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In some corners of the world, even starter smartphones like the ZTE Open are too costly; basic cellphones such as the Nokia 105 thrive in areas where whole families can only afford one device. However, ARM believes that smartphones will soon be within reach of just about anyone. While it's possible to make a $25 Firefox OS phone today, ARM now expects to see a $20 Android phone within the "next few months." It might not actually be possible to go cheaper using current manufacturing techniques, the chip designer says.

This extra-frugal hardware won't compete against most budget phones, let alone a range-topping device like the Galaxy S5. The $20 smartphone will have to use a single-core Cortex-A5 processor and 2.5G (read: EDGE) wireless data; for reference, the $49 BLU Dash uses a dual-core chip. Performance isn't the point, though. A rock-bottom price should bring sophisticated mobile computing to an audience that previously had to make do with calls and text messages -- social networks and the modern mobile web will no longer be off-limits.