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One Plus One – The Chinese Flagship Killer?

The smart phone One Plus One is famous around the world. Even if you don’t follow the smart phone industry regularly, you would most probably know about One Plus by now. Reviews on the largest forums are the indicators of its fame. Pete Lau, the startup founder and his team perfectly prepared the announcement moment, and invitation-only sales raised the interest in this device. Perhaps, in a different situation, these steps would scare the customers away: it is not only Chinese, but also difficult to get. Still for the benefit of One Plus One, it is not only affordable, but has excellent characteristics. That’s where the nickname comes from: “The Flagship Killer”

One Plus One – The Chinese Flagship Killer?

Packaging

If you are going to buy a Chinese version, you will get the two boxes: one with the device itself; another box contains a charging adapter and a USB cable. At first, you don’t see the difference between Chinese and international versions. Initially, the Chinese version comes with ColorOS, in Ukraine it is sold with CyanogenMod 11. So far the additional box is the only downside in the packaging. The headphones are missing, but nowadays, they rarely add it to the top smart phones. One Plus One comes in white packaging with bright red accents and it looks refreshing. The package design is excellent. Sometimes, when you open a primitive carton box from China, you can hardly expect to find a quality device in there. An exception is packages from Oppo, Meizu and Xiaomi, designed in elegant taste. Still, the package of One Plus One is the entire new level. Every single piece of it is of exceptional quality. Inside, apart from the devise itself, you will find a charging adaptor (in a separate box), operational manual, USB-microUSB cable, SIMcard ejecting pin (in a rubber case). Every element is rationalized to detail. Operational manual is in a red paper brief.

 

Design

The moment you glance over One Plus One, it features an elegant slab like design. It has no special features, except for a metal-effect plastic rim that separates this rear cover from the glass front. The frame shape is simple, with a slight curve of upper and bottom sides. The back of it is also slightly curved and feels comfortable in the hand. You definitely cannot call it an ugly or freaky phone. Perhaps it calls for neutral reaction. Some people may like it neat and simple design.

Build Quality

Smart phone is made of plastic. Inside it has magnesium-base alloy. The outside part is made mostly of plastic. It has protective screen and a metal phrame around it. Plastic in the white One Plus One is smooth and practical – the little scratches and marks are not so visible. The Black version is made of a grainy plastic, but in general, the material is also very practical in use and doesn’t take away from premium look and feel of it. You should think about choosing the color, the material is slightly different. Surprisingly, its back cover is removable. On the front side, there are three very dim capacitive navigation buttons and micro-SIMcard tray. The build quality is excellent, no gaps between details, buttons are dim, nothing squeaks or whatever.

Size characteristics

A year ago OnePlus One could be classified as a “phablet” (tablet + phone), but today a smart phone with 5.5 inch display is a normal thing, you may like it or not. I personally could not accept the tendency to enlarge displays, but I simply got along with it. One Plus One is the largest of it’s kind on the market. When you hold it in your hand, it seems gigantic. Even LG G3 with the same characteristics seems smaller. It fits to your jeans pocket, though I would not recommend carrying it in summer shorts. Its size is the only disadvantage. If you have never had a smart phone with a large screen, before buying One Plus One I recommend to try it in a store. Or you can try LG G3, Galaxy Note 3 to compare.

Control buttons

One Plus One has also included permanent capacitive hardware keys underneath the screen, which proves to be a mixed blessing. There's a menu key, a home key, and a back-up key in that order. Button placement is not the best, the home key and the elongated volume rocker are too thin and small. Though you can get used to it, because the home key is rarely used. You can unblock the phone with a double tap on the screen. The left hand side has the micro-SIMcard tray. To eject it you need to use the ejecting pin. The upper edge has an additional microphone and 3,5mm mini-jack for the headphones. The bottom edge has two telltale rows of machined holes either side of the microUSB port. One Plus One has hardware keys underneath the screen backlighted in blue. There's a menu key, a home key, and a back-up key. You can regulate the backlight to last from 1 to 30 seconds, or put it in a constantly On-mode. The home and menu keys can have additional functions by on-hold and double-tap. Therefore, for 2 keys we get 6 functions, 3 functions per each button. The functions can be chosen from the following: apps menu, running apps, search, voice search, search in apps and camera. The volume rocker can regulate the song play: you can switch tracks by holding keys. The settings allow turning on the non-display keys. On the front side, above the screen, you have the speakerphone, gyro and proximity, 5 M pixels front camera (no autofocus) and light indicator.

Display

The One Plus One features a 5.5-inch LTPS IPS LCD display manufactured by JDI that has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This capacitive touch-screen supports 10 point multi-touch and is protected using Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The display is quite bright and has wide viewing angles. The brightness settings are adjustable in display settings. It has two ready modes: bright and standard, and a manual mode of adjusting brightness, color saturation and contrast. If you go for the bright mode, the deep warm colors will dominate.

Camera

One Plus One is equipped with Sony’s Exmor IMX 214 (1/3 inch) sensor, which is mated to a 6 element F/2.0 autofocus lens. Next to the camera you see a dual-LED flash, which can be used in a torch-mode. Settings are gathered in three tabs: Camera, Video and General. In Camera you can regulate touch focus disposure, focus mode, ISO, auto exposure mode and other things. In Video, you have size, slow motion video, audio codec (available MPEG-4, H.263, H.264 for video and AAC, AMR-NB for audio), as well as slow motion shooting. In General, you have power shutter (power button takes photo), volume keys control zoom, and adjust control for the left-handed use. The quality of camera is above average, however, to compare with LG G3 with its best ever camera, you can feel the difference. Comparing the camera to Sony and HTC, you won’t see any difference. You cannot call the OnePlus One camera a typical one for Chinese smart phones. Front camera with 5 Mpixels and no autofocus is unremarkable. You can take selfies and skype. The quality is typical for front cameras and doesn’t really matter.

Battery Life

Powered by a 3100 mAh Li-Pol battery, OnePlus One lasts for the whole day, even if you listen to music for hours and use camera. You will not run out of the battery power in the middle of the day, as it was happening with other flagship smart phones several years ago. It lasts till 8-9 pm if you remove it from charger around 9-10 and use for 1 hour phone calls, 0-20 text messages, Gmail, 3-4 hours of music, 1-2 hours of mobile internet (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, browsers), continuous chatting in Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger (an hour in total), and camera (up to 50 pics a day).

Hardware and memory

The One Plus One is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC) SoC featuring 2.5GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU clocked at 578MHz. There’s 3GB of LP-DDR3 RAM, highest by any standard. Although, there’s no microSD card slot, the device is available in both 16GB and 64GB variants.

In 16GB variant 12 GB available, this is something you may want to know. In 64GB version you have a little less than 60GB. The interface works smoothly and with no lags, switches quickly from one app to another, doesn’t heat up even when I used it for a long time. It easily plays FullHD video in a high quality and allows playing all games available for Android.

Software

One of the best features of One Plus One is CyanogenMod. In short, it is a custom version of Android with a lot of additional options. CyanogenMod 11S is a special version of CM for OnePlus One. Contacts, messages, Google Chrome browser, calculator and other applications are basic for Android 4.4: same file manager with Icons and applications menu. Usually, in CM11 you can adjust the icons size, but One Plus One version doesn’t have this option. It has a wide range of display settings and themes for a total interface makeover. It comes with a cool option of custom lock screen, which blurs the background, or “brand” CyanogenMod lock-screen. It allows changing the time and battery power layout, regulate the size of icons and the titles under it. You can combine themes with each other, for example, fonts, styles, animation and sounds. Music player is standard for Android – it’s Google Play. You can adjust the headphones sound and dynamics, equalizer, pre-sets etc.

Removable back covers

OnePlus One has 7 ‘StyleSwap’ replaceable back-covers, including wooden, denim and carbon fibre trims. There are no details yet, but if it is possible to order the back cover and replace it on your own, the smart phone becomes even more attractive for customers.

Conclusion

The loudspeakers are strong, above average; you can hear it very well, even in noisy places. Vibration call is moderate. The phone has several ringing modes. There is an option to have a vibrating alert when they answer your call, so there is no need to wait and listen to the beeps. Likewise, the vibration can be set for end call, or every 45 seconds of call duration.

The official price of One Plus One is $300 for 16GB version (comes only in white for now) and $350 for 64GB version (only in black). The only problem with the device is its availability and a stupid invite-only system required to buy the device. How to get invitation? In the view of designers, every customer has to figure it out. In Ukraine you can but the phone for UAH 4800. To sum, even if you turn a blind eye on a complicated invite-only system and buy it online for 50% more expensive, One Plus One is an incredibly attractive smart phone if you to choose among the flagships. It is a rare case when all the claims of the OPO advertising company with its striking “Flagship Killer” nickname came true.

Specifications:

OSL Android 4.4 CyanogenMod 11S

Network: GSM, HSDPA, LTE (microSIM)

CPU: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400, Qualcomm Snapdragon platform 801

GPU: Adreno 330

RAM: 3GB

Internal memory: 16/64GB

Card slot: NO

Interface: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-Band, Bluetooth 4.0 (A2DP), microUSB (USB 2.0, MHL, OTG) for synchronization and charging, 3.5 mmfor hands free set

Display: LTPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.5 inches (~401 ppi pixel density)

Camera: 13MP with autofocus, dual-LED flash, 4k video, 1080p, front camera 5MP

Navigations: GPS (A-GPS), Glonass

Additional: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity

Battery: Li-Pol 3100mAh

Dimensions: 153 X 76 X 9 mm

Weight: 162 gr

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