OnePlus One phone review

OnePlus One

Ever since my first phone went through the washer, I searched far and wide for a phone that was powerful and big enough to do the many things I wanted in a phone and still fit in my pocket and hand comfortably. After hearing about the OnePlus One, I knew it was the phone for me.

The more I searched, the more I found myself liking the flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note, S6, HTC One, LG G4, etc. These phones all cost much more than I was willing to spend, so I almost settled for the established Motorola Moto G, which is probably the best bang-for-your-buck phone at under $200. Then, I found a couple YouTube videos on a little phone called the OnePlus One. The company is called OnePlus, and their first phone model is the One.

Update: Since the One’s successful release, OnePlus have created a few other models to maintain their Flagship killer status.

OnePlus One high quality phone review

Specs

Price $300
Dimensions 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
Weight 5.71 ounces (162 g)
Resolution 1080p (401 PPI)
Screen size 1.5 in.
Battery 3100mAh (iPhone 6 is 1810mAh for comparison)
RAM 3GB DDR3
CPU Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz Quad-Core
GPU Adreno 330, 578MHz
Storage 64 GB or 16 GB
Color Sandstone black (64 GB) or silk white (16 GB)
Camera 13 MP (back) 5 MP (front)

In the box

For a company that touts not spending much on marketing to pass its savings on to the user (which is great for those of us who find out about the phone), the product box, website, and overall design of the phone is simple, clean, and beautiful. In the box, you get the phone, a USB charger (that seemed slightly wider than other USB inputs I’ve used, but still fit) with a wall adapter.

Design

OnePlus One phone quality felt material back case

The back has a material like no other phone I’ve felt before with a somewhat felt material feeling. It’s nice to touch, but I bought a cheap case to go with mine. Not necessary, but it helps keep the phone clean and adds a little protection. I also got a strong screen protector in case I inevitably drop it.

Both models have a near bevel-less design with the standard capacitive buttons on the bottom that can be used or have the option to have buttons on the screen in the software, which is Oxygen OS, replacing what was initially on the One: Cyanogen.

Three microphones are placed throughout the phone to help isolate your voice and reduce background noise. The sound quality on the One is what I expect from a modern phone - nothing more.

Simple things like double-tapping the screen to wake your phone or drawing a simple image on your screen to open a specific app really enhance your overall experience.

The phone itself fits nicely in my skinny/normal-sized hands with the buttons easily accessible when held with one hand (they are lower than other phones and the sleep button is on the side opposite the volume rocker, instead of on top).

Overall, OnePlus has done a great job designing the One as a daily driver. Great battery life, size (and feel), and experience.

Features

OTG

My previous phone hadn’t had OTG support, so I made sure my new phone would so I could use any USB device, such as the output video on a video transmitter (for RC FPV flight with Google Cardboard and my phone), a DSLR video signal (to use as an external monitor), a keyboard, mouse, USB storage, etc. If you have a camera, phone, or VR phone holder like Google Cardboard that uses NFC technology, the OnePlus One will work with it. The One also supports 4G, bluetooth, Miracast, GPS, and most (or even more) features that you’d find on any other flagship phone.

GPS

I specifically wanted a pretty powerful phone for its potential use of features. We live in a time where our phones can do so much and, for specific people, replace other gadgets. For example, most phones have GPS built into them, so we can type in a location into Google Maps and get turn-by-turn navigation to our destination. This basically replaces the need for a dedicated GPS device.

FPV, virtual reality, and video monitor

Phones are essentially just monitors. Some people have dedicated monitors like the ones from Oculus, to be able to experience the new field of virtual reality for gaming or the video goggles made by Fatshark for FPV flight. Much of the hardware and software (games) are still being developed for this new wave of technology. Some companies offer dedicated head mounts for your phone, which cuts down on cost and makes sense, since they are essentially the same thing as what you get from the dedicated monitors (to an extent). Google even released their own version of these phone-mounts called Google Cardboard. You can buy pre-cut kits on eBay, lenses and magnets included for under $5. This, in combination with software like Limelight and Trinus Gyre enables you to play PC games with a high-resolution VR set, for cheap.

With the same hardware, we can eliminate yet another $300 set of dedicated video goggles like the ones from Fatshark, while being able to fly an RC helicopter (also known as a drone) for filming or fun. These goggles are specifically designed for this purpose (offering different features), but since it’s just a monitor at its core, we can use an app on our phone and a video receiver that plugs in via OTG technology to show the video on our phones. Still much cheaper than the dedicated goggles!

While we’re at it, why not use the OnePlus One alongside my DSLR camera as an external monitor? With the bigger display and another cheap wire mount, I can attach it to the camera body or even a 3-axis gimbal to give me both what’s being captured (with a slight delay) and controls of the camera settings without needing to touch the camera (specifically helpful if used with a gimbal).

Games, movies, and web development

OnePlus One phone review web browsing

Although I don’t play many games on my phone (I have a computer for that), the ones I have played run smooth and look amazing on the 1080p display. With a spider wire mount, my phone can be hung or rested from different positions while I watch a movie or use it while developing a website for mobile screens (live reload / browsersync). I even found a text editor app - so, while not practical, I could do the coding on it with my bluetooth mouse and USB keyboard via the OTG adapter.

Conclusion

Again, if you’re looking for a phone to just text, call, and do basic phone stuff, but still want the versatility of a smart phone, I recommend checking out the Moto G. If you’re like me and are wanting a little more in a phone or have considered getting a “flagship” phone for its power/features (and not its status), then the OnePlus One might be the phone you’ve been looking for. I hope this review has helped save you some money and show you some of the potential that a phone can offer. I’ve had this phone for over a year now and I will say that it is worth the money if you were planning on spending around $300 anyway. It’s the best price for performance that I found when searching for a phone.