OnePlus One Review
Update: Read our OnePlus 2 review!
Back in April, when smartphone entrant OnePlus finally took the wraps off of its first phone after months of teasers and hype build-up, we were part of the cheering crowd. After all, what's not to like? We were promised an affordable flagship phone with no-compromise specs, and these promises certainly materialized. The 16GB version of the OnePlus One is currently sold for $299, and it packs some pretty amazing hardware. It's got a large, 5.5-inch display, along with latest generation silicon in the Snapdragon 801. It's also a very capable camera phone, and its large battery ensures industry-leading longevity.
But we were also a little hesitant during the whole hype campaign around the One. Indeed, we knew that the more OnePlus drove expectations up before launch, the bigger the chance that disappointment was inevitable.
As it turns out, we were right on the money. That's not to say that the OnePlus One isn't a great device – it is, especially considering its affordable price tag – but it's quite obvious to us that the company failed to deliver in the public's eye and in practice. This is to signify the continued issues OnePlus seems to have in terms of availability, and that has left many disappointed. Indeed, currently the OnePlus One can only be bought if you happen to win an invitation from the company to buy one, and that's very far from a sure thing. This being such an appealing device makes this lack of supply all the more terrible to stomach.
How appealing exactly, however? Let's take a closer look and find out.
In the box:
- 2.1A wall charger
- USB cable
- SIM ejector tool with keychain
The Sandstone Black version comes with a unique and extremely grippy back shell that characterizes the OnePlus One more than anything else.
Despite OnePlus' vehement denials that Oppo is anything more than a small investor with it, it's quite obvious that the link between the two goes deeper still. Indeed, this is made obvious by the near identical looks of the One and the Find 7.
Looking at the OnePlus One head on, we're met with a slightly-rounded rectangular piece that is differentiated from the above-mentioned device through its display, which is protruding from its bed. With the exception of an LED notification light and a front-facing camera located at the top left, and the presence of capacitive navigation buttons, little else of note is to be found up front.
Turning the device around, we're met with, in our case, a “Sandstone Black” rear shell, which is extremely grippy and quite unique, too. We've never seen anything like this with another phone, and it definitely lives up to its name – it really reminds of sandstone. In fact, after our initial surprise (this thing feels strange to the touch), we quickly got used to the finish and found that we love the choice of materials here. This one honestly feels unique, but we're definitely worried about the practicality of it – for example, we already somehow managed to chip away at the finish, and the damage is visible. This is despite taking absolutely excellent care of the phone.
Moving on, at the sides, we have the power key comfortably placed within a thumb's distance on the right side, and a volume rocker on the left. Both of these are very well made and protrude just enough to provide proper feedback, but also remain inconspicuous. Travel is also excellent.
In terms of overall looks, we're a little conflicted – the nice touch with the rear definitely distinguishes the One in the eyes of beholders, but, at the same time – it's not like the lines of the device are at all unique. Lastly, with dimensions of 6.02 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches (152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm) and body weight of 5.71 oz (162 g), the One isn't exactly one hand-friendly.
Color-accurate and usable outdoors. Good stuff.
In the era of big-screened devices, the 5.5-inch IPS panel with resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels on the OnePlus One is starting to feel standard. Regardless of the relatively large display, the pixel density, at 401 ppi, ensures a detailed image at all times.
In terms of image quality, the IPS unit proves true-to-life, though it's not perfect. For example, color temperature, at 7066 K, is good, but not excellent (6500 K is the reference state). This means that the display is slightly colder than it should be, but still better than many rival solutions. Color reproduction is also very good, with fairly minimal deviations. For example, color intensities (saturation) are correct on the whole, but some, like magenta, have slightly wrong hues for each intensity level. Before we move on, it should be noted that the OnePlus One's CyanogenMod OS allows you to mess around with color reproduction, and, beyond the Standard and Vivid modes that come by default, you can also create a custom preset more to your liking (e.g., higher saturation for AMOLED-like colors).
Lastly, in terms of brightness, the One peaks at 447 nits, which we consider good, but not excellent. Like the Oppo Find 7a, the One also isn't the best out there when it comes to the viewing experience outside, but you can rest assured that you'd still be able to operate the screen, even under direct sunlight.