Google announced availability of the first phones under its Android One programme, while also revealing that a raft of new vendors have signed-up, and that the effort is also set for a geographic expansion.
While the new devices are from previously announced partners – Micromax, Karbonn and Spice – and powered by MediaTek chips, new backers are Acer, Alcatel OneTouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo and chipmaker Qualcomm.
So far, Android One has been focused on the Indian market. Google now intends to extend this to Indonesia, the Phillipines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) by the end of this year.
More countries will follow in 2015.
Android One, which was announced by the search giant earlier this year, is intended to address challenges related to three aspects of the smartphone proposition – hardware, software and connectivity.
By working with hardware and silicon manufacturers to share reference designs and “select components”, the US company said it is making it easier to deliver affordable hardware. It said it is looking to offer devices with “plenty of processing power” as well as high quality cameras, and features popular in specific markets such as dual-SIM cards, replaceable batteries and FM radios.
The devices will also receive the latest version of Android directly from Google – addressing the fact that many low-cost devices use older versions of the platform, primarily due to less onerous hardware requirements.
And when used with service provider Airtel, customers can receive OS upgrades and download a number of apps without it counting toward mobile data usage.
Pricing for the first set of devices starts at INR6,399 ($105).