In January, it was announced that community Android version CyanogenMod would be pre-loaded on an upcoming new phone from a Chinese startup called OnePlus. The company was promising big things, and boasting former Oppo VP Pete Lau as its CEO. Today, the OnePlus One phone has been launched.

The announcement, back in January, has since made for some intriguing speculation. "What’s coming is one of the most popular mobile operating systems specifically developed for the best hardware, with a unique twist," Lau said in the press release.

The noises coming out of of Cyanogen were positive too. "Upon hearing Pete’s vision for OnePlus, it was clear we had found the right partner," extolled Steve Kondik, CTO of Cyanogen. "By combining our software expertise with Pete’s background in hardware and design, we’ll develop a phone that will exceed both of our expectations."

The phone will initially be available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the US. A 16GB Silk White version will retail for for US$299 and a 64GB Sandstone Black for $349.

For those prices you'd be forgiven for assuming that the One will be a mid-range device, however, OnePlus is putting the One out there as a "2014 Flagship Killer." In short, it's taking aim at devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 – and its specs list appears to back up all the big talk.

Here are the headlines: Like the HTC, the One is powered by a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. As OnePlus points out, that's currently the world's fastest available smartphone processor. it will also feature 3 GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Adreno 330 graphics processor.

Moving on, a 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass 3 screen delivers 1080p full HD, and users will be able to capture 4K video for upload to the cloud for storage. OnePlus boasts that a 13-megapixel Sony camera with f/2.0 aperture, six physical lenses and dual LED flash will take "amazing shots day or night." The firm also promises that users will get "more than a full day of use" out of the phone's 3100 mAh battery. Also included is 4G connectivity.

Until we get our hands on one, if you'll excuse the pun, we can't say how the device will perform. On paper, however, this is a very impressive piece of hardware. What's more, the CyanogenMod 11S version that will be loaded onto the One is based on Android KitKat and is said to be tuned especially to take advantage of the phone's hardware. OnePlus promises a simple user experience with no "unnecessary bloat." A few useful features are touted such as waking the phone via voice command or by drawing pre-set gestures on the sleeping screen.

The first OnePlus One handsets will be available from Friday, with the first 100 applicants able to buy a device for $1 in return for smashing their current handset(!). Time will tell if OnePlus has a fair stake to its claimed mantra, "Never Settle," but the initial signs are exciting and it looks like we won't have to wait long to find out.

In the meantime, you can see a little more of the OnePlus One in the rather epic video below.

Source: OnePlus