OnePlus One

I’m fully subscribed to the Android ecosystem, so if you’re a iPhone fan you’ll probably want to find a different review of the OnePlus One.  I’ve had a long history of Android, starting with the original Droid, the Xoom, the Nexus S, the S2, the S3, the Nexus 4, the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 5 — plus quite a bit of experience with very low end Android devices.

Frankly I was quite hesitant to believe what I’d read online about the OnePlus One and didn’t order mine until a friend of mine showed me his (he’s just gotten it).  Impressive I though, particularly at the price… we’ll talk about that in a minute.

At the bottom of this post I’ve include specifications for the OnePlus One, both from GSMArena.com and OnePlus.net, but in short the OnePlus One is a near phablet sized handset: a 5.5 inch JDI with 1080p (1920×1080) 401 PPI IPS screen, a Qualcomm quad-core processor, an Adreno GPU with 3GB of RAM.

I had to retrieve my shipment from the post office (OnePlus uses USPS Priority Mail with delivery confirmation in the US, and mine shipped from the outskirts of Los Angeles, CA).  I was less than impressed with the shipping container (a bubble padded pouch), but upon opening it neither the box containing the handset or the power adapter were in the least bit damaged.

When I opened the box the plastic cover on the screen had crap on it — I really hate that, why can’t handset vendors just put a clear plastic film on a handset, that way if you don’t have a screen protector you could use the phone without exposing the screen.  Fortunately I had ordered a Orzly 0.22mm tempered glass protective screen from Amazon (NOTE:  the price of these has gone up at least twice since I bought mine, so Amazon may not be the best place to order one).  I also had gotten a Qi charging receiver pad and a Cruzerlite TPU case so I went ahead and put those on the One as well.  I will say like all the previous Cruzerlite cases I’ve purchased, this one is very well made (though apparently the popularity has somewhat increased their pricing).

It’s worth noting here that the One does not have Qi charging capabilities built in (why it doesn’t is a mystery — normally I would not have purchased a phone without wireless charging, and I would greatly encourage OnePlus to add that feature to the next model).

The phone came out of the box with about a 30% charge, so enough to go ahead and start setting it up (but not enough to do encryption on it — so that would have to wait for a full charge).

My first impression of handling the phone and using the older version of Android (yes, we’ll have to wait for Lollipop) was favorable — but honestly while I didn’t think Android 5 was that big of a change, going back underscores how nice the nuances are.

One thing I’m not sure of is why the One includes buttons below the screen… it does give you the option of disabling those and only have soft buttons on the screen.  The phone is new enough to have been designed with the revised guidelines, and the hardware for the buttons is a waste (perhaps that would have been a sufficient saving to have wireless charging).

I let the phone charge while I looked over what OnePlus had included.

OnePlus ships both a micro and a nano SIM tray with the One (they’re plastic, but appear well made).  That’s a nice touch because it allows you to use either size SIM (I really wish both my N4 and N5 had a nano tray — and yes I know about adapters, I have some).  Under the tray in the phone box is a SIM tray eject tool (a rather fancy one for something most people use exactly once; and a red charging/sync cable that’s a little over the top – maybe a cost saving here could have paid for the Qi charging capability.

The charger appear well made, but it’s white whereas the high end handset is black, so with the black, red, and white the aesthetics are a little questionable.

The phone charged fairly quickly (considering how much it was downloading and installing from Google Play), and there was an OTA update for it as well.

The camera, both front facing and rear facing with the rear facing camera doing a resolution of 3120×4208 pixels.  Impressive specs, but even more impressive images.  I personally don’t care for point and shoot cameras (give me a [D]SLR anytime), but if you’re going to snap a quick shot with your phone, you might as well get the best image quality possible.

The One had good voice quality on both a cellular and a wifi call, the speakers seem well and their location on the bottom of the phone give reasonably good sound when it’s laying on a desk.

The battery seems to last well, and unlike some others I didn’t experience any issues with overheating when I charged the One, the back gets no warmer than my N5.

The handset is snappy — of course one would expect that from the specs; the screen is clear and crisp.

Overall the phone is a very good value; with the 16GB model running $299 and the 64GB model running $349 (by the way, since there’s no uSD slot, the decision is clearly buy the 64GB model) it’s a hard mark to beat.  One of the catches is that you need an invitation to buy one — or you buy it on Tuesdays (OnePlus has started opening up purchasing for anyone on Tuesday, there’s no indication of how long this will last).

With so many positive things to say about the One it’s probably sounds a little anticlimactic to even mention the minor cons.

First and foremost, I think the handset is too big for men to carry in their pocket; that is of course a personal preference, and given the large number of handsets this size most people don’t seem to share my view.

There is absolutely no reason for a handset targeting these features to not have Qi wireless charging.  Yes you can add a Qi charging receiver to it, but that means you need to keep it in a case and you lose the use of the uUSB port.

There are a few pieces of bloatware in the ROM, and there’s absolutely no reason for them to be there.  Google has proven with the Nexus series that clean / lean ROMs are what enthusiasts like, and most everyone who would buy a phone like this is more than capable of downloading and installing an app.  Further, if you feel the phone needs an app — why bind it into the ROM, just pre-load it as an app and allow it to be removed.  NOTE:  OnePlus is shifting away from Cyanogenmod to their own custom ROM, so this may or may not continue to be an issue.  Along with this is the lack of Android 5 – Lollipop.  This handset desperately needs an update to be the flagship it has the potential of.

The bottom line, if you want a new handset (or need one), and $349 (plus $14.95 shipping) isn’t a problem for you… buy it.  You will need to use PayPal, and if you have descent credit there’s a 6-month no payment / no interest plus $10 credit deal from PayPal (Bill-Me-Later) as well…

 


 

Specs from GSMArena.com

GSMArena.com (with edits)

Network Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
Launch Announced 2014, April
Status Available. Released 2014, June
Body Dimensions 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm (6.02 x 2.99 x 0.35 in)
Weight 162 g (5.71 oz)
SIM Micro-SIM or Nano-SIM
Display Type LTPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.5 inches (~71.9% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes, up to 10 fingers
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
– CyanogenMod 11S
Platform OS Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat), upgradable to v4.4.4 (KitKat)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801
CPU Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
GPU Adreno 330
Memory Card slot No
Internal 16GB or 64 GB, 3 GB RAM
Camera Primary 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR
Video 2160p@30fps, 2160p(DCI)@24fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps, HDR, stereo sound rec.
Secondary 5 MP, 1080p@30fps
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes, dual mono speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
Comms WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC Yes
Radio No
USB microUSB v2.0, USB Host
Features Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
Browser HTML5
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
– ANT+ support
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP4/H.264/WMV player
– MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player
– Document viewer
– Photo viewer/editor
– Voice memo/dial/commands
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3100 mAh battery
Stand-by
Talk time
Misc Colors Silk White 16GB, Sandstone Black 64GB
SAR US 0.62 W/kg (head)     0.75 W/kg (body)
Price $299 16GB, $349 64GB

 

Specifications from OnePlus.net

OnePlus.net

Basic Parameters

Color Silk White/Sandstone Black
Dimensions 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
Weight 5.71 ounces (162 g)
Operating System Cyanogen 11S based on Android 4.4
CPU Qualcomm© Snapdragon™ 801 processor with 2.5GHz Quad-core CPUs
GPU Adreno 330, 578MHz
RAM 3 GB LP-DDR3, 1866MHz
Storage 16/64 GB eMMC 5.0, available capacity varies
Sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity and Ambient Light
Battery Embedded rechargeable 3100 mAh LiPo battery
Max. SAR Head: 0.270 W/kg, Body: 0.540 W/kg

Connectivity

Connectivity
  • GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz
  • WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8
  • LTE: Bands: 1/3/4/7/17/38/40
Wi-Fi Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC 65T (software card emulation, payment methods and multi-tag support)
Positioning Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
Digital Compass

Ports, Slots, Buttons and Indicators

Ports Data & Charging: Micro USB 2.0
Audio: Jack 3.5mm
Buttons Power Button
Volume Rockers
Capacitive / On-screen buttons
SIM 1 slot – Micro SIM
Indicators 1 LED notification light (multicolored)

In The Box

1x OnePlus One
1x USB Cable
1x SIM Tray Ejection Tool
1x Additional SIM Tray (Nano SIM)