It's been all quiet on the Android Open Kang Project front for a while, but the latest blog post from the popular ROM family indicates that there are big things coming. The AOKP team has been working on Android 4.3 ROMs (labeled JB-MR2 in the AOKP nomenclature) ever since the release of the latest operating system, and the first nightly builds of 4.3 have now been posted.
I'm here in Beijing for Oppo's launch event for the new N1 smartphone, and last night I had a chance to spend some time with the up-and-coming Chinese OEM's super-sized flagship, as well as learn a bit more about it from a couple of Oppo's engineers and PR team.
As far as basic impressions, the N1 does feel like quite a premium phone. It has a similar painted plastic outer shell to the Find 5, while the internal structure of the phone is actually supported by an anodized aluminum frame.
Chinese manufacturer Oppo has been teasing its N1 flagship for some time, and the phone finally became official this morning. At 5.9 inches it sits squarely in the "phablet" category, though there are certainly enough other hardware highlights to turn a few heads. The most interesting is probably the 13MP camera, which sits on a case-mounted hinge and rotates to serve as both the rear and front cameras. It's a design seen before in some laptops and earlier camera phones, but this is the first time we've seen it on a modern smartphone.
Oppo and Cyanogen Inc are going to announce a partnership next week - this much is clear from the video posted earlier today by the official Oppo channel and featuring the man himself, Steve "Cyanogen" Kondik. It will be the first deal of its kind between the newly announced company and a hardware manufacturer, and after speaking with multiple people familiar with the matter, I now have a pretty good idea of how the CM team wants it to work.
Steve Kondik and company announced earlier this week that the CyanogenMod ROM has been incorporated into Cyanogen Inc, with the aim of strengthening the pseudo-platform and reaching more users. Since the first announcement Cyanogen has been teasing one major hardware partner, and it looks like that has been revealed.
Update: We've confirmed the details of the Oppo arrangement: Here's How Cyanogen Inc Wants The CyanogenMod-Enabled N1 And The First Hardware Partnership With Oppo To Work.
Most manufacturers tend to be coy when it comes to release dates, especially when it's customers asking rather than press or investors. But Chinese manufacturer Oppo sometimes shoots from the hip, as they did with a recent Google+ post. When asked about release dates from an inquisitive poster, someone using the official account replied with a general target release for two upcoming devices, the N1 and Find N7.
The N1 was recently leaked in all its minimalist glory, and though specs are thin on the ground, it looks like a contender for a flagship device with a relatively large screen.
There was a time not long ago that Chinese OEMs were unlikely to make a splash outside of the Asian market. However, Oppo attracted some international attention with the Find 5, and the internet has been increasingly anxious to see the company's next effort, the N1. You need not wait until next month to get a glimpse of the N1 – some legit-looking images have popped up on Weibo and via @evleaks.
Oppo Find 5 is one of the sexiest Android phones in recent history - just take a look at some of the photos in our review published earlier this year. At $499.99 ($569.99 for the 32GB variant), it's also cheaper than most unlocked high-end modern devices, yet it manages to pack a quad-core 1.5GHz Krait, Adreno 320, 2GB of RAM, a 1080P 5" display, a 13MP camera, NFC, and a 2500mAh battery.
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In a world where Samsung and Apple dominate the smartphone sphere, and multi-billion dollar companies like Sony, LG, and Motorola struggle to maintain single-digit market share, it's rather easy to convince yourself that real innovation and excellence costs lots of money. And, as an extension of that thought process, that there's little reason to look outside the current crop of popular phone makers.
But you'd be wrong.
Known mostly in the United States for its Blu-ray players (yes, really), Oppo is a Chinese electronics maker that is easily ignored.