If you’re tired of dealing with the fragmentation of the Android operating system, and looking for an affordable smartphone, an Android One phone might be right for you.
But what is Android One? Are Android One devices available in the United States? And which are the best Android One phones on the market right now?
What Is Android One?
Almost since its inception, the Android OS has been grappling with the issue of device manufacturers’ running their own, heavily-modified, version of Android on their handsets.
Firstly, the modified versions are often worse than stock Android. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, manufacturers are frequently slow to release OS updates.
In response to the problem, Google launched Android One in 2014. Benefits of Android One phones include:
- The phone ships with a stock version of Android.
- Google controls the update cycle.
- Android operating system updates are guaranteed for two years.
- Security updates are guaranteed for three years.
The project was initially targeted at emerging countries and low-end devices. However, in 2017, Android One phones became available in the U.S. and Germany, and the amount of choice grew.
Today, there are more than 100 phones in the Android One range. Many of them are available worldwide.
Since the creation of the Android One program, Nokia has committed to offering Android One on almost all of its handsets.
The current flagship device is the Nokia 9 PureView. It was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in February 2019 and is currently on sale in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
The phone’s headline-grabbing feature is the its array of five rear cameras. They combine images into a single photo when you take a shot.
Under the hood, things are slightly less impressive. In truth, this is a 2018 device. It uses a Snapdragon 845 processor rather than 2019’s newer Snapdragon 855.
There’s also a 5.99″ P-OLED display, 6GB RAM, and an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. The Nokia 9 PureView ships with Android Pie 9.0.
2. LG G7 Fit
If you’re looking for a mid-range Android One phone, you should check out the LG G7 Fit.
Along with the LG G7 One, which was only launched in Canada, the LG G7 Fit is a derivative of the flagship LG G7 ThinQ. LG released the ThinQ in May 2018.
Indeed, the LG G7 Fit looks almost identical to the G7 ThinQ. Dig a little deeper, however, and more differences become apparent. For example, The G7 Fit only has a Snapdragon 821 processor—that’s from way back in 2016!
The G7 Fit also comes with a 6.1-inch QHD+ display, 563 ppi, a 16MP rear camera, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. And impressively for less than $300, it has an IP68 water resistance rating; it can survive in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Motorola’s debut Android One phone in the U.S. was 2017’s Moto X4. The Motorola Moto One is the successor to that model.
Motorola announced the phone at IFA 2018 in Berlin, with worldwide availability beginning in October 2018.
The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.
Other noteworthy features include a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, a 5.9-inch 2160×1440 screen in the 21:9 ratio, and 4K video capture.
A variant of the Moto One—the Moto One Power—is only available in India. It has a 5,000 mAh battery; larger than the 3,000mAh battery on the U.S. model.
4. Xiaomi Mi A2
If you want a cheap Android One phone, the Xiaomi Mi A2 should be near the top of your list. The phone is a rebranded Xiaomi Mi 6X. It’s the successor to the Mi A1 and was released in July 2018.
Given the device’s budget price, the hardware specs are impressive. There’s a Snapdragon 660 processor, and Adreno 512 GPU, and eight Kryo 260 cores.
The phone comes in both 4GB and 6GB RAM versions. Storage options are 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB. Like the LG G7 Fit, the Mi A2 also supports expandable storage.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a 5.99-inch IPS LCD display, a 20MP rear-facing camera, a 3,000 mAh battery, and Android 8.1 Oreo. The battery is non-removable.
5. Nokia 7.1
We end with what is arguably the best mid-range Android One phone on the market: the Nokia 7.1. It was unveiled in October 2018 and is now available in all major markets.
The Nokia 7.1 has a Snapdragon 636 processor and eight Kryo 260 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. Either 3GB or 4GB RAM versions are offered, and you can choose from 32GB or 64GB of storage. The phone also has a 12MP rear camera, a 5.84-inch screen, and 1080×2280 resolution. Although it launched with Android 8.1, it now ships with Android Pie 9.0.
In truth, the phone isn’t as good as the Nokia 8.1. The 8.1 was released in December 2018 and is available everywhere except the U.S. and Australia. Sure, it’s not a true upgrade of the popular Nokia 8 (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor isn’t the latest version, and there’s no water and dust resistance), but there’s still a 6.18-inch display with 408ppi and a resolution of 2280×1080. RAM is capped at 4GB, and the non-expandable storage is 64GB.
Which Is the Best Android One Phone?
It’s starting to feel like Android One is the start of something big. The top Android manufacturers are increasingly getting onside with the project, and the selection of mid and high-end devices is growing.
Right now, we love the Nokia 9 PureView, but any of the five phones we’ve discussed will make a worthy companion.