Android One First Impression: Finding Funny

spice-android-one-dreams-unoOn Monday Google rolled out its Android One program in India and three of its Indian partners – Spice, Karbonn and Micromax – launched the first series of their smartphones under this category. Spice Mobile’s Android One smartphone is christened as Dreams UNO, that of Micromax’ is called Canvas A1 and the Karbonn smartphone is named as Sparkles V.  The objective of the Android One program is to put a high quality low cost smartphone in the hands of next 5 billion people around the globe. Pichai Sundararajan or Sundar Pichai as he is popularly known, launched the first set of devices in India. Though the search engine giant’s ambitious program – Android One – has a long way to go, but the way it was introduced to the market appears rather funny. It lacked substance and the conviction to reach out to the aimed 5 billion people. It has the potential to be a game changer but, unfortunately, at present it is not.

We laid our hands on the Spice Dreams UNO. Let’s see if the device holds ground on the Android One promise. Please mind, it is the ‘first impression’ of the device and not the full review.

What You Get in the Android One Device(s)

The technical specifications and features of all the three phones launched yesterday, for some unknown reasons or for some obvious reasons, are kept equal. It has a 4.5 inch touch screen display, Cortex A7 1.3 Ghz Quad core processor with 1 GB RAM and 4GB of internal storage capacity. The devices, here the Spice Dreams UNO, sports a 5 megapixel rear camera with flash and a 2 megapixel front camera. The Android One Dreams UNO runs on 4.4 KitKat OS and offers connectivity through bluetooth, wi-fi and supports various spectrum bands of GSM and UMTS. The Spice Dreams UNO is a dual-SIM device, weighs 140 gram and carries a 1700 mAh battery.

Design : Is It Love at First Sight?

No, absolutely not. But it does not look bad at all. It looks like any standard smartphone available in the market these days or being launched every second day.  Nothing ‘wow’ or nothing ordinary. The 4.5 inch screen with resolutions of 854×480 with 217 ppi does not give you the best result but good enough. The front glass over the touch screen instantly gives you the ‘cheap’ feeling, if you tap on it with your knuckle. It appears as if there is some gap or space between the two layers. The ‘solid’ feeling that you get if you do the same on Moto E or the devices having Gorilla glass is not there. The back panel is made up of plastic, absolutely not of good quality. Though it gives some sort of smoothness to hand.   The two physical buttons -power and volume rocker- are placed at the best area and amply sized.

Performance

We did not find anything missing in this area. The Dreams UNO behaves very nicely as per its engine power – 1.3 Ghz is good enough, that too on a quad core chip. We could not test it on high-voltage, high-performing games or apps as have not downloaded enough. The OS, so far the latest, works fine and the Android One devices are set to get the next version of Android as soon as it comes, that too on priority compared to other android phones. The device does not have much inbuilt apps or pre-installed apps. So, we did not find anything new to write about. Google could have offered some country specific apps where it aims to transform lives. But it appeared its just another device.

Camera

At first I could not use the camera as it requires a microSD card to make it functional. I did not understand this trick, why? The device has 4G of internal storage space and that should have been enough for the images clicked through the camera, to be stored. None of Google’s competitors adopt this method and you would hardly find any smartphone these days that requires an external memory card to enable the camera. But the Dreams UNO has a 5 megapixel primary snapper which is pretty good and falls under the ‘regular’ category. Nothing new, I found, in this camera. For example, the Moto E, which falls under the same price band and has a 5 megapixel camera has something of its own, and it does not fall under the ‘regular’ category. It has ‘touch-on-the-screen’ camera button which allows you to take photos by just touching anywhere on the touch screen. It was a ‘new’ to the industry but the Android One does not have anything new.

Similarly, the device comes with 4GB of internal memory which can be expanded upto 32 GB by use of microSD cards. But the funny part is you can not store or transfer your apps to the card. Then, what is the need of another 4GB or 8GB of space, when the phone already has 4 GB? To store images, songs, videos or data? Most of the smartphone users store their data etc in the cloud. And, if you are targeting the common man who wants to be smart with this phone, then Google, ideally should have come out with an 8GB device with the camera functionality independent to SD cards.

Personal Opinion

I did not find any single reason why would I buy an Android One device. Considering its hype, in reality, it stands no where. Rather, it just stands amongst the crowd and in high probability, it may soon be lost in the crowd. The Android One program has a noble objective, of connecting next 5 billion people, but this objective can not be fulfilled with being ordinary. Google has to be disruptive in its approach, and just selling hard wares with some mandatory OS is not going to help, rather it has to bring some very life-transforming utility to the device. There are thousands of companies to manufacture smartphones under $100 and be a part of the Android One program but very few have the capability, like you, to build software and apps that can connect the 5 billion in real terms.

 

 

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