Google, in its bid to get a smartphone in the hands of every man, woman, and child on the planet, announced last year that they had just started the Android One Project. The project which gives manufacturers a recipe for an Android smartphone is revolutionary for the Android Operating system, as it standardizes a device for manufacture by various brands. This allows Google to give users a great phone that is affordable, with guaranteed, working software updates, similar to the Nexus project. The Android One phones have hit other countries like Indonesia, and India, and now, thanks in part to My Phone, the One has arrived on our shores in the My Phone Uno.
The Android One, as executed by My Phone, is pleasingly simple in form. A basic rounded candy bar shape with a removable, matte back panel gives it a pleasant amount of grip. Front and rear cameras are located in the expected places, and a no-frills approach are clear design cues that the manufacturer followed for the device. The One isn’t out to change the world via flashy design; it’s made to make Android available. It’s a useful phone that does its job, and that mindset is reflected in the Uno. The Uno is by no means a bad-looking phone; in fact, its simplicity is one of the things that make it special. The front of the phone is likewise bare, with no soft keys, embellishments or other distractions—all you have is the screen, a front camera, and the earpiece. The back is the same. Apart from a round accent piece wherein the main camera and flash reside, the back is plain, with only a My Phone logo to let you know whose phone it is, and a speaker grille near the bottom.
The right edge of the phone is home to the volume rocker and power button, while the top and bottom edges have the 3.5mm jack and microUSB port, respectively. We just can’t emphasize enough how wonderfully simple, and straightforward the phone is.
The Uno comes with a quad core 1.3GHz processor, with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal, expandable storage. It’s no flagship device, but once again, that’s not the reason the device exists. It comes with all the standard connectivity features, such as Wi-Fi, HSPA+, and Bluetooth, and has a perfectly capable 5MP main camera, paired with a 2MP front snapper. It also has a 4.5 inch screen and a 1700mAh battery that’s actually quite large given both the screen size and the device’s clock speed.
User Experience: 4/5
While it’s not as much of a powerhouse as other smartphones in the market at the moment, the user experience levels the playing field immensely. It not only runs the latest version of Android (Lollipop), it will continue to be updated for two years, and in this regard, even beats other flagship smartphones, many of which haven’t even announced lollipop support. Lollipop is designed to work very well with the kind of hardware the Uno ships with, so the Uno understandably works great with Lollipop; it’s smooth, snappy, and responsive. The system optimizations Google put into the OS seem to be working well, beating the Android experience on other Android devices that might have better hardware, but an operating system that two or three generations old. Lollipop on the Uno also means all of the software goodies Google baked in, such as Google Now, Translate, and the beautiful new design language—all of which are expectedly fluid, capable, and pleasant to use on the Uno.
As a device meant to connect the previously unconnected, the Uno is a milestone. Everything, from Wi-Fi, to the cameras, to the browser, work flawlessly. Google took a look at features people look for in this price segment, and put them in the One, which My Phone in turn included in the Uno.
Battery life on the device is great. Even with two SIM cards, a near-constant Wi-Fi connection, as well as calls and texts, the Uno lasted a whole day and then some. There is little doubt in my mind that with more careful use, you won’t be scrambling for an outlet until the end of the second workday from your last charge. As with anything tech though, the Uno has a few things I would like to see improved. The screen is a little smallish by today’s standards, so when the keyboard is out, it takes up a lot of the screen, leaving little left for viewing. The screen, while perfectly adequate for everything one would need a smartphone, also isn’t the sharpest out there, so if you’ve been spoilt by the HD offerings from other phones, you will take notice fairly quickly.
This is where the Uno wins, and until you can show me a device that runs Lollipop, and guarantees updates for as long as this phone does, our opinion isn’t likely to change. Since Google itself came up with the specifications, you can be sure that hardware support is solid, and with a sticker price of about PHP 5,000, this is a phone that’s poised to take over the segment—it just makes sense to go with an Android One device.
Great battery life
Google support for two years
Wonderful user experience
Screen could be a little larger
Google hopes to change the world with this platform. We think they’re headed in the right direction.