Travel Gadget: Google’s Android One Smartphones

Google’s Android One Smartphone Review

Google has sharpened its competitive edge by making its operating system available over a wide spectrum of smartphones ranging from the high-end to the low-cost. It is the same with its Android One, which is currently available in smartphones (US Market) ranging in price from $650 for a Nexus 9 and $100 for a Micromax Canvas A1.

Cherry Mobile Android One Smartphone
Cherry Mobile Android One Smartphone

It is soon to be available in the Philippines as well via Cherry Mobile One and MyPhone Uno at under 5,000 pesos (about $100 as well). Because the actual smartphones have not yet been released in the Philippines, we are basing our speculative review on the product specifications that is common to all Android One smartphones.

What makes it a good travel gadget

The fact that you can get an Android One smartphone at low cost makes it a good full-function gadget to bring with you while travelling. It has all the advantages of high-end smartphones without the fears. If it gets stolen, damaged, or lost, it is not such a big deal because it is easily replaceable (compare to expensive smartphones).

However, what is probably more important is that you get all features available with high-end smartphones because Android One smartphones are updatable to the latest Android version. In the Philippines, low-end phones running on Android are stuck with whatever version it came with out of the box. The Android One smartphones that will be out in the market in a few weeks will be running on Lollipop (Android 5.1, formerly Android L). That in itself is an unbeatable feature.

Product Specifications

All Android One smartphones share a common set of specifications. These include:

  • Screen: 4.5-inch (854x480p, 218ppi) capacitive touch screen
  • Cameras: 2MP front and 5MP rear
  • Video: 30fps 1080p recording
  • Memory: 8GB with 32GB expandable slot
  • CPU: Cortex A7 1.3 GHz quad core MediaTek processor
  • GPU: ARM Mali-400MP2
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Connectivity: Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Battery: 1700 mAh
  • Networks: GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 MBPS (850, 2100 MHz)
  • Sim: Micro / Dual
  • Headphones, USB charger and cable

Product Review

Because different OEMs supply the hardware, problems that users may encounter for different Android One smartphones are attributable to the manufacturer and not Google. Android One with its current Lollipop firmware has introduced some innovations into the mix, including a new UI that is cleaner and easier to navigate. It comes with Google Now (of course), which is very useful when you’re on the go. However, the battery life is not so great. Heavy users need a power bank or power outlet after two to three hours of use. It supports a microSD slot but not OTG, a major drawback when transferring files.

Android One Smartphones will be offered by SMART and SUN Cellular
Android One Smartphones will be offered by SMART and SUN Cellular

Camera

Android One smartphones can support 2 megapixel (MP) resolution in the front and 5MP in the rear camera. These are decent enough pictures but certainly nothing to rave about. Lowlight performance is average and the pictures are not as detailed as we would like but considering the price of the smartphone that’s no big surprise. The camera capabilities of Android One smartphones can be amped using the Google Camera app which allows you to apply filters, effects, and change the quality and aspect ratio. The front camera has support for 720p video resolution while the rear camera gets full HD support at 1080p.

Overall, Android One smartphones promise to be good enough, especially for the adventurous traveler. It does the work of high-end Android smartphones without necessarily having the same price tag. It is not the best smartphone out there, but it is the most affordable one for the level of performance. This is a boon for budget conscious travelers because they will be able to use it to get updated information, document experiences, and maintain reliable communications.

Smart – the Philippines Mobile leader has partnered with Cherry Mobile and MyPhone to bring the Android One experience (www.smart.com.ph/pages/android-one) to both Smart and Sun Cellular subscribers with attractive postpaid plans and prepaid SIM bundles that come packed with free mobile data for Google Play app downloads and the latest Android OS updates.

Smart and Sun brands will be offering free data allowance for Android OS updates and Google Play downloads for the first six months of the subscription. This free data allowance will allow new subscribers to enjoy Google’s app updates without additional data charges.

The free data allowance for Android OS updates, Google Play downloads, and Google search will also be offered to those who will purchase the MyPhone Uno  and Cherry Mobile one Prepaid kit in Smart and Sun Cellular retail outlets nationwide.

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