Want to run Android, but don’t want to buy a smartphone, tablet or Android TV device? Then this may be the answer to your prayers: Google has teamed up with Huawei to deliver the HiKey 960, a Raspberry Pi style computer board that runs Android.
Developed with teams at Google, ARM, Huawei, Archermind, and LeMaker, it was made primarily so that Android developers could code on a device using an ARM based chip like so many of the devices that run Android apps, rather than on Intel x86 chips.
But while it’s based primarily at developers, there’s nothing stopping anyone running it as a straight Android computer.
It’s a powerful board too, in line with the top-end performance of Android’s big smartphone hitters.
The HiKey 960 has a Huawei Kirin 960 octa-core chip, which makes use of four high-performance ARM Cortex-A73 and four efficient Cortex-A53 cores. That’s the same as you’d find in the Huawei Mate 9. 32GB of storage is onboard along with 3GB of RAM. Frustratingly however, though the board’s Mali G71 GPU can deliver 4K visuals, the board’s HDMI 1.2a slot will limit it to 1080p output.
Elsewhere, the board offers 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, with PCIe m.2 slots for expanding storage and connectivity options, and 40-pin and 60-pin connectors for monitors and cameras.
Getting Android 7.1 working on the board won’t be as simple as “plug-in-and-play” however – you’ll need to work on your command line know-how and follow instructions laid out by Google. But as a learning project it should be fascinating.
Launching in May, it’s priced at $239, which converts roughly to £185 or AU$320.