Well, that was a pleasant surprise. Who would've ever imagined Cyanogen taking it to the next level and finding a vessel of the Oppo N1's magnitude?
They say fortune favors the brave and we can't think of a better match than the CyanogenMod-ded Oppo N1. The Chinese smartphone maker is known for refusing to play it safe but we wouldn't call teaming up with CyanogenMod Inc. a gamble.
In fact, as we've discovered through our extended use of the device, the CyanogenMod Oppo N1 is far more than just another phone that runs the custom ROM. Because this is the very first mass-produced phone to ship with CyanogenMod out of the box, developers have clearly given it the special attention it deserves, polishing the user experience inside out.
As a result, the features of the Oppo N1 that make it stand out from the phablet crowd work just as well as Oppo imagined them. The O-Click remote, O-Touch back panel and the rotating camera are seamlessly integrated in the overall user experience.
Depending on your needs, CyanogenMod can work just like stock Android works on Nexus phones. Dig a bit deeper and you'll see a multitude of options missing in stock Android that many people just can't live without. Phone profiles, Privacy Guard, custom themes and plenty of other things, small and not-so-small, make CyanogenMod the smartphone junkie's dream.
What the Oppo N1 lacks in both its regular and Cyanogen versions is the powerful internals of some of its main rivals. The Snapdragon 600 has no trouble running the lightweight CyanogenMod, but it can't match the computing power of the newer and faster Snadpragon 800 in the likes of the Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z Ultra and the Lumia 1520.
And here comes an interesting dilemma for you. Since CyanogenMod can run on the two droids above and, in essence turn them into Cyanogen phones, why is the Oppo so special? And who's going to buy it, when they can get the faster and more popular Samsung and Sony alternatives, install CyanogenMod and be done with it?
For one, the core of Cyanogen developers will continue to support the N1 going forward, as this is a long-term partnership for both companies. The Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z Ultra on the other hand will count on volunteers, not Cyanogen staffers. Next, the Cyanogen Oppo N1 comes running the custom Android firmware out of the box and doesn't require any sort of hacking.
We don't know what Cyanogen's plan for the future is. Steve Kondik is the man to ask. What we do know is that CyanogenMod won't see its user base grow at the pace they would like, unless the custom ROM gets on more phones and tablets, soon.
As for the phone in question - with a €460 price tag, the Oppo N1 CyanogenMod edition is hard to be considered a Nexus rival. It certainly has the character and the features to challenge the Nexus 5 if it wanted to, but the price tag is likely to tip the scales the wrong way.
This shouldn't take away from the fact that the first ever phone to run Cyanogen out of the box has set the bar quite high. Oppo and Cyanogen Inc. clearly cannot afford to sell at Google prices but that's one of the very few bad things we can say about this partnership and its first offspring.