Buying a tablet for $20 is simply unheard of in the United States.
But that’s not nearly the case in India.
Earlier this month, India unveiled the seven-inch Aakash 2 Android tablet that sells for $20. And there’s already a backlog of 4 million orders for the tablet.
Datawind, the company behind the world’s cheapest tablet, sells the Aakash 2 to the Indian government for around $40, and then the government sells them to students and professors for $20.
“It’s a pretty stock, straightforward entry-level device,” Datawind CEO Suneet Tuli told Quartz’s Christopher Mims. “As far as the hardware goes, it’s nothing too extraordinary and it’s not intended to be. The key focus is breaking that price barrier.”
To cut down on costs, the company makes its own LCD screens and touch panels in Montreal, but the circuit board gets made in China.
Despite its low cost, the Aakash 2 is still a pretty capable device.
The version for the government is Wi-Fi only, but the commercial version has a SIM card for accessing the Internet when Wi-Fi is unavailable, a front a camera, microUSB port, runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and can even be used as a phone.
The tablet also has all the standard Android apps, and offers eBooks and other educational apps.
“The Indian government is first putting out [this tablet] to colleges and universities,” Tuli said. “[…] This may not be the perfect initial deployment, but the vision isn’t just for engineering students, the vision is from engineering students all the way down to all 220 million students, or potentially 360 million Indian kids across the country that should be in school.”
Check out the full demonstration below.