Quick on the heels of Xiaomi, which has tasted stupendous success in India without spending a paisa on marketing or advertising, another Chinese company is trying to make a mark with a hard-to-own smartphone that calls itself the flagship killer. But is this phone really worthy of the near cult following it has in some markets. We decided to take the phone for a spin.
Specs: 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080p, 401 PPI) LTPS IPS with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 | Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2.5GHz Quad-core | 3GB RAM | 64GB internal storage, no external slot | 13MP rear camera + 5MP front camera | 4K video recording with slowmotion | 3100 mAh battery | 4G with nano and micro SIM trays in box | Cyanogen 11S OS based on Android 4.4
Design: This is what I like most about this phone. I got the Black Sandstone finish version for the review. The matte finish granite like rear panel syncs well with my concept of style and sophistication while a lot of my friends found the same weird. The design is minimalist in every sense and you have just the volume rocker and power buttons on either side. But the two buttons blend so well that in the dark you will be groping to find them or even the right side of this phone. The rear panel has the camera and flash as the only relief from the granite-like finish along with the smooth OnePlus log. All very classy. This class is also visible in the charging cable and even the SIM tray pin that comes in the box, all designed with intent.
Display: The 5.5-inch Full HD display uses the faster LTPS (Low Temperature PolySilicon) LCD technology which makes its easier on the eyes and the images crisper. This screen can compare with any other Full HD screen in the market though I could not find anything that makes it better.
Performance: Running the most powerful chipset from Qualcomm, the One present no hassles for you. Multi-tasking is easy and even with the toughest of tasks the phone does not heat up. Apps load real fast and you can easily move from one app to the other.
Software: The OnePlus One does not run stock Android and has instead loaded itself with Cyanogen 11S. This is a lot like stock Android, but also offering lots of tweaks and even full themes that change everything from the font to the icons. Even in the two themes that come free with the phone the customisation options run deep. But the other themes are all paid, with prices starting at a Dollar. However, the Cyanogenmod has issues. I noticed that often calls drop as soon as you have answered it. Then, some Android apps have trouble starting. Plus, some features like the call log take some getting used to. But after a while I could only agree that this is a better experience that what any other Android tweak is offering at the moment.
Camera: The OnePlus One has a cool clicker which again gives you lots of options to work on the photo even before you click. On the camera screen you can change modes by just swiping down from top. The camera is also fast and there is a burst mode that lets you click up to 20 frames in one go. The results are quite good with great details, even in macro shots.
The phone, thanks to its powerful processor, also lets you shoot 4K video, which however is not default. In 4K you have make some excellent timelapse videos, but the slow motion at 60fps is not available above 1080p. And to the phone’s credit is the fact that it stayed cool even after almost 5 minutes of 4K shootings, which is an achievement in itself. This is a camera that can suffice all the needs of even very demanding users.
Storage: The review unit I had came with 64Gb storage out of which you have just above 50GB left to use. There is no external storage and this extra large internal storage is more than crucial.
Connectivity: No issues on this front. The phone lets you use both nano and micro SIMs as it offers separate trays for both.
Battery: One of the best things about the phone is the battery life. I would start my day around 6.30 am with a full charge and come back home around 8 pm with about 30 per cent remaining. I could not ask for more. It can last a full weekend, when the call activity is much less, without a recharge.
Verdict: At the moment, we are not sure what the India price of the OnePlus One will be. But let me assure you that this phone can take on any flagship heads on and give a good fight. So if the price is around the Rs 25,000 that we believe could be the final price, it might be worth begging or licking a few boots to get that coveted invite that will let you buy this phone. This is without doubt a flagship killer.