The OnePlus 2, OnePlus’ second smartphone till date, was announced on July 28 through a unique VR launch event. The device will go on sale in India (and some other markets ) at a price of Rs. 22,999 starting August 11, 2015, that’s tomorrow. OnePlus has managed to create a lot of hype around the smartphone without spending much marketing money, and a lot of people are impressed by the device’s specifications and features. However, we know that specifications don’t necessarily translate into performance.
To showcase its next-generation “2016 Flagship Killer” to its fans, OnePlus had arranged a fan meet in Hyderabad on August 8. I was able to get my hands on the device, and here are my first impressions on the OnePlus 2. So, should you buy the device?
Build Quality & Design
As soon as I took the OnePlus 2 in my hands, I felt the bulk of the smartphone. Unlike the OnePlus One, the OnePlus 2 has a metal frame on which the polycarbonate front and back are attached. The device felt solidly built, and there was no squeaking whatsoever. The company managed to make the device slightly shorter and narrower than the OnePlus One, but due to a larger 3,300 mAh battery, the device is slightly thicker on the same time.
There are three buttons on the front – a fingerprint sensor that acts like a home button, and two customisable/programmable capacitive buttons – that blends in with the device, thanks to their understated design. All the buttons on the sides, be it volume buttons, power button, and the ringer switch are made up of stainless steel and felt very solid. One the whole, the whole device felt very well-built and had great build quality. The back cover can be removed easily to replace it with other StyleSwap covers. The device I used had sandstone finished back, but the company showcased all the other StyleSwap back covers during the event.
The company is offering five StyleSwap back cover options – SandStone Black, Bamboo, Rosewood, Black Apricot, and Kevlar – and they were on the display during the fan meet event. I used all of them, and all of them felt like they were made up of plastic. I think that all the StyleSwap back covers are made using plastic material with just the print of the objects over them. However, due to this, it is quite easy for anyone to remove and replace the back covers. After removing the back cover, you can see the dual-SIM card slot that uses a single tray to insert SIM cards. Needless to say that the OnePlus 2 is compatible with both the 4G LTE bands (Band 3 and Band 40) used in India.
The OnePlus 2 features a 13-megapixel primary camera, just like the OnePlus One, but it is improved in a lot of ways. First up, there’s a larger 1/2.6-inch image sensor (OmniVision OV13860), which results into larger pixel size (1.3 µm). There’s Laser Autofocus and OIS (optical image stabilisation), which means that the camera can focus faster and handles shakes in a better manner. The primary camera can record videos in 4K, but the resolution has reduced slightly from 4096 x 2160 pixels to 3840 x 2160 pixels.
There’s a completely new camera app that features an easier to use UI. However, you still need to slide your finger from the left to reveal a menu that lets you switch modes. There are five camera modes – image, video, panorama, slow-motion, and time-lapse – that are revealed once you swipe from the left. There are three options in the image settings – Clear Image, Beauty Mode, and HDR – and all of them can be accessed when you press the options button. You can also change the exposure through a simple gesture after you tap on subject.
In real-life conditions, the camera seemed to focus faster than the OnePlus One, but still not as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the LG G4. The camera placement is now towards the centre of the device, so there’s less chance of your fingers blocking the camera sensor, which is a good thing as it also improves the handling while using the camera. I did not get enough time to transfer the images that I clicked in the OnePlus 2, but I will show you a lot of images in the full review of the device.
Just like the Samsung Galaxy S6, the HTC One M9 Plus, and the OnePlus 2, all the high-end smartphones that will come out later, including the LG Nexus 5 (2015), the Huawei Nexus 6, the Sony Xperia Z5, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact this year will feature fingerprint sensors for improved device and data security. The OnePlus 2 features a touch-based fingerprint sensor and the company claims of it being faster than the TouchID sensor used in the Apple iPhone
In real-life, the fingerprint sensor felt quite fast and snappy. I tested it multiple times, and it did not fail even a single time, but I will spend more time with the device over the course of next two weeks, after which I will be able to tell you its actual performance over a longer period of time. Unlike other smartphones, you can use the fingerprint sensor on the OnePlus 2 to unlock the device even when smartphone is in sleep mode. There’s, no need to wake up the device before unlocking it using the fingerprint.
The fingerprint sensor also acts like a home button, but you can’t actually press it as it is a capacitive button. You can assign custom double tap actions to the fingerprint sensor, and the default option was set to open the camera, just like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, making it easier to launch the camera. Overall, the fingerprint sensor is quite similar to the HTC One M9 Plus in terms of functionality.
The OnePlus 2 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with an under-clocked CPU (by 200MHz). The 64-bit octa-core CPU is combined with a powerful Adreno 430 GPU and 4GB of LP-DDR4 RAM for snappy graphical processing and multitasking performance. The device comes with 64GB of eMMC 5.0 internal storage, but there’s no microSD card slot, so you can’t increase the storage. The company will reportedly release a variant of the device with 3GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage space somewhere down the line.
The device felt snappy and there were no slowdowns or frame drops while I was using the device. It runs the company’s homegrown OxygenOS UI that is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. It is not as feature rich as the Cyanogen OS, but it has enough customisation options to make users happy. There’s a mode where you can change the accent colours in the UI, and the UI is compatible with icons packs, so you can just download them from the Google Play Store and start customising the OnePlus 2. There’s a special home page on the left most side of the home screen where you can add widgets and frequently used apps, and I felt that it could be quite handy.
Yes, the OnePlus 2 might not be a “2016 Flagship Killer” as the company suggests, but it’s good enough to get excited about, especially for its price. It has solid build quality, a powerful processor, a fast and snappy camera with OIS and Laser Autofocus, a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM card slot, and 4G LTE. The device wasn’t running the final firmware, but the company has started rolling out the final software, and I will test the device over the next couple of weeks. I will also test the camera, performance, and battery life over the next few weeks before publishing my final review of the OnePlus 2. I will also test things like 4G LTE connectivity and battery charging time. Till then, you can tell me about the features or aspects about the OnePlus 2 that you would like to see in the final review.
Computer science engineer turned technology blogger. Following consumer electronics industry closely from 2006, he can now predict pretty much where the market is heading. He has a dream to own Android, Windows Phone and iOS smartphones all at the same time.