oneplus one

My OnePlus One review and the nine customizations I recommend for it are among the most popular posts on this blog. It’s easy to see why. Even with the all the new phones coming out for the holidays, the OnePlus One remains one of the best phones you can buy. If you can stomach not being able to take a phone into a store nearby for customer service, the One’s combination of power, price, aesthetics and software is nigh unbeatable.

So of course I noticed that OnePlus is moving from an invite to a pre-order system, similar to how you’d pre-order an iPhone or Xiaomi. People must log on the moment the system opens up and it’s a mad scramble to be among those who click nanoseconds faster than others.

To no one’s surprise, the OnePlus One pre-order page went bust when it opened to spike in traffic earlier this week. To think that it’s enough to merely double server capacity is naive!

Anyway, I hate the whole system. It’s not consumer friendly and it’s not company friendly either. Here’s how I would have done it.

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Google announced three new devices today: the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. Of the three, I predict the Nexus Player will yield the greatest influence.

The Nexus 6 looks like a good phone but it now has a $650 price, which means it competes with all the other flagship phones. Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus and Xiaomi continue to offer the best performance-to-price ratio on the market.

The Nexus 9 wants to be a productivity device with its detachable keyboard, but its 9-inch display is simply too small for it to be a capable laptop replacement. It might fill a niche, but it won’t be the converged device I’m looking for.

Of the three Nexus devices announced today, the Nexus Player is the most interesting. It will compete with other streaming boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, WD TV, Boxee, et. al., but that’s the boring part. Where the Nexus Player has the potential to disrupt its competitors is in games, which Google is taking seriously enough to launch a dedicated game controller. Android’s already extensive game library will be the Nexus Player’s differentiator. Apple TV, your move.

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I’ve always liked these kinds of stories on other tech blogs — i.e., what gadgets nerds use on a daily basis — as it gave a “bottom line” that individual reviews of products on loan can’t give. So today I’m sharing what I use and carry, and why.

Smartwatch: Pebble, Moto 360

The Pebble is a great device. Its super solid in a way that Apple is known for; it does what it’s supposed to and it does it well. There are lots of interesting watch faces for it, the battery lasts for days, and it’s good for monitoring notifications and incoming calls. The main downsides are that it’s not particularly attractive or comfortable to wear. The screen has no color and is very low resolution.

I also recently got the Moto 360. A review will go up this Monday or the following Monday, depending on how the weekend goes.

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I’ve heard some depressing things as an entrepreneur in the mobile space.

  • This app has too many animations which drains battery, so I don’t use it.
  • Using Wi-Fi drains battery life, so I just rely on 3G.
  • Bluetooth drains a lot of battery life so I turn it off, even though I wear a Fitbit everyday. I just turn it on once a day at home to sync.
  • I don’t download apps because I’m afraid they will kill my battery.

The first is clearly ridiculous, yet came from an intelligent person. Your phone will actually last longer with a stable Wi-Fi connection, and Bluetooth doesn’t drain battery at all unless used. Even then, it’s minimal. The last complaint is such a sad thing for us in the industry to hear.

The fear of running out of battery wields such an extraordinary influence over how we use smartphones. We benchmark every task according to how much battery it takes. We are never too far from a charger, and many of us carry a heavy, cumbersome power bank.

I have good news: we are on the verge of true all day battery life.

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Congratulations to Ashwin, Aniela and Jesus (!) for getting the three OnePlus One invites. Gentle reminder that invites have a time limit, so please place your orders before they expire. Once you get your phones, check out my nine suggestions for improving usability.

With that announcement out of the way, it just occurred to me who should adopt OnePlus’ marketing strategy: Microsoft with the Surface 3. To recap, the OnePlus One strategy is to sell flagship devices to tech geeks as a loss leader to generate hype and demand (see here for the blueprint).

I don’t think the Lumia is a good fit for this strategy as consumers won’t have an easy way to compare the value of a Lumia to an iPhone or Android, so its ability to act as a loss leader is limited. But that restriction doesn’t apply to the Surface, which competes with 300 million PCs shipped every year.

Microsoft should create a Surface 3 that is priced aggressively: one with a beastly Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, pen digitizer, Surface Pro 3 display, and a thinner and lighter profile than its predecessor.

Charge $199 for this device. With Office included.

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Mini tablets exploded at a time when 3.5-inch iPhones and 9.7-inch iPads were what’s most popular. There was a big gap between these two sizes: the iPhone was highly portable, but the screen meant bite-sized consumption; iPads were better for Internet browsing and games, but it was too large to easily carry around. Mini tablets fulfilled a market gap — a computing device small enough to hold with one hand that offered a better reading experience than phones could provide.

However, the world today is different. The 4-inch iPhone 5S is practically the smallest smartphone on the market, 5-inch phones are average and 5.5-inch phones are not uncommon. The trend to bigger screen sizes is apparent in the chart below:

Did you know that smartphone screens nearly doubled in size since 2007?

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