So remember yesterday when I unboxed the OnePlus 2 and removed the free included screen protector, thinking it was part of the packaging? Yeah, I’m kind of a n00b when it comes to OnePlus phones. But judging from the comments, so are many of you – and that’s awesome, because it means we can all learn something together. Join me as I answer five of your most-asked questions in our 24-hour OnePlus 2 roundup!
24 hours with the OnePlus 2
How do dual SIMs work?
alt: OnePlus 2 Dual SIM
The first question we’re hitting is the one that was asked the most often in the unboxing comments: how does dual-SIM management work on the OnePlus 2? It’s actually pretty straightforward: you pop in two nanoSIM cards from your preferred GSM operators (here in the States that’s AT&T and T-Mobile only) and when you power up the phone for the first time, the OS prompts you to choose which SIM you want to use for voice calls, SMS, and cellular data. You can choose to route calls and SMS through one SIM and data through the other, or limit one SIM to voice and run data and SMS through the other; whatever you want. Signal strength information for each SIM is displayed on a pair of side-by-side signal graphs next to the battery meter.
The OnePlus 2 apparently detects which SIMs are inserted and automatically downloads APNs appropriate for each so you don’t need to program them yourself, which is nice. You can also switch settings on the fly if you run out of data on one card, for instance, or you see the opportunity for better reception on the other network.
This is prerelease software, so switching between networks sometimes requires a restart to work properly. Also, the carrier string doesn’t always display the correct network: our unit frequently displays “AT&T” when we’re actually passing data over our T-Mobile connection. OnePlus tells us this is a known issue with OxygenOS, and that a fix is on the way.
Does it Overheat?
This question has its roots in the OnePlus 2’s Snapdragon 810 processor, which has been widely criticized for its poor thermal performance. But while a better designed processor is always a nice thing to have, the OnePlus 2 hasn’t shown any evidence of handicap in the 24 hours I’ve been using it. Does it heat up when playing 3D games for a long time? Sure. But ironically, it doesn’t get nearly as hot as Samsung’s Galaxy S6 does under similar loads. Eagle-eyed readers of Pocketnow will recall that I predicted this very outcome in an editorial from several weeks back.
This also shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve seen our HTC One M9 review coverage: that phone runs just fine on the Snapdragon 810 and the OnePlus 2 seems to do the same. Unless you’re running repeated back-to-back benchmarks for the express purpose of heating it up, the OnePlus 2 should be just as snappy and responsive as any other modern Android flagship. And neither the processor nor the dual-SIM setup seems to negatively impact endurance: we got 4.5 hours of screen-on time on our first cycle, despite heavy use.
How’s the camera?
The OnePlus 2 uses an optically stabilized 13MP OmniVision OV13860 sensor for its main camera, and the viewfinder heavily resembles the Google Camera app with its swipe-in controls from the left. You’ve also got HDR and Beauty shooting modes, along with OnePlus’s Clear Image setting, which stitches ten individual photos together into a higher-resolution shot.
After a day of shooting, probably the biggest standout of the OnePlus 2 camera thus far is its HDR mode. It doesn’t just brighten up the shadows; it seems to amp up the saturation (and maybe the temperature too) for a somewhat livelier shot. I’m only seeing a slight improvement in the Clear Image photos, though, and the optics seem especially susceptible to lens flare. My first impression of night shots is that they’re average … as long as you wait for the camera to get focus before hitting the shutter release. This added focus time makes for a longer pocket-to-picture delay; you can compensate for this by setting a double-tap on any of the hardware keys to launch the camera, but that won’t help when the phone is locked. Similarly, the ability to trace a circle on the powered-off display to launch the camera is clever, but it’s also cumbersome.
What about that switch?
alt: OnePlus 2 Notification Switch
There’s a big sliding switch on the side of the OnePlus 2 whose sole purpose is to change the notification mode. The switch simplifies Lollipop’s somewhat convoluted alert situation: if you want to silence the OnePlus 2, all you have to do is slide the switch all the way to the top and –whether the screen’s on or off– the phone is muted. Slide it to the center position to restrict inbound alerts to Priority only, and switch it to the bottom position to allow all notifications.
I remember this feature from the Palm Treos of over a decade ago, so it’s surprising it’s taken Android this long to catch up. While it’s a bit counterintuitive to flip it up for silence and down for ringers, that’s a minor complaint. By the way, if you have an Android Wear watch and you want to override the switch selection without taking your phone out, you can still do that; the slider is a software controller, not a hard-wired switch.
How’s life at the Oxygen (OS) bar?
Finally: how’s life on OnePlus’s custom build of Android 5.1.1, OxygenOS? Well judging from the talk over at the OnePlus Forums, people who are currently on CyanogenMod probably won’t dig it. OxygenOS ditches many of the cool features that make the CM builds so useful, like the ability to slide your finger across the top of the display to adjust screen brightness,
or the shortcut of swiping down anywhere on the screen to deploy the notification shade. (Edit: the latter feature does exist, but requires the gesture to be performed on an empty spot on the screen.) By comparison, OxygenOS is simpler – more mainstream.
But we’re not talking about boring old stock Android here. I really like the added attention to customizability in OxygenOS. In some ways it’s like a preview build of Android M, with enhanced control of app permissions and the dark system theme available out of the box. You can also customize the accent color of the OS and the various colors of the notification LED (without downloading a custom app like Light Flow). There’s also the Shelf, which seems to be OnePlus’s version of a homescreen assistant. Like Google Now on a Nexus, it’s permanently anchored to the leftmost homescreen and by default it just shows shortcuts to recently used apps and frequent contacts – a less-than-helpful use of space. But fiddle around a bit with the settings, and you can drop any widget you want onto the vertically-scrolling ribbon. Widgets are smaller on the Shelf, not all of them fit well, and not every one can be fully accessed, but it could be a handy feature given the right assortment of apps. If instead you prefer to stick with Google Now, it doesn’t look like you can replace the Shelf – but you can long-press the home button to call it up the old-fashioned way.
Going into the review period, I do have a few concerns regarding what I’ve seen on the OnePlus 2 so far. First of all, the fingerprint scanner is really quick … when it works. But the thing is, it doesn’t always work. That’s not to say it doesn’t properly read my fingerprint; it doesn’t throw an error saying “Try Again” as it would for a finger it doesn’t recognize. Instead, many times it just buzzes and does nothing. And fingerprints aside, sometimes the capacitive home button itself doesn’t do anything at all, whether it’s waking up the phone or closing an app. I’ve reported this issue to OnePlus; it’s possible I have a bad unit, but if it’s more widespread, then hopefully it’ll be fixed in the next software update.
I’m also concerned about recharge time. The wide availability of quick charging solutions on other phones has spoiled me: I’m used to plugging in and getting half a battery in under a half hour. I’ll have specific charge time figures in a future update, but even after a day I can tell you that the OnePlus 2 doesn’t top up nearly as fast. And while the reversibility of the Type C USB cable is handy, not being able to use any of my other USB cables to charge this phone is not.
Remember: it’s only been a day, folks! What’s more, we’re still a ways away from the first OnePlus 2 shipments hitting customers in the US and at least one software update away from the OxygenOS being final. So stay tuned for future OnePlus 2 features and our full review, and if you’ve got questions, drop them in the comments below!