First Android Go phones unveiled at MWC 2018

Nokia, ZTE, and Alcatel introduced their Go phones, designed for emerging markets.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Nokia, ZTE, and Alcatel showcased the first Android Go phones at Mobile World Congress 2018.
  • Go phones are intentionally base level, with limited storage and pared down native apps, designed to work in emerging markets.

The first Android Go smartphones have arrived, with Nokia, ZTE, and Alcatel showcasing their products at Mobile World Congress 2018.

Android Go is Google's effort to optimize the Android system for budget phones with less than 1GB of RAM, purposefully designed with less storage and to use less data. The devices could be a good option for emerging markets—its target audience—and field workers that need to maintain a connection.

Alcatel's Go phone, the 1X, provides "universal access to great technology for everyone around the world," the company said in a press release. The Nokia 1, which has rumored to be the first Go phone for a few months, and ZTE's Tempo Go were also revealed.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

The Nokia 1 and the Tempo Go both have 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, according to our sister site ZDNet. The Alcatel 1X, designed as the most affordable option in Alcatel's 2018 lineup, has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, along with Alcatel's facial recognition feature, The Verge said.

The Nokia and Alcatel phones are slated to be released in unidentified select markets in April, with the Nokia 1 costing around $85 and the Alcatel 1X costing from 100-110 Euros, roughly $123-$135. The unlocked Tempo Go is available online now for $80, the company said in a press release, but the link they provide to purchase is broken and the site's search feature says the phone is out of stock.

Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior VP for platforms and ecosystems at Google, teased that Go phones could be available for under $50 in a blog post, but none of the currently unveiled models meet that price point.

The phones will run on Android Oreo Go, a trimmed-down version of the Android Oreo operating software. Google launched the platform, which contains skinnier versions of native apps and ways to increase storage, in December 2017. Go native apps include YouTube Go, Files Go, and a version of Google Assistant, all redesigned to work on low-storage, low-memory phones.

"For example, Google Go is built specifically to help new smartphone users find the information they want, YouTube Go is optimized for limited connectivity, and the Google Assistant for Android (Go edition) lets people quickly send messages, make calls, set alarms, and more with their voice and a single touch of the screen," Lockheimer said in the post.

Tech companies have been releasing optimized versions of apps for Go phones in the past months. For example, Google released Gmail Go earlier in February. With the upcoming launch of Go phones, other companies, especially those looking to break into emerging markets, may be revamping their apps to work on these phones.

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Image: HMD Global

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is an Education Reporter at Insider Louisville.

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