OnePlus One Review- A broken marvel

Finally! The much awaited OnePlus One is here, and just like others, I am as excited as you guys. A gorgeous smartphone with beast specs is what I am going to review today. I will touch each and every aspect of phone and will compare it with the competitors like Nexus 5 and Moto X. Like it or not they are still OnePlus One’s real competitors. The fact that Moto X and OnePlus One smartphones are quite close to stock Android makes this competition even more interesting. For now, OnePlus One is available only through Amazon India and you can only buy it if you have invite. After ordering OnePlus One for myself, I was quite excited to try “The flagship Killer” device as OnePlus One says. So, here it goes.

OnePlus One Review - A Broken Marvel

OnePlus One Review – A Broken Marvel

Must Read: Best Flip Covers and Cases for OnePlus One

OnePlus One Review – A broken marvel, really?

The box:

Exclusively for OnePlus one, I had to include this new category in review. Why? Ohh boy! The box is totally amazing. I don’t have words to explain the beauty of this box. Combination of red and white with sophisticated packaging is best box I have ever seen. Just pull the thread to tear away the one side of box, then you will have to slide the red box from outer white hollow box with a small ribbon.The whole packaging thing makes a customer special and happy. It beats every other company in terms of packaging quality and I simply loved it.

Inside the box:

OnePlus One - Box Contents

OnePlus One – Box Contents

Again every small thing is decorated with its accessories. Like for example, sim tray opener with red rubber cover, 1 extra sim tray inside air tight pouch and manuals inside a square hollow case. The charger has separate box and has similar color combination with same packaging quality and ethics. Not to forget, it doesn’t come with hands free. But official accessories are available on Amazon and you can just hit the link below this article to get them. Last but not the least, OnePlus One, the one which we were waiting for…

OnePlus One – Accessories on Amazon

The looks and form factor

Amazing! That’s what I said when I took it into my hands for first time. There is small chrome bezel all around the corner which not only gives it a premium look but also feels great when you hold it. Trust me, this is one flaunting body. The back is surely plastic but has rough layer over it, as a result the back is free from finger prints and smudges. You won’t find the plastic beneath the rough grainy surface, but you will surely keep adoring and touching it until you believe this baby is yours. In the back we have camera surrounded by a small metal piece and brand logo in the middle. The back is unique and is much better than every other smartphone available in the market except for Kevlar back in Moto devices. The rough material covers the device from 5 planes except the front.

Back Panel - OnePlus One

Back Panel – OnePlus One

The front has 5.5 inch monstrous display, softkeys, sensors and front camera. The softkeys are hard to find if you have enabled the feature of onscreen buttons which obviously is a great thing. If you’ve decided to use softkeys, they light up and onscreen keys disappear, one of my favourite features of OnePlus Oone. It is kind of nifty because the screen is too large to use with a single hand and using onscreen keys helps a lot. Blessed with big hands I am almost able to use the device with a single hand. If you have big hands, you are gonna fall in love with this phone. The left edge has volume keys and if you ask me, they are almost invisible and hard to find and press. OnePlus should have gone with bigger buttons and added more tactile feedback to those tiny buttons. On the right, power button is somewhat easier to press as compared to volume keys. But you are never going to use it (at least to turn it on), come on! that’s why we have double tap to wake right? There are two iPhone style speakers which by the way are amazingly loud. The charging port is right between the two speakers. The overall looks and form factor is astonishing and I loved it.

Performance

The device has an Snapdragon 801 quad core 2.4 Ghz power packed processor, which has amazing capabilities like LTE, double tap to wake and one of the best battery optimization techniques. For graphics intense tasks it uses Adreno 330 GPU, which runs each and every available game buttery smooth. Talking about the LTE, it is not going to work in India for few more months. But is it going to work in future? Probably yes it will. Some people have succeeded to enable 4G LTE with Airtel network, that means the device is definitely future proof. Double tap to wake is delight, it never misses the knock and works flawlessly. 3100mAh of battery is the part which I am excited to describe about, but I will cover it separately in detail because I do have a surprise for you guys. 3GB RAM helps the device to multitask faster and better, it really helps when you install a lot of applications on your phone. With the normal use, you will get about 1.2-1.5GB of free RAM. But don’t worry, Kitkat knows better how to manage it and phone runs smooth all the time. It has three profiles to choose from- Battery saving, balanced and performance. The default profile is balanced and it performs fairly well. With performance the device simply flies, amazingly fast and smooth but ofcorse in the cost of battery. Snapdragon 801 makes this device smoother than Nexus 5. Lollipop update is yet to arrive for OnePlus One but company is working on it.

The Software

OnePlus One - Software

OnePlus One – Software

The device comes with Cyanogenmod 11 i.e Android 4.4. OnePlus One recently confirmed that they are not going to provide software support in India which is kind of sad, but users can manually flash the cyanogenmod builds anytime. There is slight difference between stock android and cyanogenmod. Cyanogenmod is nothing but in simple words, it is a tweaked Android. It Provides a lot of new features over the stock Android. I kind of liked it and especially the themes. There are lot of themes available in play store and not only that, they are really classy and change the whole UI of the phone. You can go to theme showcase where you can find all the themes at one place, but they are not free. You have to buy it before you can download it. But they are really worth buying if you think you are going to use cyanogenmod for long time. Trebuchet is the default home of OnePlus one, having features of Google Now launcher as well as customization of 3rd party launchers. It works smooth and has lot of customization options like grid size, icon size, app protection, scroll effects and best of all a new search panel. This search panel comes when you swipe your home to right, just like what we do to go to google now in nexus devices. This search panel supports Dashclock extensions, which by the way is one of the most popular clock with support for extensions in playstore. You can download extensions like battery, weather, storage, note and lot more from the play store and most of them are free. This clock is one of my favourites app on my nexus 5.

AudioFX comes pre-loaded with the device and works really well as an audio equalizer. The sound on this device is nothing less than a treat. It’s loud and clear. Coming to the user experience, it is great except for the part when you touch the screen and nothing happens. Yes, the device has response issues. After every now and then it will neglect your touch but works if you again touch the screen. People reported it to be synaptic driver issues which might get resolved in future, but who knows? This might be the deal breaker for some buyers. I myself got used to it and totally forgot the problem, but it might bother you. Some people also reported the yellow screen tint. But the device which I owned was free from any color profile issues.

The device also gives advanced users a choice to select their own preferred frequency for processor. This helps to get max out of your battery without having root access. But to enable this feature you will have to enable developer options in the settings by going into about and keep tapping on build number until you are now a developer message comes up.

Battery life

Battery Performance - OnePlus One

Battery Performance – OnePlus One

Here comes the best part. The device is quite good when it comes to battery life. You can enable performance option in settings with above mentioned method of tapping the build number in settings. With default “balanced” mode the device gives 5:30 minutes on screen on time with standby upto 23 hours which is amazing. At balanced profile the device performs good enough to match up the performance of Nexus 5. If you still want to make your device faster, you can select the “performance” mode. Definitely, performance mode will affect your battery. This will give you near about 4:30 hours of screen on time with standby time of 18 hours. In both the cases the usage of device was as follows:

  • 1 hour music
  • 1 hour of browsing
  • 3-4 hour of texting
  • 30 minutes of calling
  • Location settings set to battery saving
  • Either wifi or Network data always on (30% of the time wifi)
  • Screen brightness set to auto

Considering the screen size and powerful processor this device beats almost all the devices in the market except few. There is nothing more to expect from this flagship killer in terms of battery life. It kills Moto X and Nexus 5 easily when it comes to battery life.

The Camera

Speaking the truth, I don’t like its camera. This is the one of the weakest points of this phone. It does have a 4k recording but all goes into trash if it couldn’t perform well. The pictures taken have so much noise and darkness that it is difficult to accept that company put the words like “Flagship killer” as a tag. The colors are fine but overall quality is pretty dull. I was never ready to get this kind of performance from a “flagship killer”.

Here are some screenshots of various camera modes and settings that are available in OnePlus One.

Camera Modes and Settings - OnePlus One

Camera Modes and Settings – OnePlus One

The Good

  • Eye popping package
  • Nice 5.5 inches display
  • Amazingly fast and smooth, thanks to snapdragon 805
  • 64 GB storage is more than enough for normal user
  • 3GB RAM makes the multitasking better
  • Speakers are loud
  • Gorgeous looks and rough back panel
  • 4G LTE ready
  • Themes support out of the box

The bad

  • Volume and power keys are tiny and hard to press
  • Tap on screen is sometimes unresponsive
  • Hard to operate with single hand
  • No expandable storage
  • Below average camera performance
  • No hands free inside the box
  • No official OTA software support

Conclusion – Why I called it a broken marvel?

The device is good for people who are not yet ready to buy high end devices like Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Nexus 6. If you can consider the camera and touch response of the device, this is probably the best smartphone on the planet for you. But these two factors are deal breakers for almost everyone. I myself won’t consider getting this as my primary device. I am simply happy with Nexus 5 for now. Rest is up to you. Tell us how you think about OnePlus one in the comments below.

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