The uber exclusive OnePlus One, an Android based smartphone turned a year old today. While many Android users rejoiced on hearing the new Android Wear update, some were just pleased that they could now purchase the OnePlus One without an invitation. The parent company announced that anyone could now purchase the phone online.
The OnePlus One was the result of U.S. based Cyanogen Inc.’s collaboration with the Chinese company OnePlus. Dubbed the “flagship killer” on its day of release, the smartphone was a low-cost device with high performance and quality. Its 5.5 inch screen with full HD display, the 13-megapixel Sony Exmor main camera, the 5-megapixel front camera, 4K video shooting abilities and the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor made it one of the most talked about handsets. The deal clincher though, was the price. The 16GB model was an affordable $299 and the 64GB was $349, almost half of the competition’s Samsung Galaxy S5.
The 8.9mm thick phone also had a chic design with textured backs which could be swapped, much like watch straps. What made the phone truly unique though, was its CyanogenMod-based software, the CyanogenMod 11S. For the non techies, CyanogenMod is a built up version of Android and is an open-source operating system. This means that users have customization options and root access. No feature is locked and there is no spyware and bloatware, the often unnecessary apps which come pre-installed on a phone.
The now year-old phone, on booting, gives users the option to select a theme, which could make the screen resemble that of a Nexus or Samsung phone. The device also comes with SMS encryption, screen-off gesture controls, voice wake up and app privacy guard. For a normal user, this means crazy theme options and frequent security updates, but for a smartphone developer, the platform is a blank slate. They had advanced device controls and could build their customized look from scratch and launch it on their own device. Switching to CyanogenMod was also a way of removing Google’s monopoly over the Android operating system. The long-term implication is that smaller companies can now launch their apps on CyanogenMod without being dictated by Google’s app policies or limitations.
“It’s not necessarily about us trying to get rid of Google,” said Steve Kondik, the founder of Cyanogen Inc. in a recent interview with GeekWire. “It’s more about us realizing that there are far more players.” He may be true as smartphone users usually know only about Android, iOS or Windows operating systems. Some may remember the Blackberry OS, Nokia’s Symbian and HP’s webOS, but what made the OnePlus One exceptional was that it was the first high-profile CyanogenMod phone. According to the One Plus website, over million OnePlus One’s have been sold to date and there are plans to release another model by the end of this year, the OnePlus 2.
On its first birthday, OnePlus One giveaways and discounts on merchandise were announced by the company which included a $1 discount on the phone. OnePlus has always been big on marketing from the beginning with the unique and controversial “Smash the Past” campaign. It was a competition where users had to upload videos of themselves destroying their previous phones. The selected 100 users would get invited to purchase the then newly released OnePlus One. The company got a lot of flak as some users destroyed their phones ahead of the official announcement of the campaign and environmentalists lobbied against the wasteful practice. The users were finally allowed to donate their older handsets to Medic Mobile, a non-profit.
The one year anniversary of the Android-based phone also marks the end of the much hated invite system needed for purchasing a OnePlus One which came into place as the manufacturers were initially unsure about the popularity of the phone. They were trying to maintain their profit margin as they were selling a phone boasting Samsung S6 features but priced at Nexus levels. According to reports they had planned on selling only 50,000 devices last year, but instead had sold 500,000 units by November. A Cyanogen OS 12 update was also announced this month, which included a theme engine and the Ok One Plus option to voice unlock devices.
By Anugya Chitransh
Photo by opopododo – Creativecommons Flickr License