The flagship killer. That’s how OnePlus – a recent Chinese begin-up that’s all of a suddenly sprung out of nowhere – is pitching its debut £230 smartphone.
And boy, does it dwell as much as that pitch.
Charging onto the smartphone scene underneath an bold ‘By no means Settle’ banner, OnePlus has made a genuinely good, genuinely disruptive machine with an enormous 5.5in display, the very best processing power presently accessible and kickass battery life. All for lower than the value of a Nexus 5.
The sheer, nearly-unbelievable worth of the OnePlus One is inconceivable to withstand. Choose up this smartphone simply as soon as and you’ll want to personal one.
However, there’s the rub: proudly owning one proper now may be very tough because of an invitation-solely ordering course of. So simply how far must you go to get yourself on the record?
Simply to be clear, the OnePlus One lives as much as the hype in virtually each single method. It actually does beat the Nexus at its personal sport and will probably be giving the sweats to all of these oh-so dear flagship telephones from the accepted Huge Boys. However no gadget is totally flawless, so let’s get the few points out of the way in which initially.
The one potential dealbreaker is that the One doesn’t play well with 4G on all UK networks. That’s as a result of it doesn’t help Band 20 LTE. What does that imply? Should you’re on EE or Three, you’re good to go along with 4G. Another community – Vodafone, O2, Tesco, and so forth – you’ll be restricted to 3G speeds.
A few different factors – it’s not waterproof just like the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, and there’s no expandable microSD storage. However take into account that the 64GB model of the OnePlus is simply £270 (solely a £40 premium over the 16GB mannequin) and that lack of storage expandability appears much less of a loss.
A number of different minor niggles apart (skip to our digicam part, for one) that basically is it. By way of design, display screen, efficiency and battery life you merely can’t get higher than this for anyplace close to £300.
BETTER BUILT THAN A SAMSUNG GALAXY S5
Plastic without the creaks. And an enormous display without the hand stretching.
We’ve been utterly gained over by the OnePlus One’s design and construct and people are the important thing the explanation why. It’s solidly made and looks like a one-piece development though it isn’t – you may praise the again casing off when you actually wish to, however, the battery can’t be eliminated. And it’s in some way straightforward to deal with regardless of its dimension.
There’s no denying this can be a massive cellphone – tall, particularly – however the pretty slim, curved edges imply it sits pretty properly even in small palms, and the fairly gentle 162g weight helps right here, too. The just about similar Oppo Find 7, which is barely faster and weighs 173g, feels an excessive amount of by comparability. In the event you’re used to a Nexus 5, an iPhone, or any variety of 2013 smartphones the dimensions of the OnePlus may initially trigger some concern, however, you actually will get used to it.
This isn’t the prettiest Android. There are hardware buttons beneath the display – they’re customisable, however, small and never brilliant sufficient. Contemplating we switched to onscreen buttons on day one, we want OnePlus hadn’t bothered. Its ‘chrome impact’ trim cheapens the entrance barely, the large bezels high and backside make it look retro and there’s not one of the rigorously preened and machined allure of say, an HTC One (M8). But it surely has its personal character and appeal and gained look misplaced, at a look, subsequent to extra premium package.
That’s due to the quirky Sandstone Black end that brings to thoughts a barely furry rock, pool desk felt and tenting stoves relying on who you ask. The one drawback is that if it will get mucky down the road, you may wipe it down. That is on the 64GB mannequin, in case you go for 16GB, you get a matte, white polycarbonate end as there’s no mixing and matching. OnePlus has been shouting about its StyleSwap circumstances, too – accessible in unique supplies equivalent to bamboo and denim. We haven’t acquired our fingers on any but-but it surely’s excellent news for followers of personalising their gear.
Us? As it’s, the OnePlus One’s massive type issue, odd texture and intriguing brand is sufficient to elicit loads of ‘What’s that?’s when out and about. And after bragging about its indie credentials, we’ve been getting much more smug when the following query’s ‘How a lot?’
With a 5.5in 1080p show, the OnePlus One has a much bigger display screen than most 2014 flagships however that doesn’t imply it’s troublesome to deal with. It’s not fairly LG G3 (or certainly G2) ranges of engineering large screens into tiny our bodies, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a powerful stability.
Gestures similar to double-faucet to wake additionally assist to keep away from cellphone juggling. Simply be warned; these will be overly delicate and also you may discover, as we did, that you just by accident turning on the torch operate in notifications three-four occasions a day.
Pixel pedants will discover that the larger dimension, without making the leap to 2K because the G3 and the Oppo Find 7 have completed, means a decrease PPI than rivals – however 401ppi is nothing to smell at, particularly at this value. For £230 this display screen could be very, very good.
Textual content is crisp and the distinction is great, making all the pieces from Android video games to webpages to homescreens look punchy. Colors are on the nice and cozy fact when in comparison with extra impartial wanting shows such because the G3, however, the OnePlus isn’t any sucker for saturation so faces nonetheless look pure. Viewing angles are good and the display screen is pretty brilliant, too – not absolutely the best to see outdoor however it’s manageable.
When watching motion pictures, the stereo audio system on the underside of the OnePlus are OK however nothing extra – they’re not the loudest and may sound tinny. Adequate for infrequent use however you’re going to stay to headphones more often than not anyway, aren’t you?
MORE MEGAPIXELS THAN A HTC ONE (M8)*
This can be a half-win for the OnePlus.
For daytime snaps, the OnePlus’ 13MP digital camera is reliably nice. The f/2.zero lens makes for vibrant photographs and hues are pure and interesting, even when they’re a tad washed out subsequent to the most effective. There’s loads of element captured, the zoom is usable and macro pics can look gorgeous. Autofocus in all fairness quick and gained’t have you ever tutting an excessive amount of – though it could’t sustain with a G3 or Galaxy S5.
CyanogenMod’s digital camera app has made it easy to alter modes – simply swipe down within the viewfinder display to change to HDR, Evening Mode or different presets, which you’ll be able to customise for straightforward entry. For this trick alone it’s turn out to be certainly one of our favorite digital camera apps. The truth is, the primary downside we’ve had whereas out snapping is that the lens is severely near the sting of the cellphone in panorama, so there have been a couple of large fingers in body.
CHECK OUT OUR FLICKR GALLERY OF ONEPLUS SNAPS BELOW
Indoors, the OnePlus One does a so-so job however, with out resorting to its LED flash, it simply doesn’t have the low-gentle capabilities of a HTC One (M8) or LG. OnePlus says it options ‘Picture Stabilisation Expertise’ software program however it doesn’t appear to make a lot of a distinction, sadly. Don’t even hassle outside at night time. Let’s not neglect, the Nexus 5 is not any stunner in low gentle, and each different finances cellphone is even additional behind that benchmark. However on a tool that’s so spectacular it’s a disgrace to come back out with barely fuzzy snaps of your mates over dinner. It’s not horrible but it surely’s one space the place it stills pay to, you understand, pay.
A pleasant bonus is that the OnePlus can shoot fairly easy Full HD and 4K video – although give its gradual-mo a miss – and stills and video taken with the 5MP entrance digicam are vibrant and detailed, too. General, the OnePlus’ digicam capabilities are the one space it doesn’t fairly match the £500 flagships, however it performs higher than each the Nexus and commonplace mid-vary efforts.
SLICKER UI THAN A SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE three
We love what CyanogenMod has achieved to Android. What’s CyanogenMod? Primarily it’s a tinkered-with model of Android that sticks carefully sufficient to the vanilla expertise to get pre-put in Google apps and frequent updates. The OnePlus is following the lead of the Oppo N1 right here in making this model of Android legit.
Primarily based on Android four.four, CyanogenMod eleven’s like inventory Android on steroids – if you happen to wish to tweak your standing bar, lockscreen, notifications pulldown, navigation buttons, sounds or absolutely anything else in your system, that is the smartphone for you. After all that signifies that freshmen is likely to be a bit overwhelmed by choices. There’s lots to change off from the get-go, as you’d with an overstuffed TouchWiz on a Word three, say, however in the end it’s the clear, fluid inventory Android expertise with extra customisation. Except for CM’s signature hexagons, it seems similar to inventory, too – earlier than you begin mucking about with themes, fonts and icons that’s. Settings features a Personalisation part for gestures, lockscreens and the like, and in ‘Buttons’ you’ll be able to flit between hardware and onscreen navigation buttons.
Interested by extra than simply design tweaks? Then dig into ‘Profiles’ – a characteristic we’ve seen on some Motorola gadgets however is once more taken to the following stage in CyanogenMod. Right here you possibly can automate Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, knowledge, ring volumes and notifications for residence, work, evening, automotive settings. It really works brilliantly and, after all, there’s extra to play with right here than even energy customers can dream of.
One factor that’s lacking is a cut up display function to run two apps in home windows – as seen on the LG G3 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. So OnePlus isn’t squeezing each final drop out of that 5.5in display screen, however don’t overlook – options resembling this are nonetheless a little bit of a luxurious. As is a stylus, which the OnePlus additionally does with out.
We nonetheless have a smooth spot for HTC’s Sense UI however CyanogenMod proves that it’s grown-up, secure and lots slick sufficient. It does what the overwhelming majority of absolute giants fail to do – improves Android.
LONGER BATTERY LIFE THAN AN OPPO FIND 7
The OnePlus One is a uncommon factor: a giant, low-cost smartphone with an superior battery life.
With a 3100mAh battery (that’s virtually as massive because the Galaxy Be aware three’s) the One’s stamina actually impresses. With any huge-screened telephone, nevermind a minimize-value one, battery life is a fear, however right here it’s actually not an issue with a rattling spectacular 10 hours 20 minutes in our 720p video rundown take a look at (Wi-Fi on, half brightness). And facet-by-facet with the virtually similar however 2K-screened Oppo Find 7, the OnePlus drops 9% an hour on common versus the Oppo’s quite worrying 18%.
The battery isn’t swappable, there’s no VOOC quick charging (as on the Oppo) and neither is there a constructed-in energy saving mode. True, the final one is a small nuisance, however none of it takes away from the enjoyment of getting a day of use out of an in any other case unbelievable 5.5in smartphone.
A aspect word – OnePlus has lavished its microUSB cable with consideration. We are able to’t consider we’re saying this nevertheless it seems correct attractive in an orangey-crimson and white. Not solely does it stand out in a sea of black and white cables, it’s been flattened to keep away from tangling, too. Good work.
Hype confirmed. Disruption commencing.
To get top-of-the-line smartphones on the planet, you don’t want £500 or £forty a month anymore. You simply want a OnePlus One invite.
OnePlus tells us that as manufacturing ramps up, extra invitations shall be despatched out (to patrons and on boards) and a very good, old school pre-order system arrange. Letting gadget followers purchase the gadget the correct method means the £230 One might nicely be the flagship killer that was promised. On supreme worth alone, it deserves it.
If OnePlus decides to make a smaller smartphone in 2015, it would even put a number of tech giants out of enterprise. For now, the OnePlus One may be too large for some.
Nevertheless it actually does have ‘it’ – that mixture of fine design, dependable efficiency and worth for cash. The Nexus 5 has it, so does the smaller Moto G. However now the OnePlus One has surpassed each and takes its place because the king of the finances flagships. It’s good for early adopters, spec worshippers, tinkerers and anybody keen to take a big gamble on an unknown – however completely good – gadget.