When I saw that Kennedy Myril (from Tobago, the place we trinis love to visit) got a OnePlus One phone, I had to beg him for a review for my blog. According to Wikipedia OnePlus is a smartphone manufacturer in China founded on December 17, 2013. OnePlus is headquartered in Shenzhen. It was founded by Pete Lau, previously Vice President at OPPO. What attracts me to this phone is the specs for the price. Currently the phone can be purchased through a limited invite system. It runs a customised CyanogenMod and they dub it the flagship killer. This review was so well written I am going to post it verbatim. You can follow Kennedy on Twitter and Google+. Likes, shares and comments would be greatly appreciated. If you want to contribute similarly to the blog just let me know.
After hearing about this company for weeks and thinking that the interwebs was actually going crazy over HTC’s new One phone, I finally realised that this was a different device, from a different OEM. A new OEM at that. I was not fond of the name of the company, nor the name of the device, because I felt like ‘One’ had become too common of a name (HTC One, Xbox One etc.) but, I was interested nonetheless.
We all know about the bizarre invitation system that OnePlus has put in place, and how difficult it is to get a hold of the device, but, sure enough, I was fortunate enough to get one, and this is a brief review after one and a half weeks of usage.
Packaging and Unboxing
Being a citizen of T&T, OnePlus does not ship the device to this country. I had to send it to my skybox, and collect it after a nerve wrecking wait. Immediately, the packaging seemed familiar because I had seen them so many times on Google+ and on YouTube. Once home, I hurriedly got the phone out of the box, but not before I had time to notice that everything was well thought out and had a premium feel to it.
The charger is bigger than usual, but smaller than it seemed on YouTube. Micro USB cable is unique though short, and it plugs into the phone in the reverse manner, which can be a nuisance to some. Coming from a Nexus 4, the phone felt bigger than any other that I ever handled. It almost felt too big at first, but as I write this, I must confess that it gives a nice feel in the hand. I have relatively big hands, but the narrow profile of the phone is appreciated and it feels smaller than the Note 2 or 3 of Samsung.
Sandstone Black. Before hearing about the 64GB model, I had never heard of that colour, but I assure you that it is a thing. The touch is welcoming. It’s not cold like HTC’s One series, neither does it feel glossy and cheap like Samsung’s offerings prior to the Galaxy S5 and Note 3. Everyone who has held the device has commented on the feel of it. It’s unique, but terribly good. Well done OnePlus.
I’ll admit it and without apologies at that; I’m a nexus fanboy. I’m of the belief that no one can do Android better than the people who design the thing (Google). This was one of the first things that drew me to the device; I’m speaking about the presence of Cyanogen. I’m very unwilling to purchase any Android device that runs some sort of ‘skin’ that is not Nexus-like. It means that I am limited to Nexus devices, Google Play Edition devices, Motorola devices, and devices which run Cyanogen or the likes.
Upon setting up my account, one of the first things I did was to enable the onscreen keys because I just cannot stand physical or capacitive buttons since the introduction of the Galaxy Nexus in 2011. Navigation around the device was generally smooth, although I found myself tapping buttons twice; especially the onscreen keys. I soon found that I had not calibrated the distances in my mind and I was often missing the area that I should tap. I have since learned that others have complained about screen sensitivity issues as well so maybe I was not the problem.
I love the ability to customize things on the device without having to Root, or Download any launchers. If you like to tinker with your device, then this is the phone for you. If you don’t like to tinker, then it’s still for you. There is also an embedded themer store called ‘Themes Showcase’ which allows even more customization at a cost.
Call and Sound Quality
Some have complained about low sound but, once the ear piece is properly positioned, I can hear the person on the other end quite clearly and they me. The speaker is pretty loud although it can get muffled when turned all the way up. I don’t listen to music on my phone and even if I did, I would use earplugs. For me, this is a non issue.
I seem to have an issue with my WiFi signal interrupting my cellular service, but once the WiFi is off, I can make and receive calls without a hitch. I am yet to find the cause of this problem although many have said that they lose WiFi signal (something I have not experienced) and I expect an update to address WiFi in general in the near future.
If you’ve owned a Nexus 4 or a Galaxy Nexus, then you’ll know that their cameras are terrible. There were times when I wondered if my Nexus 4 actually took a picture of what I was looking at. The One blows it out of the water. There is no contest. It actually rivals some of the best phone cameras I have ever seen, period. It comes with a hoard of camera settings to give you the results you desire and its HDR mode produces some amazing images.
If not in HDR mode, it suffers a bit in low light conditions, but, as I sometimes say, why would you take a picture in low light and not use the flash?
If you don’t know, it possesses a 5.5” 1080p screen and its images are pretty sharp. No seriously, the images are great. But if you’ve been paying attention, you would have heard about the yellow banding or a general yellowish hue on the screen. I’m sorry to say that my device does also have this yellow band at the bottom, but luckily for me, I use onscreen navigation buttons which renders the bottom black. That aside, the device needs a better white balance. Whites aren’t fully white. There are settings to adjust this, but more should be done. I don’t think it’s something to prevent you from getting the device unless you use the keys on the bezel and suffer from OCD.
Probably the biggest win for me with this device has been the battery life. It is absolutely stellar. I can easily average 24 hours per charge and roughly 4 hours of onscreen time. If I spend more time on WiFi, then the onscreen time can even be stretched to 5 hours. When companies claim all day battery life, we don’t want 8 or 12 hours; we want 24 hours, and OnePlus has delivered on this.
This is a great device. Considering that the 64GB version only costs about $2300 TT makes it even better. Are there compromises? Yes. The screen’s colour and wifi issues come to mind, but barring those, I would recommend it to anyone who would consider a pretty big phone. The size feels normal after 1 week of use in any case. I don’t have any more invites, but, if you’re interested in this phone, and have access to an invite, don’t hesitate. Is it the flagship killer that they say it is? I’d say a resounding yes, once more persons are able to purchase it.
BTW, who’s up for the OneWatch?