[FINALLY] An Affordable Smartphone

Category: Mobile

It has always seemed terribly unfair for nifty new products to be sold in one part of the world but not another for no legal or regulatory reason, but merely to avoid cannibalizing sales of more expensive legacy products. It also rankles to see exactly the same product selling in foreign lands for far less than its U. S. price. But at least this time, it seems two global corporations have done right by their U. S. supporters. Here's what you need to know about the Android Go mobile operating system, and the low-cost phones that run it...

Android Go And the First U.S. Smartphone That Supports It

Android Go, also known as Android Oreo (Go Edition), is a slimmed-down version of the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Its feature set is pared down so that Android Go will run acceptably fast on phones with limited hardware capabilities that cost around $100 or less.

The target market of Android Go consists primarily of impoverished but rapidly growing Third World nations. Given the fact that the U. S. smartphone market is nearly saturated – about two-thirds of the population already own smartphones and that share has not grown appreciably in recent years – these nations represent the best opportunity for relative growth that investors crave above raw revenue growth. But Google has not lost sight of that other one-third of Americans who, for whatever reasons, won’t or can’t pay hundreds for a smartphone.

So that seems to be the reason why Android Go is available to the U. S. market. Having cheap but serviceable hardware is essential to Android Go’s success. As of this writing, few phones capable of running Android Go are available in the USA. The Alcatel 1X is one of them. It is sold unlocked so it can be used with any GSM carrier. (In the USA, that means AT&T, T-Mobile, and resellers of their services. Verizon and Sprint are CDMA networks, so the 1X will not run there.)

Android GO - Alcatel 1X smartphone

The specs of the 1X are remarkable in their modesty:

  • 5.3-inch IPS LCD display with 960 x 480 resolution
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6739 processor
  • PowerVR GE8100 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB built-in storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front-facing camera
  • 2,460mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)
  • 147.5 x 70.6 x 9.1mm, 151grams
So here's a twist on this topic. A few months ago, my new Motorola Moto stopped working, due to a battery failure. It's almost impossible for mere mortals to replace the battery in this phone, so instead of paying $100 or more to have it repaired, I dug out my five-year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 and fired it up. And you know what? It works just fine. Yes, it's slower and a little smaller, but I can call, text, email, get on the Web, and run all my favorite apps. My "ancient" smartphone, which is five generations behind the technology curve, is getting the job done. And you can still find factory refurbished Galaxy S4 phones on Ebay for under $100.

One noteworthy amenity is the 1X’s 18:9 aspect ratio, the ratio of a video’s two sides to each other. Aspect ratio is measured in landscape mode, so the longer side is the horizontal axis. But most users watch casual video in portrait mode, with the longer side vertical. The 18:9 aspect ratio enables phones to have large displays while remaining a comfortable handful. The Samsung Galaxy S8 ($570 at Amazon) and LG G6 ($380) phones are two examples of high-end phones that support an 18:9 aspect ratio. The Alcatel 1X with Android Go currently sells for $105 on Amazon, up from $96 a few months ago.

Apps for Android GO

Apps for Android GO are slimmed down too, conforming to GO specs set by Google. They run in half the memory space of typical apps, and run faster on low-end hardware. Only nine Google-made apps run on Go phones: Google Go, Google Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, Gboard Go, Google Play Store, Chrome, and Files Go.

Go apps may run faster but they also omit some features found in their larger Android counterparts. For example, you cannot set reminders or control smart home appliances using Assistant Go. But these Go apps meet all the needs of many budget-mindful users.

We can expect many more Go-optimized apps very quickly. In fact, Google has already created an app Play Store restricted to only Go apps. Only Go phones can access it so there is no point to including its URL here.

It will not surprise me if budget-minded carriers such as Republic Wireless quickly adopt the Alcatel 1X and other Go-enabled phones. Republic already offers the $99 Alcatel A30 running Android Nougat, the immediate predecessor of Android Oreo/Go.

Do you find the Android Go platform interesting? Can you think of people in the U.S. who could go for it but might pass on a higher-cost smartphone?

Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.

 
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This article was posted by on 20 Aug 2018


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Most recent comments on "[FINALLY] An Affordable Smartphone"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

WILLIAM DAVIS
20 Aug 2018

IF YOU ARE HAVING A HARD TIME LIVING ON SOCIAL SECURITY THEN GET FREE CELL PHONE SERVICE FROM FREEDOM POP

https://www.freedompop.com/


Posted by:

WILLIAM DAVIS
20 Aug 2018

IF YOU ARE HAVING A HARD TIME LIVING ON SOCIAL SECURITY THEN GET FREE CELL PHONE SERVICE FROM FREEDOM POP

https://www.freedompop.com/


Posted by:

Dolores Marple
20 Aug 2018

I don't know why everyone thinks $100.00 phones are cheap and service plans should cost so much.
I paid $39.00 for my smartphone from the Dollar General and have a plan from tracfone for $33.75 and that is for 60 days. It has 750 minutes, 1000 texts, and 1 GB data. More than I ever need and the extra rolls over so I don't loose it. I download plenty of apps and it works great. I have no idea why anyone wants to pay more.


Posted by:

john
20 Aug 2018

For a few dollars more you can get a much more powerful phone. I have seen new Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus 64GB, Dual Sim, 4GB RAM, 5.99", GSM Unlocked Global Version for $180.


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
20 Aug 2018

Bob,
Android 9 Pie (Go edition) is now available.

I like the idea of a slimmed down phone at a much lower price, but if it can't run WEMO home automation I wouldn't buy it. The other app I would definitely want, but it may not have, is the Ooma smartphone app which provides home phone service (incoming and outgoing) anywhere in the world where you have a WiFi connection.


Posted by:

RWinDC
20 Aug 2018

Some individuals may want to avoid Android/Google/Alphabet devices (or software) because of the recent AP report about Google tracking your location data even when you tell it not to: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-13/google-tracks-location-data-even-when-users-turn-service-off-ap


Posted by:

Howard Wentz
20 Aug 2018

I bought my phone off HSN, which is a Tracfone and have 1 year of service for $85 and includes the phone. I can text, phone and get emails and the web. I do not use the phone much so it will last me a year.



Posted by:

CDK
20 Aug 2018

Have a Flip phone and service from Trac Phone, $106 a year includes 9ver 900 minutes. All one needs to make and receive phone calls!

I have inexpensive smart phones, with no service, for other news and entertainment use when at home or using others internet.


Posted by:

Will
20 Aug 2018

I may be interested but...
The resolution on this screen is lower than many (most) similarly priced phones. The inability of home automation connection is also unappealing.

I want a camera and an MP3 player in my pocket all the time so that much might make this phone somewhat attractive, but I haven't looked at its spec's yet.

I would love to see an article on why CDMA / Verizon is often omitted from budget phones. My Page Plus plan is $11.10/month and I never use it all. Its a MVNO that uses Verizon's network.


Posted by:

Misterfish
20 Aug 2018

Good to know that serviceable smartphones can be so cheap. I also have a Samsung Galaxy S4 (second-hand two years ago for about $140) which does more than I will ever ask it to do.
Phone calls, texts and photos, maybe a sat-nav app, and that marvellous flashlight app. IF all that is available for one hundred bucks when the Galaxy expires, count me in, as long as it runs on a French network.


Posted by:

mike
20 Aug 2018

The SIM card in my laptop works fine. Plus I don't have to use my cellphone as a computer when I am sitting in a restaurant eating my meal instead of constantly looking at my cellphone.


Posted by:

Orville
20 Aug 2018

TracFone here, too, also with a one-year plan/refill card. I, too, don't use the phone very much, but like to have one for emergencies, non-routine calls, etc. TracFone sells all sorts of phones, sometimes offers a simple, older model for free when minutes are purchased.


Posted by:

Karena
20 Aug 2018

I love technology, but I'm always willing to wait for the price drop! Over the last several generations of smart phones, I don't think we're really seeing any sufficient increase in quality/features to justify the continuing increase in prices (or purchasing of new phones) - I am happy with my used LG-G5 (


Posted by:

nick saunders
21 Aug 2018

If it 'rankles' you to see products sold at lower prices than in the US then it is a good thing you don't live down here in Oz - most consumer items (not to mention industrial) are sold cheaper elsewhere and for that matter seemingly everywhere else - I purchased my last (first smart phone) phone from Hong Kong recently but had to check frequency coverage as it has no official support/backup from Motorola in Australia - works fine.


Posted by:

Nightshadow
21 Aug 2018

TracFone user here. I buy one-year refill plans. The phone is for emergencies, if I want to access my e-mail I use my home computer with it's protected lines. Web pages are too hard to read on a phone screen, at least for me. :)

My TracFone smart phone costs me about $9.00 per month on average, why pay more?


Posted by:

Ross Tipler
21 Aug 2018

I bought two Alcatel smartphones [not the Android Go]and after two months scrapped them owing to the embedded advertisements. Nothing I tried could stop them. I hope the Android Go doesn't have the same problem. The advertising is programmed into the phone and starts about 2/3 weeks after starting the phone after purchase.


Posted by:

Matt
21 Aug 2018

Hey Bob! I still use my old Samsung S4. Like you said, it performs well for all the basics in the cell phone realm. A few apps that do not work or update any longer so I cannot use them. However, I am not spending laptop money on a cell phone ever.


Posted by:

Linda Lindley
21 Aug 2018

I bought a Galaxy J3 Luna Pro at Walmart for $89.
It is a Samsung product, and it is serviced by Tracfone. I buy a $45. card for unlimited talk, text, and data for the first 10 GB at 4G LTE speed, then 2G after that. However, I have never gone to 2G speed, so it does everything I want. If you need more unlimited talk, text, and speed, it is also available for $10 more. It is a good deal.


Posted by:

TW
21 Aug 2018

Will - I would love to see an article on why CDMA / Verizon is often omitted from budget phones.

The article below while not addressing your question directly does explain a lot about how the cellular technology developed. After GSM was mandated in Europe it became the bigger platform making it more profitable for the low end phones. It is also easier to change carriers with a GSM phone because everything is stored on the SIM card.
https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407896,00.asp


Posted by:

Marsha T.
23 Aug 2018

Hey y'all I'm still using my ObamaPhone. I get 500 free anytime minutes EVERY MONTH.


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