The Story Behind the OnePlus Phone

October 17, 2014 by
The One by OnePlus - Photo credit: Jim Wilson/NY Times

The New York Times published an interesting profile (Oct. 8) on OnePlus, the Chinese company behind the affordable phone called the "One."

"This month, OnePlus, a start-up based in Shenzhen, China, will begin taking orders for the One, a fantastic low-price phone that tech enthusiasts across the globe have been lusting after for months," wrote the NY Times' Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo raves about the phone. He's been using it for over a month and calls it "one of the best smartphones (he's) ever used." He says it's loaded with the latest specs and it runs CyanogenMod, a version of Android that's more flexible and user friendly than "the cumbersome flavors of Android now stuffed into rival phones."

I suppose Manjoo means the One is less bogged down by manufacturer bloatware. Very interesting.

The best part? The phone sells for $299 unlocked, which is amazing if it's truly loaded with competitive specs. Manjoo later added that the One is "just about the fastest Android phone you can buy, and its 5.5-inch screen is stunning," however its camera does not deliver the sharpness or color accuracy of some of its rivals.

Manjoo likens the One to the Nexus 5, "another high-quality, low-price phone but over all the One is more powerful, and far prettier, than the Nexus."

Another catch may be customer service, tech support and repairs, which may be hard to come by here, across the Pacific let alone in English.

So who's making this phone? "OnePlus was founded late in 2013 by Pete Lau, a veteran of the Chinese tech business who was taken with the idea of creating a high-end smartphone for the masses," Manjoo writes.

"His vision was not unique; as the price of the components in smartphones plummeted over the last few years, a rash of Chinese start-ups emerged to make high-quality, low-price phones."

OnePlus is different, though, because of its desire to take its phones beyond the Chinese market. "Early on, Mr. Lau divided the company into two semiautonomous units, one catering to Chinese customers and the other devoted to the international market," Manjoo noted.

OnePlus estimates its sales to date are between 150,000 to 300,000 phones a month to the U.S. and up to a million devices a month over all, which Manjoo calls "an admirable feat for a tiny, year-old start-up."

These are definitely a company and a phone worth keeping an eye out for. I'm curious to see this device if/when it arrives in Canada.

Posted in: Industry News