OnePlus, a company, started on the base of a foundation to offer the world a flagship killer. In 2014, the company announced its first smartphone, the OnePlus One (OPO) at a remarkably aggressive pricing. Though, what was interesting about that phone is that it offered more than the value for money if you compare it with the other phones that came out last year. Coming to this year, the Chinese mobile startup has launched the second iteration of its flagship. The Co-Founder of the company, Carl Pei admitted before launch that their users expect more of their upcoming smartphone. So, the OnePlus 2 (OP2) fulfills those expectations or not? We find out in this detailed review of the device.
There is no perfect design for a smartphone; it’s just placing all things in their right places and making it as intuitive as possible. The biggest change in terms of design on the OnePlus 2 over the OPO is that new device features a removable back cover. So, that means you get to change the back panels, and interestingly company offers four back panels- Bamboo, Rosewood, Black Apricot, Kevlar -while the device would be shipping with the Sandstone Black panel on the 64GB variant.
The decision to build the Aluminium and Magnesium crafted frame for the new device was a great idea, as it keeps weight on the check, moreover, giving stylish look and strength to the body. We felt that OnePlus One was not as strong as any other flagship in terms of durability. Another interesting addition is the Alert Slider. The newly added button on the device is placed on the left edge. It conveniently allows me to change the profiles between All Notifications, Priority Interruptions, and No Interruptions. This surely has been taken from the queue of iPhone design. But nonetheless, I must admit that it is a very handy feature, especially on an Android smartphone. Though, it should also change the volume settings, and turn off the sound too when I select the no notifications option. Ultimately, if this can be offered via an OTA update, then it would be interesting.
Talking about the buttons and ports, the right edge houses the volume rocker keys and power button while there is no dedicated shutter button to launch the camera. The loudspeakers are placed on the bottom edge, and they have crystal clear output, far better than what we saw in the Galaxy S6 and LG G4. While on the back, the camera module and branding has been shifted towards the center, and you can easily spot the laser-aided focus on the module. I like that pack panel has been kept pretty much same and clean too. The Sandstone surface offers better quality than what we saw on the OPO Sandstone Black variant.
There’s no difference in size and PPI (Pixel Per Inch) count between the previous and new flagship device from OnePlus. Both seem to be offering the 5.5-inch 1080p display with a 401 PPI count. Though, what is improved on the display is that it is brightest than any other display in the market right now. At 600 nits, the device offers the highest brightness on any smartphone. And we think it is quite an excellent display when it comes to the legibility under sunlight and dark conditions. Moreover, it may not hurt your eyes when you’re browsing on the phone during the night, as its adjustment of brightness levels is pretty good.
With the advanced in-cell IPS LCD Display, Company also claims that it offers a 178 degree of crystal viewing angles. We don’t fully agree with that but feels the viewing angles are great, at least better than most of its competitors in the market. It is not the Quad HD display, but the Full HD quality should be enough for media consumption.
Colors look precise, stunning, and it is all thanks to 1500:1 contrast ratio of the display. The crispness to the display can be seen when you consume the YouTube Full HD videos on the device. Easy on the eye, the screen offers a great quality as well.
OS, Interface, Apps
This time there is no Cyanogen love on the OnePlus handset, for some reasons company has parted away with the popular custom OS. The company has come up with its new OS earlier this year, and we can’t say that it is just as customizable like Cyanogen, but we found it to be very splendid. The Oxygen OS 2.0 offers a pure Android stock experience. Killer Specifications with Stock Android UX, well who wouldn’t like that in their smartphone. This was the good decision that company made while developing their custom OS.
Well, many of you are wondering that Cyanogen offered a lot of customization, would that be available on the Oxygen OS. Additional to the Stock Android experience that we love on OP2, there is also a ton of customization options provided by this Android skin. From changing themes to swapping operations of capacitive buttons, the device offers all kinds of features that should be present in a flagship device. You can use dark mode on the device to turn ON the sleek look, which would be easy for your eyes. Moreover, you can also change accent colors according to what you like. The custom icons packs and wallpapers make your device looks stylish too.
Talking about the internal storage, the device comes in two variants; we have the 64GB unit with us, out of that around 10GB is used by the operating system, which is quite the huge amount considering there are almost no bloatware available on the device. There were few times that apps like Camera, Fenix stopped responding, but, we didn’t face that issues again.
Moreover, the device supports the OTG, which can be enabled from the Storage option from the settings app. Though, as far as my personal choices go, around 54GB is enough to store media and all types of data contents. But it isn’t hard to carry OTG drive without you whenever you need to let off some content off the device. Though, again need I remind you that it would only support a USB Type C compatible OTG drive. So, no luck here for easy storage expansion.
The performance of this new flagship from OnePlus has stepped up its game a lot with Snapdragon 810 chipset. The previous OnePlus users would love the performance it is offering. Moreover, for your information, the 810 processor on OP2 is of the second generation, which is said to have resolved most of the heating issues on the device. And to be honest, we did face some heating issues to the extent that it went till 47 degrees while shooting a 4K recording. But considering it how bad 810 heats up on other devices, the OP2 heats less.
To add to the hefty hardware on OP2, there is a 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and Adreno 430 GPU combination to give you the swift animation over the user interface on the device. The Oxygen OS has kept its experience as Stock Android, although, Lollipop offers a ton of animation, and that is perfectly held by the device. The hefty RAM comes in handy when you’re switching between big games or heavy graphical apps. This is where the combination of CPU, GPU and RAM comes into play on OP2.
Let’s understand first that this not your regular Android smartphone, this is a device that shows how any other high-end smartphone should be like. OnePlus has shown the mobile vendors across the world on how to work towards innovation and yet cater to the some practical needs of its users.
The fingerprint scanner on the device was pretty smooth most of the time, and considering what we saw on the Meizu MX5, which falls in the same range, it performed quite well. Though, out of ten times we would point that it quickly detected the fingerprint around eight times, which is apparently not as fast as on iPhone 6.
The browsing on the device is smooth as silk, as pinch to zoom works pretty great, and you don’t see pixilated images, all thanks to the amazing display quality. The touch response of the screen is great, it can be experienced when you hold the zoom and pan around the window.
Talking about the Benchmark numbers, the device scored whooping around 54000 on Antutu and 4000 Vellamo. These numbers put OP2 ahead of all the current devices in the high-end range. So, does this numbers means that it gives the best performance among all those handsets? Well, it is not exactly true to the core, we experience some issues, like when we switched to the Airplane mode; the device was fully inoperable for at least 5 minutes of time. Again, it might be a software bug, but then why can’t we judge a device on the basis of its current state if we have been using that build for almost two weeks.
The OnePlus 2 back houses a 13MP resolution camera that is aided by a laser Autofocus, which helps in faster focusing of an object. As promised by the company, we had a great experience with the OP2, and as far as we recall the new camera is quite better than what we saw on the previous iteration.
The aperture has been remained the same at f/2.0, but the camera module has been replaced all along with OmniVision 13860 over the Sony Exmor IMX214 sensor present on the first flagship killer. The interesting thing that is present in the new Camera is that there are large 1.3µm (Micrometer) pixels that’ll be collecting light. And that certainly allows more details to be captured from the camera.
The new camera enabled the device to play around with the focus, and thus it resulted in some of the amazing Macro shots that you can see in full Camera review of the OnePlus 2. Though, in terms of aperture there is no competition with LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6, as they pack f/1.8 and f/1.9 enabled cameras. But in the final it all depends on whether or not you’re able to take captures that are stunning or not, then answer to that is quite possibly yes on this camera. You can see for yourself the quality of captures that this 13MP camera is capable of.
On the Video part, it supports up to 4K recording, although that has a maximum 10 min length limit, mostly because during the 4K recording it tends to heat up a lot. Processing a 3840 X 2160 pixels video takes a lot of toll on the processor. The OIS is present as company claims but can only be felt on the photo captures while, during the video recordings, especially the 4K, we felt it was not upto the mark and were very shaky at times.
We liked the night captures on the device as well. But when compared with the G4 and Galaxy S6 captures they’re not the best. You’ll find more grains on the OP2 camera over those two devices from LG and Samsung, but overall the images are coped pretty well, making it nice enough to appear natural. The front facing camera is on par with other flagship devices, and you could easily enjoy taking wide-angle selfies with the large groups. Know more about the OnePlus 2 Camera in our full camera review of the same.
The battery on OP2 is a step up from the OPO in terms of the capacity, as it has 3300mAh battery over the 3100mAh. We liked what we experienced on the OnePlus One, as the battery on the device was quite good compared to the other flagship devices launched last year. On paper, the OP2 should give better battery performance than its predecessor, but that’s not entirely true when comes to real life usage.
The main issues that we faced on the device were about the battery, as, during idle state in the night, which is of around 7 hours, the battery count went to 66% from 74%. It shows that their battery management is below than average when it comes to standby time on the device. When talking about the battery usage during the application usage, it drained straight to 10% down within the span of 15 minutes while using the camera app, and note that we didn’t even turned ON the 4K recording.
And of course, there is an issue of no quick charging availability, even though, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 is integrated with the support of Quick Charge 2.0. The importance of quick charging comes to sight when you realize that the normal charging takes around 150 minutes to go from 10 to full charge.
Talking about the screen on time of the device, it is fairly average for around 4 hours on a full charge. If the device like Samsung Galaxy S6 with the 2550mAh battery can give more than 5 hours of SOT (Screen-on-Time) then why shouldn’t a device with the 3300mAh capacity battery. That the question, everybody should ask. If only OnePlus could offer an OTA update to fix these things.
Moreover, it is a headache to carry out the charger everywhere you travel because you can easily anticipate that if you do use camera functions a lot or either play games on the device, then you get to learn that you’ll have to say bye-bye to battery life pretty soon. And FYI you have to carry the proprietary charger and cable because of Type-C USB support on the device.
This is company’s first smartphone to sport the dual SIM capability, which is a very important factor these days when we talk about connectivity features. The predecessor lacked that while the OP2 embraces the power of Dual SIM and Dual Standby connection. You can use the two Nano SIM on the device, no luck for the micro SIM users, both of them can function as 4G connections, which is quite an interesting package.
Though, what’s not interesting from the practical perspective these days is the USB Type-C standard on a smartphone. I mean this was the only connectivity issue we faced, and it was annoying at times when I forgot the charger in my office. Just imagine how hard it is to manage it like that. My only hope was that if the company has given some converters to change any usual microUSB cable and charger into a Type-C compatible.
While talking about the call quality and strength, we were more than happy to see that there were no call drops on 3G or 4G LTE connections. Moreover, the data connection on 4G was giving fairly good download and upload speeds. The more interesting fact is that it supports global 4G LTE bands, so that you don’t have to worry whether it would support the 4G services when you’re visiting other countries.
OnePlus 2 is an upgrade that company deserved, but not what its users were expecting, which is what we feel like. Since, the company has given importance to its users a lot, we thought that they should justify a certain decision that hasn’t been practical about this device. The missed out things like No Quick Charging, NFC, and 2K Display shouldn’t be a deal breaker for all the users who are looking to upgrade their smartphones this year. But these features have become a part of a current set of flagship devices. So, why exclude them if you could have made a better smartphone?
Though, when it comes to the performance and actual user experience the OnePlus 2 is overall hard to beat by other flagships, and a good upgrade over the OPO. The device might be hard to get with its invite system, but if you get an invite, it wouldn’t be wise to pass the opportunity to buy the device, if you’re in a market for upgrade.