Google is getting ready to mix up the market for lower-cost smartphones: The company plans to cooperate closely with a hardware manufacturer to release a handset priced $300 or less in the first half of this year, according to a report by The Information.
The new handset would be part of Google’s “Android One” program, which the company first debuted in India in 2014. Google is asking manufacturers of Android One devices to follow close guidelines that promise a pure Android experience without unnecessary customizations and timely software updates. In exchange, the company is promoting Android One devices with ad campaigns and more.
Of course, there’s no shortage of cheap Android phones. Carriers regularly give away low-cost handsets, and every drug store or supermarket will sell you an Android phone for less than $100 these days. However, most of these handsets are based on cheap hardware and slow chip sets, running outdated versions of Android.
What’s more, handset manufacturers have taken to changing the user interface of Android to give their phones a custom look and feel. Google doesn’t like this because it undoes some of the work that the company itself has spent on Android’s design, but also because it slows down the update process.
Google recently began to sell its own high-end handsets with the Google Pixel, which more directly competes with Apple’s iPhone. There are no sales numbers available for the device just yet, which thus far has only been available via Google and Verizon, but The Information quotes sources at Google saying that the phone has been selling well.