It is only normal for OEMs to try to differentiate themselves in a very crowded mobile device market, but sometimes not all their “exclusive features” are well received (hello Samsung). OnePlus, a young Chinese startup when compared with other players in the industry, is rumored to be preparing to stir things up a bit again, not only by launching a smartwatch of its one, but also by moving away from its current CyanogenMod-based ROM.
The role of CyanogenMod to OnePlus One’s success, or at least its popularity, is a bit debatable. As a device, the One is definitely something already desirable, mixing high-end specs with a price tag half of other leading brands in the market. But hardware is only half of the story. By picking CyanogenMod, practically a ready-made Android flavor, instead of developing their own homegrown solution, OnePlus was able to iterate faster and put out a finished product sooner.
But CyanogenMod isn’t exactly as popular as, say, TouchWiz or Sense. And its bias towards a more AOSP-like experience might not tickle the taste buds of OnePlus’ target Chinese market, who flock to heavily customized skins like Xiaomi‘s MIUI or OPPO‘s ColorOS. There are, undoubtedly, some benefits to keeping things in house: tighter control, even faster iterations, and a more customized and targeted user experience. The question is whether CyanogenMod, whose new Theme Engine was probably developed with OnePlus in mind, can’t provide those. If this rumor turns out to be true, OnePlus should expect some negative and very vocal feedback from those who rooted for the company precisely because of its ties with the custom ROM. That, of course, depends too if OnePlus considers them its target market or even a sizable portion of the market.
The company is also rumored to be working on a smartwatch, with a leaked web page snapshot and design sketches to prove so. The OneWatch, as it is called, is shown to sport a similar circular face like the Moto 360, only smaller. There is also a note that it will be employing that coveted sapphire glass display for the smart timepeice. It will also use wireless charging and even have a curved battery hidden inside the wrist strap. Definitely sounds more like a wishlist, but OnePlus has proven that it is capable of making dreams come true. However, given the other rumor above, it might also be capable of striking out on its own, so the possibility of this smartwatch running Android Wear is still pretty much up in the air.