Chinese startup OnePlus entered the smartphone market with a bang last year as it promised to deliver the ultimate alternative flagship smartphone. The phone was to match all the flagship smartphones we had seen from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and Huawei feature for feature. The caveat and its biggest selling point was to be the price point. While all Android top dogs make impressive flagship devices, it’s the pricing that puts most of us off.
You’ll need at least $600 to lay your hands on the base model of any of the top smartphones from Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Huawei and even OPPO. Even Google’s own Nexus smartphone which was previously popular due to competitive pricing is increasingly beyond the reach of many. The latest Nexus, the Motorola-made Nexus 6, doesn’t come cheap. What if you could get a smartphone with similar specifications (or better) at half the price? That’s what OnePlus set out to do with the One.
Did it achieve what it wanted? Likely. The company reported sales of close to 1 million Ones in 2014 alone. After abandoning its erratic invite system, the numbers must’ve soared later.
The OnePlus 2 is now around the corner. OnePlus has a scheduled launch date: 27th July. Like it did last year, the company believes in making no surprises at the launch event. Instead of preserving the best for last and hoping that the element of surprise will work in its favour, the company believes in milking the hype around its upcoming devices dry with well-choreographed introductions of the phone feature by feature, spec by spec in the weeks leading to the official launch. In return, it gets massive coverage by the ever-hungry tech press. OnePlus did this last year and they are doing it again this year. A back cover today, a battery tomorrow, the speaker grille the day after tomorrow, a different angular shot of the bezel for each day of the following week. Well, at least they are honest unlike their competitors who take the unorthodox route of sending their favourite tipsters tiny juicy details and blurry pictures in the dead of the night to act as supposed “leaks”.
The OnePlus 2 will be shipping with a 1080p display instead of the 2K panels that the likes of LG and Samsung have spoilt us with. Anyway, for the smartphone to keep its sub $450 profile, it is understandable to shun a QHD panel for a full HD one. The OnePlus 2 won’t be alone in taking that route. It’ll be in good company. Sony has so far managed to snub the QHD race opting for 1080p panels on its latest Xperia Z3+/XperiaZ3v/Xperia Z4 smartphone. Huawei also has a 1080p panel on its flagship smartphone, the P8.
However, the OnePlus Two is expected to turn heads when it joins the league of smartphones with 4 GB RAM that was started by Asus’ Zenfone 2. Another head-turner is the USB Type C port that the phone makers have confirmed it will pack. This is in line with the general trend the industry is taking. Google has even indicated that besides Android supporting USB Type C with the M release, all its future Nexus devices will also have the port.
This is what we expect the OnePlus Two smartphone to pack when it is eventually available sometime in August:
- Display: 5.5 inch Full HD
- Processor: Snapdragon 810 v2.1
- Memory: 4GB RAM; 16 GB or 64 GB internal storage
- Camera: 16 megapixel main camera; 5 megapixel selfie-camera
- Battery: 3300 mAh
- Others: USB Type C charging port
Just like the OnePlus One was at launch, you won’t be able to walk into a shop or navigate to a webpage online and make a straight purchase of the OnePus 2. That infamous invite system is in place. It exists mostly because OnePlus is yet to grow to those levels where it is able to meet the strong demand likely to greet the new smartphone. To maintain some sense of sanity, it has in place a system whereby users have to be invited to buy the phone. It may not be the most popular way of doing things but at least it worked for them.
Unlike last year’s One, the Two won’t come with the blessings of the Cyanogen team. The OnePlus One packed Cyanogen’s flavour of Android KitKat, CyanogenMod 11S. While we understand that there was an agreement between the two companies, things have since changed and the two have parted ways. Cyanogen now preloads its software on Indian company Micromax’s Canvas smartphones and the latter even moved to the courts to block the sale of OnePlus One in the Indian market due to its exclusive deal with Cyanogen. That fallout led to the development of OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS, a new ROM that is made by the developers behind the popular Android ROM, Paranoid Android. It is Oxygen OS that we’ll see on the OnePlus Two. Of course it’ll be based off Lollipop. OnePlus had stated that Android 5.1 for the One would be released only after the OnePlus Two is made official and we expect nothing less.
The other major departure from what made the One insanely popular was the pricing. Looks that EUR 299 price for the most expensive model couldn’t last long. OnePlus’ founder Carl Pei is quoted saying that the Two will start at EUR 299 for the 16 GB base model in the Eurozone. The One started at EUR 269. The more expensive 64 GB model will only set back customers some 349 Euros or about $371. Still better than shelling out $600 for a device that will be outdated in a few months’ time.