ST-Ericsson has introduced a smartphone hardware platform that could let manufacturers to sell Android handsets for less than £90.
The semiconductor firm said the U6715 platform, unveiled on Wednesday, would make it possible to provide an Android smartphone for a wholesale price of under €100 (£88). According to ST-Ericsson, handsets based on the platform will go on sale in the first half of this year.
"There is a huge surge in consumer demand for handsets that can be customised with downloadable apps, but, up to now, smartphones have been too expensive for many potential buyers," ST-Ericsson 3G chief Marc Cetto said in a statement.
"Our U6715 platform has been designed to enable the smartphone to break out of its current high-end niche and become a true mass-market product in 2010."
According to ST-Ericsson, the U6715 platform can result in relatively low-cost handsets because its hardware-based multimedia engine frees up the phone's ARM-based processor to better handle applications. This makes it possible to base the phone on a relatively underpowered processor.
The U6715 supports smartphones that offer touchscreens, email, video-streaming, Wi-Fi, a five-megapixel camera and web browsing. In addition, it includes an HSPA modem that can offer downlink speeds of up to 7.2Mbps.
Wholesale prices for handsets tend not to be disclosed by manufacturers, making it difficult to compare ST-Ericsson's projected price point. The cheapest Android handset currently on sale in the UK is the Huawei-made T-Mobile Pulse, which launched in October 2009 at a pay-as-you-go retail price of £180.