OnePlus 2 is Official: Does it Live Up to its Billing as this Year’s Flagship Killer?


That phone that had been hyped a lot over the last couple of weeks is no longer a stranger to us. Well, it never was to start with. It was intentionally leaked to all and sundry in the lead up to its official release a few hours ago in an event that was streamed to watchers and enthusiasts around the world via the Chinese company’s special virtual reality application and Cardboard (a simple paper-made virtual reality headset).

The OnePlus 2 is every bit a new product so as to warrant the bump in version numbers. Other than the fact that there was an expected change in the software after the painful public breakup/fallout with Cyanogen, the OnePlus 2 also has new clothes. Sort of. The device ditches the plastic build of the One for a more premium finish. It has a Magnesium and Aluminium alloy for the frame with the back being taken care of by various materials depending on user preference. The first units will ship with a Black Sandstone back cover but other materials will be available as well. There’s Kevlar, Black Apricot, Bamboo and Rosewood.

OnePlus 2 various back covers

What will irk many OnePlus fans and other prospective fans is that in the quest to improve, several features they may deem useful have been dropped. For instance the use of metal means that things like expandable storage and removable batteries aren’t possible. The non-removable battery is a non-issue since the first generation One was that way as well but the lack of near field communication (NFC) may not be forgiven that easily. OnePlus CEO Carl Pei says that the decision to remove NFC capability was informed by the fact that it was barely being used by One users but what if you just want a device that is future-proof? Mobile payments are just starting to catch on and for many, their next smartphone may be what they use to experience the new era. We are yet to see what everyone is going to do with Android Pay. Also, for file transfers using Android Beam, NFC can be very useful.

Another missing feature is lack of support for wireless charging. Yes, you won’t be able to charge up the OnePlus 2 on that new Samsung monitor.

While the apparent lack of several features that some users will crave may be too much, there’s one thing to remember, it’s still what it was intended to be: a not-so-expensive flagship-class smartphone. The OnePlus 2 will cost $329 for the 16 GB model (with 3 GB RAM) and $389 for the 64 GB model (with 4 GB RAM). While it’s been branded as a flagship-killer, I tend to think of it as providing options for those of us who find it ridiculous to part with $600+ for a phone while still desiring the best in whatever it is we settle on. Never settle?

There are several features and specifications that have been improved in the OnePlus 2 when compared to the OnePlus One from last year. Top among them is the camera. While the pixel count stays intact at 13 megapixels and 5 megapixels on the back and front-facing cameras respectively, there are several additions. Like optical image stabilization (OIS), dual-tone LED flash, laser auto-focus and the ability to shoot 4K video on the main camera.

To tap into the improved camera, there’s a new camera application that has automatic time-lapse (you may still need Microsoft’s Hyperlapse app though), slow-motion mode that can capture video up to 120 frames per second and something OnePlus calls ‘Super-Resolution Mode’ which is more or less like what OPPO’s Find 7 has. SRM will process photos taken by the OnePlus 2 to 50 megapixels.

OnePlus 2

Citing the need to deliver great battery life and there being no overwhelming demand, the OnePlus 2 follows in the footsteps of the Sony Xperia Z3+/Z4 and the Huawei P8 in sticking with a full HD display instead of the QHDs that are all the rage at the moment. At 5.5 inches like on last year’s model, the OnePlus 2’s panel boasts of a higher contrast ration (1500:1 compared to 1000:1 on the One).

There are two notable hardware features of the OnePlus 2 that weren’t a subject of the leaks that much that are worth mentioning: the fingerprint scanner and the ‘alert slider’. The ‘alert slider’ is simply a toggle like the mute switch found on iPhones and older iPads (before the Air 2). The only difference is that while the one on iDevices only served to control the sound and lock device orientation, this one serves to help the user switch between three different notification modes: None, Priority and All. When you remember the problems users had after upgrading from KitKat to Lollipop and realizing that Google had somehow rearranged things then you’ll realize that this is important. It is worth noting that this was not initially planned to be included but only made it after a user suggested it to the OnePlus team on Reddit (they held a successful AMA session not long ago).

The fingerprint scanner on the other hand is much like what we have seen on Samsung’s Galaxy devices so far. When word went round that the OnePlus 2 would include a fingerprint scanner as well many of us started wondering where it would be located since the OnePlus One lacks physical buttons and instead has on-screen ones. That is solved. The difference with the home button on Samsung phones is that the OnePlus 2’s is not meant to be pressed. Just as you place your finger in order to unlock the phone, it’s also how use the button to get “home” on the device. It is accompanied by two customizable capacitive buttons on the side.

OnePlus 2’s other features like the processor, the battery capacity and the USB Type-C port are what we’d previously heard of. It is interesting to note that in an age where fast-charging is almost a standard, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t support it thanks to the USB Type-C charger. According to Marques Brownlee who had the device way before launch, it took him up to 3 hours to charge it up.

Here’s a quick round up of all the specifications:

  • Size and weight: 151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm; 175g
  • Display: 5.5 inch Full HD (1080p) IPS LCD
  • Processor: Qualcom Snapdragon 810 (v2.1) clocked at 1.8 GHz
  • Memory: 16 GB internal storage/3 GB RAM or 64 GB internal storage/4 GB RAM
  • Camera: 13 MP main with OIS and laser AF, f/2.0; 5 MP selfie
  • Operating System: Oxygen OS v 2.0 based on Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • Battery: 3,300 mAh
  • Network: 3G, LTE
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, USB Type-C
  • Others: Dual-SIM

The OnePlus 2 will be available starting Augusts 11th in the United States, Canada, the European Union market, India and China to those who’ll have received invites to purchase it. Yes, that ludicrous invite system is still in place. OnePlus promises that it learned a lot from the mess last year and that invites this year will be more than they were last year and that shipments will also be faster but we’ll have to wait and see what really happens. Other markets in Southeast Asia will get it in Q4.