The first Android Go phone is here

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Last spring, Google said it was taking another shot at reworking Android to keep it running fast and smooth on lower-end devices. The initiative was called Android Go, and the very first phone running it — technically, “Android Oreo (Go Edition)” — is being announced today by Alcatel. It’s called the Alcatel 1X, and, well, it’s not all that much to get excited about.

That’s partly because the 1X is a low-end phone, which means it has to impress on value rather than specs and flourishes. But it’s also because, in our initial hands on with the phone, the operating system didn’t run smoothly at all, despite Google’s optimizations.

Google later told us the phone was not running a consumer build of the OS, and an Alcatel representative indicated issues may be due to us using a preproduction device, since the phone doesn’t ship for another two months. Stay tuned as we’ll have more impressions on Android Go throughout the week, so we should get a sense for whether these problems are unique to the Alcatel phones we tested.

The first unit of the 1X that I tried out was so sluggish as to feel broken. The app drawer stuttered every time it was flung open, the camera couldn’t hold an image, and I somehow watched the dialer render from low to high res after it opened. I didn’t know that was possible.

I tried out a second unit of the 1X just to see if all was the same, and for some reason, that unit was working much better, despite there being no apparent hardware differences — there was still stuttering all over the interface, but the phone was at least fairly quick about getting through it. The experience wasn’t exactly good, but it at least didn’t feel broken.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The 1X’s specs are appropriately minimal: it has a quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 5.3-inch 960 x 480 display. It charges over Micro USB. The one bright spot is that the display has an 18:9 aspect ratio, so the bezels are somewhat trimmer on the top and bottom. One not-so-bright-spot is that some models of the phone won’t include a fingerprint sensor. (They will include Alcatel’s “Face Key” facial recognition feature, though.) The phone will launch in April for €100 for a single-SIM variant and €110 for a dual-SIM variant.

Update February 25th, 1:55AM ET: This story has been updated with comment from Google and Alcatel.

Comments

How’s the LTE modem? Might make a good "hotspot." Dual band wifi? I still miss the $45 Moto G3 16gb/2gb ram fire sale.

Should be a decent option for my parents. If they ever make it here to Norway, that is.

How long have your parents been travelling to Norway?

This is the funniest thing I have seen on here for a long time.

Hmm guess there’s only one way to design phone and messaging app icons

Let it go… you’re starting to sound bitter.

I guess pointing out blatant copying is now a bitter argument now in Apple fam

It’s bitter because he has a compulsive habit of making off-topic digs at anything not Apple. As for the icons in question, they’re a retro-style handset and a chat bubble, both of which predate the iPhone.

That’s not the point but ok

The phone will launch in April for €100 for a single-SIM variant and €110 for a dual-SIM variant.

Awesome! Hope they iron out the bugs quickly so we get more affordable options out there for people.

There are dozens of options out there already. This is just Google further locking down.

so?
the more the merrier… rather this than everything going the $1K+ route.

I sometimes wonder how these low-powered phones would perform with something akin to ICS or Kitkat… Probably much faster.

I believe the issue is less the OS and more the lack of optimized apps, my Nexus 7 2013 with the latest Youtube App is just a pita to use, I have to use Chrome+youtube mobile if I want to watch anything

The article seemed to suggest it was the base OS functions that was struggling. Moving icons etc.

I imagine modern apps would be worse still.

It’s really unacceptable to have any performances issues on an OS custom-made for low specs. Google leaves themselves with no excuses, again, and fails, again. Youtube is their own app, this is their special edition OS, this is the hardware spec they presumably approved.

And it’s unacceptable that somehow their tablet strategy is now hybrid chromebooks. It’s been years since the Nexus 7 came out, and that was barely adequate as a business. This isn’t rocket science. Why aren’t they competitive?

I just got a $100 Xiaomi Redmi 4X for my sister: 425, 3GB/32GB/SD, Android 7.1, 720p screen.
It works fine. The pictures suck except in perfect lighting which is expected at that price, but the rest (UI, apps…) is very fine.At that price it comes from China, so service will be slow, but in my experience it is good too, better than what I get on Sony/Asus/Acer stuff in France: they actually fixed a phone for me, on the first try, and it was an intermittent issue (touchscreen flaky in humid weather). Plus at $100, you break it, you move on to the next one… Apple screen replacements cost 2.5x that.

Good luck with those phones! Either buy used flagship from 3 years ago or use Windows Phone for the same money cause it actually works.

Not everyone wants to deal with the hassle of buying a used phone. And are you really recommending someone getting a WP in 2018 given its app availability issue and the fact that MS has basically given up on it?

or use Windows Phone for the same money

Wait – what? Are you some kind time traveler from the past? Have you been on a safari in the jungle for four years? If so, we have some bad news for you . . .

Getting a Windows Phone in 2018 is like being stucked in 2014. I know it bc I am. So let it go

See, whole this "App Availability" on $100 Android phone is nothing but a self-deception. That’s like buying a Geo Metro and saying you can fit Evo X engine in it cause it fits.

I don’t know what kind of apps you can run on these things without experiencing Gingerbread crawl to speeds. This means that number or type of apps is very limiting, in other words Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and thats about it. All of that exists on Windows Phone as well and it atually works

This is an $80 phone for use in developing markets. You don’t have the option to buy a used flagship or a Windows Phone there.

WhatsApp has definitely pulled their app from the WP store.

So this has

quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 5.3-inch 960 × 480 display

Compare that to an ad supported device (ads on lockscreen) like the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus which costs 113 euro which has

octa-core qualcomm processor (<- doesn’t mean anything, but oh well), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 5-inch 1280 × 720 display … and has NFC, quick charge 3.0 and USB type C

I mean, the big difference is of course in the presence of those ads on the lockscreen, but if you’re buying a lower end phone then those ads are very much worth it as far as I can tell.

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