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A Small Smartphone Startup Is Going Guerilla to Get Some Big-Time Attention

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A former executive from a top Chinese smartphone maker and a leading Android hacker from the U.S. have joined forces. Their mission -- to make the best smartphone the world has ever seen -- is encapsulated in the motto scrawled graffiti-style across their homepage: Never Settle.

OnePlus is a startup that's making some waves among the smartphone cognoscenti ahead of their first product reveal this week. They've promised a top tier phone, the OnePlus One, for less than $400. That's less than two thirds what the likes of Apple, HTC and Samsung charge for their flagship phones.

Thanks to their industry insider credentials and shrewd use of social media, ex-Oppo vice president Pete Lau's new brand is building some buzz. OnePlus' aggressive, guerilla-style marketing campaign has included a Reddit AMA with company reps, and a Twitter-based scavenger hunt with early access to the One as prizes.

Related: How the HTC One M8 Smartphone Stacks Up to the Competition

Lau has partnered with Cyanogen Inc. -- makers of the popular Android alternative CyanogenMod operating system -- on a custom Android-based OS for his phone. Cyanogen founder Steve Kondik recently left a job at Samsung to start his own company, and partnered with Oppo on a phone launch before teaming up with OnePlus.

The OnePlus One is set to be unveiled on April 23 but the company has already leaked many key specs and details regarding the device. A slow, steady stream of information direct from the source has built anticipation among bloggers and a growing fan base that's quite active on the company's own forums.

To date, OnePlus has confirmed a handful of specs that match up well against current smartphone giants. One will feature a 5.5-inch HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 13MP Sony Exmor main camera, a 5MP front-facing camera and a large 3100 mAh battery. Despite that giant screen, the company says the phone will be the same size as a 5-inch phone thanks to clever design touches like narrow front bezels.

Related: Does Anybody Really Need a '2K' Smartphone?

HTC and Samsung's top-shelf smartphones sport 5-inch and 5.1-inch screens, respectively.

OnePlus also says the One will support GSM and global LTE, meaning it will work on AT&T and T-Mobile (but not Verizon) in the U.S., and on many other carriers worldwide. One will also offer a few unique touches like swappable back panel "StyleSwap" covers, and the mysterious, "Something better than pre-orders."

If nothing else, OnePlus knows how to tease the geeks into a frenzy.

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