Hands-on with the smaller, cheaper OnePlus X

From the moment you pick up the OnePlus X, it's hard not to think about the iPhones of yesteryear. There's no denying it: there's a whiff of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 to this new handset. But that's not necessarily a criticism. It's been a while since those phones were Apple's crème de la crème, and there's a certain sophistication to the X's glass back and rounded corners. Turning it over in my hands, it certainly doesn't feel like a $249 phone. OnePlus has paid attention to the details: the metal frame, for instance, has 17 "micro-cuts" to make it a little grippier. The alert slider, which lets you switch between three notification profiles, has a different finish so you can find it in your pocket without looking.

That's not to say the phone's industrial design is without its faults. The glass back is a fingerprint magnet and, after barely 10 minutes with a handful of journalists, I spotted some scratches on the front and back of a few handsets. Phones like the iPhone 4 and Nexus 4 were prone to this too; if you're the type that regularly knocks their smartphone off the kitchen table, you might want to consider slightly more rugged alternatives. There's little difference between the glass and limited-edition ceramic models of the OnePlus X. In terms of look and feel, they are practically identical, with the ceramic version only distinguishable by its more chamfered edge and slightly lighter hue.

The OnePlus X runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, which was common in Android flagships last year. It feels snappy and responsive, and I blitzed through a few rounds of Crossy Road and never noticed any stuttering or slowdown. The seemingly solid performance can be partly attributed to OxygenOS, which is a light, clean take on Android.

For $249, you would expect more compromises on the X's spec sheet. The 16GB of internal storage is a little concerning (thankfully there's a microSD card slot) and I'm keen to see how the 2,525mAh battery performs in everyday use. An immediate worry is the OnePlus X's camera -- the 13-megapixel sensor is supposed to be a highlight of the device, but I wasn't all that impressed. On the 28th floor of a tower in central London, the photos it spat out looked a little soft and noisy. With large windows on either side, the room wasn't exactly dark or dingy, so low-light performance could be an issue.

Given its price-tag, the OnePlus X shows plenty of promise. The design isn't original or adventurous, but it's certainly slicker than most handsets in its class. It's not a top-tier flagship like the OnePlus 2, but that was always the company's intention. The X is the beginning of a new smartphone line aimed at people that aren't too fussed about bleeding-edge performance. If you're more interested in the overall experience, and how a phone makes you feel -- similar to how Motorola pitched the original Moto X -- then this a device to keep on your radar. Provided you can get one of those pesky invites, that is.

Jamie Rigg contributed to this report.