Do We Really Want Cheap Android Phones?

Do We Really Want Cheap Android Phones?

Android phones cover a huge range of price points, from sub-$100 devices running Gingerbread badly to $1000 chunks of Jelly Bean gorgeousness. The cheap end of the spectrum is going to grow rapidly over the next four years according to NPD DisplaySearch, but cheap smartphones still won’t make up the majority of the market.

NPD DisplaySearch predicts that global sales of sub-$US150 smartphones will rise from 4.5 million units in 2010 to 311 million in 2016. Those numbers include other platforms, but Android accounts for the majority of those devices. As the report notes: “Android is the most popular operating system for low-cost smartphone designs because it is open source. Brands and manufactures tend to use mature, low-price components, rather than developing new ones.” That explains why we keep getting stuck with cheap models running 2.3.

In 2012, cheap Android phones were just 2 per cent of total smartphone shipments, a figure which will rise to 29 per cent by 2016, NPD DisplaySearch predicts. Takeup will be much higher in the Asia-Pacific than elsewhere, though Australia is unlikely to be a major contributor to those figures:

It’s good to know there are affordable alternatives out there, but if these figures can be trusted, it seems we won’t be giving up our addiction to buying newer faster models any time soon.


  • S40 phones started to claw back from Android last quarter. Ofcourse S40 only covers 1 Manufacturer (Nokia) so I’m not expecting that to have a huge impact on this area.

  • I brought a ‘cheap’ android phone recently and it’s put me off android completely. Even though it’s a cheap phone I expect it to be usable without ‘rooting’ the phone including being able to install and use apps to the size of the available memory (in this case 1G internal storage and a 2G SD card). My experience was that the phone could only handle about a half dozen apps because of the way android, uses its memory and they couldn’t even be moved to the SD card only to the internal. I’m over having to look up various sdk commands etc to get some functionality out of this – reminds me of the ancient days of DOS. Seems to me that these cheap phones are the biggest threat to android, I’d never be game to splurge on an expensive android after testing the water with a cheap android. Hell even my horrible Blackberry has better functionality

  • There is so much choice with Android. This choice is good where cheap phones stilll offer additional features like Dual Sim but is not good when ultra cheap phones that have less functional versions of phone book for example. Agreed that Android phones with too little internal memory are a pain to squeeze apps onto. Overall though, I like the choice even if I have to order phones online that are not available in Australia.

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