Android Go: What is it? Over a month after the first Android Go phones were unveiled we are still trying to figure out what it is and how it differs from the regular Android, or for that matter the Android One. And one of the new bits that we learnt recently is that not all Android Go phones are going to be similar. Some are going to better than the rest. This is because unlike the Android One of 2014, which didn’t allow much room to phone makers for the customisations, the Android Go allows phone companies to do their own things.
In other words, it means that some companies will do things with the Android Go, which will make it better or worse. The prime examples are the recently launched Android Go phones, some of which come with a custom user interface (not good) while some — or to be specific Nokia 1 — comes with the stock Android user interface.
That fact alone makes the Nokia 1 a better phone than other Android Go phones in the Indian market right now.
On Tuesday, Sagar Kamdar, who is the director of product for Android, told India Today Tech that with the Android Go, phone makers not only have freedom to pick and choose their hardware but can also lightly customise the user interface. “It’s not mandatory to use Android Go with the stock user interface. The local (phone) manufacturers know the critical bits for the local customers best… so they can definitely customise their phones,” said Sagar.
He added: “The only requirement for Android Go from Google’s side is that RAM needs to be less than 1GB. There are no restrictions on the screen, form factor or chipsets of the phones… We believe that even cheaper Android Go phones are coming.”
Sagar also confirmed that Android Go phone makers will be able to preload apps that they want on the phones, although overall the number of these unwanted apps will be still less than what we usually see on many phones sold in the market right now. Similarly, even if the UI is different, the animations and the level of customisation will be on the lower side because too much of it may make the phone slow given it’s entry-level hardware.
It is in this context, the Nokia 1 seems like a better Android Go phone compared to the ones launched by Lava and others in India. Unlike the Lava Android Go phone, the Nokia 1 uses stock user interface, with round icons that is similar to what you get on the Google Pixel phones running Android Oreo. In comparison, the Lava phone uses a slightly tweaked UI that has square icons.
Although stock Android UI is not some kind of a magical sauce, usually it looks and performs better than the custom user interface that companies put in their phones. At the same time, with Google acknowledging that different companies are going to create different Android Go phones, it is expected that some of these phones may have better hardware components like screen and camera, design and better performance.
For now there are three Android Go phones in India, with the Nokia 1 being the most expensive. It has a price tag of Rs 5,499, although it is also available with effective cashback of Rs 2200 from Jio. Then there is Lava Z50 that sells for Rs 4400. Finally, there is Alcatel 1X, which has been only announced so far and has not been launched. The price of the Alcatel X1 is yet to be revealed.