$20 smartphones 'coming in the next few months'

Posted May 7, 2014 by James Walker
Mobile processor manufacturer ARM has predicted that $20 smartphones will be made widely available before the end of the year using its processors.
Of course, for that kind of pricing you're not going to be getting a hugely powerful device and this is reflected in ARM's current anticipated hardware specifications for a potential future $20 device. They doubt that they will be able to power a device with anything more than an aging single-core Cortex A5 CPU and 512Mb of RAM — 1Gb at least. This is obviously very different from the quad-core devices powering the flagship devices such as Samsung's Galaxy S5 and HTC's One M8 which are also normally coupled with 2Gb of RAM or more.
This specification means that modern versions of Android are out of the question due to their higher minimum system requirements. Because of this a $20 smartphone would most likely end up running an antiquated version of Android such as 2.3 Gingerbread or a more up-and-coming OS such as Mozilla's Firefox OS, currently found on the ZTE Open.
The low-end hardware and software is unlikely to faze a typical buyer, though, who up until now has been restricted to a feature phone device such as Nokia's 105. Demand worldwide, especially in developing countries, is expected to be massive as people enter the smartphone market for the first time through a device that is finally truly affordable for all — not many people would see $20 as a significant amount of money to spend on a phone any more.
Although hardware costs in general are falling — and heavily discounted devices can often be found at the release of a successor — this phone is likely to skip the next few years to bring devices down today. ARM did add to their statement, however, although the components could be bought and assembled for a device for $20 today, manufacturing limits will mean that the price will remain slightly above that for the foreseeable future — like in the case of ZTE's Firefox OS-powered Open at $25. Either way, it looks set to be just a few months before a brand-new smartphone can be bought off-promotion at full-price for the rather trivial price of $20.