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The budget hardware race is alive and well for Android

A key to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) rise to global smartphone hegemony has been an abundance of affordable handsets with premium hardware specifications.  So far the lion's share of those handsets have come courtesy of Google's branded Nexus line, which taps various partner OEMs such as Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) and LG Electronics, Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575).

Today China's OnePlus, launched its One smartphone (1+1, get it?), which offers the first serious competition to the Nexus 5 in the mid-range Android market.  In most areas the OnePlus One beats the aging Nexus 5, which was launched at the end of Oct. 2013.  The bad news, though, is that the OnePlus One won't land worldwide until mid-May.

OnePlus One

By then, the Nexus 5 may get a price cut -- or we may see a hardware refresh of the Nexus line even.  But at present OnePlus One clearly has a slightly superior hardware spec.
OnePlus One

The phone carries CyanogenMod 11S, which is based on Android v4.4 KitKat.  Engadget previewed the device and describes the replacement firmware's additions to stock Android, writing:

CyanogenMod alone comes with goodies like SMS encryption, themes, app privacy guard, audio equalizer, file manager, enhanced camera app and more. With CM11S for the OnePlus One, you also get screen-off gesture controls (circle for camera, "V" for flashlight and gestures for music playback; as featured on the Oppo N1), option to toggle between capacitive Android buttons and on-screen buttons, voice wakeup (activates Google Now by default) and a card-style lock screen. These all sound pretty nice, but we'll have to see how well they fare in the final firmware.

While the phoine is a bit bulkier than the Nexus 5, some will likely prefer its design style.  It trades the Nexus 5's monotone plastic frame for an anodized faux-metal rim and a swappable backplate (similar to the Moto X).

OnePlus One
OnePlus's One packs basically the same CPU as the Nexus 5,
but with a slightly higher clock speed (Snapdragon 801).

One area where the OnePlus One will likely beat the Nexus 5 is in sound.  It packs triple noise-cancelling microphones for superb call quality (beating even the likes of Apple, Inc. (AAPL)) and also packs stereo speakers (similar to HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) One series smartphones).

Pete Lau -- a former Oppo Electronics VP, is the brains behind OnePlus.

OnePlus One
Pete Lau, CEO and founder of OnePlus [Image Source: Engadget]

He founded the firm last year, and quickly gained attention for his company's mantra/promise -- "never settle".   While customers will have to be the judge of whether it lived up to that assurance, the initial results are looking impressive. Now the question is how well his young firm can navigate the supply chain.

He sounds confident enough, though, telling Engadget:

You can use all sorts of marketing tactics, but when you're back to making a product, you must take users' actual needs into consideration.  They are the ones who will actually use it, so they know best. You can exaggerate when you're selling a product, but when the buyers use it and are left disappointed, they'll still complain, right?

Therefore products should go back to basics: the users must feel good when using our products. If the users want something, we'll do it.

We'll have to wait for full reviews to draw conclusions about some of the phone's features, and obviously the inclusion of CyanogenMod versus a "pure" Android install will draw mixed reactions. But overall you have to hand it to OnePlus for "undercutting the Nexus 5" as many reviewers put it.



Even if Google puts out a better Nexus, OnePlus will be watching and waiting, refining its next model (1+2?).  And that's happy news for Android buyers, and smartphone buyers in general who want an unlocked device at a budget price.

Note:
The countries with availability at launch will be Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.  According to AnandTech, this month will actually see some sales based on an invitation scheme.  We'll have to wait until midway through this quarter (Q2 2014/May) for general sales to open up in the 16 target nations.

To sign up for the invitation-based scheme, visit OnePlus's "Smash" page.  OnePlus is offering early buyers discounts -- in some cases offering the OnePlus One for as little as $1 USD (!!).  But we're guessing that's a pretty limited quantity deal, so sign up now, if you're interested.

Source: Engadget



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I Don't Know What to Say
By DaveLessnau on 4/23/2014 6:36:59 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
In most areas the OnePlus One beats the aging Nexus 5, which was launched at the end of Oct. 2013.


Let me count on my fingers, here: November (1), December (2), January (3), February (4), March (5), April (6). OK. The Nexus 5 is all of six months old. And it's "aging?" Really? I don't know what to say.




RE: I Don't Know What to Say
By stm1185 on 4/23/2014 9:03:24 PM , Rating: 3
You say that the Nexus 5 uses similar hardware to the SGS4 and One M7, making it a full generation behind; or aging.


RE: I Don't Know What to Say
By Flunk on 4/24/2014 9:10:07 AM , Rating: 2
I think the marketing people may have tricked you, the "Snapdragon 801" is the same silicon at the "Snapdragon 800" just clocked very slightly higher. It's just so that the phone makers can keep claiming their new phones are faster, it doesn't meaningfully affect performance. They're locked in to a refresh cycle that's not sustainable. The CPU makers can't really push out a revolutionary design every 8 months.

The Galaxy S5 is basically a waterproof version of the S4 with more software "features". The One M8 is a reasonable update to the One M7 because it used a Snapdragon 600, which was significantly less powerful.


RE: I Don't Know What to Say
By flyingpants1 on 4/24/2014 9:34:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Galaxy S5 is basically a waterproof version of the S4 with more software "features". The One M8 is a reasonable update to the One M7 because it used a Snapdragon 600, which was significantly less powerful.


No, dude. Both the S4 and M7 used Snapdragon 600. S4 was clocked higher, but max clocks aren't everything. It throttled like crazy.


RE: I Don't Know What to Say
By rocketbuddha on 4/24/2014 6:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
Nope.

Galaxy S4 and One M7 used Snapdragon 600. 4 Krait 300 cores + 320 GPU . 1.7GHz nominal frequency
Nexus 5, LG G2 and later Galaxy Note3 used Snapdragon 800. 4 Krait 400 cores + 330 GPU + Integrated LTE
2.2GHz nominal frequency
Different CPU cores. GPU cores

So S5 and M8 makes the SOC section provides parity to last years' best of QCOM.

Now 801 is a v3 of "800" v2 revision, in not only higher maximum frequency of operation but also features such as Dual Sim-Dual Active (DS-DA), eMMC 5.0 support


RE: I Don't Know What to Say
By blzd on 4/25/2014 6:25:40 PM , Rating: 2
S801 is actually more of an improvement than the extra 1 implies versus S800. It's considerably more efficient while also being faster and packing new features, it's kind of like a "tock" cycle from Intel's tick/tock generations and a welcome upgrade from a battery and performance perspective.

That being said N4 packed a S600, the N5's S800 is a considerable upgrade from that.


Just to rain on the parade
By bug77 on 4/23/2014 7:21:19 PM , Rating: 3
Will it come with Google's services? Cause Cyanogen is forbidden from distributing them. There doesn't seem to be a Google Play icon on the home screen.
What about updates? Cyanogen takes a lot of time to release something stable. And even then, it takes a significant toll on battery life - apparently it misses chip-specific optimizations (the Nexus line misses those, too).
As an added bonus, it doesn't do 800MHz LTE, which is kind of big in Europe.

All in all, it's probably worth the money for the screen, battery and internal storage alone. But it has drawbacks. And I really wish the first two of my points will prove to be non-issues, that would seriously up the value of this phone.




RE: Just to rain on the parade
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2014 4:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it will come with Google Play services. Are you kidding?

quote:
What about updates? Cyanogen takes a lot of time to release something stable.


To be fair they're having to push updates and fix bugs for like a hundred different handsets.

But this is THEIR phone. I would assume it will get the utmost development time dedicated to it. This is a huge step for them, and I can't imagine them neglecting the project.


RE: Just to rain on the parade
By bug77 on 4/24/2014 4:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course it will come with Google Play services.


What makes you so sure?

quote:
But this is THEIR phone. I would assume it will get the utmost development time dedicated to it. This is a huge step for them, and I can't imagine them neglecting the project.


You're assuming and can't imagine. I wouldn't make a purchase decision based on that.


RE: Just to rain on the parade
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2014 6:47:35 PM , Rating: 2
Google doesn't let Cyanogen package their apps WITH the Android ROM. Google said nothing about installing Google Apps to a phone manually. Which is why I've always used Google Apps despite running Cyanogen.

The phone will release with Google Apps, there's no doubt about it.

But don't take my word for it:

"Unlike other handsets from China, the OnePlus One will come with Google Apps pre-installed. That means users can access the Google Play app store out of the box, like mainstream Android smartphones from Samsung and HTC."

http://gigaom.com/2014/04/23/the-oneplus-one-smart...

quote:
You're assuming and can't imagine. I wouldn't make a purchase decision based on that.


Nobody's asking you to. But your reasons to not buy it don't seem to be based on anything more concrete than idle speculation.


RE: Just to rain on the parade
By bug77 on 4/24/2014 6:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the link. I could find that info anywhere else.

As for my speculation, I think it's common sense not to jump in head first if you don't have to. Hence my general aversion to any pre-orders.


LTE
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 4/23/2014 5:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
So, what LTE bands can this phone handle? Cuz Nexus 5 supports Sprint, VZ bands as well as CDMA and GSM. I have a Ting SIM that works just fine in my N5, does this phone support all the same wireless standards and bands?




RE: LTE
By quiksilvr on 4/23/2014 5:22:30 PM , Rating: 4
Wrong. The Nexus 5 does not support Verizon's LTE bands (Verizon's LTE bands are 4 and 13. It needs both to operate). This is because Verizon has strict subsidy requirements for any phones on their LTE network and Verizon idiotically banned Google Wallet from any Nexus device sold on their network (it competed with theirs).

The OnePlus One supports the following bands:
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz
WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8
LTE: Bands: 1/3/4/7/17/38/40

The Nexus 5 supports the following bands:
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10
WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
LTE: Bands: 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41

Sources:
http://oneplus.net/one#specifications
https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=n...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks


RE: LTE
By laststop311 on 4/24/2014 3:21:03 AM , Rating: 2
Well hmmm t-mobile's LTE is band 4 so it supports that and a lot of markets did have 3g UMTS/HSPA+ moved to 1900mhz pcs but what about the t-mobile markets that have 3g in 1700/2100 aws still? Luckily I live in a LTE band IV and 1900mhz refarmed market so the oneplus will work for me in 4g LTE mode (band 4), 3g HSPA+/UMTS mode (1900mhz), and 2g EDGE mode (1900mhz). But it is quite the downer for someone that is on t-mobile and lives in an area without LTE and HSPA+/UMTS 3g in the AWS 1700/2100 spectrum. Those customers will have a oneplus one that can only go on the EDGE network. Cmon support 1700/2100 HSPA+ too! lte band 4 is 1700/2100 so why not support hspa+ in that frequency too


When did...
By godlyatheist on 4/23/2014 4:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
the Nexus 5 get a microSD slot? I surely don't see one on mine.




RE: When did...
By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 4/23/2014 5:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, I've been looking for one for MONTHS..


RE: When did...
By croc on 4/23/2014 8:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
They are pretty small....


Nexus line
By ryanbrancel on 4/23/2014 5:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
Is Google going to announce another Nexus phone this year? I thought the rumors were that the Nexus line-up of phones and tablets were going away since it had fulfilled it's role of gaining market penetration.




RE: Nexus line
By testbug00 on 4/23/2014 7:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
rumors point to a $100 nexus phone, which, I would say makes sense.

Google has driven penetration, but, the user experience for Android on cheap phones is terrible (experience with a $80 Android handset) excluding most Chinese phones, that is.


RE: Nexus line
By Flunk on 4/24/2014 9:12:03 AM , Rating: 2
I figure they'll stick around as long as they can sell them. It sells people on the idea of "pure Android" and Google is very big on the idea that they control the Android experience.


So many things wrong with that chart...
By quiksilvr on 4/23/2014 5:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
1. All Nexus 5 dimensions should be bold, not just depth.
2. Nexus 5 has Optical Image Stabilization.
3. Neither have microSD.
4. Oppo is 1/3.06-in.
5. Only Bluetooth 4.1 should be bold in the Oppo section.

Seriously, this took roughly 3 minutes of research for me to fine. Check your sources before posting.




By amanojaku on 4/23/2014 5:28:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1. All Nexus 5 dimensions should be bold, not just depth.
No, because both phones have small bezels, but the OnePlus One has a larger screen. You can't have a larger screen AND a shorter, thinner phone without defying the laws of physics.

I would also remove the bold on the PPI. Both phones have the same resolution, so the amount of detail displayed is exactly the same. Comparing PPI only makes sense if you're comparing screens of equivalent size. All things being equal, I would take a 5.5" 1080p screen over a 5" 1080p screen any day.


By SublimeSimplicity on 4/23/2014 4:17:27 PM , Rating: 3
...but I'm still going to sit out the first product cycle to see how it all works out.




looks legit
By soccerballtux on 4/23/2014 4:27:07 PM , Rating: 3
looks legit I wonder if the software will be OEM quality or the usual CM hackfest with annoying bugs




No uSD in Nexus 5
By rocketbuddha on 4/23/2014 4:48:25 PM , Rating: 2
Please correct.




That looks so tempting...
By stm1185 on 4/23/2014 4:53:04 PM , Rating: 2
If I can get it through T-Mobile for $299 I think I have to go for it. Too good of a deal.




less weight is not always better
By testbug00 on 4/23/2014 7:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
Weight (and dimensions) are subjective, they should not have a winner.

Having used iPhone 4 (~1.5 years), L920 (6 months), L1020 (since launch), some cheapo Android phone(3 months), and a Galaxy Nexus (for a few weeks) I would say that I think that the L920 feels best in my hand, despite being the heaviest, and the largest. Just like you don't bold screen size (as it is subjective) those things should not be in bold.

Granted, given a phone is to thick to put in most pockets, or is heavy enough that you feel it would cause fatigue from holding it, that is fine to point out (and bold the better one)

I, personally, would rather have a phone similar in weight to my 1020 (~160 grams (or, better yet, closer to the L920 ~185 grams)) than my iPhone 4 (~135grams.) I am sure that some people would agree, and some disagree with that choice, but, that is the idea. it is subjective




Crysis
By gbk99 on 4/23/2014 10:32:50 PM , Rating: 2

Crysis music anyone?




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