Honestly, we thought we’d seen the end of the “feature” phone. Basic Android devices are getting cheaper and cheaper every year, and with initiatives like Android Go, Google is constantly pushing its OS onto less powerful hardware. Like a vampire faced with questionable garlic though, the feature phone just keeps coming back.
Maybe it’s a little unfair to lament this. After all, for every $50 smartphone out there, there’s someone who can’t afford it. Finding a way to get these users online with a modern, secure operating system is important.
9to5Google is today showing off a photo that their tipster claims shows a non-touchscreen device with a numeric keypad, a D-pad for navigation, call/hangup buttons and function keys for menus.
If it looks just like your old Nokia phone, there’s a reason for that – this is said to be a Nokia-branded device.
As you might expect on a non-touch device, some things need to be done differently. It looks like Notifications will become Alerts, and the launcher is quite different. It’s also using some kind of voice input & may offer the Google Assistant. There’s also indications that the phone will have a Chrome browser and access to YouTube, and possibly some kind of file transfer app.
Feature phones are still around, though their popularity in developed markets has waned. It seems that this new cut-down form of Android could take the fight to Series 30+, KaiOS and others that have carved a niche in the space.
You’ll find a lot more detail and analysis at 9to5Google’s original report.
Update, 2.30pm: Android Police pours cold water all over this, reminding us all that Google has invested in KaiOS and this device is probably just running an updated version of it. Check out the debunk here.