Which Android is the best for you? Android One, Android Oreo and Android Go explained

Oreo, One, and Go all sound like dessert options right? In this article, we explain what they really mean for your Android device.

Which Android is the best for you? Android One, Android Oreo and Android Go explained
Android One Vs Android Oreo vs Android Go

Google's mobile operating system powers billions of phones worldwide, but with all the different versions —Stock, One, Go — it's a confusing maze.

Flashback to the good old Android days when phone makers took the basic recipe, courtesy of Google's Android Open Source Project and added their own sprinkles (custom apps, interfaces, features). Sure, it was unique but also a bit messy with bloatware. Updates became slow, as manufacturers needed to rework everything for each new Android release.

Fast forward to 2014 when Google introduced Android One. A lighter, stock Android experience for budget phones, especially targeting developing markets. 

Again in 2017, it got even better with the introduction of Android Go. Building on the success of Android One, designed specifically for phones with lower processing power and limited storage.

The introduction of these two Android versions raised a pertinent question among smartphone users: what's the difference between One and Go if both operating systems are aimed at budget-friendly devices? Don't worry, we'll break it all down in this guide as we explore specifics like pre-installed app quantity and customisation, performance on various hardware, and update frequency for security patches and features to help you decide which Android edition to invest in.

What is Android Oreo?

Also known as Stock or PixelUI, the Android 8.0 operating system took the centre stage in 2017. 

Unlike some updates that target specific device types, Android Oreo is designed to be versatile. Hardware partners have the freedom to choose the processing power, storage, and memory configurations for their devices, as long as they meet the core requirements to run the latest Android.

This flexibility allows Google to push the boundaries of mobile technology with Oreo's features. Here are some highlights:

  • Picture-in-picture mode: You can watch videos or keep navigation apps open in a minimised window while seamlessly using other apps.
  • Split-screen multitasking: You also get to maximise your productivity by running two apps side-by-side. Edit emails in Gmail while researching information on Chrome, all on one screen.
  • Daydream support: Google lets you pipe virtual reality (VR) directly through your mobile device to explore immersive games, movies, and educational experiences. 

While Google showcases the latest Android on its Pixel phones, Android Oreo isn't exclusive. Manufacturers like Samsung (Galaxy S9/S9+), Huawei (Mate 10 Pro), OnePlus (5T), and Motorola (various 2017 models) have all embraced Oreo for their smartphones and tablets.

Split Screen feature on an Android Oreo device

What is Android One?

Launched in 2014, Google's Android One program aimed to bring a clean, bloatware-free stock Android experience to budget and mid-range smartphones, particularly in emerging markets. These phones addressed a major frustration with many custom Android versions: sluggish performance due to heavy customisations and slow updates.  Android One offered a solution — a "vanilla" Android experience free of unnecessary manufacturer modifications and with guaranteed software updates (typically two years for OS and three years for security).

While the program initially focused on low-end devices, it later expanded to encompass mid-range options. However, its popularity has waned in recent years. As of 2024, Nokia is the primary manufacturer keeping the flame alive. Despite limited availability, Android One remains a user-friendly choice for those seeking a streamlined Android experience.

Here's what defines an Android One phone:

  • Pure Android: No manufacturer customisations means a faster, smoother experience with the familiar Android interface.
  • Guaranteed Updates: Unlike many custom Android versions, Android One phones receive timely updates directly from Google for two years (OS) and three years (security).

Limited Bloatware: Manufacturers could add a few value-added apps, but the overall experience remains clutter-free.

Android One | eBay

What is Android Go?

Launched in 2017, Android Go is Google's initiative to bring a smooth smartphone experience to users in emerging markets and those on a tight budget who prioritise essential smartphone functionality. Unlike Android One, which aims for a bloatware-free stock experience, Android Go focuses on ultra-efficiency for low-powered devices.

The first Android Go devices, launched in 2018, showcased this focus on affordability. We saw examples like the ZTE Tempo Go ($80), Nokia 1 ($85), and Alcatel 1X ($120). These devices all shared common features: 1GB of memory, 8GB or 16GB of storage, and an entry-level processor.

Android Oreo (Go Edition), released in 2018, was a specific version of Android Go based on the Android Oreo operating system. It took the core principles of Android Go – lightweight apps, data-saving features, and optimised performance – and applied them to the then-current Android version. While newer versions of Android Go exist (based on later Android releases), the core concept remains the same.

Here's what sets Android Go apart:

  • Built for Low Specs: Designed for smartphones with limited RAM (as low as 512MB) and storage (starting at 8GB), Android Go keeps things lightweight for optimal performance.
  • Optimised Apps: Google offers special "Go" versions of popular apps like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps, which are significantly smaller and require fewer resources to run.
  • Data Management Focus: Android Go prioritises data savings with features like a built-in data manager and background app restrictions.
  • Play Store Go: This curated section of the Play Store highlights apps specifically optimised for low-performance devices.

Affordable Options: Android Go phones are typically priced under $100, making them a great entry point for first-time smartphone users.

Light-weight Google Go apps

Comparing the Android Variants: Oreo, Go, and One

Where does the original Android fit in now?

The original, open-source version of Android sits alongside Android One and Android Go. This base version offers a different kind of appeal: a blank canvas for manufacturers to build upon.  

We're seeing this principle continue with previews of Android 15 (codenamed "vanilla ice cream"), which focuses on refining the core user experience while still offering opportunities for customisation by phone makers.

Manufacturers use customisations like Samsung's One UI or Google's Pixel UI to paint their own unique picture of the Android experience. This lets them add special features, personalise the interface, and cater to specific user preferences.

This ability to customise is a major advantage in a world where phone hardware is becoming increasingly similar. It's software that sets brands apart and allows you to find a phone that feels truly yours. For example, a Samsung Galaxy with One UI offers a very different experience compared to a Google Pixel with its stock Android interface.

Here's what this means for you as a user:

You can explore different features and brand experiences to find a phone that perfectly suits your style. Plus, if you love a particular brand, upgrading to their newer models will be a smooth transition because the core Android experience stays familiar.

And since Android is open-source, a whole community of tech enthusiasts can create custom software "skins" for your phone. Think of these skins like outfits – they change the look and feel of your phone. Brands like Samsung (One UI) and OnePlus (OxygenOS) use skins to offer unique features or streamline things, making your phone experience even more personalised.

(Samsung One UI 6.0 expanded view of the quick panel shows the use of tiles, which is almost similar to the Huawei HarmonyOS. However, the tiles use a larger radius and appear more round than HarmonyOS.)

Which Android is right for you?

With three unique Android versions at your disposal, choosing the one that aligns with your needs is key.

If affordability is your primary concern, and you prioritise basic smartphone functionality over blazing-fast performance, then Android Go might be the perfect fit. This version keeps things lightweight for optimal performance.

The Android Go OS is ideal for:

  • Users on a very tight budget
  • Those seeking basic smartphone functionality (calls, texts, browsing)
  • Anyone who prioritises data savings (often crucial for limited data plans)
  • First-time smartphone users

If you’re craving a clean, bloatware-free experience with the latest Android updates, look no further than Android One. This version offers the stock Android experience, akin to what you’ll find on Google’s Pixel phones, such as the recently reviewed Google Pixel 8a. It’s the ideal choice for users who value a clutter-free interface and swift updates directly from Google, ensuring your device stays current and efficient.

The Android One OS is perfect for:

  • Fans of the stock Android experience 
  • Users who prioritise timely software updates
  • Those who dislike pre-installed apps (bloatware)

The original version of Android remains the most widely available option. Among the many we’ve reviewed, the OnePlus 12 and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra stand out for their premium features and customisation options that cater to brand loyalists.

Go for the original Android if:

  • You have a favourite brand with custom features
  • You value a wide variety of devices and features
  • Regular software updates are less of a concern

Remember, there's no single "best" Android version. The ideal choice depends on your priorities and smartphone habits. By understanding the strengths of each version, you can now make an informed decision and select the Android experience that best suits you!

In the end 

Whether it’s Android, Android One, or Android Go, they’re all part of the same family. This variety ensures there's an Android option for every phone, from budget-friendly to top-of-the-line. They all run apps from the Google Play Store, and for most users, the differences are minor. So, whichever Android you choose, you're getting a great mobile experience.


Q: How often does Google update the original Android? 

A: Google typically releases major updates to the original Android every year, with smaller updates and security patches released more frequently.

Q: Can I customise the original Android? 

A: Yes, the original Android is highly customisable. You can change the look and feel of your devices with launchers, widgets, and a wide range of settings

Q: How does Android Go differ from regular Android? 

A: It has optimised apps and a Play Store that focuses on data and storage-efficient applications

Q: Is Android One discontinued?

A: The Android One program has seen a decline in new device launches, and Google’s own Android One page has not been updated for some time, leading to speculation about the program’s status. However, it’s not officially discontinued, and some manufacturers like HMD Global (Nokia) continue to offer Android One devices.

Q: How can I get Android One?

A:  To get an Android One experience, you can purchase a smartphone that is part of the Android One program. While Nokia has been a strong supporter of Android One, not all Nokia-branded Android phones are part of the program

Q: Can we install Android One on any phone?

A: No, you cannot install the official Android One on any phone, you can install stock Android-like launchers or custom ROMs that mimic the experience, but without the update guarantees of the Android One program

Q: Are all Nokia phones Android One?

A: All Nokia smartphones from Nokia 3, are part of the Android One experience. Even the entry-level models get 2 years of software updates.

Q: Which is the best Android One smartphone?

A: As of May 2024, the most powerful Android One smartphone is the Nokia 8.3 5G. It has a Snapdragon 765G 5G processor.

Q: Which phone has no bloatware?

A: Your best bet for zero bloatware is a Google Pixel phone or an Android One smartphone.

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