When Google announced the Android Go initiative at I/O 2017 last May, it made one thing clear: it wasn’t replacing Android One. Android Go is simply a set of configurations and apps designed to run on very constrained hardware while Android One remains a dwindling group of budget phones offering a pure Android experience. Google, however, never exactly shared how it planned to continue with Android One. New information has just surfaced, bringing to light the next Android One that will be made by none other than Xiaomi, an idea that is almost just as odd as the idea that there will still be an Android One phone.
The idea behind Android One is an odd one. On the one hand, it aimed to offer a pure, Nexus-like Android experience at a more affordable price tag. On the other hand, Google has given OEMs more freedom to drive the design and hardware of the phones. Google and its partners learned early on that consumers didn’t exactly like a cheap but underpowered Nexus. Eventually, Android One phones started to show a bit more muscle, but it may have been too little too late.
The Nexus line is practically dead and its place is the Pixel. While offering the most idealized Android experience, it is not something everyone could afford. On the one hand, there is now an even greater need for Android One phones to fill the large shoes left by the Nexus. On the other hand, Google has seemingly ran out of OEM partners to make such devices. Or so it seemed.
Indonesian website Krispitech got hold of an image revealing a certain Xiaomi Mi 5X whose description has been changed to mention that it is an Android One phone. Such a partnership between Google and Xiaomi is curious because Xiaomi’s phones are hardly poster boys for pure Android experiences. In fact, its MIUI custom ROM is so far removed that it might be mistaken for being a different Android-based OS of its own. Xiaomi doesn’t even ship with Google Play Services, and hence Google Play Store and apps, on its phones.
As strange as the partnership may seem, there is no denying the fact that Xiaomi makes dirt cheap but quality smartphones that sell like pancakes the moment they launch. How the two found a middle ground is probably a story fit for the books, presuming this Android One phone ever comes to pass at all.