China’s OnePlus readies ‘flagship killer’ smartphone for May release

23 Apr 2014

OnePlus One smartphone

A start-up based in Shenzhen, China, is preparing to shake up the smartphone market next month with the release of its first device, featuring top specs and a price tag of €299.

Founded late last year, OnePlus is led by Pete Lau, who was previously vice-president at Chinese electronics manufacturer Oppo.

In an interview with Engadget, Lau claimed, “We want to be the Muji of the tech industry,” referring to the Japanese retailer known for its high-quality, minimalist household goods and fashion.

Where Lau’s vision differs slightly from Muji’s, however, is in pricing. OnePlus has promised quality products at a lower price and intends to deliver this through its first smartphone, the One (not to be confused with this One and that One), due for release in mid to late May.

The One is priced at €269 for the 16GB model or €299 for 64GB storage. Inside it packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 system-on-a-chip with a 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB RAM.

The 5.5-inch display consists of a 1080p IPS LCD panel made by Japan Display Inc (JDI) and a protective layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The One’s cameras closely measure up to the top smartphones on the market. The 13MP rear camera features a Sony Exmor IMX214 sensor, six-lens module and dual-LED and is capable of shooting 4K video and 720p slow-motion at 120fps. On top of that, the front-facing camera offers a generous 5MP and a wide-angle lens.

There’s also a 3,100mAh battery, stereo speakers tuned by audio brand JBL, a tri-microphone with noise cancellation and an NFC chip.

The 4G smartphone measures 8.9mm thick but appears thinner due to its tapered edges. It has been crafted in magnesium to keep the body light and, at 162g, it could well be the lightest 5.5-inch handset on the market.

The operating system running the One is CyanogenMod 11S, which is based on Android 4.4.

Playing up to the Muji sense of style it hopes to mimic, the OnePlus One features swappable covers which include wood, bamboo, denim and Kevlar designs.

OnePlus One covers

While there’s a lot packed into this €299 device, there are gaps in the OnePlus One’s armour, such as the lack of a micro-SD slot and a USB 3.0 port (users have to settle for USB 2.0).

That said, there is still a lot to get excited about when the One launches next month, starting with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the US, with other markets to follow soon after.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.