Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 5T Review: The Best got even Better!

OnePlus unveiled the second flagship smartphone for 2017, OnePlus 5T few weeks ago. I have been using this phone for over 3 weeks now and the experience has been super awesome. Let us demystify what makes this phone a worthy phone to recommend anyone. Keeping it simple, it isn’t just the hardware.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The build quality is solid and the phone looks premium. Weighing 162 grams and at 7.3 mm thickness, its one of the thinnest flagships available currently in the market. Make no mistake in underestimating the build quality of the phone. Its strong and durable in every aspect, be it the keys, glass, finger print scanner or the entire construction in whole.

The Dual-SIM tray & power keys are located on the right, while the alert slider & volume rocker are placed on the left. Top stays flat and the bottom houses the speaker grill, type-c port and the 3.5 mm audio jack. The Alert Slider from the earlier OnePlus phones retains on this as well. This helps in toggling between silent, priority and all notifications with the reach of a button and is unique to the OnePlus phones.

The finger print sensor is now available on the rear side of the phone. The Sensor is blazingly fast unlocking the device in 0.2 seconds from sleep and accurate most of the times. It’s a true 360 degree sensor in a way that it works perfect when pressing from any direction.

OnePlus 5T Camera

The face unlock is the fastest way to get into your phone. Trust me, Its crazy fast. I like the way, how it takes you right into the homescreen. Although unlike FaceID, this is more a convenience feature than an advanced security one.

The OnePlus 5T sensor does not wake the screen up with incorrect inputs. The sensor just vibrates the phone when finger print is not recognised and wakes up only when there is a match. This is a good use case since there will be multiple instances you ending up touching the sensor by mistake while holding the phone.

Primary camera is located on the top left of the back with a slight protrusion which according to us is not the best in design and may not be for everyone’s liking. With a phone case, this protrusion should not be too annoying. OnePlus has released a variety of cases for this device which are available on Amazon.in

The OnePlus 5T runs on top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor running at 2.35GHz, a slightly bigger 3,400mAh battery, and the 16MP front-facing camera.

The device comes with impressive hardware specs like 64/128GB storage (based on UFS 2.0 technology), 6/8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, Dash Charge, Type-C port, Bluetooth 5. The device also supports NFC.

“Currently this is the one among the very few smartphones available in India with a mammoth 8 GB of RAM. While this may sound an overkill by today’s standards, we appreciate this move from OnePlus since this makes the phone future proof. Also this combination of RAM and processing power makes the phone a very smooth device. UI is snappy, and even 4K video editing works very slick.”

Display:

The OnePlus 5T sports a 18:9 resolution Optic AMOLED display protected by a 2.5D curved gorilla glass 5 from Corning. Offers a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. With a pixel density of 401 PPI, the display is crisp & vivid with deeper blacks and brighter whites.

Outdoor visibility is excellent with the Adaptive brightness coming to play and automatically optimising the screen brightness level based on available light conditions. There is a night mode when enabled filters out harmful blue light emission from the screen and reduces eye strain in the dark. Additional display features include a color balancing slider to choose between warmer and cooler color temperatures according to the user preference.

Software, User Experience:

OnePlus 5T comes with the latest edition of Oxygen OS which is based on Android Nougat. The Oreo update is scheduled to arrive soon. Oxygen OS is a clean, light, bloat-free OS supporting UI customisation, gesture support etc.

A lot of bugs from the earlier editions has been addressed on this and the OS feels super smooth next to Pixel. There is option to enable software navigation buttons and they can even be customized for performing different actions based on user preference. For users who don’t prefer the white theme, there is a dark theme that can be customized with an accent colour.

Screen-Off Gesture support include features like double tap to wake screen, drawing a circle to launch camera, drawing a V for flashlight, two finger swipe downwards to play/pause music, </> for previous/next track navigation and all of them worked flawlessly during our testing. Unfortunately, these are the only options which have been available since OnePlus One. We wished if there were more options or custom gestures.

With Oxygen OS, the same phone can be used by multiple users. New users can be added to the system and each user will have their dedicated space comprising of apps, wallpapers, layout etc. Also, features guest mode which is a nifty feature when enabled hides all photos, call history, messages etc.

Powered by the Adreno 540 GPU, gaming performance is excellent and there are no frame drops while playing graphics intensive games. Call quality is good and the Built-in speaker is loud and clear.

Camera:

For the primary camera, the OnePlus 5G uses Dual: 16 MP (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.8″, 1.12 µm, gyro EIS) + 20 MP (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.8″, 1 µm). The front camera is an 16MP shooter with 1.4 µm pixels and f/2.0 aperture.

Camera interface is simple and includes features like Auto HDR, a robust manual mode, Panorama and support for RAW images. Thanks to PDAF, the primary camera is quick to focus and shoots good pictures in both outdoor and artificial lighting conditions with very little noise. Occasionally, there are some focus stacking issues when the subject you click is busy.

The OnePlus 5T has an EIS built-in which makes the videos more stable. The camera software has improved over the years with better stabilisation algorithms now. Video recording features include support for time lapse, slow motion (720p at 120fps) and 4K video (30fps). Recorded audio from video footage could have been louder.

Coming to the front camera, it can shoot up to 1080P video at 30fps. We personally liked the Smile Capture feature for selfies which triggers a 3 sec timer shot when you smile. The circle gesture for launching camera from sleep mode worked flawlessly every time.

Have a look at some of the camera samples below. I will add more samples in future.

Dash Charge:

The OnePlus 5T features a 3400mAh non-removable battery with an impressive proprietary quick charge technology which the company calls Dash Charge. While keeping the phone cooler, Dash Charge replenishes more than 60% of the battery within half-an-hour. This is made possible by leveraging a large electric current (5V 4A) for stable, consistent charging speeds and shifting the power management system from phone to the Dash Charge adapter.

While this setup helps in maintaining lower temperatures during charging, it brings another great advantage. There won’t be any CPU throttling issues and hence the charging speed won’t get affected by intensive phone usage in parallel like streaming video or playing heavy games.

During our battery charge test, the OnePlus 5T managed to stay cool throughout the time. While reaching 96% in under an hour, the phone managed to charge the battery to 100% in little over an hour which is incredible.

The only downside we see with the dash charge technology is the limitation of relying on the dash charge adapter for faster charging. In other words, when using a 3rd party Type-C fast charging adapter, the OnePlus 5T will charge in regular charging speeds and won’t get charged quickly.

Power management options include a battery saver feature that can be trigged automatically when battery reaches a percentage level. However the battery saver settings cannot be customized.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

Great Display, Impeccable Finger Print Sensor, A very good Front & Rear Camera along with the 8 GB RAM definitely makes it worth the buy. The dash charge is worth a mention. The form factor is compact and comfortable to use. The performance is top-notch, and the phone gives a very premium feel; certainly making it the Flagship.

Do let us know your thoughts and questions if any. Thanks for reading.

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Features

My Take on the Best Smartphones of 2017

The year 2017 is almost over now. I was just thinking at the number of devices I was playing around this year and thought to list out my experiences and feedback with smartphones this year. Without much ado, here we go!

Let me start with my most favourite topic, Camera.

Google Pixel had a great camera; probably the best this year. Google made people understand that, its not always the hardware but software that can make great difference to the picture. Without a dual camera setup, Google was able to achieve great portraits with its AI based algorithms. However, things weren’t all that green with the Pixel. Along with the LED screen issues. I also heard about the performance flaws on the Pixel 2 XL. Hopefully, Google can fix it via a software update. According to me, the Pixel 2 was a better bet than the Pixel 2 XL in terms of performance and hardware. I really wished Google had chopped these bezels and made just one Pixel 2 this year. Would’ve made life so simple. Pixel was a great camera for Pictures, especially portraits.

The most practical flagship for me was the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Looked very similar to the earlier iPhones, nothing great on design; bur still performed the best when compared to other Android flagships and iPhones. The A11 Bionic was slick. The 8 Plus stood slightly lower in terms of the camera when compared to the iPhone X. However, when you consider the price and the extra ‘plus’ features, it won it over. The iPhone X is a great phone, but definitely not worth a lac. The iPhones this year has the best cameras for videos, especially the slo-mos.

The Samsung Note 8 is a clear winner; probably the best smartphone of this year. Its amazing on how this company pulled off especially after that debacle of the Samsung Note 7. Great optics, IP68, Stylus and most importantly, less forked android made this a winner. Samsung Pay was great for the company this year. Probably, the 3rd most thing I used on the Samsung phone after camera and screen.

Out of all the devices I tried this year, one device that caught my attention was the MiA1 from Xiaomi. This device was so totally off the Xiaomi strategy. With Mi A1, the company offered stock android along with their nifty add-ons to make this device a worthy re-entry to the Android One segment in the country. Well, as much as I wanted the stock android experience, using it on a Xiaomi device felt totally different. MIUI has been the most important component to Mi Phones that makes it stand out from its competition regardless of the segments the devices belong. Sometimes this also made me wonder if Xiaomi is a software company or a hardware one. The MiA1 had Great Optics and was a good all around performer in the segment.

Introducing Mi Mix 2 in India was a brave attempt from Xiaomi India. I honestly wished they do well in this segment because that would open up more opportunities for the company to introduce flagships in India close to the global launch dates. Further, it also opens up the segment for them.

While the Redmi phones were the clear winners in the budget segment, it was nice to see brands like 10.or (Brand name owned by Amazon) and Comio play in the segment with interesting devices up their sleeve. While 10.or brought in stock feel android phones in this segment, Comio was pretty aggressive with their focused marketing. Hope we will see more in the coming days from them.

It was Impressive to see Huawei India introduce some great models this year. The Honor brand phones were aggressive and one has to appreciate their strategies to bring devices quick to India. They were audible all through the year and brave in pitching through various channels. Probably only brand that leveraged not just tech bloggers to reach more people. I really wished we saw the Huawei P10 or the Mate series in India. Leica is love.

The LG V30 is a great phone. The DAC on the phone is worth a mention.Wonder why it doesn’t get a worthy mention whenever someone wants to recommend a flagship to friend or foe; maybe, its because of the software and lack of its optimisation. Also, the price game that LG plays every time – Launch at a price, reduce it in a week, reduce it even further in few weeks.. the cycle just goes on.

Well, OnePlus was the winner in affordable tech. Not once, but twice this year. Both the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T were brilliant phones. Great optics, good screen and decent software. They have almost become a brand everyone recommends. Flagship Killer? well may not be. I don’t think, even they claim that title anymore. So lets spare this topic going forward. The OnePlus5T was probably my Best All around phone in India. I’m still amazed at how blazing fast the Face Unlock worked. Of-course, worth mentioning that it is a convenience feature and not a security one.

Summing up, this was just my experience with these devices and I hope, we see even better smartphones coming up next year. Till then, wish you a very happy new year. Do let me know your thoughts and comments.

Categories
News

After Brexit, Prices of the OnePlus Phones may increase in the UK

After Brexit last week, there has been lot of buzz in the media about how this could potentially affect the political scenario and financial stabilities in the UK. We also saw a drop in value for the British Pound in the market. Few of us were sure that, this would also impact technology products and education sectors in the region. Today, OnePlus reached out to their customers and fans explaining about how brexit would impact the margins which they make by selling their phones.

Most of us know that, the company has been taking less margin, thereby pricing the phone competitively to deliver flagship tech at an affordable price. OnePlus further said that, there would be an increase of price on the phones in the coming days.

So if you’re in the UK and thinking about buying the OnePlus 3, now is the time. Meanwhile, if you are still wondering if this is the right phone for you, we just published our review of this device today. Have a look!

OnePlus-3

Here is the official note released by the company –

OnePlus is a global company with fans across the world. The UK is one of the most important markets for OnePlus. So given the uncertainty following the unexpected Brexit developments, we wanted to explain how this might affect our business in the near future.

We’ve always strived to create the best product and deliver them to customers at a reasonable price. However, the worrying downward trend of the GBP may make it difficult to maintain our current pricing structure in the UK. Our margins have always been thin, and our expenses are mainly in USD. This being the case, sudden drops such as the one that the Pound has recently experienced could have a direct impact on our prices.

We’re telling you this now because we don’t want you to be blindsided. If you’re thinking of buying, we recommend doing so sooner rather than later. However, if a price change comes to pass, it will not be a decision that we take lightly. We have only had to increase prices once before, when the Euro hit a nine-year low against the dollar at the beginning of 2015, and we did so reluctantly. Currency fluctuations are not your fault, nor our fault; but if we sell at a loss, the simple fact is that there won’t be a OnePlus in the future.

By no means are we worried about our business in the UK, Europe or globally. We’re confident that the OnePlus 3 is one of the best phones out there, and it’s our most successful product ever. The fact that we significantly increased lifecycle volume forecast, our orders to suppliers, and still sold out completely within hours of our launch proves that we’re not the only ones that think this way. Hundreds of you came out to see us at the recent pop-up store in London, and thousands more visited our pop-ups around the world. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made together with you over the past two years and a half years.

Whatever happens with our prices in the UK, it won’t come out of the blue. We’ll try as best we can to keep you informed, when we know more, we’ll be sure give you several days of notice.

Source: OnePlus Forums

Categories
Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 3 Review: Killing the Flagship Game!

OnePlus unveiled its long-awaited flagship smartphone OnePlus 3 in a VR event couple of weeks ago. The Graphite variant of the OnePlus 3 is currently available from Amazon.in for INR 27,999/- and the Soft Gold variant will be launched in the near future.  Let’s review and see if the phone stands true to the “flagship killer” moniker at the current price point.

Gone are the days where an invite was required to purchase an OnePlus phone. Kudos to the team for getting rid of invites. This feels super awesome as a buyer. Inside the box, you also get this note from Carl Pie where he talks about the company, customers and how to reach him.

OnePlus Founder Carl Pei Letter OnePlus 3

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The OnePlus 3 is a 5.5” 4G Dual-SIM device featuring an ultra slim uni-body metal design which according to the company is carved out of single slab of space-grade aluminum alloy, pretty much like what we have seen on the HTC 10. The build quality is solid and the phone looks premium. Weighing 158 grams and at 7.3 mm thickness, it ranks 3rd in thinnest flagships available currently in the market. Make no mistake in underestimating the build quality of the phone. Its strong and durable in every aspect, be it the keys, glass, finger print scanner or the whole construction.

The Dual-SIM tray & power keys are located on the right, while the alert slider & volume rocker are placed on the left. Top stays flat and the bottom houses the speaker grill, type-c port and the 3.5 mm audio jack. The Alert Slider from the OnePlus 2 has been retained in the OnePlus 3 as well. This helps in toggling between silent, priority and all notifications with the reach of a button and is unique to the OnePlus phones.

OnePlus 3 Slider

A ceramic finger print sensor is available on the front similar to the HTC 10. Unlike the Xiaomi mi5, the sensor is not located on a physical home button, but on a capacitive home key. The Sensor is blazingly fast unlocking the device in 0.2 seconds from sleep and accurate most of the times. It’s a true 360 degree sensor in a way that it works perfect when pressing from any direction.

Another interesting thought with the OnePlus 3 sensor implementation is, it does not wake the screen up with incorrect inputs like the HTC 10 does. The sensor just vibrates the phone when finger print is not recognized and wakes up only when there is a match. This is a good use case since there will be multiple instances you ending up touching the sensor by mistake while holding the phone.

OnePlus 3 FingerPrint Sensor

Primary camera is located on the centre of the back with a visible protrusion which according to us is not the best in design and may not be for everyone’s liking. With a phone case, this protrusion should not be too annoying. OnePlus has released a variety of cases for this device which are available on Amazon.in

The OnePlus 3 runs on top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor seen in 2016 flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 (US), LG G5, HTC 10, Le Max2 and the Xiaomi Mi5. Out of the four Kryo cores available, two are clocked at 2.2 GHz and other two at 1.6 GHz. There is Adreno 530 GPU for handling those graphic intensive tasks.

The device comes with impressive hardware specs like 64GB storage (based on UFS 2.0 technology), 6 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, Dash Charge, Type-C port, Bluetooth 4.2. The device also supports NFC.

Currently this is the only smartphone available in India with a mammoth 6 GB of RAM. While this may sound an overkill by today’s standards, we appreciate this move from OnePlus since this makes the phone future proof. Also this combination of RAM and processing power makes the phone a very smooth device. UI is snappy, and even 4K video editing is a breeze.

Display:

The OnePlus 3 sports a 5.5″ FULL HD (1080p) Optic AMOLED display protected by a 2.5D curved gorilla glass 4 from Corning. With a pixel density of 401 PPI and a maximum brightness of just over 400 nits, the display is crisp & vivid with deeper blacks and brighter whites.

Outdoor visibility is excellent with the Adaptive brightness coming to play and automatically optimizing the screen brightness level based on available light conditions. There is a night mode when enabled filters out harmful blue light emission from the screen and reduces eye strain in the dark. Additional display features include a color balancing slider to choose between warmer and cooler color temperatures according to the user preference.

While the 2.5D curved glass looks gorgeous with the thin bezel on the OnePlus 3, we encountered a minor niggle while watching videos on YouTube. While holding the phone in one hand and scrolling through available videos, my palm would occasionally touch the sides of the screen and play an unintended video from the list. However this should not pose any problem since this can be avoided by going for a phone case or by using two hands. Not a deal breaker but slightly annoying.

Camera:

For the primary camera, the OnePlus 3 uses Sony’s 16MP IMX298 sensor (1.12 µm pixels and f/2.0 aperture) available on the Xiaomi mi5. There is hardware OIS and an additional EIS (Electronic image stabilization) for those less shaky photos & videos. The front camera is an 8MP Sony IMX179 shooter with 1.4 µm pixels and f/2.0 aperture.

Camera interface is simple and includes features like Auto HDR, a robust manual mode, Panorama and support for RAW images. Thanks to PDAF, the primary camera is quick to focus and shoots good pictures in both outdoor and artificial lighting conditions with very little noise. Occasionally, there are some focus stacking issues when the subject you click is busy. See Sample below. I believe, this would be fixed over a software update.

OnePlus 3 Focus Issues

Though the OnePlus 3 has an OIS built in, the videos aren’t as great as an iPhone even without an OIS. Maybe, the camera software needs better stabilisation algorithms. Video recording features include support for time lapse, slow motion (720p at 120fps) and 4K video (30fps). Recorded audio from video footage could have been louder.

Coming to the front camera, it can shoot up to 1080P video at 30fps. We personally liked the Smile Capture feature for selfies which triggers a 3 sec timer shot when you smile. The circle gesture for launching camera from sleep mode worked flawlessly every time. Unfortunately with the finger print setup on the device, we had to go through an extra step of unlocking the device to launch the camera.

Have a look at some of the camera samples below. We will add more samples as we use the device.

Software, User Experience:

OnePlus 3 comes with the latest edition of Oxygen OS which is based on Android Marshmallow 6.1. Oxygen OS is a clean, light, bloat-free OS supporting UI customisation, gesture support etc. A lot of bugs from the OnePlus 2 have been addressed in this update. There is option to enable software navigation buttons and they can even be customized for performing different actions based on user preference. For users who don’t prefer the white theme, there is a dark theme that can be customized with an accent colour.

Screen-Off Gesture support include features like double tap to wake screen, drawing a circle to launch camera, drawing a V for flashlight, two finger swipe downwards to play/pause music, </> for previous/next track navigation and all of them worked flawlessly during our testing. Unfortunately, these are the only options which have been available since OnePlus One. We wished if there were more options or custom gestures.

OnePlus 3 Oxygen 3 Android OS

With Oxygen OS, the same phone can be used by multiple users. New users can be added to the system and each user will have their dedicated space comprising of apps, wallpapers, layout etc. Also, features guest mode which is a nifty feature when enabled hides all photos, call history, messages etc.

Powered by the Adreno 530 GPU, gaming performance is excellent and there are no frame drops while playing graphics intensive games. Call quality is good and the Built-in speaker is loud and clear.

Dash Charge:

The OnePlus 3 features a 3000mAh non-removable battery with an impressive proprietary quick charge technology which the company calls Dash Charge. While keeping the phone cooler, Dash Charge replenishes more than 60% of the battery within half-an-hour. This is made possible by leveraging a large electric current (5V 4A) for stable, consistent charging speeds and shifting the power management system from phone to the Dash Charge adapter. While this setup helps in maintaining lower temperatures during charging, it brings another great advantage. There won’t be any CPU throttling issues and hence the charging speed won’t get affected by intensive phone usage in parallel like streaming video or playing heavy games.

During our battery charge test, the OnePlus 3 managed to stay cool throughout the time. While reaching 96% in under an hour, the phone managed to charge the battery to 100% in one hour and eleven minutes which is incredible.

The only downside we see with the dash charge technology is the limitation of relying on the dash charge adapter for faster charging. In other words, when using a 3rd party Type-C fast charging adapter, the OnePlus 3 will charge in regular charging speeds and won’t get charged quickly.

Power management options include a battery saver feature that can be trigged automatically when battery reaches a percentage level. However the battery saver settings cannot be customized.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

Great Display, Impeccable Finger Print Sensor, A very good Front & Rear Camera along with the 6 GB RAM definitely makes it worth the buy. The dash charge is worth a mention. The form factor is slightly on the larger side; however, it isn’t very uncomfortable to use. The performance is top-notch, and the phone gives a very premium feel; certainly making it the Flagship Killer.

OnePlus OnePlus 3 rear side

I would certainly recommend OnePlus 3 to anyone who is looking at buying a flagship smartphone with a bigger screen. However, if you are looking at a lighter phone with a slightly smaller form factor, then the Xiaomi Mi5 is a good alternative.

Do let us know your thoughts and questions if any. Thanks for reading.

Categories
News

Meet OnePlus 3 – Aluminum Unibody Design and a whopping 6GB RAM

OnePlus released its long-awaited flagship smartphone OnePlus 3 today. The OnePlus 3 is a dual nano SIM phone with a 5.5 inch AMOLED display screen. Under the hood, the device is powered with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 GPU and a 6GB LPDDR4 RAM. This is the first phone with 6GB RAM available to buy in India today. The OnePlus 3 also features an improved, more durable ceramic fingerprint sensor that improves accuracy with increased use. Offering the ability to unlock the device in under 0.3 seconds, even from a sleeping screen, users can access their phone faster and more accurately.

The Graphite variant of the OnePlus 3 will be available exclusively on Amazon.in, 12:30am onwards starting today for INR 27,999/- whereas the Soft Gold variant will be launched in the near future.

OnePlus-3

The OnePlus 3 comes with a 16MP camera equipped with a shutter and lightning-fast speed, neat autofocus, a unique noise reduction technology for better pictures as well as supporting stabilization methods for shake and movement free images. The OnePlus 3 also includes our new Smile Capture feature, allowing you to take a photo using the front-facing 8 MP camera simply by smiling – a seamless solution for selfies.  OnePlus 3 comes stacked with the latest edition of Oxygen OS, based on Android Marshmallow 6.1.

The phone has a 3,000 mAh lithium-polymer battery (non-removable) powered by state-of-the-art Dash Charge technology. Unlike other quick charging technologies, Dash Charge replenishes more than 60% of the 3,000 mAh battery in 30 minutes and continues fast charging even when streaming video or playing energy-intensive games. This is made possible by leveraging a large electric current for stable, consistent charging speeds. In addition, Dash Charge carries more current than other charging solutions, and at lower temperatures, by shifting the power management process from the phone itself to the Dash Charge adapter, so a vast majority of the heat generated while charging never reaches the device. Along with five custom safety measures in place to safeguard the adaptor, cable and phone itself, users can charge their OnePlus 3 as fast as possible without worry.

Buyers in India also get, 

  • 12 months of Saavn Pro. Unlimited, ad-free music downloads and exclusive Saavn originals
  • 12 months of accidental damage protection with OnePlus Care
  • 12 months of double data for Idea customers
  • INR 500 ebook promotion credits – Download and sign in to the Kindle app

 

Categories
News

OnePlus partners with FOXCONN; joins Make in India wagon

OnePlus today announced its plans for local production of its smartphones in India by end of 2015 in partnership with FOXCONN. This is the company’s first step towards the Make in India initiative.

According to OnePlus, we should be seeing the future devices being made (read assembled) in India for the Indian market by end of this year. The facility based out of Andhra Pradesh will have a cumulative peak capacity of producing up to 500,000 units per month, thus scalable to locally fulfil the demand for OnePlus’ smartphones in India in the future. Its expected that, this facility will also generate direct employment of over 1000 full time workers, thereby further supporting the Government’s Make in India initiative. This collaboration was formally announced by Pete Lau, Founder & CEO himself in Bangalore today.

Still unclear, if this would also bring in any change in terms of pricing of the devices; honestly hope it does. However, to be honest, the OnePlus team has always struck gold in terms of pricing their devices right. Both OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 have been a good hit and the company has also emerged as a respectable brand in the Indian Market. The company also mentioned that, this would be primarily used for future devices; not sure, if we are talking about the OnePlus X (still a mystery) being manufactured first here in India.

“Producing smartphones in India is one of the most important decisions that we have made so far at OnePlus, and we are thankful to the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Foxconn for helping us make this happen. India being one of our biggest markets worldwide, we are committed to a long term sustainable growth path. This move will strengthen our presence and help us step up momentum in India.” – Pete Lau, Founder & CEO, OnePlus.

pete-lau

“Our dream is to catapult Andhra Pradesh to become one of the hottest destinations for local manufacturing in India, and I believe with brands such as OnePlus joining in, that dream is quickly becoming a reality. The Andhra Pradesh Government assures all cooperation and support to OnePlus to help them cater to the growing demands in the India market.” – Shri Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Honorable Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh.

“Local production will not only make our operations more efficient in terms of cost and working capital requirements but also help us in making our products available for sale much faster than ever before.” – Vikas Agarwal, General Manager – India.

Categories
Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 2 – A Great Android Phone; Definitely not a Flagship Killer!

Hello people; I am back with a review after a long time. I have the all new OnePlus 2 with me in this article. Well, to be honest, It’s too late to review this phone. I’m sure, you would’ve come across quite a few takes. If you would still like to read a detailed review, I recommend you read this well written article on TechPP

This piece would primarily focus on my thoughts of  the “Yay” and “Nay”s of the OnePlus 2. There are few things I love about this phone. The hardware is beautiful. It feels fantastic in hand; the weight is nice and well balanced. The elements used definitely feels good. I personally love the alert slider button which changes the notification options. This is a very nifty example of a software driven hardware implementation. Here are some of the pictures of the device itself.

Camera Picture Samples: As you see in the pictures below, most of them were shot in the Auto Mode. However, you can still see the exposure settings being calculated so well. The details are very neat and so are the colour saturation. The DOF (Depth of Field) feels very neat and simple; most importantly, realistic.

Should I upgrade? – This totally depends on what device are you using? If you are already on a OnePlus One, I do not see a reason for you to upgrade, unless you need a finger print protection to your phone or a Dual SIM. If you are in the market looking to buy an Android phone under 25000 INR, this is the best phone you can buy today*. *conditions apply, if you manage to get an invite!

Hey Team @ OnePlus, here are my thoughts and feedback on the OnePlus 2 –

Yay’s:

    1. The VR Launch was by far the best creative launches, I have ever attended or seen. Kudos to the team to for have planned such a great event and its brilliant execution.
    2. I like the weight of the device; it isn’t light, but feels so comfortable and yet nice feel of a premium phone in hand.
    3. I love the alert slider button; that’s one of the best little features I love about the OnePlus 2. Great thought and attention to detail. Taking about buttons, the feel is very good and the buttons definitely feel premium.
    4. The sandstone texture is an instant connect with OnePlus; most of them can just close their eyes and will be able to guess your brand with just a feel.
    5. The Touch ID is super responsive and fast.
    6. I like the fact, you sticked with the 1080p screen and not the QHD; works good on an everyday phone, plus saves up on battery!
    7. The camera is too good; the DOF is very pleasing on eyes and it doesn’t look too fake.

Nay’s:

  • The OnePlus One had a great packaging; the OnePlus 2 looks too plain jane.
  • I think, we should talk more about experience than specs; To be honest, Android is still not really rich to leverage great hardware. I cannot see a visible difference between a 3GB RAM and a 4GB RAM device. Unless you wanna show the strengths with Benchmark scores.
  • I am not able to understand the idea behind giving a removable back, just for the SIMs? I mean, you had a great way of putting things together in the OnePlus One. The flap feels too thin much like how Samsung did it years ago. With the flap’s locking mechanism in-place, I am not sure, how many iterations will it live it up.
  • I’m surprised, how every mobile company has mastered the art of Depth of Field. There should be more research and focus on providing better low light capabilities; and if possible more realistic Slo-Mos. I think, there is still a long way to improve on these two areas. I still love my Slo-Mos on my iPhone.
  • The camera app needs refinement; It isn’t easy to toggle between different camera modes. Also, you could give the user an option to have a transparent shutter button which would show a 16:9 on the screen than just 4:3. I am not sure, if there was a mode to do that; bcos, the UI was very sluggish to even look for it.
  • The Touch ID – This touchscreen has a design of a button; most of the times, you end up pressing than touch. Not sure, again why the design was made to standout if it had to be just a touch; it could’ve been a plain simple glass slab, than a button design.
  • The USB Type C is good; certainly feels special, but I still cannot understand why we need it at this moment. Because, other than using it both the sides, I don’t see any other major advantage listed or supported.
  • Fast Charging is a key, especially when we use our phones so much these days.
  • NFC is not something I really miss; but then, it wouldn’t have hurt if the OP2 had it. Honestly, I don’t see any major implementation of Android Pay in the market as of now, wonder when that would change.
  • The phone does heat up a bit; though its quite common in smartphone these days, it would be great to implement a special juice on Oxygen which would tweak the hardware when a heavy intense game or app is loaded.
  • I would’ve loved to see a 128GB model as well. I save a lot of photographs and music on my device. With loading over 80% of the data on the phone, the device starts to feel sluggish in performance. I use a iPhone 128GB model, it almost adapted so well to my needs; with still quite a space left and is super responsive.
  • With using 4G LTE on one of the SIMs, I see that the battery doesn’t last as much as it used to on the OnePlus One. Not sure why.
  • The Oxygen OS needs a lot of refinements as well.
  • Hype; by hype, I mean the Invites. I am sure, there would’ve been a realistic forecast about the expectations people would have of this device. If you didn’t, you should seriously consider hiring someone who is good at forecasting and numbers. Making people run around for invites might sound cool, but then, as a premium buyer, I would love something which is there for my perusal and not hunt for the same. There isn’t an attitude here; but as a genuine buyer, who respects and values your brand, I deserve to get some respect in return.
  • Please do something to the Android Ecosystem. I’m sure, you guys have an authority to bring in a change; drive some interesting things with partnering other companies. There are very few apps which are aesthetically great and good to use on Android. However, many out there are just crappy and lack quality with too many ads and pop-ups. The percentage of Great apps (free or paid) on an iPhone is way too large when compared to Android.

Summing up, did it impress me like the OnePlus One? I so wish, if it had. OnePlus 2 is undoubtedly the best smartphone one can buy under 25000 INR. Is it a flagship killer? Probably, No. There are few more areas which needs attention and I am sure/hope the company is working on the same. Of-course, they know the business better than what I do!

Categories
News

OnePlus One Available in India; Invites starting December 2nd

OnePlus and Amazon.in today announced their plans to bring the One to India. This exclusive partnership marks OnePlus’ first expansion into a new market with local presence. This also marks their first cooperation with a local partner. The One will be available for purchase on Amazon.in starting December 2nd, 2014.

Update:

Dec 7th, 2014: Cyanogen, Inc confirms their exclusive partnership in India with Micromax.

Its certainly a sad move. Hence, If you buy the OnePlusOne‬ from Amazon.in, you will not probably get the OTAs. However, if you had imported them from the US, you would still get it regardless of being in India. So As suspected, the deal must read “Only Micromax and NO other manufacturer in India can have CM as an official build”. Geeks do not have a problem, they can just flash it. However, its a very bad sign for a product which is so awesome and priced so perfectly..!

Hear what they say – “Since we clarified our support for OTA firmware updates for OnePlus One global devices, we’ve received a number of inquiries regarding OnePlus One devices sold in India.  As we had pledged to our users, OnePlus One global devices will receive our OTA firmware updates. If a user in India purchased a OnePlus One global device in channels outside of India, they will receive our OTA firmware updates. However, this excludes OnePlus One regional devices sold directly in India. We are committed to our exclusive partnership in India with Micromax, which will be launching its first Cyanogen OS device under their new YU brand.”

Dec 5th, 2014:  Recently, there were reports about Cyanogen not supporting (releasing regular updates) OnePlus One in India due to their exclusive partnership with Micromax. However, after a couple of days of chaos, the team at Cyanogen confirmed that, OnePlus will continue to get OTA updates. Here is the official note: “We are proud of the work we did on the OnePlus One. Through our collaboration with OnePlus, we demonstrated the power of strong hardware and software tuned for exceptional performance. To clarify misinformation out there, the OnePlus One will get OTA firmware updates for all global devices, including global devices for our users in India. Rather than have misinformation continue to circulate out there, we felt it important to bring this matter to rest.”

OnePlus has launched One at Rs.21,999 (around $350) for the 64GB version.

Though not yet a year old, OnePlus has made waves in the tech industry with their flagship product, the OnePlus One. A top-spec flagship smartphone featuring premium design and build quality, the One was launched to rave reviews in seventeen countries worldwide.

OnePlus is now embarking on their next chapter as a company with an expansion into the Indian market. This expansion brings not just a new device, but an entirely new team and model. To provide the best possible user experience, OnePlus India will have a physical presence, the first outside of their headquarters, with a local team led by General Manager of OnePlus India, Vikas Agarwal. This will be the first region in which a localized service infrastructure is established, offering phone and walk-in support to users around the country.

“Our company focuses first on our users and our product,” said Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus. “We want to provide the best possible experience for our Indian users who have been so supportive of our vision. To do that, we are investing heavily in our Indian operations and partnering with the fastest growing and most admirable e-commerce company in the market, Amazon.in”

Read more about the Company, Strategy and their Directions to understand the success story of OnePlus

To establish a presence that would best serve our Indian fans, OnePlus looked to one of the most venerable and customer-centric companies in the world. OnePlus will partner exclusively with Amazon.in to sell the OnePlus One and accessories. Inspired by Amazon’s deep commitment to their users and the impact they have had upon the e-commerce landscape, both globally and in India, OnePlus is excited about the exceptional level of service and superior user experience this partnership will offer to customers. Combining the product-focused nature of OnePlus with the consumer focused values of Amazon, the collaboration between these two global companies, equally committed to India, marks a new chapter in the Indian tech space.

oneplus-amazon

“We are very excited to bring this much awaited phone for our customers in India. And we are having real fun with the unique marketing initiatives for the launch. It fits right into our philosophy of bringing wide and unique selections and experiences for our customers,” said Amit Agarwal, Vice President and Country Manager, Amazon India.

Keeping in line with the global invite system, users in India will receive India-specific invites through OnePlus and Amazon.in. The two platforms have been integrated so that invites claimed into a OnePlus account will be used to purchase the device on Amazon.in. Starting today, users interested in buying the One can log onto oneplus.net/in and register their interest for an invite. The One will be available for purchase only on Amazon.in with invites starting December 2, 2014.

Categories
Interviews IT News, Tech Information and Analysis

OnePlus: Story behind the Company, Strategy and Directions

I am one of the biggest fans of OnePlus One. Its been over 2 months I have been using the phone now and I have been in total love with it. I was really keen to know more about the company and how could they make a product which is so premium and yet affordable. Last week, we had the first OnePlus fan meetup in India; and I did request Carl Pei, one of the founding members of the company for an interview and he obliged.

We did talk quite a few stuffs about the company, its strategy and the directions ahead. Read on to know more.

Thought of OnePlus and the Culture of the company:

Like most of the startups incubate in a cafe, this bunch of people were sitting in a cafe talking about smartphones and experiences. Though they were working on android, most of them were using an iPhone. When they started discussing on why they didn’t opt for an Android Phone, the reasons were many – Bad build quality, Software not intuitive and a lot of bloatware which comes along. That’s when they saw an opportunity to make a device with a good build quality, attention to detail and a beautiful design which was missing in the market. Price was never a point of focus then. They just wanted to build a great android device which they themselves would use.

They announced the company, and then started to work on their first product and thats OnePlus One. While getting to the prototype, they realized, they can create a flagship killer device at a much affordable price. That started the journey for them.

The culture of the company is dynamic and its changing on a daily basis. The entire company has been growing really quick. In the beginning, they did have some challenges hiring people; as people were reluctant to join a brand new company. So they had to be liberal on who they hire. But now-a-days, since the launch of the device and the traction, they are getting a lot more qualified hires like people who have left high-paid positions to join a startup and build this culture together. They are slowly evolving into a more formalized structure where the roles are more clear-cut so they have people responsible for business, research, product management and support.

Market Research:

For the OnePlus One, it was largely done through the community. Even before the company had announced the phone, they made it public on their forums about the idea to make a best possible phone together. They technically started discussing on the forums, on the kind of screen which people prefer, What battery would they like, etc. They used it as an indicator; and did not just take the user requests and put into a phone because, sometimes user requests do conflict with each other.

Quoting Henry Ford, Carl said, “If you asked the users what they want, they would want a faster horse”. So we used the user requests as inputs and then put the data points into designing this phone. So the primary reason for the phone was the fans, community.

He also spoke about the contest Phone Smash, which they did early this year, where participants, would signup to smash their current flagship phone. If they got chosen, they could smash it on YouTube, and in exchange they could buy a OnePlus One at 1 USD. They saw a lot of people, who were ready to smash their Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC M8 and other phones which were much expensive than OnePlus One. So this contest gave them confidence that, OnePlus One was not just the price, but the product itself is more premium than the competition.

Why Cyanogen:

OnePlus team had a clear focus on making a phone which runs a very intuitive software with no bloatware and a fast OS. The default choice for them was Cyanogen. With Cyanogen, they are staying pretty close to the stock android experience, which was designed for ease of access. Of Course, they officially support 5 other ROMs as well.

Some of the users did face issues with Apps throwing an error message. This happened because, In the beginning the Whatsapp team didn’t know that, this device existed. They just looked at the software, and since the software was CM, they thought it was a custom ROM. But in this case, CM is actually the stock ROM on the OnePlus One. They are fixing this now.

Further, as this device gets more traction, more and more developers would know about it and make appropriate changes to the authenticating mechanism in their applications.

Invite Model and Pre-Order System:

Carl did admit, hardware involves a lot of risk; and one needs to tie a lot of capital to the inventory, and ensure to sell them. Especially, given their business model, where they have no margin. They have no where to absorb these costs, if the supply and demand projection goes wrong.

OnePlus had announced it back in July, that they may consider moving away from the invite system soon. However,  they are still working on the system. They originally hoped to roll out in September, but looks like there is going to be a delay in it, as they didn’t have enough time to make it happen due to the software platform limitations.

They are quite certain, they will face problems when they come in to India later this year. However, they will continue to have the invite method at least to begin with in the market. That way, the fans are 100% sure that, anyone who has an invite can be sure to purchase and receive the product. Later they may try a pre-order model.  This is far better than registering a product online and waiting to hit the Buy Now button which lasts for just few seconds.

In terms of sales, they have already sold 10x times more than what they had initially predicted for this year. Also, OnePlus has a 15 day return policy in the US. When asked about the return rates of the phones, Carl said and I quote,

“The return rate is really really low. It’s somewhere between 0.1 to 0.3 % is what I would say. Its a no question asked Return. To be honest, its pretty hard to get the phone; so once you get it, you don’t want to return it.”

Biggest Concern:

With the buzz the product is getting in the global market, I really thought production rate was their biggest concern. However, when I spoke about the same to Carl, he explained that production speed was not their main bottleneck now. Thier primary focus is to get their operations and customer support teams right. They in fact are not producing at their full capacity at this point. They infact think, If you sell too many phones, and your support staff is not enough, users will have to wait for long time when they have issues with their phone. So they are currently scaling other areas of the company and not just production.

Revenue Generation Model:

According to me, the price seems to be a killer deal. You are getting a premium build and specs at a much affordable price. Infact, if we are doing a tear down on the Phone, I think, we will still come close to what it is priced now. On discussion, I realized, the costs are higher than the established players because their volumes are so low. Generally, Big Players get a much better deal on components due to the volumes. However, they are currently not focused on the price. Like every startup, they are mainly concerned in getting their name out to the people and get them to use OnePlus products. So in that sense, you first create a good product and gain the user base; and when you have users, its going to be easy to figure out the revenue model later.

OnePlus, when compared to other Chinese Companies.

On the global side of the OnePlus the company does not really see themselves as a chinese company. if you look at the team composition, 1/3rd of them are North Americans, 1/3rd are from Europe, and only a third are chinese. So from the very first day, when they announced the brand, they made an effort to talk on their global forums and believed in having no cultural barrier to our fans and users. Also regardless of the region, they always have someone to talk to their fans and that’s why they felt an importance to set up a local team here in India, before even launching the product in the market. Although they have started in China, they are clear enough to build a global company. That’s really impressive.

Carl further said, a lot of people put us in the same basket as a lot of other chinese companies. but I think, as we grow along over the years and execute our strategies, people will see and understand the differentiation.

Workforce in India

In the beginning its going to be about Customer Support, Operations, and Handling fans. Those are the three primary things, they spoke about. By handling fans, they mean, communicating with them on the social media, meeting them in real life, hosting fan gatherings etc.

At some point of time, we can expect some more detailed technical work to be done in India. At least in early stages, we can see some scope on device repairs; which are technical in nature. They are looking at different locations for the first OnePlus office in India, and are still listing on the Pros and Cons. A part of which will also depend on who they actually hire as the General Manager and which partner they decide to work with for product support. The support team is going to include both, someone in-house and also vendors to help us with Support in different regions. At least the majority of the users will have a service center closer to them, when fans need help.

Bamboo Covers:

The bamboo covers have been on the OnePlus store for a while now listed as Coming Soon. It’s just beautifully crafted wood.

oneplus

 

When asked about the availability of these covers, Carl said, the OnePlus One covers fit very snugly and its very hard to remove it. The sandstone black and bamboo covers were made in different factories. Although they were made with the same 3D model, the exact fitting ended to be slightly different. When you replace the back-panel with the bamboo cover and press really hard, one could hear some squeaky noise. That wasn’t impressive and hence, they did not want to deliver a faulty product to their fans. They are now re-designing the bamboo covers so that, it does not have this noise. They did feel bad about delaying this much, but at the same time, they didn’t wanted to ship a squeaky product in the market.

This was indeed a smart move, considering that, there are companies looking around every single step of OnePlus. The moment, you fail in one it would get magnified.

OnePlus Two:

Edit: Aug 2015 – The company announced the OnePlus 2. Read the review here.

They are pretty much planning one flagship killer phone a year. The company still doesn’t have any pre-defined model or specification details for the OnePlus Two. Like mentioned earlier, they are going to start talking to people on their forums for the next device, OnePlus Two and get user requests and feedback. So everyone who is interested can join the discussion and share their requests. In the end, they want to make the best choice for the consumer. I would like a IR booster, some options for MHL, and a replaceable battery. The display can be even more richer as well.

Well, honestly, I love the way how this company give attention to details w.r.t hardware and design. It has been top-notch when compared to other big players. I really wish, Google talks to them to have OnePlus make their next range of Nexus phones. That would be a great deal if it happens.

Roadmaps for Tablets and other Wearables:

The company is not keen in getting into the tablet business at this point of time. They feel that, the nexus 7 is a pretty solid device and is priced really well. and so is iPad. They do not see a fit in this segment as its very competitive and there isn’t lot of margins in this. So , their primary focus is on doing Smartphones as of now. However, they do believe, the smartphones are only a starting point, if OnePlus One and Two can be really successful, they will evaluate other form factors starting next year.

and…

It was already 22:30 IST by then and It wasn’t good on my part to take more of his time. He had an early morning flight back as well. I just ended the conversation on a personal note, asking which three people in the industry does he look up to. The first obvious name he took was Steve Jobs. Obviously, I think, he has made a really big impact in the entire consumer electronics industry. Creating a good product needs a great product person and Apple has fantastic product managers, and this entire product focuses DNA comes down from their founder Steve Jobs. A lot of us should really thank him for starting the smartphone revolution. Two other people whom he named was Jeff Bezos from Amazon for his long term thinking & customer centric focus; and Elon Musk for his big bets which always benefit the human race.

He said, some day, maybe OnePlus can also have higher ambitions in making a smartphone which are top-notch. I think, they are already heading in the right direction. I really look forward to see them grow and create much bigger impact in the smartphone industry. As we all know, this is just the beginning and I wish them all the very best.

…and yes, Welcome to India, OnePlus.

Categories
IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

OnePlus One Review: A Flagship Killer Smartphone for Sure

In this article, we review the OnePlus One, which is often referred as a 2014 flagship killer. This device is priced as a budget phone, but has the specs, features, design and user experience of a high end smartphone. That makes it worth the hype.

OnePlus is a technology startup committed to bringing the best possible technology to users around the world. Created around the mantra Never Settle, OnePlus works towards creating beautifully designed devices with premium build quality. To know more on the Success Story and the Strategy of this company, read this interview. OnePlus One is the first smartphone from this start-up.

This write-up concentrates on 6 key impact areas.

Price and Availability:

This device is priced at 299 USD for a 16GB version and a 349 USD for a 64 GB one. This 50 USD difference between the models is totally justified, considering that, players like Apple have a whooping 200 USD difference between the 16 and 64 GB versions of iPhone. This device is not available in India at this moment; and if you manage to get an invite, you can use various services which are available to shop and ship the goods from the US.

On the price, the phone gets a 10 out of 10. The only problem I see here, is the accessibility to buy the phone, let’s talk about that in a while. Alright, Lets have a closer look.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

First thing, the phone is very handy; though it has a 5.5 inch screen, it does feel comfortable working on it. Thanks to the excellent placement of the volume rocker and the power buttons. This makes it even more accessible with one hand.  The sandstone black also gives you a great finish, and most importantly, it doesn’t slip off your hands easily. It has a 5.5 inch full HD display; with a pixel density of 401 powered by a snapdragon processor clocked at 2.5 Ghz, 3 GB of RAM and a 64GB of internal storage. This is not expandable, because it does not have an external SD card. Considering that even Google doesn’t recommended external storage for applications on Android, having a good internal storage is a boon.

It also has a 5MP front facing camera for a 1080p video and a 13MP camera on the back which gives you options to shoot videos at 4K resolution. At the bottom, we have two speakers, they are not stereo; but does give great sound. Three microphones for some great sound recording. A dual LED flash for extra brightness.

On the top you would see a proximity and an ambience light sensor along with an LED notifier next to the camera. You will also notice the flush earpiece, which the OnePlus team spoke about in their keynote on how dust resistant it is; because, it doesn’t stick out or stick in like other phones.

There is a nice metal bezel which surrounds the glass and it gives you a feel of a floating glass and a robust design. Towards the bottom, there are these soft key controls; but you can also choose to turn them off and enable the on-screen menu controls if you like.

I would’ve really wished if the IR blaster was a part of the hardware too. This would’ve helped me install remotes to control my TV and other devices at home.

In the specs department, the phone gets a 9 out of 10. If you are very keen about the Antutu Benchmark scores, you can have a look here on how this device outperforms some of the flagship devices.

Software, User Experience:

This phone is powered by Cynogen, running CM11S running Android 4.4.4. There were some of the bugs in this OTA update which just came in few days ago; However, a quick update was released yesterday, which even fixed this. On one of the threads in the official forum, the company had confirmed that, within 60 days of the public release of Google Android L, the One Plus One will recieve its update.

oneplus-gestureThe phone gives you some nice Gesture or rather Touch Controls while the phone is locked. For example, You can double tap it to wake up the phone; and tap again in the notification area to lock. You can also draw a circle to start the default camera app; draw a V for the flash and you have some music controls as well, by drawing a pause symbol and angular brackets for changing tracks.

appdrawerIf you take a look at the home-screen, it pretty much feels like your stock android. However, with CM, you get a ton more options to customize your phone. For example, you can move your app-drawer icon, and when you click the menu options here, you have variety of scroll effect options.  If you like to move your app-drawer icon, you can do that as well. See this example (on the left), where I have moved the app drawer icon to further right for easy one hand operations.

You can sort the applications based on the launch count or the most used apps and install time. Of-course, you also get options here to customize your wallpapers, widgets etc. If you prefer an onscreen menu controls, you can customise the same to Enable On-screen Nav bar. It does take away some space. If you like more area for your apps and reading purposes; press and hold the power button, you have an option called Expanded desktop which fills up the screen.

You further get hundreds of themes which are CM ready and are available to download. Some of them are free; and these themes give you options to modify icons, text, wallpapers, notifications, alarms as well.

themes

If you look at the app drawer, you get some of the Google Apps loaded on the phone, and of-course you can always download them from the Playstore. The torch app is handy, you also have a notification control when the light is on. I personally love this app which comes pre-loaded with the phone, called Screencast. This basically records the screen on what you are working right now. This is pretty slick if you want to include your app demo videos, how-to videos or even record a video to file a bug while you are testing an application. It also records the audio and the video. See a sample video here.

The gallery app is very impressive. It is divided by moments, which is sorted on the day. You have albums basically structured by the folders; and the media option to look through all your photos and videos. You can also add additional photo source. Be it your Facebook Albums, Google+, Flickr or even your pictures stored on Dropbox. This is a indeed a cool addition. You also get a file manager to quickly scan through the contents on your device.

The quick notifications and settings panel is very slick too. Give you options to customise, add more tiles and even reach out to your quick favourite settings. I also love the “quiet hours” option here. Its similar to the Do not disturb feature, where you setup a schedule so that the ring-tones, notification alerts don’t disturb you while sleep! You also have options to adjust different profiles for various places you go. You can also add additional profiles. If you observe in the bottom of the screen here, you do have an option to create custom triggers; It can be your office wifi network, a bluetooth or even an NFC Tag.

UX

runningappsWhen you tap and hold onto the menu button, it brings the list of running apps; you can basically swipe it to close the app; or even clear all at one touch.

In the User Experience department, I would definitely rate the phone a 10 on 10.

Camera.

The front camera gives you options to shoot great pictures and also HD videos. The rear 13MP lens is fantastic. The colour reproduction is brilliant and the contrast is also tad sharp. However, there is no built-in optical stabilisation; this can sometime result in shaky pictures in low-light scenarios. The phone also gives you some smart scene modes for easy access. At the same time, gives you some advanced camera controls as well. You do not need to be a pro to use it; you just need to get some basics like the Focus mode, the shutter speed and the Exposure controls.

In the camera department, the phone gets a 8 out of 10.

Here are some sample pictures and videos clicked using a OnePlus One.

Sample 4K video. (for best results, change the video resolution and watch it on a 4K monitor or a retina Display screen.)

Sample 1080p video

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

Great Hardware, Premium feel, beautiful and clean stock like experience with advanced options for customisations, 64 GB of space, great battery life and the price of 349 USD are the positives of the device.

If you are in India, and based out of Bangalore, Airtel 4G (LTE) does work on this phone; the band is supported. That’s a huge Pro considering we have very very few devices which supports the bands in India. This would eventually change; but as of now, this is an awesome sweet deal.

Talking about cons, the only thing which I can probably raise a question is on the model of sales. You need to have an invite to buy a phone as of now. Once you claim your invite, you have to buy the phone in the next 24 hours.  Each person who buys the phone, further gets an option to invite 3 people. Again, not everyone who has bought this phone has an option to invite. They are distributing the invites in the chronological order and considering the number of sales, one may have to wait for a while before seeing the invites reflect in their account to share. I don’t see a huge problem in this model now; but yes, I did have a challenge when I didn’t own this device. Also, when you look at various Facebook groups and OnePlus Forums, the number of people showing their desperation for an invite is really high. If you do not mind spending a little more cash, you can buy this phone from oppomart or from eBay; however, I haven’t seen any official note from the company on this.

Support can be a huge concern at this moment. If you plan to import the device from the US and use it in other countries, you will have to ship the phone to the US, If there is any hardware issue on the phone. That can be a challenge. I have been hearing some rumours of an official release of the phone in a month for India; but again, no official reports as of now. Once they release, the support model can be simple. Again, not sure, if they would consider the devices bought outside India for warranty and service.

Similar to Xiaomi, OnePlus has a strategy of marketing through existing buyers and social media, rather than investing huge bucks on media advertisements or finding retailers. That helps them offer a great phone at a reasonable price. Nevertheless, its a fantastic phone. If you get a chance to buy it, there is no reason why you should be thinking twice before ordering the same.

Summing up, this device scores a great 9 out of 10. Whether you are in a budget or not, this is one great device which I would recommend anyone who is looking at buying a smartphone. A fantastic piece of design. Hopefully this review would’ve helped you in making a decision about this phone. Do let me know your thoughts and questions if any.