OnePlus X review: A great-value £199 smartphone

£199
Price when reviewed

OnePlus X: Features

In far more exciting news, the OnePlus X has a microSD slot. Pop out the tray and you can install a microSD card and a single SIM or opt for dual SIMs, which is handy. The USB-C connector from the OnePlus 2 has gone, though; it has been replaced by a bog-standard microUSB connector with two speaker holes on either side. Wireless support is a bit underwhelming, with single-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4 and no sign of NFC.

OnePlus X review: A great-value £199 smartphone

I’m a big fan of the hardware notifications slider on the OnePlus X, too. This little three-position switch falls nicely under the index finger (or thumb, if you’re left-handed) and quickly toggles notifications between all, priority only and off – as I regularly use the mute button on my iPhone 6 Plus, it’s something I often miss on Android phones. 

The OnePlus X doesn’t disappoint on the camera front – at least on paper. There’s a 13-megapixel snapper at the rear, and a generous 8-megapixel sensor at the front. Super-detailed selfies ahoy! I’ll get in to the details later, but they’re both okay – nowhere near the standards of the new iPhones or Google Nexus handsets, but decent enough.

oneplus_x_3

OnePlus X: Display

OnePlus has equipped the X with a 5in, Full HD AMOLED screen. It’s sharp in all the right ways, and the AMOLED technology means that images and icons glow with intense, saturated colours. It’s not quite as over-the-top as some AMOLED displays I’ve seen, but if you’re not a fan of the technology then this won’t change your mind – it’s as though the colours have been cranked to 11.

It doesn’t go that bright (it tops out at a modest 328cd/m², which is some way short of the best phones), but the AMOLED technology serves up deep, inky blacks that mean images really pop off the screen. The only downside? Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Edge and Galaxy Note phones, there are no display presets to calibrate the screen, so you’re stuck with the oversaturated, overblown colours whether you like it or not. And, despite the panel covering 100% of both the sRGB and Adobe RGB gamuts, it’s not especially accurate – reds are a little too red, greens too green and so on.

OnePlus X: Oxygen OS, performance and battery life

One of the most refreshing things about OnePlus’s phones is the Oxygen OS, which does very little to stock Android Lollipop. The main thing you’ll notice is that the default Dark theme swaps all the background menu colours from white to black to save energy – the AMOLED screen’s pixels actually switch off completely when displaying black, so this is sensible. I found it much easier on the eyes, too. Don’t like it? Turn it off.

Swipe right from the homescreen and the Shelf pops up. This displays frequently used apps and contacts – it’s moderately useful, but I wasn’t too bothered by it. Don’t like it? You know what to do.

Oxygen OS also add a few gestures to the mix: for instance, you can double tap the screen to wake the phone; open the camera by drawing an O onscreen; toggle the flashlight on and off by drawing a V; and play and skip through music with a handful of other gestures. Don’t like the idea? Not a problem. You can disable gestures one by one, or turn them all off in the menu.

oneplus_x_1

Really, though, there’s precious little to moan about. This is lovely, largely unfettered Android Lollipop. My everyday phone is an Apple iPhone 6 Plus, but the OnePlus X reminded me why I still have a place in my heart for Android. No annoying apps are preinstalled, everything is clear and laid out logically and I absolutely love the swipe-to-type keyboard – it’s superb. Ah, Android, how I’ve missed you.

Benchmarks

Nexus 5X

OnePlus 2

OnePlus X

Geekbench 3.1 single-core

1,235

1,206

929

Geekbench 3.1 multi-core

3,489

4,508

2,459

GFXBench 3 Manhattan onscreen

16fps

23fps

10fps

GFXBench 3 Manhattan offscreen

16fps

23fps

8.6fps

I experienced the odd stutter here and there, which is down to the fact OnePlus has employed 2014’s smartphone hardware of choice, the trusty Qualcomm SnapDragon 801. With four cores running at 2.3GHz, 3GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU and 16GB of eMMC storage, the OnePlus X is capable enough not to prove a nuisance in everyday use, but – as you can see from the benchmarks above – it’s not up to the standards of the latest smartphone chipsets in terms of silky-smooth performance.

oneplus_x_2

There was also the odd occasion when adjusting the volume during gaming sent the OnePlus X into a tailspin – I tried to lower the volume while playing the surprisingly demanding Hearthstone, and it juddered to a halt for a few seconds. Given that three software updates arrived during my time with the phone, I suspect there may be software gremlins at work. Oh, one more thing: the OnePlus X has a tendency to become pretty warm: get immersed in a game and the glass back becomes noticeably toasty to the touch.

So, battery life. Here, the OnePlus X’s 2,525mAh battery doesn’t throw up any surprises. In Airplane mode, the OnePlus X played our test movie on repeat for 13 hours 6 minutes. That’s 15 minutes less than the similarly sized Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, but a couple of hours longer than the larger, more powerful OnePlus 2. How does this translate to everyday usage? Well, expect to be charging the OnePlus X every night. Spend too long playing games, streaming audio over Bluetooth or hammering the GPS and you’ll find yourself running low before the evening is out.

OnePlus X specifications

ProcessorQuad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
RAM3GB
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1,920x1,080
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera8 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
FlashLED
Storage16GB (11.4GB usable)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
NFCNo
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size69 x 6.9 x 140mm (WDH)
Weight138g
Operating systemOxygen OS (Android 5.1.1)
Battery size2,525mAh

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