OnePlus One: worth all the hype or a big disappointment?

April 25, 2014
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On this Friday Debate, we discuss the OnePlus One, the phone that came out of nowhere to get everyone talking. At $299, nobody is denying the OnePlus One is a great deal. But some would say that buying a phone primarily for its price tag is the definition of, well, settling.

So, was all the hype that OnePlus gradually built around its first product worth it, in the end? Or are the phone’s deficiencies – its size, lack of SD card, some say design – too much for what it was promised?

Join the discussion below and answer our poll.

Gary Sims

We all love to ooh and aah over specs and bleeding edge tech. And the OnePlus One certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its display, processor package, camera and battery. The use of Cyanogenmod is another big plus and certainly adds an extra level of uniqueness to the device.

But ignoring the specs, we all live in the real world. We all have bills to pay and most of us don’t have an unlimited budget! The OnePlus One’s price point is what makes this device standalone as the supreme champion. $299 for a flagship device, that is crazy and it makes the prices of the other top-tier devices look unreasonable.

So here is my list of pros and cons for the OnePlus One:

  • Cons: Lack of micro SD card slot.
  • Pros: Price, Cyanogenmod, Price, Battery size, Price.

Did I mention the price?

Robert Triggs

I don’t think I need to say much about hardware or the price, the OnePlus One is an unbeatable handset for the Android enthusiast, especially if you don’t want to or can’t justify spending $600 on the various other flagship models. Besides hardware, there are a few other interesting things about this smartphone too.

As an on-and-off CyanogenMod user, I’m keen to see how people take to the tweaked version of Android. On the surface it resembles stock Android, but there’s a lot of extra features packed into CyanogenMod for those who really like to tinker around with their phone. I’ve always found it to be one of the more complete versions of Android.

Credit to OnePlus simply for reminding us that Android is open-source, and demonstrating that hardware manufacturers aren’t the only ones in control of the Android experience. CyanogenMod deserves to be in the hands of more consumers, and this smartphone is the start of that journey.

The biggest criticism that I’m hearing about the OnePlus One is the exclusivity and questionable distribution method, but I’m not so sure that this is a weakness. We’ve covered why the company needs to control the initial roll-out, they simply don’t have the resources for a Samsung-eqsue launch. Perhaps the invite system isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly preferable to seeing the device sell out (see every Nexus launch) and then appear all over ebay for double the price.

For a debut handset, I’m really impressed with the OnePlus One.

Joseph Hindy

The OnePlus One is definitely an interesting case. As my colleagues have mentioned, the specs along with the price point alone are enough to make anyone double check their bank accounts to see if they have $300 laying around (or in my case $350). Having CyanogenMod pre-installed alleviates most people’s near-irrational dislike of OEM skins. When you look at it on paper, it seems like the perfect device.

People have complained about the invite system but as we pointed out yesterday, the invite system allows OnePlus to accurately gauge interest so they know how many units to make so they don’t under or over produce the phone. Since they obviously do not aim to make a profit, making sure their production is controlled is an essential part of keeping things in check and will help prevent them from going out of business. So even that is understandable.

What I’m waiting for is “the catch.” I’m not entirely sure why, but there’s a lot of “too good to be true” going around with this device. Ron Amadeo as well as other pundits have voiced their opinions on what they dislike about this device but none of it has really hit home. So my question is this, “At only $300, this device seems too good to be true…so what’s the catch?”

I’d like to know where the corners were cut to make this device a reality at this price point. I know it doesn’t support all LTE but it supports at least some of them. People might say the lack of SD card support and the non-removable battery is the catch but if you’ll recall, the HTC One M7 had neither of those things and it won the best smartphone of 2013 from a lot of bloggers, blogs, and other websites.

My worry comes from being a PC enthusiast. I recently built a computer for about $1000 and I had to cut some corners to make sure I got a processor and video card package that wasn’t a downgrade from my prior laptop. Sure my specs on paper are good, but my case fans rattle because I bought cheap ones, my PSU is an Antec Earthwatts (not bad but certainly not great), and my motherboard is known for not being able to use Turbo Boost because it makes odd noises. So my computer can render video faster than real-time (about 2.5 minutes for a 5 minute video) but it sounds like a computer 10 times its age and has parts in it that are not known for their long-term reliability.

And before anyone claims I’m being unfair, I do the same thing with large OEMs. All big-release phones have issues. They’re just never known until after release. The Nexus 5 had poor battery life and poor drop test results. The Galaxy S4 was flimsy. The HTC One M7 and M8’s Ultrapixel camera experience is wildly mixed. LG’s OEM skin is a Touchwiz impostor. All these devices have at least one glaring issue and are worth $700. Trying to tell me that the OnePlus One has no glaring issues and half the price? Perhaps I’m jaded or, more likely, perhaps I’ve worked on the internet too long, but that just doesn’t sound logical, reasonable, or true.

It’s with that experience in mind that I ask myself what is wrong with this device because it has to be something. If my PC breaks I can always fix it, but if there’s something cheap about this phone that ends up breaking down, I won’t be able to fix and the $299 deal-of-the-decade turns into $299 flushed-down-the-toilet. I’ll be waiting until more people I know get this device in hand to see how it works and where the real issues are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m optimistic about it and it is definitely an impressive feat, but I’m also cautious. I won’t be dumping $349.99 into the OnePlus One bank account until I see where the real weaknesses are.

Until then? Cautiously optimistic.

Sound off

Note: we are reusing our poll from the launch day, which has accrued roughly 2700 votes so far.

[poll id="546"]

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