Chances are you've never heard of OnePlus, but this tech startup is about to take the smartphone market by storm. Its OnePlus One smartphone has killer features to rival the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and other flagship Android devices, yet it costs less than half the price at a super-budget $299/269/£229 (16GB model). That's better value than even the Motorola Moto G and Google Nexus 5. Plus, OnePlus has a brilliant PR campaign up its sleeve. See also: The 24 best smartphones: the best phone you can buy in 2014.
In a contest that ends today (2 May), OnePlus is asking OnePlus One smartphone hopefuls to apply to be one of the first 100 owners of the handset. The catch: if chosen, you must smash your existing smartphone, film it, then stick it on YouTube. Its Phone Smash videos will go online within the next few weeks, with the chosen ones rewarded with an invite to purchase the OnePlus One for just $1, plus three invites for their friends. You can enter the Phone Smash contest here. See also: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One comparison review.
Would I smash my Samsung Galaxy S4 to get my hands on the OnePlus One phone? You're joking, right? But I'd probably get enough for it secondhand on eBay to pay the tiny $299/269 OnePlus is asking for the 16GB One - and, given its very decent spec, the OnePlus One is an incredibly tempting proposition. See also: Best Android phones of 2014.
"By paying attention to the smallest details, taking a holistic approach to product design, and working with the best partners such as Cyanogen and Qualcomm, we have been able to create the greatest day-to-day user experience in a smartphone without compromise," said Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus. See all smartphone reviews.
Available in 16GB Silk White ($299/269) and 64GB Sandstone Black ($349/299) models, the OnePlus One phone runs a modified version of Android KitKat known as CyanogenMod 11S, which will instantly appeal to enthusiasts and tinkerers with its unlimited scope for customisation. It also features advanced Camera and Gallery apps, letting you make the most of the OnePlus One's 4k video-recording capability, plus improved privacy-protection features that include SMS encryption and PrivacyGuard.
And then there's the hardware: OnePlus' motto is 'Never settle', and it's easy to see why. The OnePlus One phone bests the Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One, running a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with Adreno 330 graphics and 3GB of RAM. It also features a higher-capacity - if non-removable - 3100mAh battery (beaten only by the Sony Xperia Z2's 3200mAh), a larger 5.5in full-HD touchscreen, and a 13Mp Sony Exmor IMX214 13Mp camera with f/2.0 aperture and dual-LED flash. The front camera is primed for selfies at 5Mp, while video recording stretches to 4k with 120fps slow-motion available at 720p.
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