After months of leaks and rumours, Chinese manufacturer OnePlus unveiled its new OnePlus 2 flagship smartphone just last night, and from our first impressions, the handset certainly has a lot of impressive things to shout about. From 4GB RAM on the premium 64GB model to a Snapdragon 810 processor and 13MP camera equipped with f/2.0 aperture, 1.3µm pixel size, optical image stabilisation and laser autofocus, there’s a lot to like about the OnePlus 2.
By the same token however, the handset does seem to have missed out a few features that some might consider important in a flagship device and with OnePlus aiming for the handset to challenge flagships this year and next, let’s take a look at some of the flagship features that are potentially missing from the OnePlus 2.
One trend that looks set to rise in the next eighteen months is mobile payments and NFC (Near Field Communications) plays a crucial part in making this a reality. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t come with NFC built-in to the handset meaning if mobile payments do become a major feature, the OnePlus 2 could be left aside.
The other element of NFC is that it allows you to establish quick connections with both accessories and other handsets. Latest Android smartphones come with the ability to beam content between handsets and even transferring data between handsets as part of the initial setup relies on NFC. Without an NFC chip, none of these are possible and if you consider NFC important, you may find the OnePlus 2 lacking.
Wireless / Quick Charging
This is a dual-feature that we’re seeing many companies adopt instead of a removable battery; while wireless charging is less widely adopted, it is becoming a standard in several premium flagship devices and quick charging is proving to be essential in handsets that do not have a removable battery.
In the case of Quick Charge 2.0 enabled handsets like the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, the feature lets you charge your phone up to 50 percent from empty in 30 – 40 minutes, which can be very useful when your battery is low but you have a limited amount of time to actually charge it. The OnePlus 2 doesn’t have both wireless charging and quick charging and while the former may not be crucial, I personally find quick charging essential to my daily usage.
The case of removable versus non-removable batteries has been contested for many years and Samsung’s decision to avoid a removable battery in its flagship handsets earlier this year saw the feature become even more contested. Personally, I’ve found that while a removable battery is certainly useful, the ability to charge my phone rapidly does negate the need for a removable battery, especially as you need to remember to keep the battery charged and ready.
In the case of the OnePlus 2, the non-removable battery is unsurprising (given that the OnePlus One battery was also non-removable) but despite the slightly increased capacity – the OnePlus 2 is 200mAh larger than the OnePlus One – the lack of quick charging or the ability to swap out your battery may be a running concern.
Certainly the handset doesn’t have a Quad HD display like other flagships (which we’ll touch on below) which should mean better battery life and for most users it won’t be a concern. On the other hand if you’re a power user (like me), you may find the non-removable battery and lack of quick charging a tad too limiting.
Quad HD resolution
One of the biggest rumours about the OnePlus 2 before yesterday’s launch was that it would have a Quad HD display but the official launch nulled that rumour, with OnePlus instead opting for Full HD resolution on a panel that it claims is the brightest on any smartphone to-date. Should they have gone for Quad HD resolution at the cost of battery life however?
With the OnePlus 2 aiming to challenge future flagships, the lack of Quad HD resolution may yet prove to be the difference maker; the better resolution would have delivered a more dense experience (534 ppi vs 401 ppi) that would have prevented a challenge from other handsets in the same price bracket. Instead, the OnePlus 2 may equal current flagships but next year we’re likely to see Quad HD resolution come to slightly lower priced handsets and Full HD become the norm and while the OnePlus 2 should be okay for now, it is likely to come under increased pressure next year.
It’s worth noting that the OnePlus 2 was definitely designed with an overall price tag of under $400 in mind and it’s likely that a bump up in resolution could have resulted in the price tag increasing quite sharply. In turn, that may have reduced the appeal of the handset but what do you think? Would you pay an extra $50-$70 to get a OnePlus 2 as it is now with a Quad HD display?
The case for expandable storage only really applies to the entry-level OnePlus 2, which costs $329 and has 16GB storage as well as 3GB RAM. While users of the premium version (with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage) should find the capacity plenty, users of the lower version may find the 16GB too limiting for daily usage.
As with most Android smartphones, the available internal storage varies but we’d expect the handset to launch with around 11GB available storage (although we will confirm once we have our review unit). For users of the lower-spec version, this could be a deal breaker, especially as the OnePlus 2 is hindered by both the lack of microSD card slot and the lack of USB On-The-Go support, meaning you won’t be able to plug any external storage into the handset.
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There’s no denying that the OnePlus 2 is certainly an impressive smartphone but can it live up to its claims of being a 2016 flagship killer? While Quad HD may not be a requirement (especially given the price of the handset), the lack of expandable storage, removable battery and wireless and/or quick charging could prove to be too much for users looking for the flagship experience. To top it off, the arrival of the new Moto X Style could give OnePlus 2 some very real competition.
How much does the lack of these features affect the overall experience? That remains to be seen and we’ll of course bring you our full review in the coming weeks. In the meantime, do you agree with our list of features missing from the OnePlus 2? What other features would you have liked to have seen included in the smartphone? Let us know your views in the comments below!