Google Launches Android One Devices in 6 African Countries


Google is ramping up its Android One affordable smartphone program with a push into Africa. The first Android One smartphone for the region is being made by OEM Infinix, and launched in Nigeria August 18th, with Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Morocco getting the device “over the next few weeks”.

The handset, called the Infinix HOT 2, runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop) at launch, but Google says it will be getting the new Android Marshmallow flavor once that’s released. Users will also get free updates via local mobile service provider MTN — as Google works to simplify (and squeeze) regional data plans to make the device more attractive to its target. The device has an RRP of N17,500 (~$88).

Specs wise, there’s a quad-core MediaTek processor with 1GB of RAM, and models with up to 2GB of memory. There’s also support for dual SIM, and a range of colors: black, white, red, blue, and gold. Yes, gold. Android One is not skimping on the bling.

As part of the program, Google works to reduce smartphone hardware costs by identifying components that will be used and pre-qualifying suppliers for the parts. On the software side it gives OEMs access to its Play Store to help them add locally relevant apps to the devices, as well as automating software updates as it does with Nexus devices.

The wider push here is of course a landgrab by Google for the next wave of mobile Internet users — those much discussed “next billions”, who may live in areas with patchy connectivity or be priced out of unlimited mobile data plans. Hence the need to squeeze costs to lower the barrier to entry. (Facebook has a similar and parallel push around spreading access to connectivity with its initiative — albeit that’s come under fire for limiting the services users can access).

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SOURCE: TechCrunch – Natasha Lomas