Cubans state-owned manufacturer Gedeme has unveiled the first made-in-Cuba smartphones and has plans to release three Android-based models in the coming months, according to a report. An initial 6,000 units of the Gedeme-branded handsets will be distributed through the stores of operators Etecsa and Copextel.
The pilot phones include the Gedeme P4R with a 6.22 inch HD screen, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage plus 13 MP and 8 MP cameras, as well as the Gedeme MB10, with a 6-inch display, 8 MP and 5 MP cameras plus 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage.
No pricing details were disclosed, but the report said the country’s Universidad de las Ciencias Informaticas is working on an OS dubbed Novadroid based on Android but including only free apps available via Google Play.
There is something counterintuitive about a smartphone emerging from Cuba, a Communist island nation that has long been technologically primitive. And yet the fact says a great deal about the growth and spread of mobile technology and about the decentralization of the handset market.
The Cuban mobile market is still developing. The operator Etesca reported that as of the end of 2020, it had 6.6 million subscribers, of whom only 4.4 million had internet access. The Cuban government has expressed suspicion of the internet and sought to maintain tight controls on access and content. Still, the situation is clearly improving, and Cubans now demand more connectivity.
Thanks to developments by major manufacturers, mostly in Asia, it is now simpler than ever to design and build an inexpensive smartphone and thereby put voice and data services within the reach of the masses. Cuban technology developers, then, have found it possible to accomplish the launch of the new handset now, whereas previously, technological and market conditions were likely prohibitive. At the same time, the ability to create a native operating system has been made possible by open-source technology. Novandroid, if it comes to pass, will be based on Android without the need to pay for its proprietary elements. Of course, tensions remain in Cuba between users eager to participate more fully in the modern mobile world and the government, with its desire to control access to information and communication.