Last year, OnePlus made a big splash with their first model; the One which they dubbed the “flagship killer”.
However, the ‘almost flagship’ market has matured considerably in 2015 and now, there is quite a gap between the the One’s follow up; the 2 and an entry level handset.
With that in mind, here’s the OnePlus X which is designed and priced to fit neatly in this gap.
It basically has the guts of a late 2014/early 2015 flagship with an upper-midrange price tag.
vs ZTE Axon:
The Axon is $400 in Canada from Fido while in the US it’s $329.99.
The OnePlus X is $249.99 USD which after shipping and taxes is a bit a bit more affordable than the ZTE.
The Axon has a larger display, double the built-in storage, and a slightly larger battery. Having 32GB of built-in storage is a real plus but at the same time the Axon has a terrible camera.
While the X’s camera is nothing to write home about either, it's a more balanced phone. That coupled with its more palatable price, dual SIM support and extra RAM make it a better buy.
Asus ZenFone 2 64GB:
The ZenFone 2 comes with double the RAM, quadruple the storage, a bigger screen and a bigger battery. The X counters with a MicroSD slot, an easier to handle body and vastly superior build quality.
This is a much harder choice. The ZenFone’s 64GB of storage is very practical and the bigger screen is a nice thing to have but at the same time it’s got a really chintzy body that’s hard to overlook.
I’d say it’s 50/50, you can’t go wrong with either phone.
Motorola Moto X Play:
The Moto X costs slightly more. It has a bigger screen and a gigantic 3630mAh battery which makes it easy to live with.
At the same time, the OnePlus has a slick metal body, and an extra GB of RAM and a more powerful processor
The OnePlus is the sexier device but pretty much everyone can appreciate the Play’s larger battery.
Again, I’d say you can’t go wrong with either phone.
- 5” AMOLED
- 1920x1080 resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
- 3GB RAM
- 16GB of storage
- 13 megapixel rear camera
- autofocus, infrared focusing
- dual LED flash
- 8 megapixel front camera
- LTE bands 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17
- 140 x 69 x 6.9mm
- dual nano SIMs
- 2520mAh battery
My first impression of the X’s body is that it reminds me of an iPhone 4 + Galaxy S5. The overall shape is similar to an iPhone 4/4s while the grooved sides are like the Galaxy S5’s.
The metal frame is striking and allows for grooves which are much more tightly packed than the S5.
It has one of the nicer black glass backs.
The deep blacks on the screen help it meld with the rest of the body.
It’s also very compact for a 5” phone.
The buttons stick out the right amount and have a nice click when you press them.
The Nano SIM tray can hold 2 Nano SIMs or 1 Nano SIM and 1 MicroSD.
There’s a switch on the left side with 3 stops; top position is silent, middle is priority contacts only while the bottom settings is regular.
Unlike the 2, the X uses an older style MicroUSB connector. That means there’s a good chance your existing cables will work with it.
The X has a 5” 1920x1080 AMOLED display. It looks beautiful with inky blacks and very nice saturated colour without looking over-saturated.
When you look closely, you’ll see that it’s pixels are arranged in a PenTILE arrangement. Pretty much all AMOLED phone screens are like this. However, at 440+ PPI you won’t notice this.
Unlike the much costlier HTC One A9, which also has a 5” AMOLED screen, the X’s display is noticeably brighter. AMOLED displays often struggle outdoors if they’re not bright enough. It’s been overcast lately so I haven’t been able to test the X outside but I expect it to have no problems outdoors.
Viewing angles are excellent though like all newer AMOLED displays it turns slightly bluish off angle.
Like its big brother the X, there’s a 13 megapixel camera on the back. Unlike the X, the 2 lacks optical image stabilization and infrared focus assist.
Image quality is average at best. Compared to the Moto X Play, the OnePlus takes noisier pictures which more artifacts and less details in shadows.
White balance is also slightly worse.
If you take a lot of pictures, you’ll want to keep looking.
The lack of stabilization and less than ideal sensor also makes for messy looking video unless you’re holding it very still.
The 2’s predecessor, the One shipped with Cyanogenmod’s operating system. It was a salubrious relationship but due to various factors, OnePlus now ships their phones with their own Oxygen OS.
It’s a layer that sits on top of Android 5.1. Basically, it’s 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 function’s usefulness.
OnePlus just announced that they’ll be upgrading the X to Android 6.0 Marshmallow sometime in Q1 2016.
Under the hood is a Snapdragon 801 SoC back with 3GB of RAM. Most of the time Snapdragon 800’s are usually reserved for flagship devices so it’s quite rare to find one in anything that’s less than $500 unless you’re looking at a previous year’s model.
Why are 800 series processors popping up on moderately priced phones? I’m guessing it’s due to competitive pressures plus there being a performance gap between Snapdragon 600 and 800 class processors.
So, rather than bringing out a new line that bridges the gap, older 800 series SoC will do the job.
The X is backed by 3GB of RAM too which is also uncommon at this price point.
While the 801, “only’ has 4 cores, is “only” 32bit and more of an early 2014 flagship SoC, its Adreno 430GPU is substantially more powerful than the 405 in the 615.
However, when it comes to browsing the web there isn’t a big gap between the 615 and the 801.
The difference is more pronounced when it comes to graphics.
As a Phone:
Maximum earpiece is slightly better than average mostly because the sweet spot is very easy to find.
The speakerphone is also slightly more powerful than average. Both the earpiece and speakerphone have very, very clean sounding incoming audio.
RF performance is average.
It managed 5hrs in my Netflix test. 5hrs isn’t too bad but the X has an AMOLED screen so I was expecting a tiny bit more.
Assuming this doesn’t 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 isn’t 2G only. I popped a TELUS SIM in the second slot (a carrier with no 2G GSM). Both SIMs appear to support LTE.
There’s a single speaker on the bottom of the X. It’s 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 you only get 16GB of built-in storage, 16GB is just enough to live with for most people. If you need more you can pop a MicroSD in. Just remember than the MicroSD slot is shared with the second Nano SIM slot. If you want to use both SIMs, you can’t use a MicroSD.
I paid $329.99 Canadian, 30.99 for shipping and 46.80 for tax for a grand total of just over $400.
The X is a really nice phone but at the same time, you can get a ZenFone 2 for about the same price plus you don’t have to wait for an invite.
It’s a good phone that’s well priced but it’s not as good a deal as its bigger brother, the OnePlus 2.
3.5 Howies out of 5.
- Well priced
- Nice display
- Nice body
- Dual SIM