Google unveils the first low-cost Android One phones

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Google has unveiled the first Android One phones at an event in India today. Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles are the companies working with Google at launch, all three launching new handsets this morning.

Karbonn, for example, is launching the “Sparkle V Red”,  which comes with dual SIM slots, a 4.5-inch display (480 x 854), a 5-megapixel primary camera, 1GB of RAM and  the latest version of KitKat.

Sparkle V Red

The Android One initiative is Google’s big push into developing markets. India is a huge growth opportunity for smartphones, and Android One is designed not only to make more affordable handsets (the new ones will cost around 6399 Rupees — about $100), but it’s also a way of bringing a consistent Android experience. There are plenty of cheap devices that run the operating system, but they suffer from lack of updates. With One, Google can manage the software updates directly, ensuring a much better, less fragmented experience. The three new handsets should go on sale later today.

Google also confirmed that it has negotiated special data plans with Indian operator Airtel that means users on that network will get software updates to the phone delivered without incurring data charges. It was also revealed that there will be a special YouTube app that allows users to download videos for offline viewing. This is something Google goes to great lengths to avoid, usually, but the idea is that this will allow users to grab a video, watch it later without either the need for data, or, again, incurring charges.

Google also made it clear that One phones will be in the first wave of devices to get the Android L update — in a similar way to how Nexus handsets currently do. A blog post outlining the program also mentions Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Lenovo, Panasonic, and chipmaker Qualcomm (current phones have MediaTek processors) among others as hardware partners that have signed up to the program.
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