By Joe Levi | January 31, 2014 7:23 AM
CyanogenMod has long been one of the leading names in the custom ROM community. Only recently did the group go “corporate” when they formed Cyanogen, Inc. Before that, CyanogenMod was available as a flashable ROM for devices from virtually all manufacturers, and brought unofficial updates and current versions of Android to devices that had been abandoned by carriers and OEMs alike. However, CyanogenMod was limited primarily as a second-class-citizen, since devices came with their own ROM pre-installed, which would then be replaced by a custom CyanogenMod ROM. What we needed was a device that shipped with CyanogenMod preloaded. Not long ago we got that with a variation of the Oppo N1. Now there’s a new player on the horizon. Here are my hopes for the OnePlus One CyanogenMod phone.
As I mentioned, Oppo was the first to partner with the fledgling Cyanogen, Inc. to bring CyanogenMod to a production device — pre-installed from the factory. Interestingly, Oppo decided to release their own flavor of Android as the default, but customers could buy a “CyanogenMod Edition” with CyanogenMod preloaded. Some of us in the industry scratched our heads at why the company opted to essentially double the work to bring the software side of their handset to life. Nonetheless, that’s where Cyanogen, Inc.’s co-founder and CTO Steve Kondik got to know a man by the name of Pete Lau.
“We will create a more beautiful and higher quality product. We will never be different just for the sake of being different. Everything done has to improve the actual user experience in day-to-day use.” — Pete Lau
Pete Lau is a former Oppo VP, who parted ways with Oppo to found OnePlus. OnePlus is taking a different approach to smartphones, in no uncertain terms: Never Settle. This means dreaming big. From its website: “Too often we make compromises. Too often we make tradeoffs. Too often we settle. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. But not always.” [SIC]
Based on that foundation, OnePlus realizes that we live in a world controlled by financial considerations, where devices are often compromised to the point that an otherwise amazing phone is rendered mediocre because of one easily avoidable trade-off. As such, OnePlus promises to put the product first and everything else is secondary.
We don’t accept the excuse that you can’t create a perfect phone at a killer price. We’re doing this right.
OnePlus has set the bar extraordinarily high. So, being that I’m an Android Power User, what are my expectations. What would I tell Pete Lau if he came to me asking what specs should be included in this amazing, “no compromises” smartphone?
Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
First off, the OnePlus One has got to be a flagship phone. Not only that, it’s got to give today’s flagships a run for their money! To do that, a perfect mixture of components has to be perfectly realized.
To start with, the device has to be “durable”. No, I’m not talking about the “rugged” kind that you can throw across the room and into a bucket of water, instead, it’s got to be well-built and feel solid. This has to be conveyed to every person who picks it up, as soon as they pick it up.
I don’t care what specs go along with a smartphone, if it doesn’t have a battery that can last at least 24 hours under a typical load, it’s making compromises. Sure, my Nexus 5 only gets about 11 hours on a charge, but that’s because LG and Google compromised. The OnePlus One is committed not to. Bring on the 3,500 mAh battery!
The HTC One is a great device, but it’s running a Snapdragon 600. The chip itself is very respectable, but it’s not the flagship from Qualcomm, that would be the 800 (or 805). The OnePlus One needs to run the latest chip. It can’t run one-down like the HTC One does. If I had my druthers, the OnePlus One (can we just call it the “Two”?) would come out sporting the Snapdragon 805, complete with four cores running at 2.5 GHz and a 4K-compatible GPU.
RAM and Storage
2GB RAM is the minimum for devices that carry the “flagship” label these days, but the really high-end devices are upping that to 3GB. The OnePlus One needs to err on the side of caution here and go with the full 3GB.
As far as storage space is concerned, 8GB isn’t big enough any more. High-end games can easily take up 2GB and TV episodes can occupy 1GB apiece. Say what you will about this being the “age of the Cloud”, people still want to be able to load up their device with media while they’re at home so they don’t have to rely on their data-plan while out and about. 16GB should be the minimum, but we’re not talking about minimums here, we’re talking about not making compromises. The phone should be offered in 32 and 64GB varieties — but both should include an SDHC card slot for future expandability.
Screen & camera
Today high-end smartphones are coming with screens in the 5-inch range. Phablets go even bigger. For a smartphone, I think 5-inches is appropriate, with a 1080P screen that looks amazing. A 2K screen would be welcome, but I don’t think it’s really necessary at this juncture.
The camera, on the other hand, has got to be amazing with 13-megapixels as the standard. More than that would be acceptable, but anything less would be right out.
Price & Givens
How much would you pay for such a device? US$999? $799? No! For the next 15-minutes, this smartphone could be yours for the low, low price of only $499 plus postage and handling! Yes, I know, for a device like I’ve just spec’d, 500 bones is crazy-low. But Google and LG have shown us that only slightly lower spec’d phones can sell for $350. Can OnePlus reach the $500 price-point? I certainly hope so!
There are some items that should go without saying such as LTE, NFC, 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.0 (but 4.1 would be a welcome addition). Qi wireless charging should be included as well, either as a built-in standard, or via an official case that connects through POGO pins or replaces the stock back-plate.
What did I miss?
As far as specs go, that’s my list. We already know it’s going to run CyanogenMod, so software is somewhat moot. What about you? Are my “requirements” spot on? Did I miss any? What would you change? Make sure you share your thoughts in the comments below!