Google’s Budget Android One Smartphones Reportedly Arriving Stateside This Year

Google's attempt to flood emerging markets with low-cost Android One smartphones has been met with limited success since launching the initiative two years ago. The idea was to partner with local manufacturers to build affordable handsets and then commit to supporting them with updates for 18 months. Google is not giving up on that goal, but with an eye towards expanding into program into the United States, it might be shifting its focus a bit.

Inside sources at Google told The Information about Google's plan, which includes the launch of its first Android One smartphone in the U.S. sometime before the second half of this year. It is not known what company will manufacturer the handsets (LG is a possibility), though pricing is expected to be $200 to $300. Google will fund an ad campaign to promote the program's expansion and new phone launch.

Android One Phones

The expected price point is an interesting one. At somewhere between $200 to $300, the Android One destined for U.S. shores is comparatively expensive to what Google sells in other territories. At launch in emerging markets, phones built to Android One specifications ran about $100. Google later rebooted the program with a focus on getting the price down to $50, a much more palatable cost for consumers in emerging markets.

Raising the price for a U.S. launch is risky, though if the hardware and features are decent, Google should not have a lot of trouble finding buyers. As a point of reference, flagship phones can run $600 or more. The big draw for consumers will be timely updates direct from Google, along with its commitment to support Android One smartphones for a year and a half to two years.

To give an idea of where things are at outside the U.S., buyers in India can grab a Google Lava Pixel V1 for around $100. It has a 5.5-inch HD IPS display (1280x720), 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage + microSD, 8MP front-facing camera, 13MP rear camera, and a 2,650mAh battery.

With a launch price that is two or three times higher, whatever Google has in store for the U.S. presumably will be a bit higher end.