Android One is a standard created by Google. It is a platform that enables manufacturers to build low-cost smartphones with much more ease. It is mainly targeted at people buying their first smartphone, and customers in the developing countries. Android One phones will initially roll out in India, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines and other South Asian countries in 2014. The first Android One smartphones were by the Indian brands Micromax, Spice and Karbonn in September 2014, and other manufacturers are going to follow gradually.
Android One smartphones run a stock version of Android with updates directly seeded by Google, keeping the experience consistent across different devices. Google also makes a reference hardware design available for Android One, meaning that OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers e.g. Micromax) just have to manufacture the phone.
The Android One phones have a 1.3GHz MediaTek quad-core processor, Mali-400MP graphics and 1GB RAM. The phone has 4GB internal storage and a microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 32GB capacity. Out of 4GB, 2.27GB is available to the user. These features Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS with Mali400 GPU, 5MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash plus 2MP rear front camera with fixed focus. These dual sim devices have 3G connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and native Google apps. The 4.5 inched IPS display has got a resolution of 450×854 pixels. All of them have Micro-SIM slots.
The users will also get data benefits if they use Airtel SIM card. Airtel will allow android updates up to 100MB per month and app downloads up to 200MB per month for 6 months.
The first set of Android One devices include Micromax Canvas A1, Spice Dream Uno and Karbonn Sparkle V. The three phones are exclusive to three different e-commerce marketplaces and come with their respective apps in addition to brand specific content store.
Now coming straight to the review:
Build and Design
Made of plastic, the phones bear a simple, utilitarian look and the focus is on making the device durable and good to hold with soft rounded corners and edges.
The keys for volume control and power are located at the right edge and offer good tactile feedback. The bottom edge sports the micro-USB port while the 3.5mm headset jack is at the top. The removable plastic back cover is different from different OEMs.
The Spice and Micromax phones sport a rubberized, matte finish that feels good to hold while the Karbonn Sparkle V feels more plasticky at the back even though it is having matte finish. The Spice and Micromax phones have soft, rounded edges while the Karbonn Sparkle V has flat edges and a slight taper at the back.
The Android One phones sport a 4.5-inch FWVGA(480x854p)IPS display. The display offers good viewing angles and decent sunlight legibility. It is little prone to smudges.
The phones run a Android 4.4 KitKat with Google Now launcher as UI. There are also a few non-removable preloaded apps. Swiping to the far-left pane on the home screen shows you all your Google Now notifications.
The Android One phones will get updates directly from google, which also implies that these will be one of the first devices to receive a software update when Google turn on the updates.
The Android One phones sports a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front-facing camera.
Shots taken in daylight were decent and exhibited warm hues, but the colours were inaccurate, ending up a little colder compared to the actual subject.
The phone supports 1080p videos capture but videos shot with the phone were average and just good for casual social sharing.
The front camera takes decent selfies and is good for video chats.
These phones comes with 3G, Wi-fi and bluetooth. The 3.5mm audio jack on the top and micro USB port on bottom. They are having A-GPS for navigation and support tethering with both USB as well as Wi-Fi Hotspot.
Spice Dream UNO and Karbonn Sparkle V contains Lithium Polymer battery with 1700mAh capacity. It gives 17 hours of 3G and 10 hours of 2G talktime. While Micromax Canvas A1 has a 1,700mAh Lithium ion battery and lasted us less than a full-day (about 8-9 hours) with mixed to heavy use including about one to two hours of making calls, playing games, clicking some pictures, listening to music and browsing the web.
The performance of the phone to be extremely smooth. It responds even the lightest of taps on the screen and does not hang while switching between apps quickly. The transition effects are nice. However, certain apps take a few seconds to start. There was no lag while browsing the web, scrolling through lists inside apps, switching between apps and casual gaming. The phone was able to lock to GPS without any hiccups.
The external speaker on the phone offers loud sound output but there’s some distortion at high volume levels. However, the sound gets muffled when the phone lies on its back, which is a problem with all such designs that place speakers at the back
Casual games like Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers were flawless without encountering any lag. However, some frame drops and minor lags were there while playing graphics-rich games like Asphalt 8. It is more than expected from them.
Karbonn is providing 3 extra months, that is 15 months warranty
. There are color options as Magnum Blue, Mild Grey, Wild Red and Pearl White. The Spice Dream Uno and Micromax Canvas A1 are available in White and Black colors.
Micromax differentiates the phone with its own branding and a protruding, circular, metallic ring that houses the phone’s 5MP rear camera and LED flash. Spice phone is appealing with its minimalist design. The Micromax phone looks the most fancy thanks to the camera ring.
The Android One phones are no doubt among the best entry-level Android smartphones. You also get priority software updates directly from Google. The camera and battery backup were a bit underwhelming but then you have to consider that these are sub-Rs 6,500 phones.
There is also a better alternate for android one. You may look at the Xiaomi Redmi 1S. However, the phone’s availability is limited to one online retailer via weekly flash sales, which makes it difficult to get. Other decent alternative is Asus ZenFone 4.