The Kyocera Zio might have competition as the cheapest Android phone. We just received the full specs for Motorola’s upcoming Ciena (formerly Citrus) on Verizon and it looks about as low-end as you can go, yet still be able to run Android.
Motorola has constantly said they want to bring Android down the ladder into feature phone territory and the Ciena appears to have accomplished that. I have not been able to confirm the price, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ciena debut for free on 2-year contract or sub $200 at the unsubsidized price.
So what is the Ciena packing? It features a 3.0 inch QVGA display (120 dpi), 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7625 CPU, 512 MB ROM, 256 MB RAM, and a 3 megapixel camera (fixed focal length, no flash). The Ciena will ship with Android 2.1 running a semi-Motoblur skin, but will lack all the social messaging tie-ins. This device also features the BackTrack rear trackpad, similar to the Backflip and Charm.
Missing from the Ciena is an ambient light sensor and vibrate notifications. I only mention this because Google’s Android 2.1 Compatibility Definition Document (PDF) says “Device implementers MUST provide support for each class of notification so defined; specifically: sounds, vibration, light and status bar.”
Update: I also discovered the Ciena only has 100 MB user storage – another violation of the Android 2.1 CDD. “Device implementations MUST have at least 150MB of non-volatile storage available for user data. That is, the /data partition must be at least 150MB.”
Normally when devices don’t meet the requirements found in Google’s CDD, they are not certified and do not gain access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) like Gmail and Android Market. Google has been known to bend the rules for certain hardware partners so it could still feature the Android Market, but I have been unable to confirm this.
An old leaked Verizon roadmap claimed the Ciena (WX445) was supposed to launch in September, but obviously that didn’t happen. We hear that Verizon is currently evaluating this device and it has yet to get the green light, so either it launches in October or they pull the plug on it.
The beauty of Android is that’s it is open source and device implementers can do whatever the heck they want with it, but Google still maintains a set of rules (the CDD) that define which devices are blessed with their services. It will be interesting to see if the Ciena actually gets certified or Verizon ships it without Google’s services (which I find hard to believe, but who knows).
What do you guys think about the Motorola Ciena? Do we need phones this low-end or might it give Android a bad image? I think it’s great that customers have more options to choose from, but the total cost of ownership for most Android phones is usually defined by the 2-year contract with data services. Do you think you could recommend the Ciena to a friend or would you need to get your hands on one first?