Back in 2014, Google announced a new program called “Android One” and in 2017, Android Go was launched. Looking at the UI and on the shallow side of things, these three all look so similar, so what sets them apart?
Android One was, at first, launched in India aimed to bring stock vanilla Android for low-end devices. These phones are meant so that the phones would periodically receive security updates OTA (over-the-air). The Android One program also expanded exponentially over the years, and are appearing in more mainstream manufacturers like Nokia and Motorola as well as lower and upper midrange handsets.
Phones running Android One don’t usually have bloatware, so minimalists and performance users prefer them over skinned Android (i.e. MIUI, OneUI and FunTouch OS) as there is little case of lag and stability issues. Also, pure Android won’t consume as much storage and RAM as those with a heavy Android skin.
In the way it works is that Google would provide the software side while the manufacturer makes the hardware. In simple terms, Google would provide the updates and the manufacturer will make the specifications that fit the Android One criteria. For example, the Nokia 8 Sirocco was a phone that originally came with Android 8 Oreo, and is upgradable to Android 10. So in that sense, the Nokia 8 Sirocco received two years worth of updates.
Android One isn’t free though. OEMs have to pay Google a fee to integrate the program into the handsets. So, manufacturers like Nokia have to pay Google to bring the software updates into their phones.
Android Go is what Android One originally was; bringing stock android to low end devices. However, because Android One evolved to OEMs and upper midrangers, Google launched Android Go as a replacement.
Essentially, Android Go is a lightweight version of Android intended for ultra budget phones with usually up to 2GB RAM. This version of Android does not have all the pre-installed Google Services, and those which were part of regular Android are weighed down to “lite” or “go” versions of themselves (i.e. Google Go, Youtube Go, Gmail Go, etc). These apps do not consume too much RAM and are optimised for low-end devices.
Unlike Android One however, the updates would depend on the manufacturer and not from Google and thus, may cause a delay when the updates finally arrive. So, phones like Nokia 1 are not guaranteed to have fresh OS updates.
In the mobile community, there is a confusion regarding the terms “Stock Android” and “Android One” because they are essentially the same OS, with barely any changes.
“Stock Android” is normally used to refer to the fresh, bone-stock Android found on Google’s own line of handsets. These handsets include the Nexus and the Pixel line of phones. The updates come from Google themselves and they are the ones planning when are they going to release said updates. Think of it as Android’s counterpart for iOS in which the updates come from Apple directly.
Like Android One, Stock Android come bloatware-free (other than the Google Apps). So, it is guaranteed that the phone will have smooth performance even when the device ages. These phones also get the most updates in contrast to phones made by OEMs.
Android One is stock android that was launched by Google for OEMs to use. This is not freeware and OEMs have to pay them in compensation that these phones will receive fresh updates directly from Google. Also, OEMs also have the decision to include a few apps of their own, such as a digital guide or a forum. These apps usually can be uninstalled
Android Go is the lighter version of Android meant for very low end devices, usually up to 2GB RAM. They have a “lite” version of the original Google apps and are optimised to run for phones with low specs.
Stock Android refers to Android that comes shipped on Pixel and Nexus devices. These phones don’t have bloatware on them and come directly from Google.
I hope this cleared up the confusion and I hope this guide will help you find the smartphone that would cater your needs. For more information on how to carefully choose a smartphone, please read my guide here: Find the perfect smartphone!