The folks at Chinese startup OnePlus plan to launch their first smartphone in the second quarter of 2014. The OnePlus One is expected to be a very geek-friendly device which will ship with software developed by CyanogenMod, and the folks at OnePlus are promising that unlocking the bootloader, rooting your phone, or installing stock or custom ROMs won’t void the warranty.
While OnePlus isn’t spending much money on marketing, members of the team took to reddit for an AMA (ask me anything) session to answer questions. While not every question got a complete answer, we did learn a few things about the company’s upcoming phone.
The OnePlus One will be available in 10 countries at launch, including the United States. It’s expected to be sold directly to consumers for under $500. There are currently no plans to partner with wireless carriers, but the phone will be a GSM device that supports 4G LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks. It won’t support Verizon or Sprint, and there are currently no plans for a dual-SIM model.
OnePlus isn’t talking much about specs just yet, but it seems likely that the phone will have a 5 inch or smaller screen, along with a slim bezel and body so that it feels comfortable in your hand. Founder Pete Lau also confirmed today that the OnePlus One will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU.
While there will be faster versions of the chip including the upcoming Snapdragon 805 in the coming months, going with one of the most powerful chips currently available will help the company meet its goal of shipping its first phone by this summer.
It’ll have stereo speakers, will not have an OLED display. At launch, it’ll be available with either 16GB or 64GB of storage.
What happened to the 32GB option? There isn’t one — OnePlus plans to sell the 64GB model at a price that most other phone companies would probably use for a 32GB model.
The OnePlus One should get at least a day’s worth of battery life, and it’ll have a notification LED. At launch the phone will be available in multiple colors and OnePlus will offer an official case. Third-party accessories are expected in the future.
As for software, this is the first phone where the developers at CyanogenMod got in on the action before the hardware was even chosen. The Oppo N1 may be the first phone to be available with an official CyanogenMod Edition model, but the OnePlus One will only ship with CyanogenMod’s custom version of Google Android.
When the new phone launches, the CyanogenMod team will make stock software and kernel images available for download, and custom ROM makers will be able to use the software to port their own ROMs to run on the phone.
OnePlus says that while installing custom firmware won’t void the warranty, you’re on your own if you overclock the device and fry the CPU.
Like the Oppo N1 CyanogenMod Edition, the OnePlus One will be a Google Mobile Services certified device, which means it’ll come with the Google Play Store and other Google apps pre-loaded.
OnePlus is a startup with about 150 employees and plans to more than double in size this year. But the OnePlus One will be the only phone the company launches in 2014. If it’s a success, the team hopes to have a product cycle of 6-12 months, which means we could see one or more new models in 2015.
But there’s a lot of risk involved in the company’s approach. They’re not expecting to make any money from sales of their first device, selling it at or near the price it costs to build and distribute the phone. So they’re relying on the OnePlus One, the internet, and word of mouth for marketing.
It seems unlikely that they’ll take much market share away from Apple or Samsung with that approach, but the OnePlus One sounds like the kind of phone that could appeal to tech enthusiasts and early adopters who find even the Google Nexus 5 to be a bit too locked down or underpowered.