Home > Android Phone Reviews > OnePlus One
|Editor's rating (1-5):
Carrier: unlocked GSM
What's Hot: Great specs for the price, attractive design, full HD IPS 1080p display.
What's Not: Hard to get one! CyanogenMod will likely transition to OnePlus' Android ROM.
Reviewed January 21, 2015 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
The OnePlus One Android phone isn't new and shiny anymore--it's been on the market (in a fashion) for 6 months. The One has held up well though, with specs that still look good and a price that's hard to beat: $299. The company has been steeped in a marketing mess of sorts though, and for a half year one could only buy One Plus' only smartphone offering through a challenging invite system. Then there were dubious marketing ploys that encouraged folks to destroy their perfectly good current phone in order to win an invite to buy the One. None of this has impressed us, but the OnePlus One is one of the few unlocked Android phones that's incredibly cheap given its fairly flagship level specs, and that has impressed us. Enthusiasts are particularly drawn to the phone since it's sold with CyanogenMod's customized Android build, and it's relatively easy to unlock the bootloader to experiment with other ROMs.
Two Versions of the OnePlus One
The OnePlus One is a GSM phone that will work on T-Mobile, AT&T and on overseas GSM networks. It is not compatible with Verizon or Sprint's networks since they use CDMA rather than GSM. There are two variants, the international version with US and EU 4G LTE bands and a China version with a few EU LTE bands and TDD-LTE for China. The international version ships with Android 4.4 KitKat a la CyanogenMod 11S, and the China version ships with Color OS. The Chinese model requires no invite and is thus more readily available and some importers sell it. In fact, we have the China model provided by online retailer LightInTheBox.com, and they set the phone up with the international model's ROM. That means you get CyanogenMod and full Android, though no US LTE 4G bands (HSPA+ works fine on AT&T and T-Mobile). You might not expect this, but the China model sells for the equivalent of $370 US, so it's actually more expensive than the international model available from OnePlus' website.
Pricing and Specs
The international 16 gig model is $299, and the 64 gig is $349, making the higher capacity the better buy. The phone is available in silk white and sandstone black, and both have a matte polycarbonate body that looks fairly classy and feels good in the hand. The phone (both variants) has a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU with Adreno 330 graphics, 3 gigs of RAM and a 3100 mAh battery that's sealed inside. It has a lovely 5.5" IPS full HD screen clad in Gorilla Glass 3. These are certainly very good specs for a phone at this price, no contract required. The phone has a 13MP rear camera, front 5MP camera, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC.
The OnePlus One (OnePlus is the company name, One is the model name) is a very nice phone for the money, and it puts the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 on notice. The drawbacks are that OnePlus doesn't quite seem to know what they're doing in terms of marketing and sales, and their support won't win any awards. This is a phone for advanced users who know how to keep their Android running smoothly, are comfortable flashing ROMs and in general don't need carrier or manufacturer hand-holding. The OS itself is in doubt since OnePlus and Cyanogen had a falling out when the phone recently went on sale in India but potentially without the CyanogenMod flavor of Android (Cyanogen partnered with a different phone maker in India and a legal battle ensued there). Now, OnePlus is developing their own ROMs and their own version of Android 5.0 Lollipop for the phone, which is due out some time in February 2015. Cyanogen will likely continue to offer ROMs that work on the OnePlus for those outside India, but it's no longer cemented in the deal when you buy the phone.
Deals and Shopping:
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It's Still an Impressive Phone for the Price
Now that you've been warned, the OnePlus One is a wonderful phone for the price. It's fast, we generally love CyanogenMod's very customizable tweaks to Android and the phone feels like a $500 product. The 1920 x 1080 display is sharp, colorful and bright with wide viewing angles. Voice quality on our China model is very clear and loud. HSPA+ 3G speeds on AT&T and T-Mobile have been par for the course, and some adventurous folks have even flashed the radio firmware to enable more US LTE bands. The rear 13MP camera with Sony Exmor sensor takes good shots, though focus times aren't super fast, and it can record 4K video. Sorry, there's no optical image stabilization, which is fair for the price. The above average resolution 5 megapixel front shooter provides clear video chats and good selfies. You'll have to save those photos and videos to internal storage since there's no microSD card slot. The phone does support USB host for those who wish to use USB flash drives.
As you can tell, we have mixed feelings about OnePlus, a company founded in Shenzhen China by former OPPO employees (some suspect OnePlus is really a stealth offshoot company of OPPO). Their business plan, OS plans and manner of handling sales don't inspire confidence, and if the phone didn't kick off with a great deal of hype and a great specs to price ratio, I doubt anyone would have taken notice. But it is a very good piece of hardware for the price, and CyanogenMod is a wonderfully tweaked and improved Android experience that's particularly appealing to advanced users and phone modders who hang on XDA Developers. For the experienced and techie Android user, it's worth the modest price of admission. We'll be very interested to see how OnePlus evolves as a company and what their next phone offers.
Price: $299 for 16 gig, $349 fore 64 gig, $370 for China version
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Display: 5.5" IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3. Resolution:
1920 x 1080, 401 PPI. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.
Battery: 3100 mAh Lithium
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.
Performance: 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. 3 gigs RAM. 16 or 32 gigs storage.
x 2.99 x 0.35 inches. Weight: 5.71 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone with EDGE 2G. 3G and 4G LTE (China version has fewer LTE bands and adds TDD-LTE bands).
Camera: 5MP front camera and rear 13MP camera with Sony Exmor sensor and 4K video recording.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
Networking: Integrated dual band
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
Software: CyanogenMod 11S based on Android OS 4.4 KitKat. China version ships with Color OS.
Expansion: USB host.