You may have heard from all the news coming from Barcelona (MWC 2018) that HMD Global has partnered with Google to bring all their smartphones starting with Nokia 3 to the Android One program. If this passed you by, then there you have it.
Aside from the confusion that comes with understanding the difference between Android One and Android Go, Nokia smartphones were already running near-stock Android with no bloatware, aside from the usual Google Apps. So what exactly does it mean for Nokia to get the Android One badge plastered on their phones? Well, Google stands to gain more.
First, let’s have a history lesson. The Android One program was introduced back in 2014 as a solution by mother Google to better serve emerging markets. At that time, even today, we have entry-level devices that will never get any software updates from the manufacturer, let alone security updates. With Android One, Google wanted to change this. They wanted to have entry-level devices that ran on stock Android and would receive monthly security and occasional software updates. Google was to control a significant part of this program, not only the software but the company would also give reference guidelines on the hardware of these devices.
For some time, we saw quite a number of Android One devices being launched around the globe, with the Infinix Hot 2 being the first Android One device to launch in Africa. After a while, the hype surrounding Android One devices died down, new device announcements stopped being announced and it seemed like the program was all but dead.
Google had to change tactics and save their “baby”, the company thus refuted claims that the program was dead and said that they were working on it. According to Google, they realized that there was a set of high-end and mid-range device users who wanted on-time security updates and stock Android UI, which was not Android One’s market as Android One was meant to serve entry-level devices, and thus Google acted on this.
Welcome Android Go. Android Go was now meant to take the place of Android One and the latter would move up the ladder. Android Go would serve entry-level devices, phones with 1GB RAM or less with Google building specific software for these devices. Android One, on the other hand, would shift focus to providing stock Android experience to devices in the mid-range and flagship space. This announcement was made back in May of 2017.
Now, Nokia takes the stage and announces that all their devices, starting from Nokia 3 and above are joining the Android One Programme, the first major Android One announcement since May. This is a big win, even bigger for Google because they can now show that their program has OEM support, especially from a fast-growing company such as HMD Global. My assumption is that consumers were already pleased with Nokia’s unadulterated software experience and the Android One badge is just an extra mark of confidence and a deeper commitment on HMD’s part to keep their devices up to date.
However, I must admit that having an Android One badge on a flagship device such as the Nokia 8 Sirroco will take some time getting used to. The interesting part is, will other OEMs jump on the Android One bandwagon? It’s time we saw the “Android One” badge as a mark of honour rather than a symbol of compromised quality and for low prices. Personally, I would love to see an Android One edition Galaxy S9+, but if wishes were horses…
Recommended Read: No Software Updates? You Probably Didn’t Pay For it