If you’ve been following the latest Android gadget news, you’ve probably heard about the new “Flagship Killer” phone, the OnePlus One. There has been a lot of hype about the phone due to its impressive specs, low off contract price, and legions of fans trying to score an invite to buy one. I was lucky enough to snag an invite a few weeks ago, so I wanted to share my thoughts on how it stacks up.
Let’s start with the cold, hard facts. The phone sports a 5.5 inch 1080p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. It’s got a 5MP front facing camera and a 13MP back facing camera, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC, and all the other toys you’ve come to expect from a top of the line Android phone.
The OnePlus One runs Cyanogen right out of the box which is pretty neat. There’s no carrier bloatware, just a clean, beautiful, fully customizable Android interface. Even better, Cyanogen and OnePlus have promised to update to Android L within 90 days of its release from Google.
The OnePlus One comes in two varieties- a 16GB white phone for $299 and a 64GB black phone for $349, off-contract. Off contract! That’s unheard of!
The first thing that struck me about the phone was the packaging. It is amazingly well designed and well thought out. I’m not usually impressed with a cardboard box, but this was pretty nice. The box has a high quality, velvety feel to it. Rather than wrestling with tearing the package open, a nice little red tab instructs you to “open”, which opens the first layer of packaging. When you get to the inside, there’s a little red tab you can pull to release the phone from the blister packing. They could have left the tab out and I could have dumped the phone out of the package, but this felt so much more thought out.
Okay, enough with the packaging love. The phone also comes with a USB cord and charger, which are equally well designed. The cord is bright red and designed to resist tangles. While it fits a standard USB connection, it’s actually designed a little different than your standard USB cord.
The back of the phone isn’t removable (or can’t be removed very easily), so it took me a second to figure out how to insert the sim card. There’s a tiny hole on the left side of the phone. Normally you’d stick a paperclip into the hole, and the sim card tray would pop out. But! The One comes with it’s own little sim card tool just for that purpose. Pop in a micro sim card and you’re ready to go.
The first thing that struck me about the phone was the size. It’s a little bigger than my old phone, and in my opinion it’s a little too big. It doesn’t fit in my hands very easily, and is also a bit big to put in my pockets. The size is super nice for watching videos or surfing the web though. It feels a lot roomier than my last phone. The back of the phone is a velvety sandstone-y kind of textured plastic, which is kind of cool. It gives it a more upscale feeling than shiny plastic, and makes it a little easier to grip.
The front of the phone is made of Gorilla Glass 3, and features 3 capacitive buttons that can be disabled in your settings if you hate screen real estate and want less of it.
The display is big and bright, with very smooth animations and no noticeable lag. No complaints there.
The camera is pretty darn good. Daylight pictures are clear and bright. I took the night time picture above in pitch black darkness. The result isn’t too grainy or dark, which is pretty impressive.
The OnePlus One can also shoot 120 fps slow motion video at 720p, which is pretty fun. I tried it a few times with some pretty hilarious results.
The speakers on this thing are great. I turned on some music in one room and went to the next room. The music still sounded loud and clear. The sound is well balanced too, not too tinny like a lot of phones.
The One has 3 microphones, which all capture sound and apply a noise canceling algorithm for clearer sound recording. I haven’t played around with the microphone enough to vouch for that, but people on the other end of my calls claim I sound good, so there’s that.
The battery life is where this phone really shines. The One comes with a 3100 mAh battery that it claims can last all day. I did even better than that, leaving for a camping trip on Friday morning and not charging my phone until I got back on Sunday night. I think I still had 30% or so left. Granted, my data and wifi were off for most of the trip and I turned the phone off at night, but that’s still darn good compared to most phones that have trouble just making it through the day.
The battery isn’t removable, so you can’t add a spare when you run out. With over a day of battery life though, I don’t see that being a problem.
Here’s one feature that I really wanted to like, but just couldn’t make it work out for me. Double tap on the screen to wake up the phone, or draw a circle on the screen while the phone is asleep, and it will turn on and start up the camera. It does work really well, but I had to disable that feature because it worked too well. Literally every time I would pick up my phone to carry it somewhere, and every time it was in my pocket, it would wake up, boot up the camera, take a bunch of pictures, etc. My battery was actually getting drained from all the time it was awake when it was supposed to be in my pocket.
So, to sum up: I’m not sold 100% on the size of the phone, and gesture controls didn’t work for me. Everything else is great. The OnePlus One is a worthy competitor to other high end Android phones, at a price that can’t be beat. I highly recommend grabbing one if you can score an invite.