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One Consumer Who Won’t Be Buying The OnePlus One

Today is the day that OnePlus unveiled their first offering to the world. Last night I stayed up until 4AM just so I could see the unveiling first-hand. I was that excited about this phone. When I saw that the price started at only $299 for the 16GB variant and only $349 for the 64GB variant I was even more hyped about this device. I sat in delirium and waited for more information about this incredible device to pour in; and then, the presentation was over.

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The Stages Of Grief

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I had stayed up until 4AM on a Tuesday night to find out what all the hype was about. When a company says that they have built a “Flagship Killer” your ears tend to perk up, at least a little bit. I finally see their entire presentation and the only real new information I have is the exact price point for the phone, and what it actually looks like.

We all knew the approximate hardware before going in because OnePlus was kind enough to tell us about it weeks in advance. After we know that the hardware is essentially the same as every other flagship, it comes down to software and other additional features to make someone want to drop their current device for a new one.

The ability to choose between on-screen or capacitive keys is pretty cool, but not enough to make me drop my current devices. I prefer on-screen navigation buttons anyway and I no longer own a device (except my plucky Droid Incredible) that has capacitive keys, so that’s not a big selling point to me.

Then I began to think…

Voice Search

Where The OnePlus One Shines

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If I want a 5-inch full HD screen with a powerful snapdragon processor, I could have had that since November with the Nexus 5 and it will get updates as soon as Google can get them to the servers. If I wanted to run Cyanogenmod nightlies on my Nexus 5, I’m about 3 fastboot commands and a few downloads away. Simply put, Cyanogenmod 11S as it has been dubbed, is no more than a hardware adaptation of their already available open source software.

Customization

So what makes the OnePlus One special? In a word, nothing. Nothing sets the OnePlus One apart from the competition except for its price, and quite frankly the premium to have had a Nexus 5 six months ago, is worth not having to wait.

What you should know, though, is that it’s not a garbage phone. It’s clearly a high spec’d beast for a very affordable price tag. I’m just pointing out that this isn’t what it’s masquerading to be. The Nexus brand of phones is not meant to be a “Flagship Killer,” just the opposite, really. With Nexus devices, I don’t really expect anything groundbreaking, just a phone that has high end hardware for a good price and sports Google’s latest software offerings.

When a company that is trying to come in and claims that you should “Never Settle” and says that they’re going to make something that makes other OEMs look silly, I suppose it’s hard to live up to the manufactured hype.

Privacy Guard

Plus, as Ron Amadeo cited in his post on Google+, this thing will likely have a slow update process compared to other OEM devices. Cyanogen does not get Android versions earlier than anyone else, they have to wait for the code to drop in AOSP and then it takes them about 6 months to release a stable version of the software.

As of right now, 4.4.2 has been out in the wild for about 4 months and there still isn’t a stable release of CyanogenMod based on 4.4.2 available for any devices.

What Else?

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Like I said before, this phone isn’t worthless. There are plenty of people in the world that are actually ready for an upgrade and this phone is affordable and has all of the latest hardware and this will be a perfectly good replacement. In fact, I already recommended it to a friend whose Galaxy Note II is smashed to bits and is looking to upgrade soon. It’s a perfectly good phone for everything that it is, but that is all; it is good.

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When it comes to a device being a “Flagship Killer,” I expect something that is a “killer feature” and this device simply doesn’t deliver.

You’re now reading this a full week (or more) after I’ve written it, so what do you think? Is there something that I’ve totally missed with this thing? Did I miss the point? Tell me how drunk I am in the comment section, below and of course, on Twitter and Google+.

Website: OnePlus.net
Google+: OnePlus Mobile Device
Twitter: OnePlus Mobile Device
  • Honestly, I think your expectations were too high. We already knew just about all there was to know about hardware and I didn’t see a reason to expect much value-added software.
    The company is too young and small in my eyes to be pouring in the kind of time and money that Samsung spends on their software “features”. It’s a Nexus-esque experience for significantly less cash, which is/should be its main draw. I don’t expect to see this phone be mass marketed at all and will likely be used solely by die-hard android enthusiasts; which means keeping it cutting edge but simple is a great move. Their demographic is too particular about OEM software and customizes their devices too much for the risk of development to be worth it.
    It looks like a great phone and possibly the best available suited to their particular niche market.

    • I think you’re right about their potential audience. Since they weren’t really marketing to the “mainstream” market, I can see where you would say that this is meant for hardcore users. However, they still were saying “never settle” and that this was going to be a “flagship killer” with reference to the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. The price to hardware numbers are clearly unbeatable and I will agree with you there 100% but I think that’s its only appeal. It certainly doesn’t make me want to upgrade from my Moto X which is a huge step down in terms of hardware by comparison to the OnePlus One.

  • A few things about the One comparing it to the Nexus 5. The One has a 5.5″ display not a 5, with a newer processor (Snapdragon 801), 13mp camera (with Sony technology inside), higher battery capacity, and 3Gb Ram (which has it’s on pro/con-usefullness list). So there is a lot to see here over a Nexus 5 (which I own), while for me, CyanogenMod is not one of them only because I don’t care much for the ROM. I will be trying to get one, if only for review purposes to get a first hand analysis over both of our claims, but the main point I’m talking about here is that while the One may not be necessarily a ‘flagship killer’ it does have it’s own features to merit.

    • I understand what you’re saying but all of those hardware differences are very marginal upgrades. It’s not something that would make me want to buy one over the Nexus and since that was supposed to be the idea I don’t see how it’s anything special other than the price. It’s not to say that the price has no merit, it does, but I still wouldn’t say it’s a “flagship killer,” which they were attempting to tout it as.

  • Shannon Solomon

    I think when they came up with the idea of “Flagship Killer” they weren’t planning to go the route of “Innovation” by coming up with some weird biometric eye scanner or some other gimmick. “Flagship killer” to me means FLAGSHIP EVERYTHING for HALF THE PRICE…..It would give the consumers just enough insight to realize that the price they pay for the curent Flagships are unreasonable thus revolutionizing the price of smartphone thus killing the modern “Overpriced Flagship”

    • That’s very insightful Shannon. I didn’t really think of it that way. If that’s what they meant then I can totally get behind it. I was under the impression that they were going to blow us away with what they could build and make all other flagships pointless but you raise a valid point!

      • Shannon Solomon

        I was reading an article a couple months ago on the state of High-End devices and it emphasized that hardware and software has somewhat plateaued because we see almost every flagship sporting the Snapdragon 80x series, right? Then I remember when OnePlus started releasing hardware details on their schedule which got me thinking that, Yes, the specs were awesome but that was not the real “big deal”. The real big deal was the price and they saved it for last, though they said it would be under $400 they never told us exactly how much and that was the “Wow” factor that they had up their sleeve and I know you are just as excited about the price as I am 😀

        • Thing is, I was really excited about the phone until it came out. The price really made me want to buy it until I slept on it and realized – I don’t need it. Which is what inspired this article.

  • Sahil Tiwari

    The only thing worth the hype about this device is its price. The features being given at this price point clearly blows everything else out of the water. But considering its initial launch to be limited to a handful of countries I think they will have stiff competition by the time it becomes available to the rest of us.

    • Agree 100%. I honestly don’t like to consider price as a feature, despite the fact that I could never buy a Samsung or HTC because of their respective prices.