One of last yearís most interesting phones was the OnePlus One. It was tailor made for enthusiasts; it packed flagship level specs with the popular Cyanogenmod operating system all for a very palatable price.
To top it off, you needed an invite from OnePlus before you could buy one.
Of course, one requirement to being an enthusiast is having a short attention span so now we have the Oneís follow-up: the predictably named OnePlus 2.
Letís check it out:
LG Nexus 5x:
You can pick up a 16GB Nexus 5x for similar money.
First off, the 5x is much easier to acquire, you walk into a carrier store and buy it or order online from Google Play. No need to sign up and wait for an invite. You also donít need to pay extra for shipping since itís built into the 5xís price.
However, if you can pick up a 2, youíll get a much fancier metal body, exchangeable back covers, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a bigger screen (5.5Ē vs 5), bigger battery (3400mAh vs 2700) and a beefier processor.
The 5x does have a better looking screen and probably the best camera on the market. Itís also a Nexus device, so itís first in line to get new Android releases from Google (for, Iím guessing, 2 to 3 years).
The 2is the obvious choice - as long as you can put up with the invite system.
- 5.5Ē LCD
- 1920x1080 resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
- 3/4GB RAM
- 16/64GB of storage
- 13 megapixel rear camera
- autofocus, infrared focusing
- dual LED flash
- 5 megapixel front camera
- LTE bands 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17
- fingerprint sensor
- 151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm
- dual nano SIMs
- USB Type-C
- 3300mAh battery
The first thing youíll notice is the substantial feeling metal frame. The materials and finishes all feel very classy.
From the cleanly drilled speaker holes to the chamfered bezels, the 2 has the body of a phone that could cost a lot more. I like its heft too - like the kind you get from a fancy watch.
You can order the 2 with different back covers including different wood ones. The original One had this feature as well, but the back covers were almost impossible to remove. The 2ís is much easier to remove yet it still manages to be very secure.
I just stuck with the standard sandstone cover - itís rough and kind of feels like a pumice stone. Donít worry, I didnít try to use it as one.
There are power and volume buttons on the right side of the phone. They donít stick out enough and as far feel goes, they arenít very good. This makes them kind of unpredictable at times.
Thereís a 3 position silent mode slider on the left side. Top position is silent, middle is priority contacts only while the bottom settings is regular.
You can choose between using capacitive menu buttons or on-screen ones like on the original One.
The capacitive buttons flank the home button/fingerprint sensor. It doesnít press in like the reader on a Samsung or iPhone. You can touch it to use it like a home button or place and hold your finger on it to use it as a reader.
I love how you can set the 2 up to wake up and unlock when you place your finger on it. You save an extra action vs Apple where you press the home button to wake it up and then again to get your fingerprint read.
Still, as a reader, itís not quite as good as the readers on the latest Nexus phones and the iPhone 6s series. Sometimes it takes a few extra presses.
One of the 2ís signature features is that it comes with a new USB Type-C charging connector. With the exception of Apple, most of the industry is still using MicroUSB. That said the industry is going to start shifting to USB-C starting next year.
USB-C connectors can be plugged in either way so you donít have to pay close attention when you plug it in now. It can also handle a lot more power so going forward some laptops will use it for charging too so road warriors will now just need to carry one type of cable around instead of a MicroUSB + laptop charger.
Still, since the 2 is one of the first devices with this, chances are that you wonít have any spare ones lying around. In that sense you may find it inconvenient if youíre using to having a lot of spares like myself.
It may be more convenient but youíre still going to have to re-buy your cables. If you do this in the short term youíll probably be paying more per cable that youíve grown accustomed to with MicroUSB.
Andrewís also been posting that USB Type-C cables may have some compatibility issues with the new Nexus devices. This would make me weary to buy anything right now until things settle down.
The 2 continues to use a 5.5Ē 1920x1080 display but it looks much nicer than the Oneís. That said, itís still slightly washed out.
Thereís this whiteness to the display that shows through the colors. Itís hard to capture with a camera so youíll have to take my word for it.
Itís also not a color temperature issue because you can set a custom level via a slider.
Itís also not quite as bright as some competitors though I didnít notice this until I compared it side-by-side so this isnít really an issue.
It also loses a bit more brightness off-angle but itís also pretty minor.
Overall, itís a decent display. If youíre worried about it not being quad-HD like some other flagships donít sweat it. To my eyeís, it's every bit as sharp.
I noticed that the 2 shipped with plastic screen protector. Itís nice that they did this, but is there a reason why? I hope they were just being generous and not trying to cover up something sinister like the display not using top notch screen coatings.
You get a 13 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. It has a f/2.0 lens, dual LED flash and laser autofocusing.
It takes decent pictures but when I look up close, I notice thereís very aggressive noise reduction which removes some detail.
Otherwise, it focuses quickly and is intuitive to use.
The optical image stabilization helps with video but the microphone picks up a lot of handling noise. I suspect the rough finish on the back is partially to blame for this.
Overall, the camera is good but not great.
The 2ís predecessor, the One shipped with Cyanogenmodís operating system. It was a salubrious relationship but due to various factors, OnePlus now ships their phones with their own Oxygen OS.
Itís a layer that sits on top of Android 5.1. Basically itís vanilla Android with a few custom tweaks here and there. The settings in particular contain a few extra options that enthusiasts will like like the ability to launch programs by double pressing the buttons plus some lock screen gestures.
While you can double press a button to launch the camera, the phone has to be unlocked first which limits this functionís usefulness.
OnePlus just announced that theyíll be upgrading the 2 to Android 6.0 Marshmallow sometime in Q1 2016.
You get a Snapdragon 810 SoC which is backed by either 3 or 4GB of RAM. In everyday usage, thereís no real difference between 3 and 4GB of RAM.
The Nexus 5x has a more modest Snapdragon 808 SoC which has half as many of the 810ís 4 higher-power A57 cores.
Most of the time, there isnít a huge difference between 2 and 4 cores. It does make a big difference in certain benchmarks, which are tailored to use all 4 cores but in everyday usage, you rarely need more than 2.
One thing thatís nice about the 2 is that the 810 is more for QHD devices (2560x1440) while the 808 for full HD (1920x1080). Since the 2 ďonlyĒ has full HD it has meatier graphics scores.
The 810 has a reputation for generating a lot of heat. While the top of the 2 gets fairly warm, it doesnít get hot.
As a Phone:
Maximum earpiece is average as is the speakerphone.
RF performance is average.
In my Netflix test, the 2 battery lasted an impressive 6.25 hrs. That said, one time it drained rapidly while it was just sitting there doing nothing. It may just be an isolated incident
Assuming this doesnít happen regularly, it should last the day for everyone including power users.
One nice extra is support for dual SIMs. An even nicer extra is that the second SIM isnít 2G only. I popped a TELUS SIM in the second slot (a carrier with no 2G GSM). Both SIMs appear to support LTE.
Thereís a single speaker on the bottom of the 2. Itís somewhat loud with above average sound quality. There are custom settings you can use. If you turn them off, then the speaker sounds a bit flat.
The headphone jack is located at the top.
While thereís no MicroSD card, a 64GB 2 is relatively affordable and is probably enough storage for most users. If you donít need a lot of space thereís also a ďbaseĒ model with 16GB of RAM.
While a weak Canadian dollar makes 2 a harder sell than the One, it still represents an excellent value proposition.
Mine is the 4GB/64GB step-up model. I paid $479 Canadian plus, 30.99 for shipping and handling and 66.30 in taxes for a total of $576.29.
That said, OnePlusí invite system, while kind of neat/fun the first time around, now it just feels unnecessary and inconvenient. I mean phone nerds probably still find it to be pretty cool but try explaining to a ďNormobĒ and theyíll just take the path of least resistance like ordering a Nexus 5x from GooglePlay.
Still, if youíre thinking of heading down the road of 2 ownership the invite system is just a minor bump. Itís a great phone - I donít have to qualify this with ďfor the moneyĒ.
4 Howies out of 5.
- Still a good deal
- Both SIMs support LTE
- Exchangeable rear covers
- Large battery
- Fingerprint reader
- Screen not quite top-notch
- Fingerprint reader is hit-and-miss