OnePlus 2 hands-on and first impressions

by: Joshua VergaraJuly 27, 2015
3.2K

One of last year’s break-out devices was the OnePlus One, created by newcomer OnePlus. The handset offered a credible challenge to the status quo with impressive specs at an even more impressive price tag, and although it had a few faults, it was one of the most impressive devices of the year.

One year on, after months of teasers, leaks and announcements, OnePlus has unveiled the successor in the form of the OnePlus 2. The handset continues the philosophy of the OnePlus One but introduces several refinements to the original formula. But will it have the same effect as its predecessor? Here are our first impressions of the new OnePlus 2.

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At first glance, the OnePlus 2 does bear some similarities to the OPO, mainly in the shape but also somewhat in its size. After all this is a 5.5-inch display returning once again, but the overall footprint is smaller than the OnePlus One and makes handling that much better. Looking on the front side of the phone you’ll instantly notice one of the biggest design changes with the OnePlus 2. There is now a home button under the display that is somewhat similar to what is found on Samsung devices, this houses the device’s fingerprint scanner. The button doesn’t quite have the tactile press that you’d get from a device like the Galaxy S6, however, as it is actually a small divet in the screen panel that is flanked on each side by back and recent apps keys that are designated by small lines.

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Moving around the metal frame, you’ll find the power button is now on the right side of the phone, directly below the volume rocker. On the left side is a new button called the Alert Slider, which lets you quickly toggle between your notification settings (none, priority, and all), without needing to unlock your phone.

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On top you’ll find the standard 3.5mm head phone jack, and on the bottom is the new USB Type-C port, making the OP2 one of the first phones to adopt the next-generation USB standard.

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While many were hoping to see the OnePlus 2 embrace QHD, the 5.5-inch panel is only of the Full HD variety. Of course, this is kind of understandable when you consider the price of the phone, and the good news is that the display is still quite attractive and visibly brighter with better saturation when compared to the OP2’s predecessor. Bottom-line, the display might not be as impressive when compared to the higher-resolution screens found on Samsung and LG products, but is on similar ground to what HTC and Sony are offering in their current flagships.

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In terms of build materials, the OnePlus 2 features metal chamfered edges with a Sandstone Black rear cover. For those looking for something a bit different, OnePlus will also offer actual wood Bamboo, Black Apricot, Rosewood, and even Kevlar through its SwapStyle line. Unlike the original SwapStyle covers, this time around OnePlus promises that removing and switching covers will be a painless process with no tools required. Additonally, the SwapStyle covers will be made available from day one, something that OnePlus failed to do with its original covers.

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On the back of the phone is the 13MP rear camera, which has the same megapixel count as the original handset with improvements in processing and features. To improve the overall pictures, OnePlus has upgraded its new phone with laser auto-focus and a f/2.0 aperture lens, which should result in faster and better shots. Also on board is Optical Image Stabilization, which should help ensure better low light camera performance as well as software and algorithm improvements and 4K Ultra HD video recording. The front camera is a 5MP snapper that can capture Full HD video.

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The improvements in this year’s OnePlus handset don’t stop there, as the Chinese manufacturer has also made major changes under the hood of its latest handset. The OnePlus 2 is powered by an octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor and an Adreno 430 GPU. As part of its future-proofing claims, OnePlus is offering 4GB LPDDR4 RAM in the OnePlus 2 which is coupled with 64GB internal storage that cannot be expanded. There will also be a cheaper model with 16GB storage and 3GB RAM.

Another interesting change in the hardware department is the decision to make all models of the OnePlus 2 dual-SIM compatible. While this may be less common in the west, there are still circumstances where such a feature could come in handy, such as while traveling or if you keep seperate numbers for work and personal.

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The OnePlus 2 sports a non-removable 3300 mAh battery which OnePlus claims should last a full day but with so many next-generation specs, the jury is out until we review the handset. Like any flagship, the OnePlus has a plethora of connectivity options that include Wi-Fi 802.11 n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS and FM Radio. As previously mentioned, the USB Type C port at the bottom of the handset is the next generation in USB standards and opens doors to a whole new set of capabilities, including support for universal accessories, a reversible connector and a lot more.

oneplus 2 review aa (19 of 38)See also: 6 problems with the OnePlus 2 and how to fix them72

In the year since its inception, OnePlus has made the news for a variety of reasons and while some have been positive, its very public and messy falling out with Cyanogen was not so. When the OnePlus One was launched, the handset ran on CyanogenMod – a forked version of Android with lots of customization options – but its fallout with Cyanogen resulted in OnePlus launching its Oxygen OS earlier this year.

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The latest version of OxygenOS is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop – which OnePlus said would also be coming to the OnePlus after the OnePlus 2 launch today – and brings the same clean user interface that’s akin to pure Android. That said, there are a few standout features that go beyond stock, including an expanded app permissions manager, an app for custom LED notifications, a dark/night reading mode, and a variety of special gestures tailored to make the OP2 experience as convenient as possible. The new software version is also introducing Shelf (beta), a new space to “keep, organize, and discover things you care about”. You’ll get frequent apps and other apps you’d use the most, and OnePlus says this feature will continue to evolve in the months to come as it marches out of beta.

It is also worth noting that OnePlus says it worked very closely with Qualcomm to optimize its software for the Snapdragon 810 and it shows as the phone gave us no trouble when it came to speed and lag was a non-issue in our time with the handset.

The OnePlus 2 will be launching in the coming weeks and, like the OnePlus One, it will be available via an invite system that OnePlus claims has been heavily improved since last year’s handset. There will be 30 to 50 times’ more inventory of the OnePlus 2 (compared to the OnePlus One) at launch and invites will be more readily available as well. The company has launched public registrations for OnePlus 2 invites and at the time of writing, it has over 300,000 registrations.

The OnePlus 2 definitely delivers an impressive specs list on paper and from our first hands-on, it seems that OnePlus is onto another winner. While the first handset’s specs now seem somewhat outdated, the second handset is a sign of the future with several features ensuring that the handset will still be current for the next year.

The first handset was dubbed the 2014 flagship killer, but it’s quite telling that OnePlus is referring to the OnePlus 2 as the 2016 flagship killer; rather than being reactive to other handsets this year, the OnePlus 2 is designed to offer superior specs not only to the OnePlus One but to most current handsets launched this year and into the next. In fact, companies may be scrambling to make modifications to their product portfolio, especially when you consider that the OnePlus 2 will cost just $329 for the base model.

  • Federico Escudero

    beautiful

  • Hans Pedersen

    They’re at least kind of honest about it not being available to consumers until 2016. Same “scam” as last year, I presume? :P

    • aenews

      They claimed that they would have 50X the starting inventory of last time. Also since they roll out invites based on inventory, even if there were no invite system, they would have just sold out last year. Not their fault they were more successful than imagined. Anyway we shall see… anyone who wants One can sign up on the reservation list and join the forums. They said they will prioritize forum members first. Since they have a better idea of how many people want the OP2 this time around, hopefully they have enough invites to go around.

      https://oneplus.net/invites?kid=01ZKOG

  • John Amundsen

    Is calling it “2016’s flagship killer” just another way of saying that the invite system will be as flawed as for the OPO? And secondly, all of this has been up for days at NinjaTeched – they just launched a new article with even more details at http://ninjateched.com/2015/07/28/official-oneplus-2-formally-unveiled-by-oneplus-price/

  • tushar

    How many times did he touch that home button for it to actually work?

    • Jason Nucker

      I noticed that too :(

    • Pez Nospam

      That will be ironed out in v2.5 version of SD810. Keep the faith. :P

  • newfguy

    NFC, yes or no, there are conflicting reports

    • Mr Mop

      No.

    • Dis

      Article says: Like any flagship, the OnePlus has a plethora of connectivity options that include Wi-Fi 802.11 n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS, NFC and FM Radio.

      • Pez Nospam

        The article is wrong. The PR department of OP has confirmed no nfc for OP2.

        • R.G. Etienne

          The PR department often knows nothing :)
          Depends if they asked or not.
          I relaly don’t see how that could have been left out of the package considering the previous One had it, and given that the technology has matured a lot and that there is now a fingerprint sensor (so near field payments could be more secure now, should anyone use this…)

          • Pez Nospam

            I don’t use NFC, so it doesn’t bother me. I prefer the finger scanner over NFC.
            Anyway, I’m only repeating what their PR people said. If it’s not true then they need to be fired. :P

          • aenews

            They didn’t say that NFC isn’t included but that most OnePlus One users were not really taking advantage of NFC. That may mean no NFC, but at least one review has claimed there is an NFC chip under the cover. Can’t say for sure yet though it doesn’t look good.

          • T.S

            There is no NFC, and regarding chip yes the SD810 have nfc and quickcharge capabilities but oneplus have chosen not to use utilize them.

          • aenews

            Right but it still charges in two hours… which per mAh is as good as the other flagships considering the OP2 has a bigger battery. And NFC seems to not be included but has not been officially stated.

          • aenews

            Regardless of lack of Quick Charge, the OP2 still charges fully in around two hours… which is actually pretty fast since it has a larger battery than virtually all other flagship phones. Same goes for the original OPO. It proved you don’t need official Quick Charge support to charge quickly.

            It still looks like there’s no NFC, but I definitely wouldn’t rule out the possibility. There is a fair chance that OP will have a solution.

          • R.G. Etienne

            Trust me: now that I own a quick charge phone (with a battery of over 3000mAh), 2 hours is A HELL LOT OF TIME compared to what others can provide (and my current phone started shipping in September 2014 so later devices might make this look even worse).

          • aenews

            At 3300mAh, 2 Hours is a fairly competitive charging time. If you referring to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, then the official quoted charging time (0%-100%) is 100 Minutes (Though I have seen some users charge fully in 90 Minutes). Granted the OP2 charges fully in just over 120 minutes with a marginally larger battery, but that isn’t much slower. Also charges around the same rate as the HTC One M9 and other Snapdragon 810 phones but also has a larger battery than almost every other flagship out there.

        • Dis

          Terrible phone.

  • Jerry Rich

    It will be a piece of crap with lots of bugs and horrible support just like the one plus one.

    • aenews

      Well the OPO was not riddled with bugs. And OP admitted they had horrible support on their Reddit AMA.

  • Raka

    no nfc??????????????????????????????????????????////whhhaattttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

    • Dis

      Article says: Like any flagship, the OnePlus has a plethora of connectivity options that include Wi-Fi 802.11 n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS, NFC and FM Radio.??

    • Pez Nospam

      It has been confirmed by OP that nfc is NOT included.

  • pytajnik

    meh

  • Aravind Rajen

    i cant be bothered about this phone because of the invite system. its not really a ground breaking must have anyway

  • Mvrcel Lgt

    Im sorry but homebuttons ruin everything for me. It’s a personal thing, but I can’t stand it.

    • aenews

      It’s not really a home button. There are three capacitive customizable touch “buttons”.

  • thestig

    can someone please port apk of that camera app.

  • Groud Frank

    Meh. I don’t know. Really the only issue I’m having is with the battery capacity. I’d like something with more beef than 3300 mAh. I am also turned off by their selling methods from the last device they had.

    • aenews

      It has a higher battery capacity than any other current or last-gen flapship device afaik… nothing to complain about LOL

      S810
      LG G Flex 2
      HTC One M9
      Sony Xperia Z3+
      ZTE Axon Pro
      Xiaomi Mi Note Pro

      Exynos 7420
      Samsung Galaxy S6

      S808
      LG G4
      Motorola Moto X Style

      S805
      Google Nexus 6
      Samsung Galaxy Note 4

  • gg

    Shame on you guys for writing such inaccurate article. It doesn’t come with FM Radio or NFC!

  • Jumperone

    almost same as 1+1, i will thank for this one..

  • Mark

    Does anyone have the wallpaper? It’s awsome.

  • balcobomber25

    Ill stick to my MX5, it has the same specs except a better SoC that doesn’t overheat and it is both lighter and thinner.

    • Annaise

      lol better SoC? since when?

      • balcobomber25

        Since it doesn’t require protective gloves to hold the phone when playing games.

        • aenews

          Neither does this one…

          • balcobomber25

            If it has a SD810 it does.

          • aenews

            No it doesn’t… for reference look at MKBHD’s review. I can’t say for sure it doesn’t throttle yet, but you don’t need protective gloves to play games LOL.

          • balcobomber25

            Techradar says differently but all of these reviews were allowed to do any in depth testing. Oneplus allowed them each very limited time with the device.

            Protective gloves was obvious sarcasm, that went right over your head. The SD810 is known to get very hot though when playing games. Everyphone that has used it so far has had that issue.

          • aenews

            Looked more like trolling than “obvious” sarcasm to me. Doesn’t look so obvious in text. I doubt I’m the only one who saw it that way, but anyways thanks for the clarification. We’ll have to wait for more in-depth reviews on finalized software to make a fair judgment.

          • balcobomber25

            Trolling happens on both sides. Those like me who are very critical of Oneplus and those who love it so much they don’t want to admit any flaws.
            But my views on the 810 have nothing to do with Oneplus it is a horrible SoC, I have said the same thing about every brand that has used it.

          • aenews

            Fair enough but all it should take to prevent throttling is better core management. Just disabling two high-performance cores should make it throttle as little as the 808. Hopefully OP balances the cores as well as promised so throttling isn’t a concern.

          • balcobomber25

            There have been lengthy debates if disabling the cores would help. There is no consensus on how much it helps but most do agree disabling those cores absolutely kills the performance. The only real solution is to do what OP2 did and underclock it. It will still eventually heat up and it wont be nearly as powerful but you will have sustained performance for a longer time.

          • aenews

            Isn’t the only only difference between the Snapdragon 810 and 808 (Besides the huge GPU difference) that the 808 has two less high performance A57 cores? Then why wouldn’t disabling cores generate the same result? Physical core placement? In any case OP promised better core management when they first announced they would use the Snapdragon 810. Hopefully this is the case. Also can you link to those debates? Sounds interesting.

          • balcobomber25

            The difference between the 808 and 810, is the 808 was designed for efficiency, its cores are clocked lower the 810 and it uses a lower power GPU. Simply disabling the two cores still won’t make it equal to the 808. It would have be underclocked as well.

            Here is one of many debates about disabling, the results are all over the place, there are many more all over Android forums:

            http://forum.xda-developers.com/g-flex2/help/disabling-cores-root-t3099760/page3

          • aenews

            Clock speeds aren’t really a real difference. You will have different clock speeds among even the same chipset at times. OP2 already is @1.8Ghz. Anyways there is nothing special about the 808 except it has two fewer high performance cores. As long as OP properly manages the cores on the OP2 to prevent overheating, there should hopefully not be a problem. I just hope they do what it takes to stop overheating.

          • balcobomber25
          • aenews

            What about it? I’m already aware that all phones shipping right now with the S810 come with the Version “2.1”.

          • balcobomber25

            It already mentions what OP has done differently, they added a heatsink and some thermal paste. Other than that it’s the same exact SoC which has caused so many issues. Hopefully that is enough to offset the heating issues.

          • aenews

            Ohhh ok now I see. Didn’t know what you referring to in the article. Yeah hopefully their physical optimization as well as software management of the cores results in minimal throttling.

          • balcobomber25

            I don’t like OnePlus as a company but they do make good phones. And I hope for all the fans of this phone the SD810 doesnt overheat. I just don’t see that happening. But we will see.

        • Annaise

          lol sure. even mt6752 can handle games efficiently without overheating. does that mean it’s also a better SoC than SD810? :p

          • balcobomber25

            Yes it does. I don’t know about you but I want a SoC that is able to handle everything I throw at it without slowing down and without getting incredibly hot. You seem to be very confused about what happens when a SoC overheats. It doesn’t just get hot and thats the only problem. When it starts to overheat it throttles badly, when a soc throttles it basically slows itself down so it doesnt continue to overheat and fry the CPU. Throttling causes performance to come to a crashing halt. So while on paper the 810 is a much better SoC, in actual performance it is not good because it throttles. The 6752 maintains its performance throughout. This isn’t an attack on your beloved Oneplus, the 810 is a horrible SoC. They should have used theSD 808, Exnyos 7420 or Helios X10.

  • Edward Brington

    OnePlus2‬ Free Giveaway here : http://goo.gl/K7NF1P

  • reyan

    still waiting for an invite for oneplus 2 try this https://oneplus.net/invites?kolid=2UO0I3

  • Shreyas Ramesh

    FM Radio, Yes or No?

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  • Sandeep Nadella

    FM radio? It doesnt have that I think

  • Jayraj Labs

    Hey Guys I just bought the Karbonn Style Swap Cover for my One Plus 2 and it has a electronic point inside the cover. Can someone tell me what is that for ? is it NFC ? or just to do with the antenna ?