OnePlus One review : A $300 Android Powerhouse

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The year 2014 is about to end with the best smartphones launched in 2K14 to its credit. Among these great gadgets is the OnePlus One, which at the time of its launch in April, took the tech community by storm. With high-end specs at half the price of flagships available out there in the market, the OnePlus One has become a huge success as well as difficult to acquire because of its unique “invite system”.

Founded by former OPPO executives, the OnePlus company claims its device to be the “Flagship Killer”. Is it really one? After 1 month of usage, here we are to answer this question. So make sure that you check out our full review below!

HARDWARE

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The OnePlus One is a sleek phablet, measuring 152.9×75.9mm with 8.9mm thickness. It weighs 162 grams, however, the weight is distributed equally and hence, the OnePlus One does not feels bulky to hold.

There’s a slight curve at the back which, in combination with a beautiful sandstone texture, adds a nice grip to the phone. The phone is surrounded by a metal frame and each and every piece has been assembled in a minimalistic way. The button placement is great, especially for those who have short hands.

While the 16GB variant comes in “Silk White” finish, the 64GB variant offers the sandstone black texture. As I mentioned before, the finish is very unique and makes the back of the phone resistant to smudges. OnePlus has made the panels removable, and had also announced the Style Swap covers, though they never launched it due to some issues.
There’s a 13-megapixel snapper at the back, which is actually housed inside a small protruding metal strip so as to prevent the lens from getting any scratches. Below the camera, there’s a dual-LED flash. Also included, is the OnePlus logo with CyanogenMod’s and other certifications brandings’ located at the bottom.

The front houses the 5.5-inch 1080p display, which is a little raised up, and I am actually worried that due to this, the screen might shatter-off if the phone will fall down. The front panel looks black, until the screen is turned on, with three capacitive touch buttons at the bottom. The 5-megapixel selfie cam along with an LED are at the top. The right side features the power/screen lock button while the volume rocker is placed at the left side along with the sim-card tray. The speaker grills along with the micro-USB port are at the bottom, while the 3.5mm headset jack is situated at the top.

Overall, the OnePlus offers a sturdy device with a nice ergonomic design. The quality is premium as compared to other flagships offered by HTC or Samsung.

SOFTWARE

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If you think that the OnePlus One offers really great hardware, then you also got to see the software inside it. OnePlus has teamed up with the folks at CyanogenMod, and so, the global version offers the CM 11S out of the box, with Android 4.4 KitKat.

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The popular ROM works flawlessly on the OnePlus One also offers lots of optimizations. It offers a stock Android experience at first, however, as you begin to apply tweaks, it becomes even more enjoyable to use. You can apply innumerable themes with the help of the Themes Showcase app, or you can simply add different theme to individual components such as icons, sounds, boot animations etc.

You can also disable the capacitive screens at the bottom, and opt for on-screen  buttons, if you wish to with the help of a single click. CyanogenMod also offers customizations to the status bar to show the clock, battery percentage (and the type of indicator it uses) and the number of notifications for certain apps, like Gmail.

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The notification tray offers a dual-layout. The first one is for the notifications and the other tray houses the quick toggles, which are customizable in the settings.

The OPO offers on-screen gestures, such as, you can draw “v” to turn on the flash or simple use the home button to wake up the device. You can also use the “Ok Google” hotword while the phone is locked.

CyanogenMod also offers advanced privacy and security features including Privacy Guard through which you can prevent apps from accessing your personal data. There’s also support for secure messaging through WhisperPush encrypted SMS. However, these messages are supported between devices running Cyanogen and devices that are TextSecure compatible.

 

CAMERA

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The OnePlus One has a 13-megapixel rear camera with a Sony sensor, six-element lens setup and f/2.0 aperture for lower-light shots. In addition to that, the front sports a 5MP camera.

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The OnePlus One comes bundled with Cyanogen’s own camera app, consisting of three circular buttons on the side for taking stills, video and panoramic shots. Along the top sits some settings, scenes and a toggle for the front-facing camera. The app offers options to change the size, quality, shutter speed, focus duration, focus mode, and ISO. Vertical swipes change the scene mode while horizontal swipes lets you browse pictures and videos shot with the phone.

While clicking pictures in the daylight, the Auto mode handled the shots very accurately. However, there was a little bit of saturation. Overall, the images had a good level of detail.

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Night shots were fine. The dual-LED flash did a fantastic job, but still, there was noise, especially when 100% zoomed in.

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HDR mode is a tad strong. It processes the pictures in such a way, that they start feeling cartoonish. However, you can switch on to another filter or just switch on to the Auto mode.

But, here’s the main thing – the Video recording! The OnePlus One captures 4K videos at 20mbps rate. There’s also an option to shoot 60 fps and 120 fps Slow-Motion videos or simply time-lapses. The software really does helps in producing a smooth footage.

PERFORMANCE

Though the OnePlus One costs a mere $300 only, it houses a beast of specs inside it. It is powered by a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB RAM and 16/64 GB storage. All of these actually make the OnePlus One as one of the high performers out there in the market. Plus, all of this means that you get a smooth experience while playing games, switching between apps or just doing a heavy task. There were certain frame skips while we were testing out heavy games on it, but, it was hardly noticeable.

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In terms of benchmarks, it scored 22,401 in Quadrant Standard, 45,460 in AnTuTu, 2301 in Geekbench 3 (Multi-core) and 62.5 in NenaMark 2.

CM’s software provides us the ability to switch between different modes to enhance the performance of the device, as well as to set the minimum and maximum CPU frequency.

The speakers provide very loud sound, though they lack bass and do not offer stereo sound output. The OnePlus One offers an “Audio FX” app that helped very much in providing a good audio experience. It comes with presets for headphones, speakers, Bluetooth etc. and offers individual settings to change the bass, surround sound and reverb as well.

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OnePlus has equipped the One with three microphones, which delivered a very good call quality. However, there was some distortion. The loudness levels were very low and it was hard to hear the caller in noisy situations.

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There’s a 3100mAH non-removable battery which yielded good results. Even if you perform heavy activities, such as 2-3 hours of calling, pretty amount of gaming, video playback etc., you’ll be able to get almost a day of battery life.

VERDICT

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While the OnePlus One misses out on certain minor things like wireless charging or expendable storage, but let’s just say – “Who cares man!”. It is elegant in its looks, is sturdy and proves to be one of the best flagships I’ve ever seen. It really does beats out many flagships that offer similar hardware, but at a price which is twice (sometimes thrice) the price of the OnePlus One.

As OnePlus has promised, it will launch the smartphone in India under Rs 25000, and if it goes by its promise, then there’s no reason to opt for another smartphone. Offering a beast performance at such a minimal cost is a really a difficult thing in today’s world.

“We know that it’s really a hefty task to get an invite, however, if you manage to grab one, then don’t wait and just simply click the “BUY” button! The OnePlus One is a perfect flagship that fits to most of our needs and outperforms the other android smartphones out there in the market.”

PROS-

  • Value for money
  • Great gaming performance
  • CM 11S software offers plethora of customisations

CONS-

  • Limited availability
  • Call quality has a little distortion

 

Post Author: Ishita Mediratta