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Cyanogen’s plans for 2016 include a new flagship and multiple disruptive budget phones


At the Big Android BBQ in Amsterdam this morning, Cyanogen revealed its plans for next year. It’s pretty ambitious for 2016, and aims to have a much bigger global presence than it has currently…

Like Android One, Cyanogen’s aim is to release multiple phones with multiple manufacturer partners in a number of countries across the world. The idea is to bring high performance and software with little compromise to handsets that don’t cost the earth. With smartphones due to cost around $75, Cyanogen aims to set the bar for what you can get for less than $100. In doing so, it’s competing directly with Android One, even promising to continue support for these devices, even after multiple OS revisions.

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During the company’s presentation, CTO and co-founder Steve Kondik described this area of the market as being like the ‘Wild West’. In Cyanogen’s view, too many $75 handsets come loaded with far too much bloatware, and then aren’t supported by future software updates. Cyanogen’s sub-$100 will go against this trend with a clear focus on delivering a bloatware-free experience on an always up-to-date OS.

Part of this experience will be provided by CM13, an updated Marshamallow-based software which can use APIs to tie in partner apps directly and natively, so Cyanogen won’t need to preload a bunch of their own apps. The company is planning to have a stable build of CM13 ready by the end of this year, but nothing is written in stone here. There will also be new version of Cyanogen OS in the new year to take advantage of all the extensibility tools developed in CM13.

Although the main drive of its focus for 2016 will be these budget handsets and efficient software, Cyanogen also teased that it might be releasing a flagship. Klondik said “you didn’t hear it from me” as if to say nothing is confirmed. Nevertheless, the plan to release a high-end device is in the works. Exactly what that looks like is yet to be seen.

The biggest name flagship phone in recent memory running Cyanogen OS is the OnePlus One, last year’s ‘flagship killer’. But, with OnePlus choosing to go with its own Oxygen OS, there’s a distinct lack of an official flagship Cyanogen phone. The closest thing we have right now is the Wileyfox Storm, the British phablet which reminds us in many ways of the OnePlus phone.


2016 could be a huge year for Cyanogen as it focuses its energy on competing at the low end of the market. That is, if consumers experience a real difference in performance from Cyanogen’s phone. Even more importantly, consumers need to know about these Cyanogen phones. While many of us tech fans know of the company well, the lack of official high street retail presence means that most outside the tech bubble don’t.

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