We are only a few days away from the official launch of the OnePlus Two, and with the hype train running at full steam, we are certainly excited about getting our hands on this latest high-end offering from the Chinese OEM. Before we do get to see what this sequel has to offer, we thought it a good idea to revisit the smartphone that started it all, and certainly captured the attention of the media and consumers alike, even if not always in a positive way. When it was first released it last year, the device was heavily marketed as a flagship killer – but that was then, and this is the OnePlus One….now.
Much of what made the OnePlus One so appealing when it was first launched was its unbeatable price point for what it offered, with its high-end specifications and 64 GB of storage an absolute steal for just $349. The many units we see out in the wild attest to this, as the OnePlus became the phone for the savvy internet user, those who knew how to seek out the best bang for the buck in the market, even though, for a long while, it wasn’t the easiest device to get your hands on.
The much-maligned invite system was, understandably a big source of frustration for users, as the barrier of entry as pretty stacked, with the only options available was to either win an invite, or be lucky enough to have a friend who had an invite to spare. This, of course, isn’t an issue anymore, with the OnePlus One now available for immediate purchase, and also at a discounted price. It can be argued that both of these otherwise positive moves are too little too late, having been made on the eve of the arrival of its predecessor, but its now $299 price tag means that the One continues to be a very compelling offering.
My personal device, that was bought not long after we released the full review, has held up quite well in the more than a year that I’ve used it. The sandstone backing is still unique and nice to the touch, but of course, I had to get my hands on the version of the device with the bamboo backing, when it was finally made available, unfortunately via invites once again. The invite system has become a running joke when it comes to OnePlus now, but it has been very tiresome, and we will hopefully see a better implementation when the same rolls around with the OnePlus Two.
The story of hardware and performance is also the same, after more than a year in. Everything from the display to performance has remained solid, providing exactly what is expected from high-end smartphone from 2014. Playing processor-intensive games is still great, the media consumption experience allowed with the 5.5-inch Full HD display is enjoyable, and the 13 MP rear shooter provides some good shots. Though performance and viewing experience don’t fall behind by much, it is in the camera that you might left wanting a bit more, especially when given the fact that the current crop of flagships have brought a sort of revolution in this regard. The OnePlus One definitely feels dated when pit against the latest and greatest, but the ability to get a device with 64 GB of storage does make up for most shortcomings this phone might have.
The software by Cyanogen has since been updated to 12S that is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop, and proves to be a worthwhile upgrade that brings with all that Cyanogenmod fans love, including some real customization tools, gestures, and every little feature originally afforded the One, with Material Design making it all look better. Oxygen OS was born from the ashes of OnePlus’ relationship with Cyanogen, and was an alternative turned necessity that got off to a decent start. Not only is based on an earlier version of Lollipop though, but it is also about as stock an Android build as you can get. This is both a good and bad thing, because stock Android is always great, but the Oxygen OS still feels like it has a way to go to really differentiate itself.
This year, we’ve already had some great experiences provided by inexpensive phones, and it is fantastic that reliable smooth performance is now very easily available for sub-$400, or even sub-$300 in some cases, which is a development that OnePlus may not have started, but definitely brought into the spotlight. That is also how the OnePlus One continues to be relevant even after more than a year since its release.
The OnePlus One may pale in comparison to this year’s high-end flagships, but it is easy to consider the device as a very compelling member of the “inexpensive but reliable” group, a criteria that is getting more and more attention in the smartphone world. It’s certainly not going to go toe to toe with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4, but that’s a job for the upcoming OnePlus Two, which will undoubtedly have its own problems with the re-instituted invite system and the latest iteration of the Oxygen OS.
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The OnePlus One is the device you get when you need to save money, and you can rest assured that the phone will continue to perform up to a daily standard. The device has seen its fair share of controversy, but when looking at the bigger picture, the OnePlus One continues to succeed at what it was meant to, providing a great smartphone without breaking the bank.
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And how about you – excited to see what the OnePlus Two has in store? As always, Android Authority will be there to deliver the very best coverage, hands on videos and more, for you. As flagships keep getting better and better, and with so much more competition from the ‘super’-midrange portfolio of devices, and some very excellent devices coming in at sub $300 and sub $200 price points, would you ever consider getting an ‘old’ flagship? Devices like the Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3 still perform exceptionally well. Let us know your thoughts – we do this for you!