The OnePlus 2 is turning out to be one heck of a smartphone so far, with its super fast fingerprint scanner, updated Oxygen OS software overlay and new hardware features. While the “2016 flagship killer” may be lacking a few notable features such as NFC and wireless charging, we’d still wager to say this device can go toe-to-toe with some of the best smartphones out there. But how does it compare to its predecessor? Now that the OnePlus One has been dropping in price, is it worth the extra cost for the updated model? We aim to answer those questions, and more, in this in-depth look at the OnePlus 2 vs OnePlus One!
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As we are moving toward our full review of the OnePlus 2, a look at the original seemed appropriate – both phones stick to the signature OnePlus style very well, and that starts with the design. Even though both smartphones feature 5.5-inch displays, the OnePlus 2 is noticeably easier to handle than its predecessor due to the 2’s slightly smaller footprint.
Not only is the smaller footprint responsible for the OnePlus 2’s easier handling, the phone now features a premium metallic frame that surrounds the chassis. This adds a bit of heft to the device and makes it feel much more substantial in the hand. That’s not to say the OnePlus 2 feels heavy or the OnePlus One feels cheap, but you can really sense the upgrade in materials.
Elements around the device in the OnePlus 2 show what new features the company is bringing to the table, as well. Capacitive keys still line the front but now the home button is a carved out area, this is to house the fingerprint reader, which is flanked by simple lines for back and recent apps keys. The button layout has been brought all to the right side with the power button below the volume rocker. The left side of the 2 houses a new Alert Slider, which allows users to toggle through different notification modes found in Lollipop. And of course, there is the new USB Type-C connector port at the bottom, which we will get into a little more later – what I can tell you now is that having a reversible plug is already proving to be a small, yet noticeable positive.
The back of the 2 is of the Sandstone Black variety, which retains the exact same feel as the original OnePlus One. Unlike the One, though, the OnePlus 2 will be available with various StyleSwap back plate options (for an additional cost), allowing you to easily change the device’s appearance if you’d like. What is important to note here, however, is how the back plates are implemented – instead of a full shell replacement in the OnePlus One, the back cover of the 2 is simply a slab of textured plastic, which easily pops on and off. But this also means that the new material will only change the back plate and not anything else – the metal frame is, of course, a very welcome change but it does hinder the customization just that little bit.
Overall these two devices feel similar in handling but the OnePlus 2 gets the points for an overall more premium aesthetic – the OnePlus 2, in this regard, really feels like the true upgrade it is supposed to be.
On the display front, not much has changed from the OnePlus One to the 2. Both devices feature the same 5.5-inch LCD Full HD panels, which might come as a bit of a bummer to those that wanted a Quad HD screen on the OnePlus 2. Given the price, though, it isn’t that much of a surprise, but a higher resolution could have easily been a new trump card for the new phone.
With that said, 1080p is still the complete standard in all media – thankfully, the fidelity of the display has been upgraded in the OnePlus 2. Viewing angles are pretty great, viewing in daylight is quite easy, and text remains as sharp as it did in last year’s edition. Though there may not be much to talk about in ways of enhancements between these two screens, we can definitely say that what was once a good Full HD experience in the OnePlus One becomes a pretty great Full HD experience in the OnePlus 2.
It is definitely in performance where we feel the update, as the Snapdragon 801 is bumped up to the 810 with the 2. OnePlus really goes for the gold with one of the most powerful processors in existence right now. The new flagship is simply a beast in the performance department and I have yet to experience any slowdowns or crashes as a result. Navigating around Oxygen OS is as smooth as ever, only made even more fluid with Oxygen’s own transitions, and running various applications is a breeze when the bugs in this operating system are kept at a minimum. And gaming is as great as ever, with 3D games like UFC and sprite-based games like Angry Birds 2 proving nice and enjoyable for long periods of time. For those worried about the heat of this processing package under load, I can say that after long periods of gaming the phone did get warm but it never got uncomfortable (just like most other smartphones on the market).
The OnePlus One is not far behind on the performance front
The spec hungry will likely go for the updated OnePlus 2, and for good reason. The Snapdragon 810 is definitely the beast it sets out to be and establishes the OnePlus 2 as the flagship it needs to be. But we would be remiss if we didn’t give the OnePlus One the props it deserves for rocking its own processor very well even over a year after its release.
If not the screen or the overall design language, it feels like the hardware is where OnePlus hopes to differentiate itself from the 2. The simplest of these additions is the Alert Slider, which changes between different notification modes in Lollipop. The slides feel really solid and the textured button makes it easy to find even when the phone is in a pocket. Need to quickly silence the phone? No problem. And even then, it’s time we saw some new input methods in Android and we do credit OnePlus for making the move forward.
The OnePlus 2 also introduces a new fingerprint scanner that’s housed in the physical home button, which has been working quite well so far. Even when the phone screen is off, just resting a registered finger on the area wakes and unlocks the phone in short order. It’s up there with some of the better fingerprint readers we’ve seen in the market.
All of the connections remain largely the same, but the OnePlus 2 actually supports dual SIM out of the box, which can be a big deal to people in the west who have never experienced it. That’s not to say that it will be completely useful for anyone in the United States, unless the user travels a lot, but in those cases it can be really handy.
The OnePlus 2 lacks NFC, and that's a problem
On the battery front, the 3100mAh battery gets a small bump up to 3300mAh in the OnePlus 2, and it seems optimizations and the upgraded processor do their job in keeping the phone trucking along. While the OnePlus One never really made us worry about shutdowns far before bedtime, we can already feel a bit more life in the new iteration. Both phones will definitely get through a day’s worth of moderate to heavy usage, but the OnePlus 2 will likely have a little more in the tank before it takes its nightly charge.
For anyone wondering, the USB Type-C connector does make plugging the phone in easier, but it is basically a USB 2.0 construction that omits quick charging capabilities. The new connection standard will take some getting used to due to it not being backwards compatible, but thankfully OnePlus is making these cords available for a pretty low cost. In turn, charging times will be mostly standard but certainly no worse that any other typical performer.
Updates to the camera don’t directly deal with the optic packages, but rather with a few new features instead. 13 megapixels remain the size of the pictures, with f/2.0 aperture which should prove pretty decent low light situations. But what the OnePlus 2 brings to the table are optical image stabilization and laser autofocus, both of which should help in plenty of key picture taking situations.
With that said, the app has been given a bit of a facelift from the OnePlus One if you were using Cyanogen on the original. Oxygen OS strips the camera app down to its main essentials, including HDR, Clear Image, Panorama, and even a Timelapse mode with not many additional options. Overall the OnePlus 2 offers a responsive experience but certainly not the fastest out there, especially when considering the spot metering that has to be done for exposure. This is a pet peeve of mine, as spot metering does make it a little tougher to keep everything exposed properly – as was the case in the OnePlus One, it is easy to get brighter elements blown out, but in the 2 this has been toned down to some degree.
There's still quite a bit of ground for OnePlus to cover
Picture quality between these two phones is largely comparable, with improvements made in the processing of the OnePlus 2. Colors are not quite as washed out with the newer flagship, but they are not too saturated either. What hinders the OnePlus 2, despite its OIS, is what held the One back. With an f/2.0 aperture, low light shots require a balance of high ISO and slower shutter speed; but in the OnePlus 2, it seems slower shutter speed is prioritized, making OIS job that much tougher. Unfortunately this means that both phones require really steady hands for low light shots, despite both performing really well in brighter situations.
OnePlus One camera samples
OnePlus 2 camera samples
Both cameras manage to be good companions on the daily, though Oxygen OS does stifle them to a fair degree. But as flagship killers, there is still quite a bit of ground for OnePlus to cover, just as it did with last year’s offering.
Software for OnePlus has been a pretty eventful affair, with the One originally coming with Cyanogen. But when that relationship went south, OnePlus had to make it themselves and it is called Oxygen OS. For anyone with the OnePlus One, updates to the included Cyanogen software were still updated to 12S, which is the version that I still have on my unit. But installing Oxygen OS does require some work on the recovery end. Otherwise, Oxygen is the default operating system for the OnePlus 2, updated to version 2 and based on 5.1.1 Lollipop.
We will talk about Cyanogen for a little bit and mention how much it did bring to the table, aside from the usual gestures, somewhat different take on the core elements of Material Design, and some security features, CyanogenMod did allow for a lot of customization in the Android build of the OnePlus One.
All of that has been basically stripped in Oxygen, which mostly makes sense, as the name implies simplicity. What we have, here, though are some of OnePlus’ core features baked in with what can only be described as a very stock-like Android experience. Material Design is prevalent and the launcher basically looks like the Google Now Launcher. Though there are some places where customization can be had, like in the notification dropdown, other features like the screen off gestures and one addition of the Dark Mode don’t do too much to make this feel any different from, let’s say, a Nexus device.
What we like most is the optimization Oxygen has been given for both of these devices. As a very spartan OS, it should be no surprise that Oxygen is really smooth and snappy. Though a couple bugs here and there might appear, OnePlus looks to be vigilant in fixing them.
Though it is still easy to root and ROM the OnePlus One and, I imagine, the same will go for the 2, the built-in Oxygen OS manages to be functional and simple, which we always like to see. However, if OnePlus is looking to really differentiate itself, it has to do more in its operating system inside as it has been doing outside.
|OnePlus One||OnePlus 2|
OnePlus One:5.5-inch LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
OnePlus 2:5.5-inch LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
OnePlus One:2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
OnePlus 2:1.8GHz Snapdragon 810 processor
OnePlus One:3GB RAM
OnePlus 2:3 or 4 GB (depending on storage option)
OnePlus One:16 or 64GB storage
OnePlus 2:16 or 64GB storage
OnePlus One:CyanogenMod OS or OxygenOS
OnePlus 2:OxygenOS based on Android 5.1
OnePlus One:13 MP Sony Exymor f/2.0 rear-facing camera
5 MP front-facing camera
OnePlus 2:13MP rear-facing camera
5MP front-facing camera
OnePlus One:152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
OnePlus 2:151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm 175 grams
Looking to purchase either one of these devices? That might be a big factor in your decision. The 64GB OnePlus One can be purchased from OnePlus for around $300, no invite required. The OnePlus 2, however, is much more difficult to buy. You need an invite, and to get one of those, you’ll need to reserve your spot on OnePlus’ site. There are almost 4 million users waiting to get their hands on one, which means it will take quite awhile to actually receive your device if you’re interested. With that said, if you’re enamored with the fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C port and Alert Slider and don’t mind waiting a few months, go with the OnePlus 2. But if you need a phone sometime soon, the OnePlus One is for you.
So, there you have it – a look at the OnePlus 2 vs OnePlus One! Our full review is on its way, but it felt right to see where the updates were made from One to 2. In some places more than others, there is real progress that makes the follow up to the OnePlus One a worthy contender. While we will further see if the OnePlus 2 actually “kills” current flagships, we will make the case that the OnePlus One is still a very viable offering especially with its lower price point. That said, the OnePlus 2 still comes in at a pretty good price on its own, so it really only matters if you want to spend the extra money for features like the fingerprint sensor, the Alert Slider, a new USB standard, and of course the very powerful processor underneath.