“The OnePlus 2 managed to impress us with its design and features”
A worthy smartphone isn’t just about specs – it’s the user experience that matters. We’ve said that time and again, and it’s the same mantra OnePlus lives by. The OnePlus One (review) offered loaded specs for its asking price, and that, combined with its unique invite-based selling model managed to raise millions of eyebrows the world over. The device also garnered a massive and loyal fan following for the brand, and that’s saying a lot since until this morning, OnePlus had just one product to sell. The OnePlus One could’ve been a tough act to follow, and when the time came to unveil a sequel, user expectations were sky high. And at first glance, it looks as if the brand has not just been able to meet, but actually exceed those expectations with the OnePlus 2. A strong statement you think? Well, we certainly think that, and our first impressions will try and explain why. Before we get to that however, here’s a quick look at the retail box and its contents.
The OnePlus One came in rather unique packaging, with a flat box and the charger packed separately. For the 2 however, the brand has stuck to a more conventional box. The red box carries a OnePlus logo and the text ‘OnePlus 2’ on top, and a regulatory label at the rear. Inside, you’ll find the smartphone, wrapped in plastic. Right below, there’s an envelope with the usual documentation. At the bottom, you’ll see a two-pin wall charger (2A), along with a flat red USB Type-C cable. The USB Type-C connector is reversible, and can be plugged into the phone either way (unlike micro-USB connectors which can only be plugged in one way). The interesting thing is that OnePlus has even made the USB connector at the other end (the one that goes into the wall charger or the USB port on your computer) reversible.
The One sported an interesting design, and was a sleek-looking device. Pictured above are the two siblings side-by-side, with the new model on the right. The key highlight of the original design was the Sandstone-finished rear that was available only on the 64GB model. The OnePlus 2 picks up the same design language, and then takes it to a new level with its aluminium-alloy frame that runs all around the sides. The signature Sandstone finish still exists on the rear panel though, but this time, the panel can be pried open using nothing more than a fingernail. Don’t get us wrong – the OnePlus 2 isn’t a device that’ll make your jaw drop with its looks, but it comes across as quite classy and elegant… all thanks to the metal frame and the metal accents around the rear camera. More than that, the smartphone actually feels great in the hand.
Up front, you’ll see the 5.5-inch display with an oval-shaped cavity below. This works as a home key via touch, and also integrates a fingerprint scanner. It’s flanked by a couple of backlit capacitive keys for back and recent apps respectively… both indicated by slim lines. This seemed odd at first, but there’s an option to actually swap the order of the two keys – so you can set them up the way you want. Above the screen, there’s the earpiece and the 5-megapixel front camera, with the black bezels hiding the sensors and a multi-coloured notification LED.
On the right, you’ll see the volume rocker and the power key, while a three-step slider switch on the left lets you control notification alerts. This uses Android Lollipop’s feature to let you switch between getting alerts for all notifications, just priority alerts or none at all. On top, you’ll find the headset socket and secondary microphone, while the bottom holds a USB Type-C port with holes on both sides. The ones on the right hide the speaker while those on the left should be covering the primary microphone.
The Sandstone-finished rear holds a OnePlus logo in the middle, but the one thing that stands out the most is the camera module. Sitting on a vertical metal strip is the lens for the primary shooter with a dual-LED flash above and a laser sensor that enables speedy focussing. As we mentioned earlier, the rear panel is removable, but the 3,300mAh battery that fuels the device isn’t. Removing the real panel however, will give you access to a plastic slide-out tray that accepts a pair of nano-SIMs. Yup, the OnePlus 2 is a dual-SIM smartphone, but unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t accept a micro-SIM. If you recall, the default SIM tray that came with the OnePlus One gobbled up a micro-SIM, but a spare SIM tray for a nano-SIM was also included in the package. And yes, 4G LTE support is there as well.
While we’re on the rear panel, it’d also be worth mentioning that OnePlus will be introducing StyleSwap covers for the 2 in four different finishes – Bamboo, Kevlar, Black Apricot and Rosewood. While the predecessor also has a similar option in the form of a Bamboo StyleSwap cover, installing the same can actually be a pain in the posterior. It’s a cinch on the OnePlus 2 however, and judging by what we saw at the launch event, we must say that each of those options look great and impart a nice and personal touch to the device if you’re looking to customise it.
As far as software is concerned, the platform on offer is OnePlus’ own OxygenOS, with Android Lollipop 5.1.1 as base. The UI is pretty much stock Lollipop, but it isn’t that the brand hasn’t done anything to change it.
While setting up the smartphone, you get an option to enable Shelf, which is a new feature that’s currently in beta, and appears as a dedicated home screen on the leftmost side – giving you quick access to recently-accessed apps and contacts. Under device settings, you’ll also find an option to enable software navigation keys in case you don’t prefer using the hardware ones. Gestures such as double-tap-to-wake are also available, along with the ability to launch the camera and flashlight, and control music directly from standby. Customisation options also include an option to choose a dark theme if you so prefer, and change the colour of the notification LED. The latter allows you to set a custom colour for global notifications and for battery-related alerts like when the battery is low, full or charging. You can also change the sequence of the quick settings toggles available on the two-step notification panel. The option to register fingerprints is available in settings as well, and you can register up to five fingers.
The camera app is a minimalistic affair, and the available shooting modes (accessible via a menu that slides out from the left) include Panorama, Slow Motion and Time-lapse. Options like Clear Image, HDR and Beauty are available via another menu that can be accessed by hitting three dots on the right. You can switch between still and video modes by swiping, while an exposure ring appears when you tap to focus. The 13-megapixel primary camera is capable of shooting 4K video, and boasts of features like optical image stabilisation and laser autofocus. A few test shots we took indicated good image quality, but we’re waiting for a chance to take the OnePlus 2 on a proper shooting expedition to see how well it shoots.
The 5.5-inch full HD screen is extremely responsive, and looks quite vibrant and crisp. And with an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB of RAM under the hood, the proceedings were blazing fast. Out of the 64GB internal storage, roughly 53GB is available to use – so we don’t really miss a storage expansion slot here.
Of course, our initial impressions about the OnePlus 2, which are quite favourable so far, might just take a beating if the real life performance isn’t as promised. That said, it has all the makings of a winner – superb build, great specs, feature-rich camera, useful features and a price tag that looks quite attractive as well.
As to the reasons why we’re impressed with the smartphone, we’d be hard pressed to point out one or two specific features that look good. With the OnePlus 2, the brand has thrown in a good mix of everything. The fingerprint scanner looks like a handy feature, and we’re also quite excited about the USB Type-C port. The latter features a reversible connector and makes connecting the device to the charger super simple. It should be making its way to more devices in the future, but the downside for now is that you’d need to depend on the cable OnePlus has provided in the box, as third-party cables aren’t available as easily. However, we were told that OnePlus would also be introducing a micro-USB to USB Type-C adapter, which can be used with regular cables. The Alert Slider is an interesting feature as well, and barring the Apple iPhone which boasts something similar, we can’t think of any other smartphone that has it.
In case you missed the details, the OnePlus 2 has been priced at Rs 24,999, and will be available in India via Amazon starting August 11th.
God lies in the details, and the company seems to have given careful consideration to tiny little things when it comes to the OnePlus 2. A full review will prove how well it can stand up to the rigours of daily life, but as of now, it’s sure looking like a well-rounded package.