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OnePlus 2 is not a 'flagship killer'

By Himanshu Juneja
August 18, 2015 12:07 IST
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But if one can grab an invite, OnePlus 2 is the best smatphone within the sub-Rs 25,000 budget.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus One made quite a splash when it broke onto the scene and its achievement was even more impressive if one keeps in mind the company's humble roots. The company's efforts in offering premium features at half the price that competition offers made it stand out.

The company relied heavily on the invite system, which helped in sustaining the hype, but the downside was that many prospective buyers missed the bus, and others had to jostle out during the sales.

Now ready with its latest offering, OnePlus 2 has been touted by the company as a '2016 Flagship Killer'. Whether the claim is outrageous, or has some merit to it, we aim to find out with a close inspection of the device.

Built

Comprising of a Aluminium-Magnesium alloy frame for its construction, the phone looks sturdy at first glance. The chamfered stainless steel edges do a good job to further enhance the style quotient. Looking like design elements, four small strips actually are the antennas for the phone.

The OnePlus 2 is not a totally refreshed device. The sandstone back panel is still there, but this time it is removable. The owners get the advantage of purchasing impressive back covers made up of either Kevlar, Rosewood, Black Apricot or bamboo material. These are official accessories, so the quality assurance can be expected.

Overall, the phone looks pretty solid and exudes a premium feel. Full marks to the OnePlus team.

Design

OnePlus 2

At the top of the phone, one finds the 3.5 mm audio jack. The right edge carries the power key, as well as the volume rocker. At the bottom, one finds the USB type C connector. The left edge peculiarly plays host to a three way slider button.

This key is meant to assist the users while handling the notifications, and allows the user to filter the notifications by All Notifications, Priority Interruptions, and No Interruption attributes. While this seems like a move to bring forward something unique for the users, this presently seems like a gimmick.

Moving on, the phone also carries a finger print scanner right below the LCD, in the form of what looks like a button. The shape is pretty much similar to what people have seen on Samsung and HTC phone finger print scanners; the catch here being that it is a touch pad instead.

Addition of a finger print scanner is a good move, especially when the phone is being touted to be 2016 ready. However, no NFC being onboard stings.

There are a couple of touch buttons flanking the finger print scanner on either sides. Activating these will disable the on screen buttons, and the home button steps up to take the mantle of a home button.

Turning the phone around, one finds the metal strip which hosts the 13 MP camera lens, and the dual LED flash just above the camera lens. The laser focus system is situated below the camera.

In order to access the nano SIM card slots, the need for a separate ejector tool has been eliminated, and the user can simply pull the SIM tray out.

Hardware

This is one region where OnePlus 2 will bag the accolades. The class leading hardware comprises of 64 Bit Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 chipset. The CPU is an Octacore affair with Quad-core Cortex-A53 and Quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A57 making up for the processors.

The GPU supplied is Adreno 430. The two models for different RAM and onboard memory seems to be catching up, as the 3 GB RAM variant comprises of 16 GB of memory, whereas the 4 GB of RAM is accompanied by 64 GB of storage capacity. The higher end model has been priced just a shade under Rs 25000.

No doubt, that the lack of a microSD card slot will make the users veer towards the higher end model.

Display

OnePlus 2

The phone has been equipped with a Full HD display of 1080 x 1920 p resolution. The IPS LCD is pretty bright at 600 nits and offers good sunlight visibility as well as impressive viewing angles. The colours looked natural and coupled with the brightness, the overall result is pretty good.

For a device which has been touted to withstand competition even in the year 2016, not going ahead with a 2k display, leave alone QHD variant, was pretty surprising. The display is impressive, but one expected a better resolution for the course.

The display has been given Gorilla Glass 4 protection against the accidental bumps and scratches.

Connectivity

The dual SIM device has been enabled to establish 4G connectivity on both the SIM cards.

The usual options, like WiFi, WiFi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth (with A2DP). For navigational assistance, AGPS and GLONASS are present as well.

Absence of radio, especially NFC, dent the claims of being a flag ship killer for the upcoming year.

Software

OnePlus 2

The OnePlus 2 comes with Oxygen OS of its own, which is based on Android Lollipop (ver 5.1).

The Oxygen OS basically is stock Android with minimal tweaking by the company.

The inclusion of feature called 'Shelf' allows users instant access to frequently used apps and contacts. This feature finds its place on the left side of the screen, and also provides a tab on the weather info. Interestingly, users can choose not to activate this feature while setting up the phone.

Other noteworthy features includes a dark mode, support for multiple users, and a guest mode. Something which will delight power users is the ability to filter the permissions granted to the apps while installing. This will enable the users to clamp down on the flow of sensitive information.

While this is all good, the OS very strangely lacks a gallery app. Instead, the users are led to Google Photo app. While this is decent backup option, it doesn't stand a chance to compete with a full fledged gallery app.

Users can also enable tap to unlock feature, or make use of gesture control and draw specific symbols in order to execute apps and desired actions. The option to customise the capacitive keys on either side of the fingerprint scanner or revert back to onscreen keys is present as well. The scanner 'button' in itself can be customised for long presses or for double taps. The notification LED can be assigned different colours for specific notifications.

All in all, the Oxygen OS tries to tinker not too much and adds minimal apps only to maintain the stock Android experience going for the users. There are few glitches here and there, and a software update should be in the pipeline.

Performance

Thanks to the stellar hardware used, the phone performed the day to day tasks admirably well. There were no stutters to be experienced, and the phone dealt with the strenuous tasks in a smooth fashion.

The performance while running the apps isn't an issue, the phone is not without its sketchy performance either. Some of the times the apps would crash, or won't run at all. Similarly the fingerprint scanner is a hit or a miss at times. And it needs to be kept clean of any smudges or finger prints etc. Expect a software update sooner than OnePlus had originally intended.

The stereo speaker's absence was felt since only the grill on the right of the charging port emanates the sound. The mono speaker was loud and clear. There were concerns due to the 810 chipset involved, but the company has worked with graphite material and thermal gel to make sure that the heat dissipation doesn't pose a problem, and the effort has paid off.

The metal frame did heat up, but nothing too concerning to raise a red flag.

Camera

OnePlus 2

The OnePlus 2 comes with a 13 MP camera with dual LED flash, optical image stabilisation and a laser focus system. The front camera is of 5 MP. The performance overall impresses and can easily compete with other devices in its range.

The rear camera captures some great photographs, especially when light conditions are adequate. The photos carry good amount of details, and colour reproduction is accurate as well. The optical image stabilisation's effects shows, since the user is able to snare crisp photographs even with slight shakes.

The low light photography does make way for some noise in the results, but even then, the results are not horrible. The much talked about laser guided autofocus does its job as described, locking on the subject within 0.3 seconds.

The camera is capable of capturing ultra HD (4k) videos, each worth 10 mins of duration. The results again impressed. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the slow motion videos, which turned out lackluster.

Coming to the camera app, it has been kept fairly minimal. In fact, the app doesn't even carry manual settings, and this will rankle pro users who like to tinker around a bit. Thankfully there are few modes present onboard like the Panorama, HDR, Clear Image and the Beauty mode. Users will do well to grab a better camera app from the Playstore.

The front camera does a fairly decent job while capturing the selfies, the beauty mode coming to the rescue when touch ups were required. The final results are more than passable for sharing on social media.

Battery

The OnePlus 2 comes with a 3300 mAh battery power pack. The Li-Po battery is non-removable.

The battery provides ample juice for the phones to remain powered up through the day, even while using the device on a moderate to high usage pattern. The phone chugs along easily for 16+ hours, which means that the user need not worry too much about charging.

This was needed. Since the phone comes with a USB Type C connector, the availability of the cable won't be widespread. This might be a situation one may overlook, but same cannot be said about the absence of turbo charging. A phone boasting itself as future flagship killer ought to carry quick charging feature.

The battery takes about two and a half hours to get fully charged.

Verdict

2016 flagship killer it may not be, but at the end of the day, OnePlus 2 is a slick device and offers a superb option for people willing to spend around Rs 25000 for a smartphone.

The phone packs all the right features and leaves little room for complaints. The absence of 2k+ display may just have worked in its favour, as is evident with the battery performance. The current display is not a pushover either, and the camera performs admirably well.

There are a few software based niggles here and there, and the company should make it a point to nix them with the next software update.

Turbo charging, micro SD card slot, NFC, better display eye candy can wait till 2016. For now, if one can grab an invite, OnePlus 2 is the best mobile phone within the sub Rs 25,000 budget.

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Himanshu Juneja
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