[FINALLY] An Affordable Smartphone
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.)
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
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.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Aug 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [FINALLY] An Affordable Smartphone (Posted: 20 Aug 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved