Best Android Go smartphones available in the US today (and more to come)
This often leads to confusion and market overcrowding, like in the case of the search giant’s plethora of messaging apps or the Android One and Android Go platforms, which may sound similar but are in fact quintessentially divergent.
It’s important not to mix the two up, because while phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) aim to offer a “powerful” user experience leveraging “the best of Android”, these are at their essence far humbler devices than the Android One-based Moto X4, Nokia 6.1, or HTC U11 Life.
Fortunately, they’re also significantly more affordable, fetching as little as $80 stateside. That includes pretty modest hardware, but at least in theory, Google’s optimized software should make the best possible use of the most limited resources.
Android Go handsets come with the highest level of mobile security available right now, as well as a pre-loaded set of Google apps designed specifically to save storage space, data, and maximize performance by eating up as little memory as possible.
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the only four Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphones up for grabs in the US at the time of writing, as well as a couple more that could soon be expanded:
Asus ZenFone Live
Now, we know the IPS panel’s 1440 x 720 pixel count may not sound ideal by 2018 mid-range standards, but as you’ll notice in the following lines, it’s not something Android Go device manufacturers consider as standard or obligatory stuff. Quite on the contrary.
It’s also rare to see one of these ultra-affordable bad boys offer 16GB internal storage space when 8 gigs are more than enough, at least according to Google, to accommodate all your essential apps and services. You might need the extra hoarding room to stash photos taken with a decent 13MP rear-facing camera featuring f/2.0 aperture and Phase Detection Autofocus, while a 3,000 mAh battery promises to keep the lights on for up to 18 hours of continuous Wi-Fi web browsing, also thanks to a frugal and reasonably speedy Snapdragon 425 processor.
Another key selling point is the separate inclusion of dual SIM trays and a microSD card slot, letting you use all three at once, although it’d have sure been nice to get a fingerprint sensor as well.
Interestingly, the Alcatel 1X supports fingerprint recognition and NFC technology, both of which are absent on the pricier Asus ZenFone Live (L1). But obviously, everything else is not as good on the 1X, starting with a smaller, lower-res, bigger-bezel display. The battery is considerably smaller, the MediaTek SoC probably slower, and the overall design is... actually not that bad. A little generic, but sometimes, simpler is better.
ZTE Tempo Go
Well, there are a few things that could make this interesting for a cash-strapped buyer. First and foremost, while its three main rivals and fellow Android Go family members are all limited to GSM connectivity, the ZTE Tempo Go supports LTE speeds on both GSM and CDMA networks. That means it works on Sprint and Verizon in addition to AT&T and T-Mobile.
There’s also that Snapdragon 210 processor that’s probably faster and more reliable than the MediaTek 6739 inside the Alcatel 1 and 1X. On the not so bright side of things, the 5-inch screen not only sports sub-par 854 x 480 resolution, also featuring an outdated 16:9 aspect ratio. And the 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras are obviously nothing to write home about either.
More to come
Until all-new devices are released, you probably shouldn’t rule out seeing the Nokia 2.1, Samsung Galaxy J2 Core, or the Moto E5 Play with Android Oreo (Go edition) expanded stateside by the end of the year.
The Nokia 2.1 is quite the affordable beast, squeezing a Snapdragon 425 SoC and massive 4,000 mAh battery into a robust aluminum frame. The Galaxy J2 Core is, well, made by Samsung, which guarantees its mainstream popularity, while the Moto E5 Play can be bought from a number of US carriers already in a non-Go variant praised for its battery life and silky smooth user interface in our in-depth review.