With 300 million speakers, Hindi is definitely a large language. Last month, Google released Hindi voice search to facilitate smoother web searches for those who speak the language. Some time ago, it also released a Hindi keyboard for Android. On another tangent, Google has Android One, essentially a super-saver version of the Nexus reference devices. While they are made by OEMs, Mountain View controls the updates (just like a Nexus) and thus price-conscious customers can rest assured that their smartphone won’t be forgotten once its released. So what happens if you put Hindi together with Android One?
Enter the Spice Dream Uno 498H, a product the manufacturer (Spice) bills as “India’s first truly Hindi smartphone”, largely due to the fact the Android system is set to Hindi from the default factory settings. The device is running Android One (naturally), features Kitkat 4.4.4, a 1.3GHz Quad-Core CPU, a 5 megapixel auto-focus rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera, 4GB of on-board storage and 1GB of RAM, and an 11.43cm 480 X 854 IPS display. Granted none of these features are going to light the world on fire, but for the reasonable price of Rs7,499 (roughly $120) it’s a pretty nice package considering it has full access to all of Google Play Services. (Likewise, it reaffirms Google’s pledge that KitKat would be optimized for lower-end hardware).
One oddity however, is that while Google itself has indicated the default keyboard is set to Hindi from the start, Spice’s product page actually makes a point of saying the Hindi keyboard must be downloaded from the Play Store. Regardless of what the story is, the potential of this phone is somewhat questionable given that, upon first powering on an Android device and running through the initial setup, you are asked to select the default language. So technically any phone could be a “Hindi phone” simply through the push of a button. Clearly marketing has a more meaningful message.