OnePlus 2 review: A great phone that will be sorely missed
The story of OnePlus is a heartening one in the cut-throat world of the smartphone. Over the past few years, when even big names such as Sony and HTC have struggled in the battle against Samsung and Apple, the success of the OnePlus One represents a beacon of hope in a market increasingly dominated by two global behemoths.
Time marches on, though, and what was once an incredible bargain is now…well…no more. Unless you’re looking to buy a OnePlus 2 second-hand, you’ll find it hard to get hold of this handset. Instead, check out the OnePlus 3T or its precursor, the OnePlus 3. Our original review for the OnePlus 2 continues below.
OnePlus 2 review: Design
OnePlus has certainly nailed the first part of its “flagship killer” promise. The 64GB model of the OnePlus now costs £249 inc VAT (the 16GB version is no longer on sale). Yet, somehow, it retains the tasteful design and high-end specification you’d expect of a far pricier phone.
Pick it up and it feels weighty and expensive. The buttons have a solid click to them; the magnesium-alloy frame doesn’t creak or bend when you twist it; and the finishes all feel impressively luxurious. I was sent the Sandstone Black version, which has a rough texture that I really like, but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy you can specify a different finish (the rear panel is replaceable).
There are four different finishes available: three in natural wood – Bamboo, Rosewood and Black Apricot – and one in Kevlar.
Below the touchscreen sits an inset, non-mechanical home button, flanked by capacitive shortcut keys, for Android’s back and recent apps functions. The only unusual feature from a design point of view is the three-way toggle switch on the phone’s left hand edge.
Just like the mute switch on an iPhone, it gives you a quick, easy way of silencing the phone, eliminating in one fell swoop all the irritations associated with Android’s Do Not Disturb mode. With the switch set to its bottom position, all notifications are turned on; the middle position selects the Priority interruptions mode; and pushing the switch to the top puts the phone into Alarms only mode.
The important thing about the design of the OnePlus 2, though – and this is critical – is that if you were handed a OnePlus 2 knowing nothing about it at all, and were asked how much it cost, your estimate would probably be a lot higher than the asking price.
OnePlus 2 review: Specifications and features
The specifications do little to dispel the notion that the OnePlus 2 is anything but a flagship handset. It has a 13-megapixel camera, equipped with laser-assisted autofocus – that’s normally a feature associated with £500+ smartphones, not mid-rangers at sub-£300.
It has the latest version of Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor (810 v2.1), developed specially for the OnePlus 2, and this is backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a 5.5in 1080p IPS display, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a large 3,300mAh battery, a fingerprint reader built into the home button that works incredibly well, and a USB Type-C connector for charging and data synchronisation. The main benefit of the latter is that it’s more robust than the older micro-USB type, and reversible, so there’s no danger you’ll force it in the wrong way and break the socket. The downside is that, initially at least, the cable supplied in the box is likely to be the only Type-C cable you own, so you’ll need to take it with you wherever you go.
With all that taken into account, it’s easy to see why OnePlus’ invitation system was initially inundated by people desperate to get their hands on a OnePlus 2. It’s quite simply a stunning specification for the money. The cheapest, 16GB model is no longer available, but now that the 64GB is available for barely any more, it’s a stupendous bargain.
There are some things missing from the OnePlus 2’s line-up of features. It isn’t water resistant, it has no microSD slot and the battery isn’t user-removable. Then again, the Samsung Galaxy S6 has neither of those things, and costs twice as much.
Perhaps a bigger miss, however, is the lack of NFC. That means, despite the fingerprint reader, that there’s no prospect of being able to use the phone to tap and pay for a journey on the London Underground, or for goods via a contactless terminal in a shop when Android Pay finally touches down.
OnePlus 2 review: Display
For many potential buyers, such a specification will be enough to get them to empty their wallets in short order, especially since the design is so exceptional. But is the rest of the phone up to scratch?
The display doesn’t make the best first impression. Its colours are a touch pale for my liking and it lacks vibrancy compared with the best smartphone screens I’ve seen. In testing, it reached a maximum brightness of 415cd/m² and covered only 88% of the sRGB colour space, which explains that lacklustre appearance. However, for most purposes, the OnePlus 2’s display is perfectly acceptable. It may not match the Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhones from a technical standpoint, but it’s just about readable in bright sunlight, and there’s nothing critically wrong with it.
Even the apparently low 1080p resolution isn’t a problem. Despite the fact that most flagships released in 2015 have had pumped-up, quad-HD displays, you simply don’t need that many pixels in everyday use. Indeed, the only point at which most people are going to be able to tell the difference is under a magnifying glass, or if the phone is being used as a screen in a VR headset.
OnePlus 2 specifications
|1.8GHz/1.6GHz Octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 810|
1,080 x 1,920, 401ppi (Gorilla Glass 4)
13MP (laser autofocus, OIS)
Memory card slot (supplied)
4G, Cat9 and Cat6 (up to 450Mbits/sec download)
75.8 x 6.9 x 154.4mm
Android 5.1 Lollipop with Oxygen UI
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