Android Go has been around for a few months now since the first devices debuted half a year ago at this year’s Mobile World Congress. With it, there has been instant impact. There are lots and lots of interesting affordable smartphones hitting the market.
Thanks to Android Go, users are guaranteed at least some level of consistency when it comes to the overall experience since it is tuned to make the most of meagre resources like low memory (1GB RAM and below). While this focus on users in the lower end of the smartphone food chain has attracted a lot of attention from mainly regional smartphone brands, there have been few big names hopping on to the Android Go bandwagon.
Lenovo’s Motorola has the Moto E5 Play on sale in Latin America and Europe, HMD Global has the Nokia 1 and the Nokia 2.1 on sale in most emerging smartphone markets, including Kenya, ZTE’s Tempo Go was one of the very first Android Go devices and Huawei’s Y3 2018, the Chinese company’s first and only Android Go smartphone, is a rarity.
Given how Samsung has managed to skirt other Google-led initiatives like WearOS (previously known as Android Wear), the Android Enterprise Recommended programme and Android One, many of us have been rather skeptical of the Korean device maker ever getting on board the Android Go initiative. That was until leaks started pouring in left, right and centre about the existence of a possible Android Go-powered smartphone (there was a bit about that in a past edition of the Android Kenya weekly newsletter).
Today, Samsung has unveiled that device. It is going by the name Samsung Galaxy J2 Core.
- Dimensions and weight: 143.4 x 72.1 x 8.9mm, 154g
- Display: 5-inch qHD (540×960 pixels) TFT
- Camera: 8MP main, 5MP front
- Processor: Quad-core Exynos 7570 clocked at 1.4GHz and backed by a Mali-T720 MP1 graphics card
- Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage
- Operating System: Android 8.1, Oreo (Go Edition)
- Battery: 2,600mAh
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), microUSB, Bluetooth 4.2
- Network: 3G, 4G LTE
It is not hard to see why Samsung did this.
First of all, Samsung has for quite some time now been a key player in the entry-level smartphone segment. In Kenya, that goes way back to as early as the year 2011 when the Samsung Galaxy mini gave the then best-selling Huawei IDEOS a run for its money with a more attractive feature set – better battery life, more storage space, more memory and a bigger display. A few years later, 4G smartphone adoption in the country would be spearheaded by one of the most iconic members of the Galaxy J series, the Samsung Galaxy J1 Ace. Recently, the company’s focus on the entry-level market has been spearheaded by the Tizen-powered Samsung Z2.
Secondly, unlike the strict terms of the Android Enterprise Recommended programme, WearOS and Android One, Google is pretty lax when it comes to Android Go. Samsung always insists on slapping its
ugly user interface, TouchWiz, on just about everything. From television sets to smartwatches to tablets to mobile phones. That way, you have to go to great lengths to even differentiate devices running the Samsung-backed Tizen OS from those running Android.
By not requiring device makers to run stock Android, Samsung gets to have its way and, as a result, the Galaxy J2 Core, arrives running Samsung’s own Android Go take. This is nothing new, though. We have seen the Transsion Holdings trio of Tecno, Infinix and itel do the same on their Android Go smartphones – Tecno Spark 2, Infinix Smart 2 and itel A32F, respectively.
Price and availability
The device is available on sale immediately in India and Malaysia. Our fingers are crossed that it makes it to our shores soon and that it will be priced favourably when that day comes since, as of now, we still don’t know its price.