Talk about premium smartphones sold at budget pricing, OnePlus comes to mind without right away. When OnePlus One was launched last year, it created a stir in the market for being a heavily loaded smartphone in terms of hardware specs sold at an incredible price. OnePlus Two launched a few months back tries to remain a ‘flagship killer’ without sacrificing its affordability tag.
OnePlus continues to sell phones through ‘invite only’ channel as they did with their debut phone. This certainly irks prospective buyers as they have to register in a long queue and wait for the invite. However if you have a friend who can spare an invite for you or if you were able to grab one during the open sale conducted for a brief period on www.Amazon.in, during the pre-Diwali sale, then you lucked out.
The phone sports a premium look with its sandstone finish on the back panel, metal frame and thin bezels. The back is curvy supposedly to fit nicely on your palm. The sandstone panel offers great grip which is always good to have. You have an option to swap the back panel with fancier designs like kevlar, bamboo, rosewood, etc..The phone is slightly thicker than its predecessor but the metal frame and the body design gives an illusion of a slim device. The screen is made of Gorilla glass v4 and a decent quality screen protector is provided that may last for a few months. The device is available in two storage memory options, 16GB and 64 GB. The Outer packaging is sleek and discreet. The 5.5 inch screen is a Full HD LCD display with a resolution of 401 pixels per inch. OnePlus did not include Quad HD display probably to keep the product more affordable. The screen is bright enough for watching movies in well-litrooms. The colors are neutral and the contrast is just right.
The front face has a finger print sensor which also doubles up as the home button, although other than unlocking the phone, the sensor has no other use. Perhaps it can be programmed to be used for various authorizations, something the software developers might consider including in OS upgrades in the future. There is also a multi-color LED notification light on the top which alerts us on incoming messages or missed calls. The left side has a slider button which can be used to turn off all notifications or choose only priority interruptions which is quite useful at times.
The charger and the cable also have a premium feel with great build quality. It is good to see OnePlus not compromising on the finer details. The USB cable is of reversible C-type. Believe me, you will want to buy another charger or an appropriate adapter for your spare charger – more on that later.
There is no expandable memory but I believe if you opt for the 64 GB version, along with sensible usage of cloud storage, you may not need it. The phone measures 151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm and at 175g, it is not among the lightest smartphones of this size. But you cannot really complain when you consider the hardware it has packed inside it. Please note that it does take a bit of effort to remove the back panel to access the dual SIM card slot.
This is the department where the OnePlus Two outperforms most other phones in its class. It is powered by a 64-bit, Octacore, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor clocked at 1.8GHz. The 16GB version carries 3 GB DDR4 RAM while the 64 GB model has a whopping 4 GB of RAM, something that belongs to the high-end smartphone realm. Together with Adreno 430 GPU, these specs help the phone to stand tall in all benchmark tests much ahead of other smartphones in its price range. I have a reason to believe that there is no app or game in the market that can make this phone sweat. The phone packs a 3300 mAh battery that is non-removable. The phablet runs on Oxygen OS with Android 5.1.1 driving it.
The main camera is of 13 Megapixel f/2.0 aperture and the front facing cam is of 5 Megapixels. The resolution drops down to 7.9 MP and 2.0 MP if you choose the 16:9 mode. OnePlus claims to have put in lot of technology in the camera; they have built it with 6 individual lenses for improved picture quality. The camera has dual LED flash and laser assisted auto focus. The main camera can shoot videos at 4k resolution and also has a slow motion video mode.
The quality of photos is excellent, considering the budget of the phone.The camera cannot match the quality of Samsung S6 but it still holds its ground. There is plenty of detail in the pictures and the colours are well saturated. It has a very pleasing performance when it comes to weakly lit subjects too or its use at night. HDR and Beauty modes are fairly good, provided you know when to use them. Video quality is good as well. Slow motion mode takes away lot of exposure though. Through an update, OPT has given manual controls which lets you to change ISO, white balance, focus and shutter speed, if you think you can beat the auto mode. There is a time lapse and panorama mode for times when you feel creative. The selfie camera has a good dynamic range like the main camera, so you can capture some great shots of yourselves.
There isn’t a smartphone yet which can completely please the budding audiophile, but this phone is quite good for casual listening. There is no IEM included with the purchase so you have to get your own. If you don’t want to use headphones, the single speaker is located at the bottom, so no stereo presentation. This speaker clarity is decent, the highs are crisp though the mids are a bit shallow, however one cannot expect much from the built in speaker of a smartphone. The volume is fairly loud and you can quickly swap between movie, music and gaming modes. Of course, there is an equalizer and a host of ubiquitous audio effects like Jazz, Blues, Classic, Hip-hop, Metal, Rock, Pop, R&B etc., that are included.
The phone is undoubtedly snappy. Fortunately, there is no bloatware that comes pre-installed and it never lags even when using intensive applications. Switching between apps can be very fast and you can have loads of them opened in the background. Customizations are good though I feel there are not as many as you can find in MIUI. A normal android user would find the interface quite good, but again, I felt that MIUI is much crisper and more user friendly. One cannot close recent apps with a single click, something the designers of Oxygen seem to have missed out. Hopefully they will fix it in the next upgrade. I am not sure if it is a bug, but when you exit an app, it does not close, but remains in the background. You have to close it by going to the recent tabs.
Voice quality is good too. The finger print sensor is not always responsive. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort to unlock the phone though most of the times it works just fine. Good thing about the sensor is that it’s always on standby, so you can wake up the phone with one touch, without having to press the power button every time.
The phone does tend to get warm especially when you charge and access WiFi at the same time or when you run resource intensive apps like video editing. It’s not uncommon with high spec’d phones though this may be a shade warmer. Surprisingly, while running heavy 3D games, this issue was not observed. However it appears that this is typical of the Snapdragon 810 chip. It is not alarming though, but can be uncomfortable to your ears if you happen to attend a call.
The metal frame is made of magnesium- aluminum alloy which is malleable so a drop on the floor can cause some deformation. Unless you are used to handle the phone cautiously, it may be wise to go for a protective case.
The battery performance is something which could disappoint you. Surprisingly OnePlus One is reported to have a better life. You would certainly need to charge twice a day if you want it to keep going for 24 hours or more. There is no flash charging so it takes quite long to even get to 20% capacity.
The WiFi connectivity is excellent- you can hook to your home or office network from a pretty long distance. There is no NFC though I don’t really miss it as of now. There are some gestures which work on standby mode. For example, you draw a ‘V’ when the screen is off, you would be firing up the flashlight. Draw a ‘O’ and the camera opens instantly. Not only good show off value but functional as well.
OnePlus Two undoubtedly is a great device to own. It has premium looks, amazing performance and an exceptional camera. Not a valid comparison but compared to the relatively old smartphone I had previously, Xiaomi Mi3, OnePlus 2 is better in almost every aspect, except battery life, the user interface and the weight. There is no comparison between the camera performances of these two phones, the Two blows Mi3 out of the window. There is room for enhancements in the software department that can make it more user-friendly and I hope that they will be taken care of in upgrades. Talk about VFM, you will be hard pressed to find a phone that delivers better value at this cost. It is certain that OnePlus will remain in limelight for some more time with this new flagship smartphone.