This weekend I wrote a review of the One, a smartphone made by a Chinese manufacturing startup called OnePlus.
It's a really nice phone with a giant 5.5-inch screen and powerful specs that rival what you'd find in an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. What's really cool is OnePlus sells all that for $300, or less than half the cost of an iPhone 5S, which starts at $649.
The catch? Quantities are extremely limited, and you need an invitation before you can buy a One directly from OnePlus.
Before you ask: no, I don't have any invitations to buy the OnePlus One.
But that hasn't stopped readers from emailing me about the device like crazy. I've written dozens and dozens of gadget reviews over the years, and I've never gotten a response like this. Every few minutes another email hits my inbox with a reader asking if I can provide an invitation or an introduction to the company so he or she could get a One. (Sorry, I really can't help you!)
Still, I think the reader interest in the OnePlus One taps into something important.
Smartphones have become cheap enough to make that some manufacturers are willing to sell them for next to nothing in order to gain rapid adoption and market share. We've already seen it with Xiaomi, another Chinese startup that makes high quality Android phones and sells them for just a few hundred bucks. In fact, Xiaomi sells more phones in China than Apple does.
Consumers seem to be waking up to the fact that they don't need to break the bank to get a premium smartphone experience. Apple and Samsung may be happy reaping the profits of the high end of the smartphone market, but there's still plenty of opportunity to court the billions of people left in the world who want to start using smartphones without spending too much.