The OnePlus 2 was announced July 27, 2015, and it looks like it could put a serious damper on all other Android smartphone maker's parties when it arrives August 11. In fact, the OnePlus 2 could very easily be handed the title 2016 Flagship Killer even before release. Why? The combination of specs and price point ($300.00) means most average users could have a top tiered device that doesn't strip their budget clean. And the device feels like it should cost way more than $300.00. Consider this... on how many mid-priced devices do you get a 1080p IPS In-cell LCD display with 600 nits of brightness? None. That's how many.
But it's not just the device itself that makes this special. It's everything OnePlus is doing. This is a company that came out of nowhere, started with five employees, and created one of the greatest off-contract smartphones on the planet (the OnePlus 1). And now, they're upping their game to create what could become one of the best smartphones period.
Let's take a look at some of the details, like the included USB-C connector cable that ships with the OnePlus 2. As far as mobile device cables, this is the pinnacle. It might actually be the first time you'll ever pull a smartphone connector cable out of the box and have a reaction akin to "Wow!" Very few companies put this much effort into a cable. With a spectacular, flat and tangle free design, this USB-C cable will completely change your opinion about connecting your device (which you do... frequently).
The best part is that the new cable will be sold by OnePlus for... get this... $5.00. You want a lightning to USB cable for your iPhone 6? Be prepared to shell out nearly $20.00 for a lesser piece of equipment. You can already purchase the OnePlus 1 data cable from the OnePlus site for $9.99. That cable should give you an idea as to how much effort OnePlus has put into the smaller details.
But let's not get caught up in cables and the minutia of details. Let's talk about how every smartphone manufacturer on the market should be looking to OnePlus as an example of how things should be done. Their goal from the outset was to design a smartphone that would handily balance high-end quality with a lower price than other phones in its class. OnePlus firmly believed that users would "never settle" (which is their slogan) for the lower-quality devices other companies foisted upon consumers. Surprisingly enough, OnePlus is following through with this vision to perfection. Quality "flagship killer" devices at non-flagship prices.
Samsung. Motorola. HTC. Lenovo. Sony. Are you paying attention?
This becomes even more interesting now that carriers are having to unlock devices per consumer requests. Will consumers be more willing to jump ship from the standard offerings to head over to the clearer, cheaper waters of OnePlus, even though they can now move their devices from carrier to carrier?
Consider AT&T. Currently, their model stands that, when you want a new device, you lease said device (at rather astronomical prices). I'm currently paying over $100.00 dollars a month leasing three phones (Moto X, Galaxy S 6 Edge, and iPhone 6). That's on top of my data plan. So, the end price of the iPhone 6 (once the two year lease plan is finished) will be $792.00. You can bet, when that plan is up, the iPhone 6 my daughter carries will be replaced with a OnePlus 2, saving me almost $500.00. And that's just one phone! In the end, I could save over $1000.00 dollars and have superior (or at least equal) devices.
Why would you not do this?
Because your carrier will do everything they can to prevent it—or you'll find the device to not be perfectly compatible with your network. For instance, AT&T uses LTE bands 2,4,5, and 17, whereas the OnePlus device uses LTE bands 2, 5, and 17. This means that you'll get LTE in some locations and not others. Most OnePlus users have reported that their devices do work seamlessly on the AT&T network... as long as you have an LTE SIM card. In the end, as long as your SIM was activated on a carrier-supplied phone, it should work. You might, however, be told by AT&T that their network doesn't support the OnePlus devices. Know well that this is not true.
I hope the success OnePlus is enjoying will prompt more startups to form with a similar goal—that is, to bring high-end devices at mid-range prices. With such an uprising, carriers and other manufacturers might be forced to stop gouging consumers with exorbitant prices on flagship devices and then attempt to persuade consumers to upgrade every two years.
OnePlus is doing everything right. From device design, to price point, to market... all the way down to cables. If they continue on this trajectory, they'll slowly overtake the market to become one of the most popular manufacturer of smartphones on the planet.
What do you think? Can OnePlus take over as the champion in the smartphone market? Or will they forever be beating at the door of castle Samsung and Apple?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.