 chip. That may not sound impressive, but as AnandTech notes, one Cortex A5 chip is faster than the chip inside the $599 iPhone from 2007.

With companies like OnePlus pushing down the price of premium Android smartphones to around the $300 mark, the barrier of entry to a quality smartphone experience is continuously lowering.

But it’s Motorola that’s rumored to be really pushing the envelope. The company teased a device that’s “priced for all” for its May 13 event, and speculation is that it will be the Moto E, an ultra-cheap device that might cost as little as $50. The company’s former CEO Dennis Woodside hinted at such a device back in January:

[quote qtext=”In much of the world $179 is a lot of money so there’s a big market at a price point of less than $179. We’re going to look at that and just delivering on that value promise is super important. I mean why can’t these devices be $50? There’s no reason that can’t happen so we’re going to push that. ” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

If Motorola manages to offer a decent Android experience for $50, it wouldn’t be a stretch to envision a $20 brand name smartphone in a year or two. And that would be a big step towards a not-so-distant future where everyone on Earth is connected.

  • MasterMuffin

    Project Ara?

    • Mohammed Azoz

      O.o the Motorola Project ?!

      • MasterMuffin


        • Marikel

          It’s no longer part of Motorola. It’s now a part of Google’s ATAP group.

    • krispy2525


      • MasterMuffin


        • krispy2525

          It was originally called phoneblocks before it was called project ara

          • MasterMuffin


          • krispy2525

            Yes it was. If you do a little bit of research you’ll see that the guy who originally had the idea for phoneblocks is even on project ara now.

          • MasterMuffin

            No, no and no >_<

          • krispy2525

            You are in denial

          • MasterMuffin

            Phoneblocks was a well made video of an idea most of us had had, “conviniently” published just before Project Ara was announced (they wanted the idea to gain popularity first). Phoneblocks wasn’t first, Ara had been in development already. The two things are also different. And it wasn’t originally called phoneblocks. Happy?

          • krispy2525


    • wezi427

      I think Ara is the future. I makes it possible for anyone to have a phone at any price point.

      • MasterMuffin

        Exactly :)

  • krispy2525

    I know that this is completely irrelevant but what phone is that on top of the stack.

    • David Bender

      Lg optimus g pro

      • krispy2525

        Oh. Thanks

        • Jonathan TAM

          Whats the third phone down?

          • krispy2525

            i think that it is the oppo find 5

      • krispy2525

        What is the third phone from the top

  • Pedro

    Will the $20 phone have a screen?

    • Anonymousfella

      Maybe one intended for wearables…

  • mbkarki

    I remember using a $40 Chinese ‘smart’ phone when I was in Nepal in 2009. And, it was a touchscreen, dual-SIM, pentaband, GPRS phone which had external memory card slot too. It’s other thing that the phone lasted just a few weeks. Even in US, I sometimes see ads on craiglist for iphone clones for as low as $75. My point is: a decent $50 smartphone is feasible today because of the tech innovations and competitive price of the parts.

    • I remember having a $60 Gingerbread phone as my primary device. Similar to yours, but it lasted three months. *gasp* 160 MB of internal storage and 256 MB of RAM – those were the days. :D

  • Milton

    Like all the things that have Android, they’re just cheap, plastic and quality

    • wezi427

      Like most Trolls, you’re a douche.

      • Milton

        And like most Androids, they’re cheap

        • krispy2525

          Try holding and using a good new android phone like the HTC one m8 or the Samsung galaxy s5 and then tell me what you think. Not all android phones are cheap pieces of plastic. The HTC one m8 isn’t cheap or plastic it is very high quality and a great phone the only real problem it the camera on it. The Samsung galaxy s5 isn’t cheap but it is plastic and it has a bad speaker but otherwise it is a top of the line phone. IPhones have awful battery life are tiny have an awful pixel density and a dumbed down os, the only reason why most people get an iPhone is because it is Apple. The iPhone 5c is a cheap piece of plastic that most people only buy just because it is Apple.

          • Milton

            True, but Androids are all cheap no matter what they say, they all have problems and fell like cheap toys, the iPhone is just an overpriced piece of crap not really imaginative nor innovative people only get them because of that useless carved Apple behind them, but to me all the things that come from Apple are sh…..t

          • krispy2525

            Then what do you consider a good phone.

          • Milton

            There’s nothing good on this world . Some phones lag, some are overpriced pieces of crap, and some simply work

          • krispy2525

            arent you just a ray of sunshine

  • Bryan Z

    I think cheap smart phone are so important for developing countries. Wether you android, iOS, samsung or whatever we can all agree that the internet is something we should have access to.

  • Leon Tseng

    S’il y a un tel téléphone mobile bon marché serait bien. Haha, je vais acheter un téléphone. Xiaomi MI3, comment elle vous plait ?
    Lien : http://www.lenteen.fr/smartphoneandroid/Xiaomi-M3-2G-64G-TELXMM3.html