Android One smartphones are running a version of Google’s operating system, which is hardly touched by the mobile phone manufacturer. Unnecessary apps should not exist, but software updates over several years. Those who are interested in the so-called “Stock Android”, but so far still has a large selection of devices.

Google’s mobile operating system “Android” offers regular updates that bring new features and security updates. Android can be found on a variety of smartphones , which are available in all price ranges. The competition among manufacturers ensures innovative technology in the devices and often quite good value for money. However, Android also has its weaknesses.

The biggest problem of Android smartphones was and is the lack of update desire of the manufacturers. If the smartphone is in the hands of the users, then there are often only one year of operating system and security updates. Even the expensive flagship ships seldom receive more than one of the big, annual updates, from Android 8.0 (Oreo) to Android 9.0 (Pie). The manufacturers often blame it on the time-consuming review process that each update needs to go through on Google.

That may be true, but comes anyway hardly a smartphone with the bare Android, as it is installed by Google as in the Pixel models. Manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Huawei or LG miss their Android variants even their own user interface that sometimes differs more and less from the original Android. Many users appreciate this “custom UI”, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 or the Huawei P30 Lite , and remain loyal to it for many generations of devices. However, most users find less good when unnecessary apps, known as “bloatware” are preinstalled, which hardly anyone needs and uses up valuable storage space.

Android One smartphones with focus on the bare essentials

To give customers an alternative option, Google has therefore introduced Android One. Smartphones with the word “Android One” on the back come with an operating system that almost completely complies with Google’s design (“Stock Android”). Google also limits itself to the bare essentials of pre-installed apps: no games, no anti-virus app, no Office 365 test – Google restricts the preinstalled tools to its “suite” of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and other popular services. Everything else has to be installed by the user.

As a result, Android One’s design is very similar to Google’s “Material Design” idea. That means clear colors, no rounded edges and no 3D effect. The surface is rather sober and pragmatic, but it is also easier to use and still allows enough customization.

Occasionally, however, Google allows manufacturers to create a hand on Android One as well. For example, some current Nokia models with Android One have about a customized camera app – which is more adapted to the built-in camera and provides additional recording modes. Google also promises to help in the optimization of the Android One smartphones. So the background activities of the apps should be better prioritized to extend the battery life. If the smartphone is not used, it also switches to the power-saving mode.

Software updates for two and security patches for three years

One of the biggest advantages of Android One, however, are the promised update cycles: All OS updates are guaranteed for at least two years and the monthly security updates are available for at least three years. Together with the application “Google Play Protect”, which examines the apps from the store on malware, this results in a fairly round security equipment. And since Android One comes from a single source, the updates are available much faster than most other smartphones.

These models with Android One are available

Currently, however, the device selection of smartphones with Android One is still manageable: The only manufacturer that completely relies on Stock Android is Nokia, which equips virtually all current models of Nokia 3.1 to the current Nokia 9 PureView with Android One. In addition there are the models Motorola One , HTC U11 Life and BQ Aquaris X2 and X2 Pro. Xiaomi is also present with his models Mi A1 and Mi A2.

At the same time, the biggest weakness of Android One is also evident in the aforementioned selection: the available devices are almost all from the entry-level to mid-range. Right Top smartphones are so far hardly. If you are looking for a smartphone with really good performance for complex games and other applications, you will only find it on the models Nokia 7.1 , 8.1 and the current Nokia 9 PureView . The latter seems with its no less than five cameras, at least in terms of photography, not to hide behind the strong competition Huawei P30 and Samsung Galaxy S10.

Android One smartphones are solid mid-range models

The grip on a mobile phone with Android One should rather dare pragmatists who put more emphasis on functionality than individuality. A big advantage of the models with Google’s “stick” software is the comparatively long time in which regular updates are assured. Even less pre-installed apps may be interesting for some users who want to fully enjoy their own storage space. But there are no manufacturer-specific features on Android One, which could once again bring out a bit more from the technology of the smartphone.