5 reasons I’m excited for the OnePlus 2, plus 4 reasons I’m not
Despite smartphones powered by Android occupying the #1 position these days, because of their various shapes and sizes, it still seems like I see iPhones more frequently than any other phone out there. That’s why I was ecstatic when, while waiting in line at Disneyland, I saw a man talking on a OnePlus One. It’s the first time I’d ever seen one “in the wild”. Before I got the chance to talk with him about it he disappeared into the crowd. Why was I so impressed with the sighting? The OnePlus One was supposed to be the flagship smartphone that upset the establishment. From a price and specifications standpoint it did – however, due to what I’ll characterize as a “botched” release, the phone didn’t live up to its promised potential.
Remember the early Nexus phones from Google? Very decent specs at amazing prices – or at least that was the plan. OnePlus seems like it’s trying to one-up that tradition and run with it. Now, with its second generation announced, will OnePlus finally realize its goal of releasing a true “flagship killer” with the OnePlus 2?
Here are 5 reasons I’m excited about the OnePlus 2, and 4 reasons I’m not.
I spend a lot of time in an office, it comes with the territory. Nonetheless, I do spend time in the daylight, and the phones I’ve used recently perform fairly poorly in that respect. OnePlus apparently understands that we need to get out into the real world, and the real world contains sunlight.
To combat that issue, the display on the OnePlus 2 promises to deliver daylight readability with 178-degrees of “crystal clear viewing angles”. That screen, by the way, is an HD 5.5-inch IPS LCD In-Cell display with a brightness of 600 nits (a “nit” is one candela per square meter).
Charging your battery should be an unconscious act. You shouldn’t have to worry about what the percentage is or run calculations and scenarios in your head to “guess” if your phone is going to make it to the end of the day. Qi and Quick Charging help (reportedly the OnePlus 2 does not have either), but capacity is where it really matters.
The cell inside the OnePlus 2 is a 3300 mAh lithium polymer battery. Based on internal testing, it’s big enough to power the device throughout the day, but with the Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor and the bright IPS screen, I’m not expecting the battery to win any awards.
In my opinion, RAM is one of the most under-appreciated of all specifications when it comes to how well a device performs. Back in the early Windows CE days, Microsoft was so enamoured with RAM versus persistent storage that the devices were entirely RAM-based. If you let your main battery die you had precious little time in your backup battery before you lost all your data, all your installed apps, and had to reconfigure your entire device. However, the devices were notably faster than their competition because all the programs were already loaded into RAM.
Today, smartphones and tablets have reverted to the “standard” way of doing things, with programs installed onto persistent storage and loaded into RAM when needed. Today’s storage is much faster than back in the days of Windows CE, but it’s still not as fast as RAM – especially when that RAM is LPDDR4, which is what’s inside the OnePlus 2 – and there’s a whopping 4GB of it!
Some will complain that Android does a poor job of keeping things slim, and that apps are “bloated” to require that much RAM. To an extent, they’re right. However, until the development practices swing back to performance and efficiency over looks and feature-sets, that trend will continue, and the only way to combat it is with – you guessed it – more RAM.
Smartphones are not a replacement for a dedicated DSLR – nor should they be. However, I don’t own one, and even if I did, I wouldn’t carry it with me everywhere I go. They’re big. They’re bulky. They’re expensive.
My smartphone, however, that’s something I do carry with me all the time. Although it won’t replace a dedicated camera, the shooters on our smartphones have to be good enough to stand-in for dedicated devices when they’re not present. The OnePlus 2, shouldn’t disappoint.
The 13 megapixel rear facing camera boasts 6 physical lenses, a powerful dual LED flash, an f/2.0 aperture, and a large 1.3 µm sensor which promises impressive low-light shots. This is all assisted by the inclusion of an advanced Optical Image Stabilization system to reduce the number of blurry pictures you take, and a laser-based autofocus to that will lock on to your subject in only 0.33 milliseconds.
The OnePlus 2 is one of the first smartphones to come with the reversible USB-C style connector – albeit only on one end. The included charger still boasts a standard female USB-A port, but the cable OnePlus has in the box features a reversible male USB-A end. The USB-C part is on the other end of the cable and plugs right into the USB-C port in the phone.
While that’s not exactly the end-for-end reversibility we were promised with USB-C, it’s probably because that’s what people are used to these days, and “standard” (double-male) USB-C cables will work just fine.
For all you folks who live in countries where dual-SIMs make your life convenient, I’m not knocking you. I’d love to have a dual-SIM phone (one SIM that’s my own personal one, and the other one issued by my employer), however, if you’ve got room for two SIMs you’ve got room for a microSD slot.
Alas, although the OnePlus 2 simultaneously supports two Nano SIMs with 4G LTE capability, you’re stuck with the storage that comes in your phone at purchase time: 16GB for US$329 or 64GB for $389. Four times the storage for $60 is really a no-brainer, especially when you consider the 16GB version steps down to only 3GB RAM. But with microsd cards featuring hundreds of GB these days, I sure wish the OnePlus 2 had that slot instead of the extra SIM slot.
Android M is reportedly baking in support for fingerprint scanners (I say “reportedly” because M isn’t yet final and anything could happen). The OnePlus 2 ships with Android Lollipop and had to bake in its own fingerprint scanning code.
Everyone seems to be following Apple’s lead and is building a fingerprint scanner into their phones – despite our advice to the contrary. This is one of those features that may already be played out, adds a false sense of security, and unnecessarily drives the cost up.
Last time around OnePlus sold its phone using invites. That didn’t work out so well, and it hurt the reputation and credibility of the company when those invites started getting sold on the black market.
Yes, demand for the phone will be high, I get that. But that’s what waiting lists are for. Let customers know what to expect, then meet (or exceed) those expectations, and you’ll come out on top. Invites are bad. Just, no.
The last item on my list is the price. A 64GB flagship for well under US$400?! You can’t beat that. If I didn’t have to jump through hoops to plead for an invite, I might be tempted to replace my daily driver.
There you go, those are five reasons why I’m excited about the OnePlus 2, and four reasons that I’m not. What about you? What about the OnePlus 2 has piqued your interest? What’s on your “meh” list? Head down to the comments and let us know!