Skip to Content

Google Announces Sub- $100 Smartphone

A new line of smartphones designed by Google could spread Internet access more widely in poor regions of the world.
June 25, 2014

A low-cost smartphone designed by Google will go on sale in India this fall before debuting in other emerging economies, the company announced today.

The phones will be branded “Android One,” after the company’s mobile operating system Android, and will cost less than $100. They are part of a new effort by Google to get devices based on its software into the hands of people who currently lack access to the Internet.

Already, one billion people use phones running Google’s Android software, said Sundar Pichai, leader of Google’s Android division, at the company’s I/O conference in San Francisco today. “Our goal is to reach the next five billion people in the world,” he said. “In India and other countries like that, it’s disappointing that less than 10 percent of the population have access to smartphones.”

Google has also developed a series of smartphone “reference designs” that it is making available to manufacturers. On stage, Pichai introduced a device based on one of those designs, made by the Indian manufacturer MicroMax.

That device will go on sale in India this fall for less than $100. Its features include a 4.5-inch screen, dual SIM card slots, an SD memory card slot, and an FM radio.

Similar devices from two other Indian manufacturers, Carbon and Spice, will also go on sale this fall, and Android One devices are expected to appear in other countries soon, said Pichai. In contrast to the arrangement with many Android devices, Google, not manufacturers or wireless carriers, will be responsible for updating the software on Android One devices. The company is working with wireless carriers to make low-cost data plans available, he said.

Like other initiatives by Google and its competitors to spread access to computing and the Internet in poor countries, Android One could help bring a lucrative new customer base online (see “Facebook’s Two Faces”).

Indeed, low-cost Android phones are already  common in many emerging economies (see “Android Marches on East Africa”). But many of those devices use versions of the open-source software that don’t include services such as search, maps, and e-mail or access to Google’s app store. Android One devices will have those capabilities by default.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other
conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other

Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love

Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.