I firmly believe that the next generation of Steve Jobs will come from China. Frank Wang, for example, started the DJI drone company from his university dorm room in 2006; it’s now worth an estimated $10bn, employs 5,000 people around the world and recently bought a stake in the Swedish camera-maker Hasselblad. And now Carl Pei seems to be going the same way.
Pei’s two-year-old mobile phone company, OnePlus, started out with modest expectations, planning to make affordable Android phones for, basically, geeky young people to customise, hack and generally mess around with. Paradoxically, however, OnePlus has succeeded in producing phones so beautifully designed, built, specified, presented and functioning that I am confident any of the big-name electronics manufacturers would be proud to have made them.
This new model, the OnePlus X, is a little reminiscent of the still much loved little iPhone 5 of a couple of years ago, but more stylish and chic, and its quality and attention to detail make the £199 price seem absurd. The back is made from a glossy zirconia ceramic that lends it an uncompromisingly luxury feel; the superb 5in full HD OLED screen is fronted with the latest super‑strong Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and the operating system is a OnePlus adaptation of Android Lollipop 5.0 called Oxygen, which allows for enough aesthetic and functional customisation to keep you busy on many a flight. What’s more, it is dual SIM, which is still rare in phones but ideal for business travel.
One supremely useful feature that’s unique to OnePlus is a three-position slider switch – in an ergonomically perfect spot – that varies the notification status of the phone. In the bottom position it will alert you to everything coming your way; slide to the top and all alerts are muted – perfect for meetings. The middle position, meanwhile, allows only priority notifications, as defined by you.
If you require a slightly larger screen, there’s also the OnePlus 2. It costs an extra £50, but this is still a trifling amount for an exceptional business-ready smartphone.