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TMCNet:  Tech Talk: Will One change market? [St. Cloud Times, Minn. :: ]

[April 27, 2014]

Tech Talk: Will One change market? [St. Cloud Times, Minn. :: ]

(St. Cloud Times (MN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 27--There have always been price-efficient smartphones, but their low cost has usually been accompanied by some sort of caveat. Some have great specs, but are cost-subsidized and leave the owner in a long contract with a cell carrier. Others skimp on features or power to meet the lower price point.


While several power phones have attractive pricing on contract, Google's Nexus line has offered a great balance between specs and price. The newest model, Nexus 5, offers flagship specs and features for $350, without locking the buyer into a cell carrier contract. For comparison, the iPhone 5S costs just under $650 without a contract.

While $350 is a great price for a top-tier, contract-free smartphone, OnePlus, a Chinese company, feels there is more room to improve on the price/specs scale. Its new phone promises to outdo the Nexus 5 by offering flagship specs for less.

OnePlus One Pete Lau, a vice president at the Chinese mobile company Oppo, founded OnePlus in late 2013 with the goal of building an affordable smartphone with flagship specs and modern design.

Last week, OnePlus announced its first smartphone, OnePlus One. Available in limited quantities in May, OnePlus One looks to directly compete with the Nexus line by offering powerful features at an attractive price.

OnePlus One offers a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, which runs at 2.5 GHz. The jury is still out on how consumers will react long-term to these larger screens, but users who are liking the trend of larger displays should feel at home with the One.

The device also has 3GB RAM, a 5 megapixel front camera and a 13 megapixel Sony camera in the rear, which can shoot video at 4K and has features for high-resolution, slow-motion videos. OnePlus runs a version of Android created by CyanogenMod, a popular open-source Android platform.

The One is highly customizable, offering consumers interchangeable backplates that can look like Kevlar, wood or denim, among other options, giving users the ability to change their phone's look at any time.

Low price, no contract Along with specs, the One's major selling point is price. The device will cost $299, without a contract, for the 16GB model. That's $50 less than the already price-efficient Nexus 5 and $350 less than a no-contract iPhone 5S.

Even better, upgrading to the 64GB OnePlus One will cost just $50 more, an incredibly affordable increase for the storage bump. Google charges $50 to go from 16GB to 32GB on the Nexus 5, while Apple wants a whopping $200 to jump from the 16GB to 64GB iPhone 5S. Even if it fails on all other levels, OnePlus One deserves to be remembered for reasonably pricing its internal storage upgrade, a move other companies could learn from.

OnePlus is hoping to get the One out in May to a group of invited users, with the idea that the release pool will expand later.

While contract phones can still offer attractive, sub-$200 prices, the movement toward no-contract devices is growing. Providers such as T-Mobile are betting big that consumers will find the extra flexibility offered by no-contract phones appealing. Devices such as the Nexus 5 and OnePlus One give the no-contract crowd powerful, flagship-class phones at a great price.

OnePlus One is unproven and promising the world, but it could help shift the smartphone market toward high-spec, low-cost, no-contract devices if they can make a splash. For more information, check out the OnePlus One hub at http://oneplus.net/one. The website includes detailed photos and specs, as well as pricing and mission information.

This is the opinion of Times Digital Products Specialist Andrew Fraser. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewFraser.

___ (c)2014 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) Visit the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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