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OnePlus One Review Hands-On

By Simon Thomas on 12th May 2014


3G Total Score
Pros: Cons:
+ Excellent value - Plastic construction
+ Very powerful - No microSD card slot
+ Great screen  

Verdict: 

"The OnePlus One is far and away the best value smartphone available, with flagship specs and a mid-range price tag."

Full Review and Specification for the OnePlus One

 OnePlus One Photo 1

The OnePlus One could really shake things up. If you can get past the silly name this is a top end phone with a mid-range price tag of just £229. That alone makes it enormously compelling and risks rendering many other handsets redundant.

So does it live up to the promise or is it too good to be true? Read on to find out.

Design

OnePlus One Design

One of the few areas where the OnePlus One doesn’t excel is its design. That’s not to say that it’s poorly built, far from it in fact as it feels solid and well made. However unlike most flagships it’s plastic through and through and has none of the water and dust resistant properties found on the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5.

In its defence though not only is it priced way below those handsets but there will also soon be a selection of back covers to replace the standard one with and some of these are a bit more interesting, for example a bamboo one. They’ll give it a more premium appearance, allowing you to differentiate your handset and work as a handy replacement if you damage the back, making a case less necessary, it’s just a shame it ships with such a bland cover.

Display

 OnePlus One Display

The OnePlus One’s 5.5 inch screen is a touch on the large size. It’s verging on phablet territory and we can’t help but think that as OnePlus’s only phone it could have reached a larger market by being a little smaller.

Still, for some people it will be the ideal size and there’s no arguing with its quality. It’s a 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch, putting it right up there with other flagships. Colours aren’t as rich as they could be but the screen is clear and sharp.

Supersized specs

The specs are perhaps the most impressive thing about the OnePlus One as with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM it is, at least on paper, the most powerful smartphone on the planet. That would be impressive even if it cost twice what it does, but considering you can pick it up for just £229 it almost seems too good to be true.

Yet its real world performance seems every bit as good as we’d expect from those specs. It’s incredibly fast and powerful with not even a hint of slowdown at any time.

Of course it comes with 4G too, so web browsing is blazing fast as well whether at home or out and about.

Camera

OnePlus One Camera

The OnePlus One has a 13 megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash. It’s a decent attempt and it can take some good pictures but we’re not sure it’s quite up to the standards of the Sony Xperia Z2 or Samsung Galaxy S5’s cameras. It’s not far off though which again is pretty amazing given the price of the phone and there’s even a 5 megapixel camera on the front so this is a good phone for selfies and video calls.

Speaking of video, it can shoot 2160p video at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps, making it one of the better smartphone video cameras around.

Interface

The OnePlus One runs Android 4.4.2, but interestingly it’s overlaid with Cyanogenmod 11S. At first glance it’s a lot like stock Android but it’s far more flexible. For example you can change or hide the battery icon, move the app drawer, get quick access to the apps of your choice from the lockscreen and more.

It can be as simple and intuitive as stock Android or as powerful and versatile as anyone is likely to want and as a result it’s one of the best interfaces we’ve come across.

It also takes a leaf from LG’s book by letting you wake up the handset with a double tap or put it to sleep by tapping the notification bar, saving you from ever having to press the power button.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

The OnePlus One has a 3100 mAh battery which is sizeable enough to provide decent life, especially given that the phone uses the power efficient Snapdragon 801 processor. We wouldn’t say it’s any better than the competition but it’s certainly above average, easily lasting a day and conceivably stretching to two.

The phone comes with a choice of 16 or 64GB of storage. Unfortunately there’s no microSD card slot but if you opt for the 64GB model (which is only £269) that shouldn’t be a problem. 

It supports Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC, so all it’s really lacking is infrared.

One important thing to note in Europe is that the OnePlus One lacks support for LTE Band 200 (800MHz), which means it won't be able to connect to O2 or Vodafone 4G, and it'll also limit 4G availibity and speeds on Three.  

Early thoughts

The OnePlus One sounded too good to be true but so far it seems to be living up to its billing. We can’t quite get our heads round how it’s so cheap because, aside from the plastic build, it’s a top flight phone in every sense, with amazing specs, a great screen, a good camera, solid battery life and a powerful yet intuitive interface.

There’s almost nothing bad to say about it, with the aforementioned plastic build and the lack of a microSD card slot being the only real issues. It lacks some of the bells and whistles found on other flagships- there’s no fingerprint scanner or waterproofing in sight for example, but with a starting price of just £229 you can hardly complain.

It’s such good value in fact that for our early verdict we can’t give it any less than four and a half stars. Whether the cracks will start to show when it comes round for a full review remains to be seen, but for now we’re mighty impressed with the OnePlus One.

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OnePlus One Review Scoring

  • Style and Handling
  • User Friendliness
  • Feature set
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Overall Score

OnePlus One Phone Specification

Dimensions : 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm

Weight: 162 grams
Screen size: 5.5” FHD IPS LCD (1920 x 1080)
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 display resolution
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 401
Processor: 2.5GHz Quad core application processor
RAM: 3 GB
On-board Memory: 16 / 64GB
Camera: 13MP (rear) 2160p@30fps 1080p@60fps (5 megapixel front-facing)
Operating system: Android 4.4.2 (Cyanogenmod 11S)
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes
Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes
Battery capacity: 3100mAh
Colours: Silk White, Sandstone Black.
Launch Date: June 2014
Price: £229

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