With Google’s Nexus 5 and Motorola’s Moto G, there has been a recent influx of high-powered and inexpensive Android smartphones that you can buy without a two-year contract at a mobile carrier.
The next smartphone in this trend just might be the best bang for your buck yet, especially if you’re looking for a smartphone with a huge display. It’s called the OnePlus One.
This smartphone has hardware specs that give Samsung’s newest Galaxy Note phablet a run for its money. The price is $299 (16 GB version), or the same price as the Note 3 with a two-year carrier contract agreement.
The OnePlus One is not to be confused with HTC’s new One, which costs more than $600 without a contract. OnePlus is a new company started by veterans of the smartphone industry; the One is OnePlus’ first go at a smartphone, and another smartphone that appears ideal for shoppers who want to abandon two-year contracts and pay by the month.
By all accounts, the OnePlus One is an exciting … one. It has a 5.5-inch full-HD display, which is slightly smaller than the huge Note 3’s. Under the hood, it’s across the board on par or better than the Note 3.
The processor in the OnePlus One is faster than the Note 3’s. It has a Sony 13 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera to the Note’s 13 MP and 2 MP, respectfully. It’s also right with the Note 3 in terms of battery size, which OnePlus says should allow for “more than a full day of use” on a charge. And the global data equipment in the OnePlus One is compatible with most 4G/3G networks in the world, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.
The phone runs a basic version of Android 4.4, slightly augmented by the team at Cyanogen, and without the Samsung bloatware (an annoyance to our columnist David Pogue). And everything is tucked away into a beautifully designed hardware casing.
In the U.S., carriers subsidize the cost of your smartphone by locking you into a long-term deal, charging you for the rest of the phone across the life of your contract. That’s not how it works in the rest of the world, and there’s recently been some pushback in the United States, most notably on the carrier side from the contract-slashing T-Mobile. The OnePlus is looking to attract other contract-cutters: You could get a new OnePlus One for $299, versus a Note 3 for $718 through T-Mobile.
The choice for many Android phone shoppers will be easy.
The OnePlus One (left) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (right).
Tech enthusiasts are already pumped. We’ve yet to lay our hands on a OnePlus One, but reviews around the web have been raving about the phone’s silky smooth casing. The crew at Engadget, in particular, enjoyed their time reviewing a OnePlus One production unit. Thoroughly.
Laptop Mag, meanwhile, dubbed the OnePlus One the “best Android phone you’ve never heard of.” Tech site BGR called it “the only Android phone you should really care about right now.”
So, what a deal, right?
Given all the above information, and the One’s $299 price tag, you’re probably waiting to hear where you can buy one. Well, in fact, you probably can’t buy one — not yet.
Unlike Google’s $349 contract-free Nexus 5, which was put on sale in the Play store, the OnePlus One will be sold on an invite-only basis at launch. The startup explained in a blog post, “Making too many devices that end up not being sold can bankrupt a business easily,” and producing and selling to a select crowd first is less risky.
Devices are expected to begin shipping to invitees next month. OnePlus One also plans to run contests and special offers to purchase, the first of which will be unveiled April 25.
You can sign up at the OnePlus website to find out more and remain in the loop on ways to buy before the company decides whether to open up sales to the public.
So, as the launch of a phone like the OnePlus may go a long way to help the smartphone market continue to wiggle and fight for freedom from the subsidy/contract system, we can only hope that soon everyone will have the opportunity to buy one. Can you hear John Legere’s applause from where you’re sitting?