OnePlus One, analysis
OnePlus is a weird element in the industry, a very small startup that creates state-of-the-art phones, and aims to make them perfect. Its first Android creature is already among us, with printing hardware - it shares most of the elements with its competitors -, top finishes, a tuned software signed by Cyanogen, and priced below any other equivalent model.
Without wishing to deviate from the product, it is interesting to introduce that OnePlus One is a phone very similar to Oppo Find 7a - which we will analyze in a few days - in fact, both companies are controlled by BBK Electronics, and in some way they are taking advantage of resources and common experience, always trying to imbue their products with personality. Understanding the dependency, from OnePlus they tell me that the relationship with Oppo will be practically null in a few months.
Returning to the One, not always having good ingredients guarantees a result at the level, you have to know how to mix them and hit the mark with what the general public needs. In the case at hand, they have decided to create a phablet, and that undoubtedly conditions interest. Regardless of size, and the state of development of our test unit, all the elements make us think that we are dealing with a great product.With the intention of claiming our attention, they sold it to us as the 'flagship killer' of 2014 ", have they achieved their goal?
You will wonder how this balance is achieved, because we will try to explain it later, but now we are going to continue to know what this OnePlus One is like and what it is made of.
Before delving into the different sections of our analysis of the OnePlus One, we will review the main technical characteristics with which we can get an idea of the level from which we started:
OnePlus One, video analysis
The OnePlus does not seem at any time a cheap phone, either in sight or in hand. We see it in the chosen polycarbonate, we verify it in the construction quality, and we confirm it with an apparently simple design but with many well-resolved elements.
The One is a large phone, but they have made it comfortable in the hand. A difficult section to solve in phabletsIt's a sleek, attractive phone, and I don't think it has much to envy from top-brand devices like LG or Samsung. Another story would be to get into Apple or HTC, which play with other materials, and there may be a predilection for them by the buyer.
We are not going to fool anyone, this is a big phone, enter the field of phablets. So when using it, you can think of something similar to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. If you have no problem with the size, you get used to it quickly and forget to use it with one hand. It is slim, pleasant to the touch (soft), and the curvature of the back helps with ergonomics.
When taking advantage of screen frames, there always seems to be scope for cropping and doing something smaller, especially above and below the screen. We can say that it is in the line of the majority, but behind a portent like LG G3, which with the same screen size is considerably smaller.
Taking a look at the front, I do not like how the Android navigation buttons have been solved, since they appear very poorly lit. We know they are there, and we can even move them to the screen, but a better presentation would not have been bad (according to OnePlus, they wanted to get a completely black front). Nor does the microSIM compartment - and access - seem particularly well finished.
In the images it is difficult to appreciate, but when you have one in hand, you can see that the screen protrudes over a silver layer of the phone, with a small step, which in turn is attached to the polycarbonate that completes the case. Incidentally, that case is interchangeable, with plenty of attractive designs to come.
See complete gallery »OnePlus One, design (25 photos)
OnePlus has a dual speaker at the bottom of the phone, so the grilles are located there helps the sound to be less muffled (except when we play). For the most curious, my test unit does not have the Cyanogen logo on the back as it is a Chinese unit, but the European model does.
First important section, resolved with remarkable high, will we maintain the level?
Continuing with the ingredients that OnePlus has chosen to make your phone, we move on to the 5.5-inch screen with Full HD resolution (401ppi). This time they have gone to the Japanese from JDI to ask for an IPS module from their last batch (LTPS, Touch On Lens).
As we commented in the design section, the screen is slightly exposed on the rest of the elements of the terminal, for which the fact of having the protection of Gorilla Glass 3 is appreciated.
They say that those who get used to the big screen - this is not my case - then do not want to go back to something else, especially for the comfort in which they watch multimedia content, video games, or web browsing. In the case of the OnePlus we can not say anything else, it is an ideal device for these purposes.
I really like the natural color of the screen - temperature and hue can be set - especially in black reproduction, it is also very good at viewing angles (178 degrees).
The default brightness is weak, and I decided to remove the automatic and set it to high values. In fact, I think it conditions outdoor operation, which is not his best subject, with difficulties and reflections when the sun is present.
Another section that we passed on a high note, we continue.
Performance and autonomy
Offering a quality screen at a contained price is difficult, but it is more difficult to have one of the latest Qualcomm models as main hardware. In fact, the OnePlus One was going to be released with Snapdragon 800, but studying well what was moving in the market, they decided to place an 801.
In a terminal that costs us 269 euros, having the same internal hardware as in the main Samsung or LG phones, says enough. But you have to be more specific, since of the available versions of the Snapdragon 801, we have the most powerful: MSM8974-AC, with four cores at 2.45GHz, and GPU Areno 330 at 578MHz.
Power, optimization and life expectancy at half the price. We hope OnePlus and Cyanogen do their partThe other point that few phones match is memory, the One dares with 3GB of RAM. Maybe it is not the specification to which the most profitability can be obtained right now, but it is a guarantee for future system updates, and to have it available.
The other memory, the storage memory, comes with its good and bad part. The bad, that there is no way to expand it - yes in the Oppo Find7a -, the good, that opting for the 64GB model is quite affordable (30 euros more than the 16GB version), as long as there are available units.
The performance is expected in benchmarks, games, navigation, or with a demanding use of the phone. Smoother and faster charges than any phone at its price. But not everything is perfect, Cyanogen is doing an optimization job, and the phone is still in an early stage of development, with elements to polish and improve on the system (at the time of analysis a major update came, and this week will come other).
See complete gallery »Benchs (15 photos)
Many will also appreciate the customization possibilities in CyanogenMod hardware details, entering profiles that allow us to play with the balance between power and battery, with details such as touching the CPU speed.
Finally, we are also facing a phone with LTE connectivity, something that ends up rounding out the proposal, and which in the past could be a problem in choosing a Chinese phone. Testing the phone on our networks, I have not had any problems under normal conditions, with an operation similar to that of my iPhone 5.About LTE ... According to specifications, the available LTE bands are 1/3/4/7/17/38/40. In Spain we use 1,800 (band 3) and 2,600 (band 7) so the One is compatible. The only but I see is that it will not be compatible with the 800 (band 20) that the large operators (except Yoigo) will start using from 2015.
Other supported connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, USB OTG, WiFi 802.11b / g / n / ac, GPS / GLONASS and NFC. Someone will miss the FM radio.
Moving on to an aspect like audio, we have a triple microphone system for external noise cancellation. Regarding the volume on calls, our voice comes loud and clear to the receiver, but I have the feeling that something needs to be fixed in the software to increase the volume of what comes to us.
We especially like the speaker placement, which sounds loud and clear (as long as we don't turn up the volume to maximum). In the line of the competitors, behind the HTC BoomSound. Both headphones and speakers can take advantage of a complete equalization system called AudioFX, from Cyanogen.
Taking advantage of the large size of the phone, there is room for a 3,100mAh - 2,800 battery in the find 7a -, but this time it can not be replaced, as much as it seems in the images that are inside the phone. The capacity is considerably greater than what we have a Galaxy S5 or HTC One, also than an LG G3 (3,000mAh), and less than a Note 3 or Xperia Z2 (3,200mAh).
Fixed 3,100mAh battery for average autonomy, we expect tools from CyanogenRegarding its autonomy, we could say that it is in line with its size / power, and standard with respect to phones with the same hardware. I think it is a section that Cyanogen can still improve a lot with optimization and tools to manage the consumption of resources. Meanwhile, we can play with the basic settings to extend life: disable connectivity, lower brightness, remove or unnecessary notifications.
The use that I give to the phones is not exactly easy, especially in regard to notifications, and at the end of the day I usually have a 5% battery. Another issue is when I have been testing the camera, with video - 4K - and photo, or spending more time on benchmarks and demanding games, where it is normal for the battery to drain quickly.
If we liked the design, the build quality and the screen, in terms of power and autonomy, we were more than satisfied. We believe that until phones begin to appear with the Snapdragon 805, the One is the best thing we can find in phones.
OnePlus was born accompanied by the Cyanogen people, at least in regards to the international market. As promised, their first product is already a reality with the CyanogenMod operating system, made on Android in its KitKat version (4.4.2).
When we analyzed the Oppo N1, we had the opportunity to learn more about personalization, but many Android phone users have decided to use Cyanogen, initially because it has managed to stretch the life of phones, but more and more are the reasons why it's worth it. Logically, the One takes on a special dimension as it is an optimized version specially developed for it.
The specific version developed for the OnePlus One is called CyanogenMod 11S, and it stands out for being a light, safe and configurable system, with a very pleasant appearance in the latter state, and if you don't like it, great customization possibilities. We have a powerful theme manager, with which we can customize at the element level (icons, fonts, backgrounds).
See complete gallery »CyanogenMod 11S (22 photos)
The appearance is not really very different from that of basic Android, but under that simple aspect there are many configuration possibilities in hardware and software. We can do things like place the navigation buttons on the screen, or leave them in their physical format. We can also play with the upper status bar and the elements to display, or access two different drop-down upper bars, depending on whether we do it with two fingers or one.
We especially like the gestural possibilities of the system, such as waking up or turning off the phone with a double tap. Equally interesting is being able to perform gestures on the screen, with the phone turned off, which will unlock it and make a direct access depending on the gesture (circle = camera, v = flashlight). With two fingers up and down, we play and pause music.
Finally, Cyanogen incorporates a "continuous listening" system, similar to the one we saw brand new on the Moto X. The phone is always waiting for an order with our voice - in this case, OK OnePlus -, with it we directly open Google Now.
As Cyanogen's own applications, we like the implemented gallery, which takes the idea of that of iOS, with the possibility of computer content at times, or folders. The presentation and operation are attractive. We also liked the application that allows us to screencast - with audio - of what we do with the One.
I also find things that can be improved, for example, having such a large screen I do not find any functionality, or adaptation by the operating system. They could well have implemented interfaces to be used with one hand, or modes that take advantage of several windows, such as "split screens" that we are already seeing in other customizations.
As we carry out the analysis, system updates arrive, things that do not work completely stable are fixed, some changes in appearance occur, and possibly more will come in the next few days, until the product really has to reach customers.
Good news in the camera section, the OnePlus has a 13-megapixel sensor signed by Sony, which in addition to its name, has very good conditions. It is not a Lumia 1020, maybe not a Samsung Galaxy S5 either, but for the price of the terminal we have a remarkable camera, in photo and video, so we can be satisfied. In fact, if we compare with its peers, Nexus 5 or Moto X, the One is above in most circumstances.
13 megapixelsThe camera is signed by Sony, this time with well-optimized software, and in the process of improvement by Cyanogen
Before going into detail, I'm sure there is a lot of room for improvement in it. The reason is that I'm testing its twin terminal, the Oppo Find 7a, which has the exact same module, but the results - plus I like the software more - are better.In China it is possible to put the Color OS ROM, and the camera works as well as the Oppo, so we hope that the situation will be matched by the guys from Cyanogen and OnePlus.
Sony's backlit sensor is an Exmor IMX214, the same one that the Oppo carries, and you'll also see it on more important phones this season. It is well accompanied by six-element composite optics and a maximum aperture of f / 2.0. For support - and a powerful flashlight - there is a dual-LED flash.
See complete gallery »OnePlus One (13 photos)
Normally I do not like to pause too much to assess the situation of the cameras, but I do not end up liking that they are placed very close to the sides - the case of One -, since on many occasions it causes us to have to pick up the phone in an unnatural way to that our fingers do not appear on the screen.
The software that CyanogenMod has made is complete, and with a simple interface that tries to be original, such as the possibility of making gestures to switch between the filters and modes that we have configured. It does not end up being comfortable for me, I prefer to go directly to simple menus to change the options.
See complete gallery »Panoramic views (4 photos)
If we get involved in the meantime, there is a "Smart Scene" that usually hits the image conditions. There is also an effective and configurable HDR mode, or one of long exposure of up to 8 seconds (in the Oppo Find 7a you can up to 32 seconds).
Returning to the interface, we practically find ourselves with three circular controls: photo, video and panoramic. In the background, four options: front camera, flash, access to settings, and the aforementioned special modes.
See complete gallery »Modes (10 photos)
The format of the images taken at maximum resolution is 4: 3, and as you can see from the samples, the quality is quite good. The colors appear natural, and the definition in good light is great. When we have lighting problems, it does not behave badly, both in video and in photo (it helps the lens opening), although worse than the main cameras on the market (Nokia or Samsung).
For those who had doubts, the OnePlus One does not have an optical image stabilization system, here the work is done with software, but we cannot highlight Cyanogen's work in this regard either.
See complete gallery »Camera interface (6 photos)
On the front, it also shares a camera with the Oppo, we have a 5 megapixel sensor with a sharp wide angle (80 degrees) and a remarkable lens with f / 2.0 aperture. It cannot be compared in results to the rear, but its characteristics make it be above the market average.
Moving on to video, this is another of the phones capable of recording video in 4K format, at a bitrate of 20Mbps. In fixed and well controlled shots the results are very good, yes, go preparing to leave space in the phone's memory: just over three minutes becomes 1.5GB.
Other examples: 1080P - Slow 720p, 120fps -
If you want, you can go down to a very effective mode such as 1080p at 60 images per second, or an attractive high-speed mode, with 720p resolution and 120 images per second. Regardless of the formats, we can change video and audio codecs in which the videos will be recorded.
With the sound initially experienced some strange failures such as that a channel is lost, or that the balance between front and rear mics is not ideal, but all this is being solved in the continuous updates.
Another notable section, with room for improvement, we hope you do not forget to update it soon (among the expected news is the RAW format). Remember that as a complement we have the Google camera, that it is possible to install it when being with KitKat.
We finished the review of all the important aspects of the phone, and we did not find any notable gaps. And we started the assessment as we did the review article: the OnePlus One changes the expectations we can have of a phone and its price, although we are not sure if others will be able to follow the path, or if OnePlus will be able to cover the demand.
For now they are in time to round and outline, but what is no doubt is that right now nobody gives more for 270 eurosIt is not the ideal terminal for everyone, there are details that condition your purchase, such as screen size. We are also not sure of the support that the company will give in successive months, and they still have to polish some software details before their actual commercialization.
Once the product is known, there are two possible options that determine color and memory capacity. White for the 16GB, black for the 64GB (more will come later).
Taking into account that we cannot expand memory, and that the difference is small, I would opt for the 64GB model (299 euros), always hoping that there are no problems to supply everyone, and that is that the invitation system does not guarantee that everyone can buy it now, nor are the exact dates for the product to have a stock with guarantees to supply everyone who wants it.
We thought the days of 600-euro smartphones were over when Nexus appeared on the scene, but the situation remains more or less the same, with major manufacturers putting a considerable price on their flagships. With the arrival of OnePlus One we find a new protagonist who dares to offer enough for a fair expense, this time without a giant like Google behind.
If you are curious to know how to get a price like this, for a product like this
- Well, the main reason is that the phone is being sold without any benefit, below what it costs them to produce it. It doesn't seem like the best way to be profitable in a newborn company, but it is one of making yourself known. We believe they can afford it for being well supported financially, and for having the experience of Oppo aside, plus that of the professionals who have managed to gather from other Chinese manufacturers.
- Large manufacturers spend millions of dollars on marketing, this expense will not be done on OnePlus. They will move as much as possible on the Internet, in the media and on social networks, presenting their proposal.
- We already know the third step, selling directly in an online store, without intermediaries.
There are things that some users may miss, taking into account the competition, and the trends we are experiencing, some examples: support for wireless charging, microSD card slot, replaceable battery, or the increasingly present and valuable resistance.
Sony, and secondly Samsung, offer you proposals resistant to water, dust and shock, which the OnePlus One cannot match. Let's go with the scores:
8,4Design8 screen Performance9.5 Camera8.25 Software8 Autonomy7.5
- We pay just enough, for a lot
- Good materials and construction. Personality
- CyanogenMod 11S on KitKat
- Snapdragon 801, LTE, 3GB RAM
- 5.5-inch screen quality
- Although it is quite successful, it is great
- Cannot expand memory, fixed battery with standard life
- It is only sold through the network, with an invitation system
- First device by OnePlus, we have no precedent for support
- Green software, constantly updated
Pedro Santamaría has collaborated in this article with the making of the video.
The phone has been loaned for testing by OnePlus. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises
More information | Oneplus