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The Ideal Smartphone for the Developing World

Dear All,

I am very interested in the penetration of smartphones in developing countries. However, I feel that what is currently being offered doesn't respond to the needs of these regions. So, here are some ideas I have for a good smartphone for that specific market. Tell me what you think, and add your own ideas!

What's most important is to have an extremely sturdy phone, that can resist rough environments. Of course, it would have to be extremely cheap (max: 50$). A large, very resistant, screen touch screen is necessary.

A great feature for this phone could be physicial add-ons. By that I mean tools that can be physically attached to the phone. Ex: Hand-turbine could plug into the phone to recharge the batteries. Sensors could be plugged in to test water, soil, or take blood samples. This would make the device a tool for improving peoples lives. Hopefully, 'add-ons' could be designed locally, and sold or rented for an extremely low price.

The phone should also be an educational tool. For students in remote villages, it could be a great way to learn how to read, write and access all sorts of knowledge.
For adults, the phone could come with health guidelines, agricultural advice, or apps to help spread literacy.

Cost constraints would severely limit storage space. So, Mini-USB keys could be a solution. For Example, the weight of wikipedia English is only 8 Gb. we could imagine a Wikipedia key that connects to the phone, and gives offline access to the site.

The phone should also be 'hackable locally'. People should be able to tweak the phone to fit their needs and be able to repair it for an extremely low price.

The device should have a strong emphasis on Health and education. Such a tool could greatly empower populations in the developing regions of the world.

Such a device could have a market flourish around it, and thus spur growth.

Thank you All.

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    Lejan .

    • +1
    Nov 30 2012: This sounds pretty much like a phone version of the 'One Laptop per Child' initiative to me:

    Could it be merged?
    • Nov 30 2012: Exactly, much of my inspiration came from that project. However, I feel like the smartphone is a much better format for the developing world - more portable, cheaper, better rates of adoptions, less infrastructure.
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        Nov 30 2012: Price wise that may work, but I have my doubts on performance and readability.
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    Dec 13 2012: Hey,

    I think your intentions are great and in the right direction.
    Though an initiative is already there called Aakash Tablet Source:
    Though add-in you suggest can be useful but more than medical use of such device, medical care is more important. Even today many kids in India die with diarrhea (easily curable). Due to lack of affordable medical facilities. (Source:

    I also wrote about how the developed nations can help the developing nations. If interested.
  • Nov 30 2012: This would be ideal, but due to the major corporations this thing is not possible in the near future.Furthermore most of the cellphones that are produced today are cheap.Let us take apple for example.A phone when it's out of the factory , it usually costs less than 150$. But because of marketing and advertisement the price suddenly transforms in 600-700 or even 800 euros.(this talking from my country perspective). And besides most of the companies don't care about the well-being of people , they only care to make as much profit as possible and by any means possible.
    But when this will be achievable and corporation will open they're eyes and star realizing that less is more , the first country that will start this trend will be China, and eventually the others will follow.Even now if you take a closer look at China's smartphones you will see that they're price is relatively low and the technology and materials from which the smartphones are built is evolving day after day.