android one

Google’s Android One program just made its official debut in India, with the first three devices from local manufacturers Karbonn, Micromax, and Spice set to go on sale today.

Google announced Android One at Google I/O in June. The goal of the program is to offer a quality Android experience to the billions of people in developing countries who still don’t own a smartphone.

As part of Android One, Google is creating reference devices that local partners can sell under their own brands. These devices run stock Android, and Google handles all updates just like for Nexus devices. Partners have a say in the design of the devices and can pre-load some applications, but the impact of these changes on user experience is minimal.

The first three Android One devices are the Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, and Spice Dream Uno. According to Google, the three devices share the same features:

  • 4.5” FWVGA display
  • Cortex A7 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB storage (expandable up to 32GB)
  • 2x micro SIM
  • Front and rear facing cameras (2MP and 5MP)
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion, 1700mAh
  • Android™ 4.4, KitKat® (and gets the new version soon after it’s released)

The Karbonn Sparkle V will become available today on Snapdeal for Rs 6,399 (about $104), while the Micromax will hit Amazon India  for Rs 6,499. Spice will be selling the Dream Uno for Rs. 6,299 on Flipkart.

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Google is guaranteeing that Android One phones will receive the update to Android L soon after its release later this fall. Moreover, for Airtel users, data consumed for updates will not count against their bills – Google is also throwing in 200MB/month in free data for apps downloaded from the Play Store.

More partners have joined Android One, Google’s Sundar Pichai announced in a blog post. These include manufacturers Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm, who recently launched an LTE-enabled chip destined for phones that cost less than $100.

Android One phones will soon be available in more countries – by the end of the year, Android One phones will be available in Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, with more countries to come in 2015.