CyanogenMod Goes Mainstream In India With Micromax Smartphone

If you’re an enthusiastic techie who swears by your Android device, chances are you will be more than familiar with OnePlus One (CyanogenMod) vs Nexus 5 (Stock Android) both running Android 4.4 KitKat [Image Credit: gizmag.com] OnePlus One (CyanogenMod) vs Nexus 5 (Stock Android); both running Android 4.4 KitKat (Image Credit: gizmag.com)[/caption]CyanogenMod, which started off as a community of developers in 2009, grew in popularity and adoption until it ultimately became the industry standard. Last year however, the team obtained venture funding in order to commercialize themselves by establishing – Cyanogen Inc. The move, which ruffled some feathers in the open-source community, went on to alter the team’s goal from piggybacking on Android devices, to bringing its version of the OS straight to OEMs as a complete package.

And given that Google recently attempted, but failed to acquire the company, it’d be safe to say they’re on the right track.

Cyanogen’s Newest Device With Micromax

[caption id="attachment_49501" align="alignnone" width="700"]Image Credit: cyngn.com Image Credit: cyngn.com[/caption]

Also Read: Oppo N1 and OnePlus One [Image Credit: cyngn.com] Oppo N1 and OnePlus One (Image Credit: cyngn.com)[/caption]Micromax, which was recently crowned India’s largest handset manufacturer, has in its six-year existence in the mobile phone industry, managed to steal the thunder from otherwise formidable giants such as Samsung, all with its shrewd moves, tailored to the Indian market. Being one of the three OEMs to have partnered with Google in their Android One initiative, adds to the significance of this step.

[caption id="attachment_49531" align="alignnone" width="700"]Image Credit: techsection.in Image Credit: techsection.in[/caption]

If Cyanogen’s collaboration with Micromax manages to succeed in the market, it could spell some serious trouble for Android, trickling down to more affordable devices. Other indigenous OEMs would thereafter be very likely to follow suit in Cyanogen’s adoption, only to leave its more restricted forefather Android in the dark.

Cyanogen’s meteoric rise to significance, from its humble and rebellious origins, is the stuff that movies are made of! Only time will tell if they will manage to overpower the very root of their origin, Android itself; though something tells me we might not have to wait too long to figure out the trend on that one.

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Android One Phones Introduced In India Could Have Been Priced Better

I previously reported on Android One phones actually came out in India on Monday but at the upper limit suggested – at approximately $100.

On Monday, three leading mobile companies, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice, backed by Google, launched their Android One phones via three online portals, Amazon, SnapDeal and Flipkart, respectively. The verdict? Identical features, identical price, and even the freebies are identical.

Let’s take a look at these phones one by one.

Karbonn Android One Sparkle V Blue

[caption id="attachment_22991" align="aligncenter" width="700"]The Karbonn Model (image from:Karbonn) The Karbonn Model (image from:Karbonn)[/caption]
  • Android v 4.4 KitKat
  • 4.5 inch IPS Display (11.43 cm)
  • 5 MP Primary Camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 1700mAh Lithium Polymer Battery
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 GB ROM Expandable up to 32 GB
  • 1.3 GHz Quadcore Processor
  • Latest Updates by Android One
  • 2 MP Front Camera

Available on SnapDeal, this phone has sold more than 5000 units. It comes with 15 months of warranty, thought the 3 extra months of warranty on top of the usual 1 year fails to make any logical sense to me.

Also Read: [Breaking] This Monday, Google Is Bringing $50 Android One To The Market

Micromax Canvas A1

[caption id="attachment_23001" align="aligncenter" width="700"]The Micromax Model (Image from: Micromax) The Micromax Model (Image from: Micromax)[/caption]
  • 5MP primary camera
  • 4.5-inch FWVGA capacitive touchscreen
  • Android v.4.4.4 KitKat
  • 1.3GHz quad core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB
  • Dual SIM
  • 1700mAH battery providing talk-time of 6 hours and standby time of 160 hours

Available on Amazon, this one has actually sold out, which makes you wonder how many units they had available. This one comes with 1 year manufacturer’s warranty for device and 6 months manufacturer’s warranty for in-box accessories, including batteries, from the date of purchase.

Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498

[caption id="attachment_23011" align="aligncenter" width="700"]The Spice Model (Image from: Spice) The Spice Model (Image from: Spice)[/caption]
  • Wi-Fi Enabled and FM Radio
  • 5 MP Primary Camera and 2 MP Secondary Camera
  • 1.3 GHz Quad Core Processor
  • Dual Sim (GSM + GSM)
  • Android v4.4.4 (KitKat) OS
  • Expandable Storage Capacity of 32 GB
  • 4.5-inch LCD Capacitive Touchscreen

This one is available on Flipkart, India’s largest online shopping portal.

One thing that immediately stands out to me is their very similar features. Each one having 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB internal with external support up to 32 GB, 5 MP rear and 2 MP front camera, 4.5 inch display. While this can lead to a difficult game of spot-the-difference, it gives us ample suspicion that Google told these companies, “OK, here are the lowest minimum specs allowed in these phones“.

Surprisingly, if the similarities didn’t end there, check out these freebies.

Free Gifts With Each Purchase

Karbonn Android One Sparkle V Blue

  • Airtel Offer: Free Software Upgrades & App Downloads.
  • Free Snapdeal Coupons Worth Rs 2,000 (Valid Up To 2 Months)
  • Free Recharge Worth Rs 200 From FreeCharge (2 Codes Worth Rs 100 each)

Micromax Canvas A1

  • Free Amazon.in Coupons worth Rs.2,000.
  • Free Strontium 8GB MicroSDHC Memory Card.
  • 10% Cash Back on State Bank Debit & Credit cards.
  • 1,610 lucky purchasers to get Amazon.in Gift Cards worth up to Rs.10,000.
  • Free software upgrades and app downloads for 6 months on the Micromax Canvas A1 Smartphone, applicable for Airtel users.

Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498

  • Free screenguard in the box
  • On your purchase of Spice Dream Uno Android One phone get Rs. 200 recharge from FreeCharge.
  • Rs.1,500 Myntra App exclusive offer for Spice Android One phone

Even the freebies are similar! The freebies giveaway makes it looks more like end-of-season clearing sale than a premium first-in-the-world product launch.

Prices

  • Karbonn Android One Sparkle V Blue – INR 6399 (USD 105)
  • Micromax Canvas A1 – INR 6499 (USD 106)
  • Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498 – INR 6299 (USD 104)

Food for thought: instead of loading the buyers with ‘freebies’ they probably never wanted, couldn’t the price been slashed to a more reasonable range? Google’s vision was to empower more people with Android by providing Android phones at a very low price (I quoted them here) and these freebies, like every other freebies, only added to the cost unnecessarily.

But what is Android One? Android One is not a new version of an Android operating system, but more of a concept. When your phone is running Android One, it means that you have the latest Android Operating System that isn’t tweaked by the phone manufacturer. It also means that you are promised an upgrade to the latest Android versions for next 2 years as soon as they come out. Pretty amazing, considering that we are often dependent on the handset companies to receive updates. The next version slated for release is Android L.

On a sidenote, the 3rd flash sale of Xiaomi Redmi 1S (Hongmi 1S for many of you) was last Tuesday and 40,000 models were sold out in 3.5 seconds. In India, it costs USD98. In light of existing competition, the Android One phones have never looked worse.

My verdict? Entry level phones with decent features at a cost that could have easily been slashed. That pretty much sums up the much hyped Android One phone from Google.

Also Read: India Will Be Able To Download YouTube Videos, Legally! 

[Breaking] This Monday, Google Is Bringing $50 Android One To The Market

While Apple maintained its high standards at premium prices just 3 days ago (we were invited to that event and we are covering it here), Google is coming lower and lower. No, not in terms of quality or market shares, but in price. Google has partnered with leading Indian mobile phone manufacturers, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice among others, to bring out $50 Android phones.

Take these names no lightly for Micromax is breathing heavily on Samsung’s neck for the first place in the Indian mobile market. Karbonn comes a 3rd while Spice is also popular. The total market share of these three companies stand over 30%. With Google standing behind them, they will be able to deliver phones at a price Samsung can not dare to imagine.

[caption id="attachment_20503" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Android One Is All Set To Become Reality (Image from: androidos.in) Android One is all set to become a reality (Image Credit: androidos.in)[/caption]

Also read: Jolla Is A Smartphone; However, It’s Not Android, iOS, Or Windows.

Android chief Sundar Pichai, told BusinessWeek, “For me it’s really important we figure out one day how we can have a great smartphone at $50 or $100, the challenge of what we are trying to accomplish is a bit different than the challenge of someone like Apple. … I think that difference matters. It forces us to take different journeys.”

However, also note that the $50 Android phones are already available in India. Take Intex Aqua T5 for example. That is not too bad a smartphone, given that it comes for less than $55. But these phones have failed to make a huge wave. Will Google’s presence create any difference?

Now add to the equation, the growth of smartphone market. India is the 2nd most populated country in the world after China but China registered a growth of 31% in Q1 2014 compared to 186% growth shown by Indian market. In other words, the Indian smartphone market is doubling yearly. While China’s market is pretty saturated, India is sucking in whatever it can buy. A $50 smartphone will only be the proverbial butter to the fire.

[caption id="attachment_20504" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Android is on Fire (Image from: tmcnet.com) Android is on fire (Image Credit: tmcnet.com)[/caption]

The exact specifications of these phones are kept secret although they are widely speculated, very logically, to be the lowest possible specification possible to give a decent Android experience. Dual-SIM, a microSD card slot, and FM radio and other standard features are rumoured to be present. The Micromax Android One smartphone was also revealed to feature a 4.5-inch display. Decent for such a low price, we would say.

The competition will come from Spice and Intex Firefox OS phones at INR 2299 and INR 1999 ($38 & $33) respectively. In fact, Intex model was sold out in 3 days from the launch date which is a record for any company in India. We are planning to bring you complete review of this phone very soon.

Will Google regret this decision and silently withdraw, or will this cater to a billion people with a great alternative? We will know more come Monday the 15th.

Also read: Google Maps Could Be Embedded In Your Shoes?!