Google has been trying to re-engineer Android so it works better on lower-end devices. While Google has been attempting this for nearly four years with its Android One effort, the search giant rebranded with an Android Oreo “Go edition” for low-end phones back in December. Android Go is designed to run better on phones with 512MB or 1GB of RAM, thanks to OS tweaks and “Go” versions of popular Google apps.
This week at Mobile World Congress, we’re starting to see the first Android Go handsets. The Nokia 1 is one of the first, and it’s designed to be an entry-level smartphone for a number of emerging markets. The Nokia 1 specs are minimal, and it runs on a 1.1GHz MediaTek processor, 1GB of RAM, and just 8GB of storage. It’s a small and basic device, with a 4.5-inch display (854 x 480) and a basic 5-megapixel camera.
The experience seems to be basic Android, and performance was about what I was expecting from such a basic device. We’ll need more time to try out Android Go devices fully to see whether Google has managed to create a reasonable experience for low-end phones, but one of our first look at the Alcatel 1X showed there might be some software tweaks required for these low-end devices.
Despite these basic specs, HMD is bringing back Nokia’s popular polycarbonate Xpress-on covers for the Nokia 1. There will be a wide range of covers available, and the Nokia 1 will ship in red or blue models as the standard colors. We probably won’t see Nokia’s covers on other HMD Android devices as the other models are designed with metal and glass in mind. The Nokia 1 will be available globally for $85.