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Over the last few months, there’s been talk of a new player called OnePlus about to enter the smartphone market. Today, OnePlus made its official entrance, and did so with a pretty huge announcement: the company’s first Android smartphone packs serious hardware power in a stylish-looking handset sporting a 5.5-inch 1080p display. And it’s priced to move, with a cost of only $299 or $349 for 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, respectively.

01Called the One (not to be confused with HTC’s One, or the Xbox One, of course), the new smartphone relies on a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, and enjoys 3GB of RAM on top of that. Those specs signify performance capabilities in excess of the HTC One M8, which we’ve previously noted is already lightning fast.

The handset also has a 13 megapixel rear camera, uses a 3100 mAh battery, and is capable of jumping onto 4G LTE networks. But most interestingly, the OnePlus One runs on CyonogenMod, a modified ROM based on Android, and primarily loaded by users who root their Android phones.

Presumably, the use of CyanogenMod will give users far more customization options than they’ve had with other versions of Android—like HTC’s Sense, or Samsung’s TouchWiz. Custom themes, widgets, and launchers ought to be far easier to access and load onto the OnePlus One than most other handsets that are relatively locked down by comparison. While CyanogenMod may not necessarily be as stable or polished as the aforementioned Android offshoots, or even Google’s stock Android, the team responsible for its upkeep and updates is likely to stay on top of problems and have a quicker response time to fix issues than bigger tech companies.

The 32GB model of the OnePlus One comes in "Silk White," while the 64GB model is dressed in "Sandstone Black."
The 32GB model of the OnePlus One comes in “Silk White,” while the 64GB model is dressed in “Sandstone Black.”

The release date for the OnePlus One hasn’t been announced just yet, but apparently it’ll launch in 14 territories in Europe and Asia, plus the United States.

So what’s the upshot here? Simply put: this is a crazy-powerful smartphone with tons of customization options that costs a fraction of the competition. It’s not armed with a dual-camera like HTC’s latest smartphone, and it’s not a water-resistant beast like the Samsung Galaxy S5—but it’s got better internal specs than both, and costs less. Those other phones boast about all their built-in features and proprietary apps.

The OnePlus One, however, is more like a slick sports car. You can’t pack the family in it, you can’t use it to haul lots of gear. But you can use it to get where you’re going quickly, and in style. And since it’s priced below the already-bargain priced Nexus 5 (whose specs it easy out-classes), the OnePlus One might just leave all of the Android competition in the dust.

[OnePlus One]

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