OnePlus 2 first impressions: One 'Flagship' to rule them all

OnePlus this week announced its long-awaited OnePlus 2 smartphone, and despite its 25,000 price tag, it has all the bells and whistles to make most flagships in the market obsolete.

| Updated on: Sep 22 2015, 15:31 IST
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OnePlus this week announced its long-awaited OnePlus 2 smartphone, and despite its 25,000 price tag, it has all the bells and whistles to make most flagships in the market obsolete. Billed as the '2016 Flagship Killer' OnePlus had a lot to live up to, but the device has somehow managed to do exactly that.

The heavily leaked OnePlus 2 does not reinvent the wheel, rather it tweaks the formula that made its predecessor such an intriguing phone. It's 2015 and there are more options than ever for getting a good, cheap smartphone.

In terms of raw specs, the OnePlus 2 features a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen, a top of the line octa-core processor, and either 16GB of storage with 3GB of RAM or 64GB of storage with 4GB of RAM. Though it's a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, that spec-sheet is better than most mid-range laptops in the market.

The outstanding camera

The stand-out feature though is Oneplus 2's camera. The back-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilisation, ie better low light photos and less blurred images. That back camera includes a two-tone flash and a laser focusing system. The results are surprising to say the least.

In terms of megapixels, 13 is on par with last year's offering. That's also fewer pixels than either Samsung's Galaxy S6 or the LG G4, both of which pack 16-megapixel sensors. But while the megapixel count hasn't changed, the size of the individual pixels has. The bigger pixels capture more light per pixel than smaller ones and this, in turn, reduces the amount of digital noise or "grain" in photos, especially in low-light situations.

A few new add-ons

There are few tiny features in this phone that users won't find on most other devices, perhaps most importantly the USB-C connector on the bottom. There's also a three-position slider on the side of the phone that lets users cycle through the three default notification settings in Android Lollipop (all, priority, and none).

Another new addition is the front-facing fingerprint unlock sensor, a la the iPhone, which adds another layer of security.

Due to its ugly spat and breakup with Cyanogen Inc last year, OnePlus has had to add its own in-house version of Android (called OxygenOS) over the top, rather than using Cyanogenmod as it did last year.

Thankfully, it's largely free from bloat, with minimal extra features — like gesture controls similar to Cyanogen. The biggest change from vanilla Android is something OnePlus calls the 'shelf.' When the user swipes to the left from the home screen, instead of Google Now, you'll see an area that collects your favourite contacts and most-used apps. Google Now can still be accessed by long-pressing the home button.

Missing features

While the Oneplus 2 offers a broad set of features for its 25,000 price point, there are a few disappointing misses. The device doesn't feature NFC, something that came as standard on its predecessor. It's a strange decision, considering how Google plans to launch Android Pay this year. Also missing are wireless charging and quick charging, two features that are pretty much standard fare among flagships this year.

Unfortunately, just like last year, the OnePlus 2 will be available online through an 'invite' system. The good news is the company has promised that getting an invite will be easier this time around, as anyone can sign up to receive one on the OnePlus website and other places, like OnePlus's social media accounts.

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First Published Date: 29 Jul, 12:50 IST
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