Mozilla expects to see smartphones sell for as little as $25 soon. But chip designer ARM thinks things can go even lower.

ARM says the first $20 smartphones could launch in the next few months.

arm cortex-a5

Don’t expect stellar performance from a $20 phone. But ARM figures you can take one of the company’s Cortex-A5 processors, slap on a cheap touchscreen, a little memory and storage, and a free operating system like Firefox OS and you’ll have a phone that you can use to surf the web, run apps, and make telephone calls with, I suppose.

As AnandTech points out, the original iPhone launched in 2007 with a $599 price tag and an ARM11 processor that’s slower than the Cortex-A5 chips ARM is talking about using in dirt cheap smartphones.

Clearly a lot can change in 7 years.

It’s likely that these entry-level phones will be aimed at developing markets where high-priced, and even mid-range smartphones may be out of reach for a large segment of the population.

Hopefully they’ll also be offered alongside affordable wireless service plans.

arm 20 phone

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9 replies on “ARM predicts we’ll see $20 smartphones in 2015”

  1. Someone at the ARM inc. got high. Just imagine how crappy that smartphone would be for 20$: very low res screen,laggy ….. and not to mention the battery…. Total mega crap! … even for the emerging markets!

    1. When working with low-end hardware, it is really up to well optimized software. Windows Phone 8 runs extremely well on slow processors and low ram, and I hear Firefox OS does an even better job at this. Even iOS (which has not changed much of it’s structure at all) only runs on 1GB RAM only a fraction of the processing power from the A7 chip is used for the OS, most goes towards apps.

  2. I’m in. A $20 phone would be great to take to concerts, camping trips, or anywhere where I’d have to worry about my good smartphone being pickpocketed or smashed or drowned.

  3. I can see this as a phone for those who only want to make phone calls and do little more. It might also work as someones first phone, easily replaceable since it costs so little. I can see it for more ‘mature’ cell phone users who might just want to use for emergencies. I think there could be a market niche for it.

    1. For a very long time, Android phones were stuck at version 2.3, Gingerbread.
      I can imagine these $20 phones being very much like those 2.3 phones. Matter
      of fact, why not include the 512 MB of RAM on the SoC?

      1. Have neither of you been following Firefox OS? It uses a cloud approach to applications (similar to Chrome OS) thus eliminating the need for strong on-board processing. I’m waiting for the OS to mature a bit, but I think it is very promising and would probably change our perception of a “low end smartphone”

        1. Even Google realizes that the cloud is not for everyone, especially when there’s an
          outage or attack. That’s why even Google is adding offline processing capability to Chrome OS. Cloud computing is vulnerable to cyberwarfare, data breaches, DDoS attacks, exploits, spammers, hackers, human error (routers being incorrectly programmed), etc. A just-released report by Level 3, a major backbone provider, slams several unnamed ISPs (mainly cable TV companies) for not upgrading their facilities and allowing Internet congestion at their peering points.

          In the telecom business, the benchmark is called 5 9s, that is, 99.999% reliability, which is the hallmark of the POTS landline business. I’d say cloud computing will really take hold when it is that reliable In a recent “60 Minutes” episode, US Minuteman personnel pointed out that the silos were not on the Internet, so they were safe from attack on that front. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad they’re not online.

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