The OnePlus 2 is the second phone manufactured by OnePlus and has recently started shipping to consumers. OnePlus is a company that has courted some controversy in the last year with some of its advertising decisions, but the one thing that most agreed on was that its first phone, the One, was a great phone at great price. The OnePlus 2 is their second stab at the market – does it live up to the hype OnePlus has created around its launch?
On first sight the 2 struck me as quite industrial in style. The front of the phone is glass with a dull metal band going the whole way around the outside of the phone. The removable back is covered in a grippy, almost sandpaper like texture that feels great to hold. Pick the 2 up and it feels weighty and solid. A good start.
Move inside and the phone has some interesting specs. OnePlus have chosen not to go to ridiculous heights with the screen, instead fitting a 5.5 inch, 401ppi screen that will look perfect to most people without pushing the battery too hard. The CPU is the temperamental Snapdragon 810, although OnePlus say that they’ve implemented a software fix to avoid its overheating problems. The 2 also has the most RAM I’ve ever seen in a phone 4GB and a fingerprint reader that is the most reliable I’ve ever tried using.
The camera is one of the most important parts of a phone and the 2 does not disappoint. The stats are good – a 13 megapixel f/2.0 apature dual flash sensor with a a six part Sony lens, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a laser autofocus. The camera is not particularly fast but it does produce impressive results.
The video produced is also impressive with slow motion and timelapse and the ability to take 4k video built in. I found that the options generally worked well although the 4k reacted badly to low light.
The One was running CyanagenMod – a version of Android very popular with modders and techies. In the time since OnePlus and CyanagenMod have parted ways, but the 2 comes equipped with a worthy successor, OxygenOS made in-house. OxygenOS is a skinned version of Android 5.1. The changes made are small, often based on the hardware (the notification switch) and all seem to be improvements.
OnePlus have jumped Google’s gun and implemented their own version of permission control which is planned for the next release of Android. It allows users to change what your apps are allowed to access – don’t want Facebook Messenger to be able to access your location? Blockable. The settings do warn that some apps might react badly and stop working, but if you are really concerned about this it’s a usable stopgap.
A switch would not seem the most interesting of features, but this is a rare hardware differentiator on an Android phone. The switch on the top left side has three settings. The first is ‘normal’, the second ‘Priority’ and the third mute. It provides a hardware option to quickly change the priority on screening calls without having to get into the software settings. Being able to easily switch to only get calls from family and friends, or no calls at all, is a surprisingly addictive feature.
If you are keeping an eye on high scale laptops you might have noticed they are starting to be plugged in in a new way. Both Google’s new Pixel and Apple’s MacBook are using the new USB standard both as a power and a data port. The OnePlus 2 also leaves the microUSB standard behind and moves to USB-C.
The USB-C cable is reversible so can plug in either way round. OnePlus have bundled an impressive cable that you will be carrying around with you as your older cables or accessories will not be compatible.
Cost: £239 for 16Gb and £289 for the 64GB
Included in the box: The OnePlus 2 comes with the phone, a quickstart guide, a reversible USB to USB-C cable and a charger.
Retailer: By invitation
OnePlus is a Chinese startup that launched in 2013 with the slogan “Never Settle”. OnePlus have only manufactured 2 devices – OnePlus One and OnePlus 2. They spent months building up hype and produced a very impressive phone – the OnePlus One. Due to significant supply problems, the OnePlus never made it into stores and was only available through an invitation system.
OnePlus is well-known for its controversial marketing campaigns, there has been several repeating questions about their financial backing and a very public fallout with CyanagenMod. With the OnePlus 2 they are looking to recapture the hype around the One and hopefully solve some of the supply problems and make it out of the tech market into the mainstream.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The 2 is accessible to people with diverse abilities. In addition to the normal android accessibility options like magnification and large text, the 2 also has a color inversion mode that affects the OS and apps and a high contrast text mode that tries to make text more readable with borders and color changes. However, the single speaker built into the base of the 2 is frankly a little disappointing with a very low maximum volume and breaking up badly towards that low volume, a drawback particularly relevant to anyone with a hearing impairment.
Like most Android phones the OnePlus 2 is fairly easy to setup and doesn’t require expert knowledge. Unclip the back and slide out the sim draw and put in your sim or sims. Re-attach the back and startup. Once turned on setup is Android standard – Wifi and then Google account details. There is one slight additional wrinkle – as the 2 has two sim cards you’ll need to select a primary card for calls, texts and for data.
OxygenOS is very similar to stock Google Vanilla Android. The changes, such as notification control, are kept subtle and if you do not want to use them there is no need to do so. The exception to this is the dual sim control. This allows you to set a primary sim for SMS, calls and data or to get the system to prompt you every time.
The 2 feels very good and grippy in the hand. The central home button is a capacitive rather than an actual button – you don’t press it just touch it. There are two capacitive buttons on its left and right and they are controllable in the OS to be either way around or to be switched off entirely and use onscreen buttons.
OxygenOS has a number of shortcut controls and gestures built in that once learnt let you move around a little faster and cut some corners. These are user definable from lists of options – for example double pressing the back button could open a menu, open search, turn off the screen, open the camera, trigger voice search, open last app or open the Shelf.
One of the biggest problems with phones is how easy they are to drop and how much damage gets done to them when they are dropped. The back on the 2 is the most grippy and the phone the hardest to drop that I’ve ever used. I usually drop my phone far to regularly for comfort and I’ve not dropped the 2 in the week I’ve had it.
Environment & People
The making of: Little information is available about procurement, manufacturing and shipping of the OnePlus 2. OnePlus provide no public information about any environmental or corporate social responsibility policies.
In use and post use: The OnePlus 2 is a relatively high-spec mobile phone built to last, facilitating long-term use which is one positive step towards reducing waste.
Post-use: Its durability also gives it a high resell value, allowing users to sell it on post-use instead of disposing of it. It is made out of standard components. Once it eventually stops working, there are multiple phone recycling and trade-in options for old mobile phones available which will recycle and reuse as many parts as possible.
The most obvious and biggest draw of the OnePlus 2 is the specs you get for the relative low price. It is extremely good value for money. There are cheaper phones and there are better specced phones (slightly), but there isn’t this combination of price and specs.
The problem is that OnePlus are having difficulty supplying the 2s. They use an invite only system that could take months to get a phone and it is not reliable or predictable. They have also had several problems with delays inside the system. If you can get a OnePlus 2 it is very cost effective.
Size: 15.8 x 7.4 x .9 cm
Storage: 64GB or 16GB
Colour: Black with multiple removable backs in different colors and materials
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 2.5Ghz Quad core
Operating System: Android 5.1 Skinned with OxygenOS
Memory: 3GB in the 16GB model and 4GB in the 64GB model
Sim: Dual Nano-sim
Display: 5.5 inches 1080×1920 IPS
Camera Rear: 13 megapixel Sony Exmor
Camera Front: 5 megapixel with extended viewing angle
Connectivity: USB-C 2.0
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz) capable
Bluetooth: 4.1, A2DP
NFC (Near Field Communication): No
Battery: Integrated lithium 3300mAh
Warranty: The 2 comes with a two year warranty on the phone (including battery) and the charger and cable.
I have been trying to decide if OnePlus have the best or the worst marketing of any company I’ve ever dealt with. On one hand they’ve continually made errors and offended different sets of people whilst making grandiose claims like the 2 is the “Flagship killer of 2016”.
On the other hand they have gotten attention for themselves and made people interested in their phones without ever quite going over the line. In the end the marketing is an irrelevancy – the phone is the important factor.
So is the OnePlus 2 any good? Yes. It is a very solidly built and comfortable feeling phone with generally impressive internal specs. Where there are compromises, such as the good but not Ultra High Def screen in return for better battery life, they make sense – with the exception of the lack of NFC. The camera is good and the software is well done and enhances the Android experience.
The OnePlus 2 is difficult to get hold of, but it’s worth making the effort. It is a great phone for a great price. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the 64GB 4GB Ram OnePlus 2. First published on 24 August 2015.