There was a time, during Google’s big push towards the “Next Billion”, when it was more aggressively pushing its Android Go “flavor” to both OEM partners and consumers. That push seems to have died down a little, as the market once more turned its attention to the high-end, the novel, and the expensive.
Now along comes HMD Global and its mission to corner all the corners of the market on all tiers, announcing the Nokia C2 as the newest and so far the only new Android Go phone in the market.
Android Go, more formally “Android (Go Edition)”, isn’t exactly a flavor of Android and more a set of default configurations and apps to make the platform more usable on hardware-constrained devices. It was Google’s attempt to wean users away from “feature phones” and onto Android and the rest of its ecosystem. After a brief period of hype, that seems to have gone silent.
Part of that may be from the lack of appeal, as the Nokia C2 exemplifies. Android Go phones are pretty much your run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter entry-level phones. This one, for example, has a relatively lesser-known Unisoc processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of memory. Forget all the talk about cameras too, as it only has a single 5 megapixel camera on its back and 5 megapixels on its front.
Its main appeal, of course, is the budget price, coming in at R1 499, that comes with a lite Android experience. Strangely enough, the phone is launching with Android 9 Pie (Go Edition). The latest, of course, is Android 10.
To be fair, comparing the Nokia C2 to even mid-range phones is apples to grapes as the core focus of Android Go phones is to get people online and on Google in the cheapest way possible. That price is still unknown but it is even more unknown whether Android Go has any appeal left at all. It comes in charcoal and cyan green.