It has been about 8 months ever since OnePlus has announced its first ever product, the OnePlus one. It was nicknamed “The Flagship Killer” due to the specs and also the low price point compared to other smart phones with similar specs. It caused quite a hype in the smartphone world and the big problem it has is fulfilling demands worldwide. It had this annoying invite system which only allow potential user to buy the phone only if you have the invite. There are several ways to get invites, through contest on certain websites, getting sharable invite from friends or just beg in the forums, hoping someone will give one to you.
Fast forward 8 months and I am currently using OnePlus One (64GB) Sandstone Black as my daily driver. I was fortunate to be able to secure an invite in September. For those interested you can visit here and ask for invite.
For those residing in Singapore, the only way to get the phone to ship from US to Singapore is through a forwarder. You might want to visit here as there are detailed discussion on how and which forwarder to use to ship the phone to Singapore.
As of today 30th Nov 2014 (GMT +8) OnePlus is holding Black Friday sales. You can directly order the phone at their main page but it states that only confirmed orders will be shipped by 25th Dec and it’s while stocks lasts. If you don’t want to wait too long or beg for an invite, you can consider buying it of another person hands. For folks in Singapore, current prices in forums is hovering around S$520 brand new and for as low as S$300 for used set.
I have been using this phone for 2 months now and will share about the experience and whether it is still worth yr hard-earned money.
Design and Hardware
The OnePlus One feels really great in the hands and its impossible that such quality phone will only cost USD350. It feels very sturdy and the build quality doesn’t feel cheap at all. The chrome edges are actually made of plastic and the back has this cloth-like material that not only feels great, but also helps in the gripping of the phone.
The volume buttons and power button are tactile and placed ergonomically. I had no trouble locating the buttons without ever having to look.
5.5 inch phones has become the norm in the smartphone industry . If you are looking to use this as a one-handed device, it is not impossible but it will require some hand gymnastics to reach slide down the notification shade. I have dropped my phone once from chest height using one handed but fortunately I had a casing on and it absorbed the impact. I have to say the case worked quite well.
The speakers are placed at the bottom of the phone, flanking the micro USB port. While using the phone in landscape mode, my fingers would sometimes muffle the sound. Sound is clear and loud, had no problems hearing the other party while on speaker mode.
Media consumption be it watching Youtube videos or movies makes it a very pleasant experience on the 5.5 inch 1080p screen. The LCD screen is bright and colors are vivid. But to view the screen in the sun, I had to set maximum brightness to be able to see the screen clearly.
Software and Day-to-Day Performance
What’s so unique about this phone apart from the specs is that it is running CyanogenMod 11s based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. What also makes it different from other phones on the market is the ability to freely root and flash different ROMs without voiding the warranty.
Currently I am still running CyanogenMod 11s update 25R. This version of the software by far has provided me the best battery life. Right now as of 30th Nov 2014, the latest version is 44S. As some updates might break some functionality you might need to use, It will be good to check the new version logs or user reviews at the OnePlus Official forums.
For those who like close to stock android experience with lots of customization will definitely love CyanogenMod. You can easily change the look and feel of your phone by buying or downloading themes for free from the pre-installed Theme Showcase app. CyanogenMod still has bugs but OnePlus and the huge community are constantly working hard together to resolve issues.
The software is fluid and there are little to no lags at all. Using the Chrome browser, having 30 tabs open did not slow down the phone at all. Playing games is a breeze and the phone can easily take on newer games for at least another year or more. Even with a case on, I could feel the phone heating up while playing intensive games.
Recently Google has just announced the latest version of Android Lollipop. OnePlus announced that the OnePlus One will be getting the Lollipop within 3 months of Google releasing their final build. It won’t be long before OnePlus One has the latest and greatest Android version. Hopefully It improves on battery life and also fixes current bugs.
Typically I can get roughly 4+ hours of screen-on-time with normal usage. By the end of the day, I would have around 30-40% battery life. Usage includes checking mail, browsing the web, messaging and calling. Playing games on the other hand will drain the battery quite fast. As this phone does not have a removable battery, I suggest that you have a battery pack if you play games a lot.
Seriously speaking, I’m not a camera guy but as a normal user, it fulfills most of my needs. Pictures are clear in the daylight but night scene was quite reasonable.
For video, it is capable of recording in 4K resolution and also slow-mo at 60 / 120 FPS.
As a point and shoot camera, the auto focus was good and pictures turn out decent. Overall it performs well for me.
Unfortunately my set is plagued with the yellow banding at the bottom of the screen. There were mixed reactions on this issue, some saying that for a $300 phone, it’s hard to complain. Others saying they failed in their QC (Quality Control) and requested for a refund (More about it here). Personally I’m fine with the yellow banding as it only visible when looking at white pages on websites. I can hardly notice it when playing games or watching YouTube.
Another problem is the ghost touches. Ghost touches is where the screen will appear to be tapped while using it, where physically you didn’t. Apparently it is a software bug but I have tried different release of the software and the issue still exists. Sometimes it gets really annoying but it is not a deal breaker as it only happens occasionally.
To End It
The OnePlus One not only look and feels great, it performs great as well. Although the software department still has bugs to be fixed, it is only a matter of time that the software will only continue to get better and better. In addition to that, Android Lollipop is also coming soon. We can expect more to come our way.
The only gripe I have is how hard it is to get this phone. Apart from the horrible invite system, OnePlus also do not ship to many countries. I made use of a forwarder to help ship it to SG but as a result I actually paid more than USD350 to get hold of this phone.
Should you buy this phone?
Yes definitely, if you can live with the problems it is facing, that is. Although it is 8 months old, at USD 350 or S$500+ with such high-end specs, it’s hard to find a similar phone elsewhere. It’s good to note that the OnePlus Two might be out in 2015. But without the specs and price, it will be hard to gauge if it’s worth waiting.
If you are having second thoughts or just want to have a good and working phone right out of the box, you can consider the last gen Nexus 5 which is also priced similarly.
|OnePlus One||LG Nexus 5|
|Dimensions||6.02 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches||5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches|
|Screen Size||5.5 inches||5.0 inches|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920||1080 x 1920|
|Screen||IPS LCD||IPS LCD|
|Back Camera||13 megapixels||8 megapixels|
|Front Camera||5 megapixels||1.3 megapixels|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801||Qualcomm Snapdragon 800|
|Processor||Quad core, 2500 MHz, Krait 400||Quad core, 2260 MHz, Krait 400|
|Graphics||Adreno 330||Adreno 330|
|RAM||3 GB||2 GB|
|Storage||16 GB / 64 GB||16 GB / 32 GB|
|Battery||3100 mAh||2300 mAh|
That’s all I have to share, please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions. I will be glad to answer within my best capacity.