This story was originally published and last updated .
Android's been around quite a while at this point (Google's Android turned 12 last year), and even Android phones have been around well over a decade now. And while obviously hardware like the HTC Hero matters in terms of where the platform got its start, and ones like the original Moto DROID mark its real entry into the marketplace in a big way, we think there are phones (and even A tablet) that are less remembered or less appreciated for their impact on the larger ecosystem.
After, when's the last time you thought of the Galaxy S2, or the HTC One M7?
As 2019 ends and we enter a new decade, I felt the story of OnePlus deserved a bit more examination. In an email interview with CMO Kyle Kiang, I probed the history of a company that is often as shocking in its successes as it is in its marketing misfires. As it crests its sixth year as a smartphone vendor, it's more competitive than ever, coming a long way from the days when it could barely manage to build enough $349 OnePlus Ones using a tightly controlled and very annoying invitation system.
OnePlus has also transformed in ways I don't believe any of us predicted, going from a scrappy, value-first smartphone maker to a legitimate competitor in a field that includes some of the world's most recognizable brands: Samsung, Apple, and Google.
When the OnePlus One debuted back in 2014, it was sold as an enthusiast phone with insane bang for the buck. Fast forward four years, and Android 8.1 Oreo in the form of LineageOS 15.1 has just been released for it. The OPPO Find 7a and Find 7s and Galaxy S5 Plus/LTE-A are getting 15.1 as well, and the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G has returned with LOS 14.1.
After three years of official support, Google confirmed yesterday that the long-lived Nexus Player would no longer receive Android updates. While Android Oreo will continue to serve most users just fine, the custom ROM community will likely keep it updated for years to come. LineageOS already supported the set-top box with Nougat builds, but now it has been updated to Android 8.1 Oreo.
Just a month ago, OnePlus was caught collecting personally identifiable data from phone owners through incredibly detailed analytics. While the company eventually reversed course on the data collection, another discovery has been made in the software of OnePlus phones. One developer found an application intended for factory testing, and through some investigation and reverse-engineering, was able to obtain root access using it.
Cyanogen, Inc has been partnered with Microsoft for a while now, bringing various mods to devices running Cyanogen OS. The company is launching the Cortana mod in India today, starting out with the OnePlus One. Cortana first came to the Cyanogen operating system in January this year, followed by the 13.1 update, which enabled more widespread mod support.
To get this update, your OnePlus One must be running the latest version of the operating system - the aforementioned 13.1. This enables the voice-activated assistant feature which behaves much like Google Now; Cyanogen says Cortana is deeply integrated into the OS, with a 'Hey Cortana' command waking her up.
The OnePlus 3 is coming. So do you start saving up money to buy the latest device? You could... or you can do your budget a favor and grab one of the company's existing devices. OnePlus has just dropped the prices for all three of its phones.
An official Marshmallow CyanogenOS build for the OnePlus One is rolling out, but of course, it's staged. Unlike all those past updates, this one is a big deal; it's Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If you don't want to wait, there's a ZIP below for your sideloading pleasure.