Google is partnering with Xiaomi with the hope of giving its Android One initiative a much-needed kick in the pants.
The internet search giant and the Chinese manufacturer announced the release of the Mi A1, an Android-powered phone set to be released in India before hitting dozens of other emerging markets. The phone sports a price tag of $234 – significantly higher than other Android Phone devices – and features a 12-megapixel camera, a 5.5-inch full-HD display and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 processor.
“As phone manufacturers continue to innovate by delivering high quality devices at accessible price points, keeping the inside of one’s phone innovative, fresh and secure is critical to a great experience,” wrote Jamie Rosenberg, vice president of business and operations for Android and Google Play, in a blog post. “We’re extending our commitment to Android One by working with more partners to build phones that run a software experience designed by Google.
Google launched Android One in 2014 in an effort to provide cheap, modern smartphones to consumers in emerging markets. The phones typically run stock Android, minimizing the bloatware that accompanies many Android phones, and Google issues software updates to the devices for up to two years.
The company’s earlier manufacturer partners included notable names such as Acer, Asus, HTC, Lenovo and Panasonic. But Android One stumbled out of the gate, and CCS Insight wrote in 2015 that the project “has had a limited direct effect on the market” despite some early enthusiasm.
The latest effort could mark a major win for Xiaomi, however, which has gained significant momentum over the last year. The Chinese firm shipped 23.2 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2017, according to Strategy Analytics, as its worldwide market share grew from 4.3% to 6.4% year over year.