Bharti Airtel said it will launch affordable 4G smartphones powered by Google’s Android Go platform next month, under a tie-up with handset makers Micromax and Lava.
“Entry level 4G smartphones under Airtel’s ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ program will be shipped with Android Oreo (Go edition) as standard OS starting March 2018,” the telecom operator said.
“Lava and Micromax, two leading Indian smartphone manufacturers, will introduce the first set of 4G smartphones powered by Android Oreo (Go edition),” it added.
Android Go is Google’s attempt to keep catering to the low-end smartphone market.
The operating system targets systems with total application running memory (RAM) of 1 GB or less, and internal storage in the range of 4 to 8 GB.
Bharti Airtel, on its part, is also focusing on the low-end smartphone space to ensure that it is able to offer its users something to compete with Reliance Jio’s Jiophone, which is powered by KaiOS.
Android tends to struggle on systems with less than 1 GB of RAM. Even on systems with 1 GB of RAM, the operating system cannot output the snappy experience that it is designed for.
Android Go, a stripped down version, is Google’s answer to those who want a basic system only.
Airtel said the smartphones that will be launched under its cashback schemes will be pre-loaded with apps such as MyAirtel, Airtel TV and Wynk Music.
“With this, India will become one of the first countries to commercially roll-out smartphones running on Android Oreo (Go edition),” it added.
Vani Venkatesh, Chief Marketing Officer – Bharti Airtel, said the partnership was a major milestone for the the company’s ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ initiative.
“Android Go will provide a massive boost to our efforts to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and potentially enable hundreds of millions of feature phone users and unconnected people to get online,” she said.