Don’t look now, but the smartphone may finally be fully baked.
Smartphones as a category are reaching maturity. Every new iPhone and every new Samsung phone comes out with only minor tweaks.
And maybe that’s OK. Nobody complains about the lack of innovation in desktop PCs, right? Or GPS units. Or flashlights. They are what they are. They’ve fulfilled their destiny. There are no more radical improvements to be discovered.
Well, maybe not in shape, size, or features. But there are certainly other aspects of smartphones that are ripe for radical rethinking, and a Chinese startup called OnePlus has just found one: price.
You don’t actually think that your $200 iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone really costs the $200 you paid for it up front, do you? Its actual price is about $650. That’s why you can’t get the $200 price without agreeing to a two-year contract. The remaining $450 is hidden in your monthly bills for the two years. (Theoretically, your phone carrier should make your monthly bill smaller once you’ve fully repaid the $650. It doesn’t, unless it’s T-Mobile. But that’s another rant.)
How can you confirm that I’m right? Because most carriers also offer you today’s top smartphones without a two-year commitment. Price for one of these “off-contract” phones? $650.
Which brings us to this new phone, the goofily named OnePlus One. (Why not just call it the Two?)
The OnePlus One
But there’s one big difference: You buy this phone outright from the maker for $300. That’s less than half the price of those other high-end Android phones.
That’s for the model with 16 gigabytes of storage. You can quadruple that amount — to 64 gigabytes — for only $50 more, which is another extraordinary deal.
The look and feel of this thing are exactly what you’d expect of its high-end category, and not its low price. At 5.5 inches, the screen is huge. Too big to operate with one hand, if you ask me (and I am large of hand), just like those other giant top-of-the-line phones.
The One is very thin, though; its gracefully curved back is about a third of an inch at its thickest point, a fifth of an inch at its tapered edges. The back (my test unit was white) is plastic but classy, polished like a worry stone.