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Orange ties up Google deal, launches $40 Android smartphone with free data

With its eyes firmly on Africa and the Middle East, Orange has sealed a services deal with Google and unveiled its new Rise 31 Special Edition $40 Android Marshmallow handset.

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The Rise 31 Special Edition is a 3G-capable handset with a four-inch screen and a quad-core processor, paired with 1GB RAM.

Image: Orange

As well as tying up a content and services deal with Google, French telecoms operator Orange says it plans to launch a $40 smartphone in its Middle East and Africa territories during the second quarter this year.

The handset, called the Orange Rise 31 Special Edition, will come with a three-month 'communications bundle' that includes voice minutes, SMS messaging, and data.

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Orange currently operates networks in 15 countries in the region, from Botswana to Jordan, and holds an equity interest in three others. Orange's executive vice president of connected objects and partnerships, Yves Maitre, said the device and bundle are about delivering "affordable internet access across the region".

The Rise 31 Special Edition is a 3G-capable handset with a four-inch screen and a quad-core processor, paired with 1GB RAM. It comes with 8GB storage and Android 6.0 Marshmallow installed. It also has a 1,500mAh battery.

Maitre said the phone is the first product of the strategic relationship between Orange and Google in the region, which Orange says will see the two firms develop local content and services specific to the region to help drive adoption of data services.

Google has a history of attracting African talent to its platforms, and has run initiatives like a short film competition on YouTube for African producers in recent years. A spokesperson for the search giant said it will release more details about programs under the Orange partnership as they become available.

The Rise 31 isn't quite the cheapest smartphone on sale in the world, although doubts have been raised about the 500 rupee ($7) Freedom 251 announced in India a few weeks ago.

However, it could well be the best value phone running Android Marshmallow. Recent figures suggest that the latest version of Google's operating system is installed on less than two percent of all Android phones in the wild.

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