OnePlus has been drip-feeding smartphone fans information about its new CyanogenMod running One (not to be confused with HTC's "One" M8) phone for weeks now. While this strategy seems to be doing a great job at building up buzz online, part of me wishes it'd just go ahead and reveal the One instead of slowly teasing us before its April 23 launch.
The first specification of the One announced was its SoC. It was initially going to come with a Snapdragon 800, specifically the MSM8974AA variant (the same found in the Nexus 5). Although this is still a very powerful SoC, some people were a little disappointed that OnePlus didn't go with Qualcomm's latest, the Snapdragon 801. For what OnePlus is calling a 'no compromise' phone, going with the 800 seemed to be a bit of a compromise. However, a few weeks ago OnePlus surprised everyone by announcing that it was changing the SoC spec of the One to the 801. At that time, though, it didn't release any additional information as to why it made this decision. When it originally announced that it was going to come with an SD800, OnePlus's Peter Lau justified the choice of a slower SoC for a number of reasons, including power consumption and availability of silicon from Qualcomm, so we wanted to know why the change of heart.
This past Tuesday, Peter posted on the forums why the One will now come with an 801: OnePlus wants to be able to take "full advantage of the fastest SoC currently on the market." Of course, if you read between the lines, one of the main reasons why they have decided to go with the 801 must be that its availability from Qualcomm has improved substantially. In addition to going with an 801, Peter also announced that the One will come with 3 GB of RAM, still somewhat of a rarity in Android phones. While the performance impact of having more than 2 GB of RAM on an Android phone, running today's software, is debatable with this choice, OnePlus can certainly, for now, lay claim to having the "the fastest phone on the market."
Our initial testing of the Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC in the Galaxy S5 shows that it is definitely the fastest SoC on the market, but it's certainly not a quantum leap over the 800. However, perhaps the design of the One will not put as many thermal limits on the 801 as the all-plastic GS5's sealed (due to its water resistance) construction, allowing it to stretch its legs. Also, the fact that it's running CyanogenMod 11S also bodes well for its overall performance. CyanogenMod 11, based on stock Android KitKat, is a more lightweight OS compared to Touchwiz on the S5 and Sense 6 on the HTC One M8, so it should have less overhead, leading to better performance.
Despite all this news, there is still much we don't know about the One, but CyanogenMod recently posted a little teaser video of Steve Kondik unboxing the phone yesterday, which probably got a few of One Plus's fans' hopes up, only to crush them in the end.
OnePlus also revealed more information about the One buying experience. Since the phone will only be available online, one of the challenges it faces is being able to provide a level of service comparable to ordering a Nexus device from Google. For a start-up based in China, it isn't going to be easy, but Carl Pei from OnePlus outlined plans in the forums. One revelation is that there will be inventory in local warehouses in each of the 16 countries (up from the 10 originally announced) where the One will be initially sold. This should help immensely with delivery times. The last bit of news is that OnePlus has started (gradually, of course) to release information as to what are those 16 countries. China and the U.S. are a given, but as of today, we also know it will be available in Austria, Belgium, Holland and Germany for under 350€.
OnePlus has certainly been saying all the right things. The One is looking like it might end up being the ultimate Android phone for enthusiasts, with its combination of the best hardware and software at an amazing price, but as the old saying goes, the proof will be in the pudding. OnePlus will be revealing the One on April 23 in Beijing. It is not clear if this is a soft or hard launch, but let's hope they do what HTC did with the M8 and make it available to buy the very same day.