OnePlus has finally revealed their brand new device, the OnePlus 2, and is now officially taking orders through an invite system. This is a device that a lot of people are looking forward to, since it carries the promise of the previous OnePlus device, with the slogan “Never Settle”, now claiming to be a “Flagship Killer”. Basically meaning that it doesn’t compromise in terms of specs and yet keeps an affordable price. Now that the device is actually available, we’ll take a look at the specs and unique qualities of the device, but also take a look at where it falls kind of short.
The OnePlus 2 is, without a doubt a unique device, in a lot of the same ways that its predecessor also was. Before, we took a look at Motorola’s offering for 2015, with the refreshes for the Moto G and Moto X, and we pointed out at the time that one of the distinctive things about their new devices was that they were not exactly playing the specs game, trying to one-up the competition with a better CPU or GPU, but instead were betting on unique features that might make the difference and become very important for some consumers. OnePlus, however, is going forward with the specs game, and the new OnePlus 2 is proud of it.
So, let’s run down the specs. The OnePlus 2 comes with a 1.8 GHz 64-bit Octa-core Snapdragon 810 SoC, coupled with an Adreno 430 GPU. In terms of RAM, the device offers a 3GB and 4GB version, much like the new Moto G, where the model with the highest internal storage – in this case the 64GB model – comes with the most RAM. The 16GB version comes with 3GB of RAM, but even that should be more than enough for current versions of Android. The display is a 5.5″ 1080p display with Gorilla Glass 4. The camera is a 13MP sensor with dual-flash, optical stabilization and laser focus. The sensor is a bit on the small side when you consider some of the monster cameras that flagship devices carry these days, but then again the sensor isn’t everything – just look at what the iPhone 6 can do with a 8MP sensor. For what it’s worth, OnePlus has publicly said that they’re trying to make the best of the sensor, so let’s see what comes out of it. The front-facing camera is a 5MP sensor, which is also not too shabby.
Other features that the device comes with that are worth pointing out include a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button, and it comes with a notification control slider which you can slide to select whether you want to receive notifications or not. The design of the device is a little reminiscent of the OnePlus One, with the same textured back but this time with an aluminium chassis that goes around the device with a more elegant and more subtle design in comparison to the original. Something worth pointing out is that the OnePlus 2 actually comes with a bigger battery, so hopefully we are looking at better battery life, despite the beefed up specs. And it also supports dual-SIM, which is a really nice addition to make this device stand out from the competition.
Not everything is good, however. For starters, OnePlus is sticking to the same invite-only system that was so criticized during the initial run of the original. While it might be okay to give the invite system a pass the first time around, since it was a new company and there were actually some manufacturing issues to iron out, this time around I find it very hard to justify it – especially when a simple pre-order system would serve just as well to gauge interest and produce adequate stock. Another thing that some users might have taken note of is the inclusion of the Snapdragon 810 SoC, which has been criticized in the past for having poor thermal design and making it very unlikely that you would ever be able to take advantage or the full capabilities of the CPU, since the heat would make it so that the CPU would have to run at a lower clock speed or risk damaging the hardware. However, OnePlus went out of their way to demonstrate that the Snapdragon 810 in the OnePlus 2 is a redesigned second version of the SoC, which they claim does not suffer from the same issues. The stock frequency is also low enough to make it unlikely that heat would be an issue, but you never know.
Another thing that we didn’t expect in this device is the lack of NFC capabilities. I can see why cutting NFC could be considered a no-brainer – after all, it’s a fairly niche thing for most users and there’s no point in including it if there’s no interest. However, with Google just now starting to push Android Pay and NFC payments becoming a killer feature for wearables and other devices, the timing is weird – it now makes more sense than ever to include NFC capabilities, and the original OnePlus One supported that feature. Another notable omission is the lack of Quick Charge, which you can now find in almost every flagship device. So, there definitely are compromises made to make the price tag work – it’s up to you to decide if that’s going to be a dealbreaker for you.
In closing, I think it’s very clear that the OnePlus 2 is an attempt to disrupt the Android market by offering a capable device with similar specs to a flagship phone for about half the price. The compromises it makes are not in the performance, so you can rest assured that this is a blazing fast device that will run whatever you throw at it. For a price tag of $329 for the 16GB version and $389 for the 64GB version, this is a very appealing device. However, with the Moto X and Moto G now also stepping up to the ring, this device is no longer a no-brainer, and I feel that some users will not hesitate to pay a bit more for the brand and extra connectivity options.