ZTE has become the first company to release a smartphone running Android Go in the US. The phone -- the Tempo Go -- is available now on the company’s website for $80.

The ZTE Tempo Go is designed to run Android Go, the stripped-down version of the Android operating system. (Picture: ZTE)

It’s pretty basic, but that’s the point. It’s designed to run Android Go, a stripped-down version of Android for low-end smartphones that are popular in developing countries.

The lightweight operating system -- officially called Android Oreo (Go edition) -- looks and feels like regular Android, but instead runs ‘Go’ versions of Google’s popular apps that take up less space and are designed to run on phones with less processing power.

A screenshot of Google's Android Go operating system. (Picture: Google)

What makes this interesting is that ZTE chose to release the phone in the US, a market where more phones over $500 are sold than anywhere else.

ZTE was one of six companies to announce smartphones running Android Go at Mobile World Congress earlier this year -- with most destined for the likes of India and Indonesia, where devices like the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Google Pixel 2 are out of reach for most people.

But ZTE isn’t the only one planning to release Android Go smartphones in the US. The Alcatel 1X is expected to be released in the US sometime in early 2018 for under $100.