Can Affordable Android Go Phones Become Your Daily Device?
We used Android Go-powered Nokia 1 as our primary device for few weeks. 
We used Android Go-powered Nokia 1 as our primary device for few weeks. (Photo: The Quint)

Can Affordable Android Go Phones Become Your Daily Device?

Google announced Android Go for low-powered devices with much fanfare last year, but the devices have been slow to hit the market. Android Go is Google’s effort to renew its push in the entry-level mobile market in countries like India. This version of Android has been designed to run all regular Android apps like Google Assistant without any hitch.

HMD Global was one of the first companies to support this version of Android with its Nokia 1. We got a chance to try out this device and this is what we found about Android Go and its supported features.

Snapshotclose

Pros:

  • Apps like Google Assistant usable
  • Rugged build quality
  • Low-end hardware with 1GB RAM
  • Supports 4G connectivity
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Hardware not well-equipped
  • Average cameras on board
  • Closer to the $100 price tag

Android Go - What it Offers

Android Go supports all your regular apps like Instagram and Facebook. 
Android Go supports all your regular apps like Instagram and Facebook. 
(Photo: Android Go screen grab)

Even though we’re kind of reviewing the phone, we’re mainly focusing on the performance and reliability of Android Go. This version of Android has been customised with a set of Go apps from Google that claim to be effective on low-end hardware devices.

The Nokia 1 is powered by a quad-core processor from Mediatek, paired with 1GB RAM.

Also Read: Android Go – Could It Be the Tonic For Google’s Android One Dream?

Most of what we experienced with Android Go was web-based apps that have been tailormade to run on entry-level phones. Be it Maps, YouTube or even Gmail, all of them opened in the form of a webpage, that is quick (dependent on the network) but the hardware part did throw up some issues.

Web-based design for apps ensures YouTube and Maps are not very heavy. 
Web-based design for apps ensures YouTube and Maps are not very heavy. 
(Photo: Android Go screen grab)

I’ve never been a fan of Mediatek’s entry-level processors (history speaks for itself) and Google’s decision to go with them for the Nokia 1 feels like a strange choice. We saw them taking a similar call with the first Android One devices, which were launched by India-based brands like Micromax, Karbonn and Spice a few years back.

Google Assistant Go - Makes a Decent Debut

Assistant Go has been customised to run on Android Go devices. 
Assistant Go has been customised to run on Android Go devices. 
(Photo: The Quint)

I’ll admit, I didn’t expect much from the Assistant Go on Nokia 1, especially with its hardware in tow, but I was surprised. Google’s voice assistant performed at par with the regular version, with more RAM and a powerful processor.

Also Read: Android Oreo Go Apps Are Here But Where Are the Phones? 

The lightweight nature of the app became evident with its plain-vanilla design interface, but we’re not complaining as long as the feature works as advertised. You can set alarm, play a game, ask Assistant for anything, even get it to tell you a joke, in other words it’s business as usual.

There are many other features that Assistant is capable of, but for the users Android Go is targeted at, this will be a good way to introduce them to voice-based search, something that’s become hot in India lately.

Also Read: Google Voice Assistant sees 6-fold growth in JioPhones

Low on Storage - No Worries

Google has created Go apps to run on Android Go. 
Google has created Go apps to run on Android Go. 
(Photo: The Quint)

At the launch of Android Go, people from Google assured us that the apps for this version will not be heavy. The Nokia 1 comes with a mere 8GB of internal storage (which is expandable up to 32GB).

Also Read: Google Assistant Go Now Available, Supports Android Oreo Go Phones

Google has managed to stay true with its initial promise, but as you can see below, it didn’t tell us how much space Android Go will take itself. Turns out, the OS does take a lot of space (over 2GB to be precise) which doesn’t bother us much, because the Go apps are light in size.

Android Go takes up majority of the storage space on the Nokia 1. 
Android Go takes up majority of the storage space on the Nokia 1. 
(Photo: The Quint)

All in all, storage issues on Android Go has been smartly tackled by Google.

What Do We Think

Android Go is a half-baked attempt from Google that suffers because of the average processor on board. The apps have been smartly designed to be small in size, and even useful features like Assistant work as expected.

Having said that, we’d like to see Android Go running on devices with screen sizes larger than 5-inches, which has become the standard phone size people buy nowadays. Also, Android Go phones were supposed to be priced lower than Rs 4,000 and Google needs to make sure that happens with its partners from here on.

Nokia 1 is an entry-level phone running on Android Go. 
Nokia 1 is an entry-level phone running on Android Go. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Android Go has the attributes to succeed with its features, but it’s still a long way from becoming a success story for Google.

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