Karbonn Sparkle V

First Android One smartphone goes on sale in the UK

The highly-affordable Karbonn Sparkle V has been launched in the UK. Whilst there is no shortage of budget smartphones to choose from, being based on the Android One platform certainly sets the Karbonn Sparkle V apart.

Android One devices can essentially be thought of as the emerging market alternative to the Nexus brand. It is therefore surprising that the Karbonn Sparkle V has been released in the UK, as Google’s intention was for Android One to be launched in southern Asian countries, such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The concept behind Android One is simple. Google has partnered with chipmakers MediaTek and Qualcomm to develop specific hardware requirements for budget brands like Micromax, Karbonn and Spice to use when creating Android One devices.

As with the Nexus line, Google is responsible for rolling out updates to Android One devices. This will ensure that customers receive the latest version of Android, with updates initially guaranteed for a minimum of two years.

The focus of Android One is a large proportion of the 5 billion people in the world that do not own a smartphone, rather than the 1.75 billion existing owners. In South Asia, manufacturers of budget Android devices have been helping meet the considerable demand.

It is easy to see how – in theory, at least – Android One benefits both Google and companies developing budget devices.

For Google, Android One ensures that budget brands who are active in rapidly-emerging markets develop products to a specification that is compatible with the future direction of Android. The platform also gives Google control over a device’s operating system, meaning that users will always have access to a current version of Android, complete with the latest security and bug fixes.

Such a proposition is attractive for budget brands too, as it means they will be marketing products which will offer an up-to-date version of Android, without having to invest in their own software roll-out programmes. The Karbonn Sparkle V, for instance, is being sold with the guarantee of a free upgrade from Android 4.4 KitKat to Android 5.0 Lollipop.

It is highly unlikely that Google ever intended for Android One smartphones to be sold in a country such as the UK. But Indian company Karbonn is ambitious, and wants to expand outside its domestic market.

A range of Karbonn Android smartphones has been launched by Amazon.co.uk. Most notable amongst these is the Karbonn Sparkle V, with its offering of free Android updates, direct from Google.

The Karbonn Sparkle V is being sold for £129.99. It is available in a choice of three colours, with customers able to select from red, white and blue editions.

Most of the Karbonn Sparkle V’s specs are very reasonable, considering its price. The smartphone is powered by a MediaTek MT6582 1.3GHz quad-core processor, has a 4.5-inch screen, 1GB RAM, 5 megapixel main camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera.

Not all of the Karbonn Sparkle V’s specs are as impressive, though. The display offers a resolution of only 480 x 854 pixels and there is only 4GB internal storage (although a microSD expansion slot is included).

The Motorola Moto G will therefore remain the leading contender when it comes to budget Android smartphones on sale in the UK. It offers a more impressive 5-inch 720 x 1280 display and has 8GB internal storage.

Despite a couple of limitations, the Karbonn Sparkle V will still be appealing for some, given its undiscounted retail price is £20 less than that of the Motorola Moto G.

Whilst the Motorola Moto G arguably offers better value, the Karbonn Sparkle V still compares well to other budget Android smartphones. With the bonus of OS updates deployed direct from Google, the Karbonn Sparkle V could prove to be a compelling proposition.