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

April 25, 2014

oneplus one aa hands on (33 of 33)

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.

What do you think of the new OnePlus One?

View Results

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Comments

  • Brendon Brown

    totally worth the hype

  • Franc012

    I read on CNET that Oppo is actually manufacturing the phone. If that’s the case, then whatever Oppo had done wrong with their Oppo 7, they have probably done wrong with the OnePlus.

    • Brendon Brown

      Well it does look extremely similar to the Find 5 ..

    • The Tech Ninja

      Oppo is not manufacturing the phone. Some of Oppo’s ex-employees now work for One+.

      • LB

        Oppo is building the phone for Oneplus. The Find 7a and One pretty much have the same hardware.

      • SantaClausless

        Tech ninjas need more training. #dunnosh##

    • s2weden2000

      Manufacturing is outsourced to 0ppo…there is a interview where Pete L. says it himself

  • TechGuy

    I’m waiting for the 64Gb version and it will probably replace my Note 3. I very seldom use the SPen and the Samsung bloatware, Knox and regional sim lock are real minus points for the Note 3. I really like the card slot but this is now less useful with the KitKat restrictions and whilst I also like a removable battery. .I can always have a rechargeable power pack like the Anker as a backup. Samsung, HTC, Nokia etc. Better lookout for the likes of OnePlus and Oppo etc.

  • Rajat Solanki

    this shows that the s4 had made for just 272$ but sold for 649$ likewise m8 but the 1+1 is not putting the brand image cost* on the consumers they are using the low cost strategy and need to sell very high volume to make profit if u remember the ps3 had to sold for loss for few years so likewise they may be implementing that and creating brand hype and its working its like selling nano a 2500$ car sold in india by tata motor .we should see how is life of the device

  • Rauel Crespo

    I already have an HTC One(m7), but $350 for a 64GB phone?!!?! Hell, at that Price, I’ll be buying a new phone at least once per year, as opposed to waiting for my phone to die or break.

  • MasterMuffin

    It’s not worth the hype, but it’s really impressive + that price, so there really isn’t a better phone if you’re looking at it objectively. It may be too big for you or you may hate Android (why are you here) or there may be devices with more features, but when you think about the price, it’s the best.

  • Mystery Zoro

    OK i like One plus one but.. the no memory card expansion is kinda bad :/ but atleast it’s cyanogenmod.. not too much memory will take up the space :3

  • shamatuu

    People why is it even worth looking at?. The questionable distribution method is what is going to kill this phone and they won’t make money limiting its costumers for that price. Its 2014 for god sakes. Either you go all in or do something else. They just proved to me that they are’t series at all and just playing it safe where they are doom to flop in matter of months.

    • s2weden2000

      Well it obviosly is not for you is it…

  • Guest123

    While I do think the hardware is decent and priced very well, I have yet to see CM reviewed, and CM has, as Steve put it, lots of bugs.

    So, we still have to see if the software lives up to standards.

    Secondly, they are beginning to make a real CF out of the launch.
    1. You need an invite
    2. Only way to get an invite right now is to smash your current device
    3. your current device must be one of the newer flagship devices they have deemed worth of smashing
    4. I’m not smashing a phone I can sell for more used than the price of the 1+
    5. My LG OGP isn’t even listed as a smashable phone to get on the current list/invite, seriously?
    6. #1 through #5 = I’ll keep running my OGP as it does all I want, has a 64GB SanDisk in it and amazing battery life and the battery is replaceable.

    Hype now over due to stupid sales/marketing ideas.

    Best of luck OnePlus. With your marketing team you’re going to need it.

    • mobilemann

      they let you smash a galaxy s3, which would be worth it (considering then you only have to pay $1 for the phone. Not like you have to tell them you have a note 3 too:D

      • Brock fletcher

        Or smash your note 3 and use your carrier insurance and get oneplus1 for 150$

    • Gaurav Arora

      ASOP has a lot of bugs too, and some don’t get patched for years! I think CM is doing just fine :] at least they listen :D

    • Ricardo Jimenez

      No, you do not need to smash your phone for an invite, if you get picked you may smash your phone for 1 dollar, you sir were misinformed, and don’t complain about there promo, some people might actually want to smash there note 2 or nexus because the phone is probably beat up already and they want an upgrade.

    • s2weden2000

      rElax

  • John Garlits

    I love that it’s NOT overloaded with excess “features.” Just add what you need and don’t have the rest stuck on there taking up space/data/battery. No need to go through rooting and all that. And that one “con” of no SD card? 64GB on board option, hello! Yeah, a bit more $, but 16GB is not good, even if the OS takes up (likely) little of the space. Odd that there wasn’t a 32 GB middle version at $325 or so, but maybe it was cheaper to have less options for manufacturing. That’s fine. I hope it’s a success and they ramp up production with even more options. They need to get working demos out for people to check out, too. I wouldn’t want to buy without checking one out in person first.

    • mobilemann

      don’t say the fact that they don’t over charge for nand means the lack of sd support is ok. With 128gb micro sd’s out (although out of stock as well, until may or so) This just isn’t the case!

      • John Garlits

        It’s plenty for me. I’ve never had over 32 GB (which at one point got tight when I was storing a lot of my music on-device), and 64 is rarely available as an option. I’ve also heard (but don’t have direct experience) that sd performance may not be as good. Very well, you can keep it as a con, but it would hardly matter to me if I had 64 GB on board. At that point, it would just be a nice-to-have like an IR blaster I’d hardly ever use. How much do those 128 GB cards cost anyway? Google search says $80-$200. By the time I’d need more than that, I’d have probably long since upgraded.

  • Colts5609

    My only concerns lie within the software and their build of CM. I can live with almost everything else (the lack of wireless charging is tough for me), but if the software is crap, the phone will be crap. From what I have read, they have alot of work to do before being able to push anything out to the customer.

  • Beci

    Guys.. i will buy the note 4. Trend, power, and of course the best specs in the world (new curved design, 64 bit, 4 gb ram, 16 megapixel)
    I thing the oneplus one its one year later in the market. All 2013 october phones with snapdragon 800 you can buy now for 300 dollars in ocassion

    • Besbes Souhaieb

      guys please welcome troll of day – samsung – paid honest member or whatever
      you made lol so hard with your best specs in the world.

      bottom line the opo has the best spec sheet right now and yes that probably will remain until the note 4 is announced.
      but combine that with the incredible price tag, and you only find suspicion as the reason why this phone won’t break the charts this year

  • TMOTECH

    The Pop up Ad for undertone is really obnoxious. Is it necessary to cover the whole page?

  • SantaClausless

    It’s too big!

    • mobilemann

      but it’s cheap. life is full of compromise bud.

      • Guest123

        “Never Settle!”

        NEVER!!!

        Just sayin’ ;)

        • mobilemann

          Totally agree with you man, dumb tagline for Any $300 phone

  • Balvinder Makkar

    Everytime i vote it says you have already voted..
    Anyone knows what can be the issue as i am visiting the website for first time

  • http://techonblogger.ward.pro/ Stynkfysh

    Regarding what’s the catch… The catch may be that end users have been getting skewered by the mobile industry in terms of phone price control and contracts artificially inflating phone prices for years. As far as I am aware, OppOne has no carrier relationships to damage and are free to offer the phone for whatever price makes sense to them. I mean, the Nexus 7 is $225. And somehow adding a wireless radio and shrinking it down to phone size should increase that price by $400? ($600+ is typical retail of equivalent smartphone) Please. We have been getting gouged all along.

    • Mike Reid

      Cellphone contracts are a mostly North American phenomenon. And European prices are often the same or higher. Check Ebay prices from HongKong/China vendors for these phones. Then add $50 or whatever to pay for stores, employees, etc.

      I agree with Joseph Hindy that there much be a catch or 2… And one of my primary concerns would be with quality. I’d wait at least 3 months to see what tech problems arise; they do for Samsung, HTC and everyone else.

      But I’m also not convinced this phone will sell well among ROM enthusiasts. This is one of my primary criteria for a new phone now: how many good ROMs will there be and how easy will it be for me to Google for issues in future, like “OnePlusOne battery dead” or “OnePlusOne weird audio problem”.

  • danix180

    I must admit. This is the best … phablet on the market. Congrats to 1+ team for pulling this off.

    But the thing is I was waiting for a Nexus killer not a phablet killer. It is too big for me. I was honestly expecting a smaller lighter phone. ;) I will settle this time.

  • thepanttherlady

    I think there’s a large difference between what something is actually worth versus what it’s being sold for.

    • s2weden2000

      Yes…the aijphoney is the reference example of that

  • Brian Forgrave

    OnePlusOne in need, smash your own phone. Go on post it on youtube, get a oneplusone maybe a $1.00 price. Was in a email i received. Wow, not 4 me. thks anyway!!

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  • B Fos

    “Where are they saving the money… How can they afford…”

    One word MARKETING. .

    They don’t have to pay people like LeBron James(Samsung) Robert Downey Jr(HTC) Oodles of money along with commercial time, etc etc

    Another R&D .. They have 1 read it ONE model. Not 30+ that all took their own research and development.

    • Besbes Souhaieb

      that’s why i truly believe in this phone
      for me i thouroughly reserach phones before bying and i dislike the fact that i pay almost a third of the because of the money that the company spent to lure clueless customers into buying the phone.

      really is a breath of fresh air in the corrupt economic model that we live by today.

  • Don Gerrard

    Hmmm not making a profit?? why would you make it in the first place

  • Chris King

    I would worry about quality. Non removable battery will it last. Screen will it last if this company only makes it 3 months where will I get replacement parts. How hard is it to replace things on this phone . I myself would be inclined to wait for 1+2

  • jeffroks

    I’d never rate a phone without using it.

  • vcsg01

    “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?” This statement doesn’t hold tons of water with me when you see that the bill of materials costs for an iphone is around 200 dollars.

  • s2weden2000

    ePic

  • Okpalaeke kingsley

    well, I guess the question should be why is the flagship phones so expensive? Google gives Android OS for free! This means that if Android was licensed then Android devices will retail above the $1000 price range. It’s a rip off! At $300 one plus one must be selling at a profit.

  • Tommy

    With the performance aspect, the above average camera quality, and Cyanogen in its corner, the price you pay for such a powerful package seems way too good to be true. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.

    http://9cases.com/2014/06/best-and-cheap-oneplus-one-cases-2014/

  • Tommy

    OnePlus hasn’t just rocked the boat with the One, it’s good enough to see some competitors fly from its wake and crash into the rocks. If the One retailed for £450 with a more recognisable brand name stamped onto its rear then it would be snapped up from the shelves. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.

    http://9cases.com/2014/06/best-and-cheap-oneplus-one-cases-2014/

  • vinas03

    I own the OPO and can tell you they made reasonable cuts to lower the price under the find 7 variant. I’ll give a quick rundown: 1. Cheaper battery 2. 1080p display when 2k displays are available 3. More plastic 4. No inductive charging 5. Only USB 2.0 6. No external storage 7. Cyanogenmod costs them little if anything 8. Very little marketing costs… ONE could easily see that they made appropriate cuts in acceptable ways to create a very nice flagship alternative.

  • Quinten

    Their invite system does not only makes them control their production, it also reduces their advertisement costs greatly.

    –> They have none! And thus they don’t have to increase their price as much as their competition.

  • Subhas

    I think it completely hype.Go to the one plus forum, see what problems owner are facing.Yellow Tint, GPS, CM update,bricks the device after complete discharge of battery. So disgusting that I haven’t seen in any tech review? I was there couple of days for invite and decided not buy OPO. I think One Plus One is completely what you paid for. I would rather go with Moto G if can’t afford flagship.