The Oneplus One: A Retrospective on Last Year’s Contentious Flagship Serial Killer

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The Oneplus One has undoubtedly been the most talked about phone last year. It’s been in the news for reasons good and bad. It’s been touted as the biggest “flagship killer” till date. Here’s a take on the phone’s journey so far.

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The Invite System

The only phone in the market that follows the (infamous) invite system to obtain one. Many have questioned the phone maker’s decision to keep the invite system going. Let’s put it this way: it might just be easier to find the holy grail than finding an invite code to buy a Oneplus One. The invites are only available to share for current One owners and they too get the codes in a random, bizarre manner. This makes the Oneplus One highly “unobtainable”.

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The Cyanogenmod Fiasco

A very unique feature of the Oneplus One is the ROM it carries under its belt: Cyanogenmod. The ROM, known for its bloat-free and pure “vanilla” style treatment of Android, is treated with a very high regard in the open-source community. That the One would come shipped with the latest Cyanogenmod (CM11 KitKat) was nothing short of a brilliant move for both partners. Cyanogenmod getting to unleash itself on a device with such brilliant specs meant we would be witnessing a true blue Android phone in a long time since the HTC HD2.

Things, however, didn’t go as planned, or so it seems. Everything about this partnership changed with the Indian user market interest in both the phone and in Cyanogenmod as an OS. Micromax announced the launch of its Yu series starting with the Yureka which would feature Cyanogenmod. The Oneplus Ones being sold in the Indian market alongside meant an obvious conflict of interest for Micromax. A case was promptly filed and an Indian court brought out a ban on the sale of Oneplus One in India. This led to a fallout between Oneplus and Cyanogenmod and both the companies have since been like warring housewives. Micromax-Yureka-Launch

The latest Oneplus One OS alpha update is conspicuously missing Cyanogenmod and is a simple vanilla update of Android’s Lollipop.

The One

This brings us to the phone: the One. And boy is it a phone. Under its hood, it packs a Snapdragon 801 with each core firing up at 2.5 GHz. It’s got 3 GB RAM for it to play around with. It comes in a 16 GB Silk White and a monstrous 64 GB Sandstone Black version. The battery packs in 3100 mAh and the back camera sits pretty with six lenses and a 13 MP sensor.

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These specs would sound more typical of a 2014 flagship charging upwards of $500. But the Oneplus One takes home the cake with just this aspect more than anything else: the price. The 16 GB version retails at $300 and the 64 GB costs just $50 more retailing at $350.

What now?

The Oneplus One has spoken and spoken quite a bit. It has a weird and painful invite-to-buy purchase system which is both questionable and frustrating. The ban on the One’s sale in India has now been lifted but invites are still a trickle. It’s literally given other flagships like the Note 4, the HTC One M8, the LG G3, the Nexus 6, the Motorola Moto X, the iPhone 6, and the Sony Xperia Z3 a serious run for their money. The Oneplus’s attitude has also encouraged other startup manufacturers like Xiaomi to bring out their devices in the fray (Redmi Note 4G).

The Oneplus One has won a hard-fought battle. It’s made the competition sit up and take notice. Oneplus plans to announce the Two early this year and rumors have already started flying around. It’s been a great last year for the phone market and 2015 is already looking exciting.

@dangertoon for @ProdNote

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