BARCELONA—Entry-level phones are slow. But Android Go, Google’s super lightweight and optimized version of Android 8.0 Oreo, is designed to work with phones that have as little as 1GB of RAM and minimal storage. It’s ideal for developing countries where people want a budget device that still needs to function properly without lag or freezes.
The ZTE Tempo Go, like the Alcatel 1X Go, is a perfect candidate for the revamped OS. On its face, it looks exactly like a standard budget phone with a plastic body and big back bezels. Neither the grainy 480p display nor the Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor and 1GB of RAM are going to impress. There’s also 8GB storage, a removable back cover that gives you access to the SIM/microSD card slot, and a 2,200mAh battery. Connectivity protocols are standard like 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and 4G LTE.
Firing up the phone is where things get interesting. You’ll see that many of the preloaded Google apps are “Lite” version, meaning they’re optimized to be 15 percent faster at launch and generally run 15 percent better. The storage and memory optimizations of Go allow low storage and memory phones like the Tempo to handle Google Photos, Gmail, and other compatible apps like Facebook. There are also fewer preinstalled apps in general, saving you space.
While I wasn’t able to run benchmarks, I did attempt to launch several apps, play games, and multitask. The outcome surprised me. Despite the presence of some general latency and animation lag, the Tempo Go felt more responsive than other entry-level phones I’ve used. It’ll certainly never match more costly midrange phones, but as far as being functional without freezing, heavily stuttering, or locking up completely, the Tempo Go managed well enough.
I was able to launch Go versions of two or three apps and switch between them with only a second or so of pause. Naturally, if you open tons of apps you’ll eventually hit the RAM usage limit even with a lighter Go version of apps, but it’s more than most entry-level devices can do running a regular version of Android. As far as games go, obviously you’re still limited by hardware, but the preinstalled Subway Surfers on the Tempo Go actually ran without major issues.
Generally speaking, from our brief hands on with the device, it seems that Android Go phones like the Tempo Go and Alcatel 1X are serving their purposes. They make Android on entry-level devices feel like they’re not broken, and that’s huge when you consider the fact that for a huge percentage of the world, their first taste of Android will be on more affordable devices. Android Go could be the game changer for millions of these new and current customers. We’ll be taking a closer look at Android Go phones when we get them in for review, so stay tuned for more.