Android Go is a scaled-down version of regular Android designed to work on low-cost, low-power phones.
It’s scaled down to the extent that it’ll work on phones with as little as 1GB of RAM and by “work,” we mean it’ll be good. No freezing or locking up as the phone struggles to perform the most basic of tasks.
There’s been effort on the applications side of things, too; basic Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Google Photos, and Facebook for Android take up less space in the read-only memory—less than 10MB each—and run about 15 percent faster than if their full-fat versions were installed on Go Edition phones.
Additionally, Google Play will highlight which apps and games have been specifically optimized for Go phones.
While aimed at new and emerging markets, Android Go phones are also designed for people who’ve never bought an Android phone before and will act as a kind of bridge between the feature phone and smartphone worlds.
Who Developed Android Go?
Google worked on Android Go with a number of OEMs, including HMD Global, which licenses the Nokia brand. Seeing as Nokia sales remain strong in developing markets, it’s a natural fit, one that happens to complement its pivot to higher-end devices with Android One—but that’s another story.
“We’ve led the development of the Google Android Oreo Go Edition, which is a purpose-built solution for this segment,” said Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer for HMD Global.
“What Google has done there is to optimize, whether it’s the application or the operating system to run on what’s accessible,” he said. “If I’m looking at what we’ve been able to get out of the 1GB of RAM and the [MediaTek] 6737 [processor] here, it’s actually a really fluid user experience.”
The Nokia 1 is intended to give budget-conscious people a decent smartphone experience and to act as a bridgehead in the feature phone market.
“If you look at the smartphones in the lowest end of the marketplace today, the UI experience is not that fluid, necessarily,” said Sarvikas.
“You get a lot of hang-ups, you have to reboot, application load times are very long and when they load up, they crash. So the experience and quality is the number one issue we need to tackle, as we think about [getting people to] upgrade to their first smartphone.”
“Despite the presence of some general latency and animation lag, the Tempo Go felt more responsive than other entry-level phones I’ve used,” said PC Mag mobile analyst Ajay Kumar. “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.”
Which Phones Run Android Go?
- Nokia 1
- ZTE Tempo Go
- Alcatel 1X
- Lava Z50
How Many Versions of Android Go Exist?
Google says it’s “starting” with 8.1 Oreo, and presumably when the next version of Android is announced, it’ll fill us in on what changes are coming to the Go Edition of Android P.
What Are Android Go’s Minimum Requirements?
The only hard limit Google set with regards to Android Go is that a phone can’t have any more than 1GB of RAM handling processes.
As well as forcing developers to reduce the memory footprints of their apps, this means hardware manufacturers will, in theory, be limited in terms of things like screen resolution and camera performance.
With the exception of the ZTE Tempo Go, which uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor, all Android Go phones announced so far use MediaTek’s MT6737.
The spec sheets for both of these chipsets will give you some idea of what Android Go phones will be capable of, but there’s no rule which says that CPUs need to be clocked at a certain speed, or support any kind of radio antenna.