OnePlus One Smartphone Review; Cheapest Premium Android Phone in Town

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Cheap and premium are two words that hardly come together in the same sentence. If you must buy an Android flagship device, be prepared to spend from N80,000 and above. Before now, the cheap premium Android device available in the market has been Nexus devices from Google. A new player entered the market about a year ago with a brand called the OnePlus. The first generation phone they made was called OnePlus One.

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While some have ridiculed the naming convention, I don’t think that has anything to do with the performance of the phone. A news item recently hinted that the second generation of the phone is to be released soon and it would be called OnePlus Two. Good name, right?

OnePlus One is not selling in Nigeria or online. The phone is available through an invite only process. Someone who has bought the phone is given three invite to share with other people.

OnePlus opens the door once in a while for people without invite to buy the phone online via their Website. What they have been doing for sometime now is opening the gateway on their website for people to buy every Tuesday. That is a lot of stress, you will agree with me. But people are impressed with the specs and price, that they don’t see it as much a stress.

Even at that, if you live in Nigeria, like I do, you can only purchase the phone if you have a US/UK address (or any of the other countries they ship to). What does the phone have to offer by the way? Let’s dive in

Let’s meet the OnePlus One

The OnePlus One was released a year ago in April 2014. It weighs 162g, uses a micro-SIM and it is 5.5 inches in size with 71.9% screen-to-body ratio. The battery in it is a non-removable 3100 mAh. Camera is 13 MP rear facing with LED flash and 5 MP front facing–shoots superb selfies.

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The chipset used in it is the Qualcomm Snapdgragon 801, the same one that is used in the LG G3, Xiaomi Mi4, Sony Xperia Z3 and HTC One M8. What all these points to is that it packs similar power as these phones, and yet, it is sold cheaper than them.

Full Feature Specs of the OnePlus One

 

Operating System Android OS 4.4.2 KitKat (upgradable to 4.4.4)
Memory Card No
Internal Storage 16/64 GB 3GB RAM
SIM Micro-SIM
Weight 162 g
Size 5.5 inches (71.9% screen to body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi pixel density)
Screen Type Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Back Camera 13 MP, 4128b x 3096 pixels, autofocus and dual-LED flash
Front Facing Camera 5 MP, 1080 p @ 30 fps
Video 2160 @ 30fps, 2160 @ 24fps, 1080p @ 60fps, 720p @ 120fps, HDR , Stereo Sound Recording
Battery Non-removable 3100 mAh
Technology GSM/ HSPA/ LTE
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801
CPU Quard-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
USB microUSB 2.0

 

What is striking about the OnePlus One?

The price and specs of the phone is one of the few things that made the phone exciting to many of the people who have been scrambling for invite—some who live in Nigeria, get invite, ship their unit to a US/UK address and get it delivered to them in Nigeria.

So, how much is the phone being sold and what’s the catch about the specifications—listed above already?

There are two models of the phone, the 16 GB and the 32 GB storage models. Each of them are sold at different prices. You’ll agree with me that the price is cheap once I compare the cost to that of other flagship phones that are carrying the same specs.

The 16 GB version is sold for NGN59,500, while the 32 GB version is selling for N69,500. Sweet price, right? (especially with the exchange rate high up)

How does the price of the OnePlus One compare with other phones of similar specs? I did mention earlier that the chipset on the OnePlus One is Snapdragon 801. Other phones that are powered by this same chipset from Qualcomm are; LG G3 (N108,000), HTC One M8 (N115,000), Sony Xperia Z3 (N135,000). All of these phones costs almost twice the cost of the OnePlus One.

What are the abilities of the OnePlus One?

Design

The design is sweet at 5.5 inches. It is so slim with a matte finishing at the back which makes in possible for the phone to sit very comfortably in your hands; this prevents the phone from easily slipping from your hand. I am a fan of matter finishing. Nicely crafted matte finishing

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Another plus is that the function keys—Menu, home screen and back button—(physical keys) are flexible. You could either have them as on screen or on the body of the phone. You can adjust how you want it to be from the setting of the phone. If you happen to be someone who watches movies or play games in landscape mode, you will enjoy this design flexibility. When playing games, you will be able to hold the phone from edge to edge more comfortably in landscape mode without mistakenly touching the function keys.

Camera and Photography

Most of my phone review pictures are shot with the Nokia Lumia 1020 as my go to camera. There was a period I gave out my Lumia 1020; the OnePlus One came in handy. The camera is good enough for the entire phone review photos I shot during those period.

If I am to rate the camera of the OnePlus One on a scale of 1 to 10, I will score it 7.5.

But you don’t want to pitch the camera of the OnePlus One with the Lumia 1020. Those other phone camera performed better when I used them as an amateur photographer that I am.

You will get superb selfies with the front facing camera under sufficient lightning. The front facing camera of 5 MP does a decent job.

I also found out that the flash of the phone is superb. I was amazed to find that a photograph I shot at night with poor lightning came out well when aided by the flash of the phone. What I simply did was to ensure that I am close to the object I was capturing.

There are a few things you can control manually in the camera of the OnePlus One; one of them is the focus mode. You could choose to go Macro, Auto, Continuous Picture or Infinity. You can also vary the shutter speed from ½ a second to 8 seconds or you could choose to leave it in auto mode.

The camera also allows you to shoot and save in raw mode. If you love shooting in manual, you will have fun varying the settings of the camera on the One. But it is not very easy to get to the setting when you have an object you want to capture right now in front of you. You will have to go to settings to adjust these settings. Unlike with the Lumia 1020—the settings are right there as you are looking at the object you want to capture, you can adjust the settings on screen without digging deep into the settings of the camera.

Software

Unlike the Samsung GALAXY smartphones that run TouchWiz, a modified version of Android, the OnePlus One is running on CyanogenMod, a custom made android that closely mimics Google’s Stock Android that lacks modification.

It is this modified CyanogenMod that gives the camera of the phone those manual capabilities. But OnePlus is speaking about creating their own version of Android called the Oxygen OS. What this means is that future One Plus phones are going to carry the Oxygen OS.

Media and Call Audio

This is another aspect of this phone that screams premium. While watching movies or playing audio via loudspeaker, the audio that comes out is very decent—stereo audio. Two speakers are placed at the bottom of the phone close to the micro USB port. When the phone is lying on its back, the audio is not muffled or blocked.

Making calls is equally as crystal clear.

Other things that thrills me about the phone

The screen resolution is awesome at 1080 x 1920 pixels. It is very superb for watching HD Videos on YouTube or your own personal videos. One doesn’t really need more, except you want to sacrifice your battery performance.

The OnePlus One has has excellent battery life. In addition to the excellent price, you will have to really work so hard to kill the 3100 mAh battery on a single charge. I am a heavy user myself and I have not been able to exhaust the battery on a single charge.

I was loaned the phone for review and I have refused to return it because the phone is so sweet to use, ticking many boxes of what I want in a smartphone. But alas, I have to return it to the person who loaned it to me. If you don’t have an invite, but want to cop one for yourself, head over to the OnePlus website on a Tuesday and grab one.

 

Jesse

Jesse

In pursuit of useless knowledge, spotting patterns & connecting the dots at the intersection. | Gadget Freak

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