Google agreed to new partnerships meant to bring a number of new ultra-affordable Android smartphones to India, FactorDaily reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the effort. The devices are said to be launching later this month and will be priced at approximately $30 (Rs. 2,000), with all of them being set to run Android Go, a revised version of Google's mobile operating system specifically designed for entry-level devices. The company's initiative is primarily backed by local original equipment manufacturers such as Lava, Micromax, Karbonn, and Intex, though the exact number of its Android Go partnerships in India remains unclear.
While sources didn't provide exact launch dates, the upcoming Micromax-made device running Android Oreo (Go Edition) is expected to be introduced close to the Republic Day on January 26th, with one insider claiming this particular device will be the first in the series of accessible Android-powered phones released in the South Asian country over the course of the first quarter of the year. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant originally announced the Android Go project last spring, though the platform only launched with the introduction of Android 8.0 Oreo. The initiative isn't directly related to the Android One program as it only targets low-end devices and is meant to be available on a much wider scale, being designed to facilitate the adoption of smartphones in developing countries.
The handsets that are now rumored to be coming to India shouldn't feature more than 1GB of RAM as that's Google's threshold for Android Go support. Besides the fact that the OS itself is more lightweight than the regular Android 8.0 Oreo build, the revised iteration of the platform also ships with streamlined versions of popular apps such as YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, and the Google Play Store, all of which have been built from the ground up with entry-level devices in mind. Google may also generate some political goodwill for its Android Go program as the endeavor allows local feature phone makers to transition to the smartphone segment and start capitalizing on the world's second largest smartphone market that's currently dominated by Samsung and a number of Chinese companies, even though Android Go devices won't directly compete with mid-range and high-end handsets.