Android Go edition review
What is it?
A lightweight version of Android that’s developed exclusively for entry-level phones with 1GB RAM or less. It’s optimised for low-end hardware so that phones do not struggle to keep up with the software.
Our test phone
- We tested Android Oreo 8.1 Go edition on the Micromax Spark Go.
- This phone is as basic as it gets, it has a Spreadtrum SC9832E SoC, Mali-T720 GPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM and 5-inch FWVGA display.
Is it real Android?
- Of course yes, Android Go edition is just a heavily optimised version of Android. The user interface, navigation keys, settings, drop-down notifications, etc., you name it, it’s all the exactly what you’re used to.
- Furthermore, you can download most new apps from the Google Play Store like you usually do, given they are compatible with the basic hardware.
How is it lightweight?
- Because low-end smartphones have measly 8GB of inbuilt storage, Android Go edition takes up less space on the phone. In fact, only around 4GB is taken up by pre-installed software, which is less than half of what full-fat Android takes on regular phones.
- This has been made possible by keeping animations to a minimum and using special Go edition Google apps instead of regular ones.
- The Android Go phones do not support multi-window mode either, which makes sense since 1GB RAM cannot execute such a task smoothly anyway.
Go edition apps
- First up, Android Go phones do not come with all pre-installed Google apps that you see on regular phones. There are only a few Go apps which stick to the basics and do away with excessive settings and features that might slow the phone down.
- For instance, YouTube Go (just 9.4MB) allows watching suggested and trending videos and even download videos for offline viewing. However, there is no subscriptions tab here and users cannot view or add comments on a video.
- The Google Assistant Go does not support the OK/ Hey Google hot words. While it can still do all the basics like making phone calls, getting directions, etc., more advanced features like setting reminds, controlling smart home devices, etc cannot be done.
- The Files Go app is a lightweight file manager that also helps to transfer data over phones via WiFi. It, in fact, became so popular that Google recently renamed it to Google Files, targeting it towards all Android users instead of just those who use the Go edition!
- Hopefully, you get the idea of how Go apps stick to the bare basics and eliminate over the top features to ensure that the low-end hardware goes well with the software.
Custom skins & updates
- Weirdly enough, Android Go allows different brands to put their custom skins (like Samsung Experience, Xiaomi MIUI, Asus Zen UI) on top of the software.
- Android versions with custom skins are known to be slightly less fluid than stock Android, even on high-end phones. Putting these skins on phones with 1GB or less RAM does not sound like a particularly great idea, especially when lag-free performance is the priority.
- Custom skins have also been responsible for delayed updates. And talking of updates, while Android 9.0 Pie Go edition is already out, we’re yet to see a phone running on it. All Go edition phones – including our test phone – still rock the slightly older Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition.
- Android Go isn’t made to make a Rs 4,000 phone run like a flagship device. It instead is an effort to provide a fluid smartphone experience to just about everyone, regardless of what device they use.
- It gets a solid thumbs up from us for not making low-end phones appear worthless, and we’re hoping that it will only get better with time!