Google moves to cut prices of Android smartphones to under $100

Google will provide a smartphone reference design for sub-$100 handsets as part of its Android One program

Google wants to cut prices on Android smartphones to under $100 and is providing a reference design so handset makers can reach that price.

The smartphone reference design will be available to device makers as part of a program called Android One, announced Wednesday by Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, during a keynote at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

The smartphone has a 4.5-inch screen, dual SIM, SD card slots and FM radio. The first handsets coming out of the program will be in India, where Google is working with Micromax, Carbon and Spice.

The phones will come with stock Android and Google Play. The software will be automatically update and Google is working on adding more software features to the smartphones.

Google is also working with carriers in India to provide affordable mobile connectivity packages.

Affordability aside, the smartphones will be "high quality," Pichai said.

Prices of Android smartphones have been falling, especially in developing countries. Motorola earlier this month started shipping the Moto E, a 3G smartphone starting at $129. Competition is also coming from Firefox OS smartphones, with the ZTE Open C handset available for $84.99 on eBay. Older BlackBerry models priced low are also selling well in countries like India and Indonesia.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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