The Untapped Potential of Android One

Omar Zahran
12 min readApr 28, 2020
Image Credit: Jeshoots via Pexels

Hidden gems are a great tool for storytelling. Think about when you are talking to your friends and food gets brought up. You bring up that quaint little restaurant that nobody knows about, and wax poetic about an amazing burger that you had there. You feel like the trendy friend, the one that knew about the next big thing before it was the next big thing. While this applies for food, in the world of consumer technology being a hidden gem often relegates an idea or a product into the land of what could have been. This has been the fate of projects such as WebOS and MeeGo, and I fear that this could be the fate of the Android One project. Here’s what can be done to avoid such a fate.

Image of a white box next to a cactus
Image Credit: Bongkarn Thanyakij via Pexels

Simplicity is a Virtue

We need to go back to 2014 for the origins of the Android One program. At the time, the initiative was designed as a way to bring the stock Google experience that was found on Nexus phones and eventually Pixel devices to the midrange and lower end tiers of the smartphone food chain. The reasoning was quite sound at the time and is even more important now. While top end flagship phones will always get attention and updates, phones that operate at the lower price tier that the majority of people actually buy are often neglected. Android One promised 3 years of security updates, and 2 years of major software updates directly from Google.

This solution actually addressed a very real problem with lower end devices. Walk into any cell phone store and there are bound to be promotional devices that are free or offer a very low monthly payment. These phones come from all sorts of different companies such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Coolpad. While these phones are often sold in bunches, there has been very little priority made to updating them. Take for example Samsung’s entry level Galaxy A10e that is sold through T-Mobile. The phone has been available for a year at this point and has received 4 security updates and is still on Android 9 despite Android 10 being released for Samsung devices in December of 2019. And there really seems not to be a roadmap for this update to land on Samsung’s entry level model despite it selling in…