When buying a new phone it can be a truly daunting task to pick between all the manufacturers and models of phone out there. Do you want a big phone, a small phone or something inbetween? Do you want an active stylus or does that not matter to you? How good does the camera need to be, or how high resolution does the screen need to be? Sometimes it's just easier to look at the top features of a phone, so we've put together a list of what we think are the top features of one of the newest phones on the market, the OnePlus One.
Price vs. Specs
When considering a new phone you may be buying on on contract, but many people nowadays buy them outright or on a payment plan. Most phones, especially top of the line ones, end up costing over $600 once you've finished all those payments, and there's not even a discount for paying for the phone outright either. This is a lot of money for most people to spend at the drop of a hat, so what if I were to tell you that you could get a top-of-the-line phone for half the price of the rest on the market? While this concept isn't new by itself, as Google started doing this with the Nexus 4 and continued it with the Nexus 5 and its tablet lineup, there was always something it skimped on. This isn't the case with the OnePlus One, which is every bit as well specced as the Galaxy S5 and other competing Android phones, and only costs $350 for the 64GB model. That's way more storage than anyone else offers, especially for the price, and the rest of the device speaks for itself.
Most phones today are made of plastic. This isn't really anything new, phones have pretty much always been made of plastic, but Apple upped the ante when the iPhone 4 came out. Then the job of providing a better smartphone experience by making the phone feel super premium came into the spotlight and people wanted more out of their phones once again. While some manufacturers, Like Samsung, swear by plastic and only change out the material of the backplate to give a more premium feel to the device, other manufacturers like HTC are making most of the phone out of aluminum, changing the way people think of a premium phone. OnePlus has made the One with a mix of materials, and at least for the Sandstone Black version the back feels like a pumice stone or another porous, rough stone. This gives an incredibly premium feel in the hand and makes you never want to cover it with a case. Not only that but the weight and distribution of the weight of the phone is impeccable, making the phone feel even and light but not at all hollow as I thought the Note 3 felt. This is a top-notch build for a top-notch phone, there's no doubt about it. What'll be really interesting is when OnePlus finally releases those changeable backplates and seeing if they hold up to the quality of the current backplate.
The name CyanogenMod is probably familiar with any Android user that's ever even considered dabbling in modding their phone to any extent, and maybe even to those that haven't. Easily the most successful custom version of Android out there, CyanogenMod powers the phones of millions, but it requires a bit of work to get it working on your specific device, and even then there could be some serious game-breaking bugs if it isn't an officially supported phone. The OnePlus One comes with a custom version of CyanogenMod, CyanogenMod 11S, out of the box, and as such gives you more options than you're likely used to when dealing with a stock Android phone. Being able to customize everything from your quick tiles in the notification tray, to changing your navigation buttons below, creating quick shortcuts from the swipe up on the home button, and so much more, CyanogenMod brings a whole new experience to those used to the normally restrictive nature of big manufacturer's phones. There's even new tricks to this particular build of CyanogenMod like the ability to double tap to wake the device like the LG G series, and even gestures you can draw on the screen to launch apps while the screen is off. This build of Android is something special and very unique, and it doesn't take any modding to get since it's on the phone by default.
Theming and Customization
While this is sort of an extension of the last point it certainly deserves it's own special recognition. When you buy a Samsung phone you know what it's going to look like; Touchwiz hasn't changed much over the years, and as a result most Samsung phones generally look the same. This formula goes for HTC, Sony, LG and many others devices out there, and while the latest iteration of manufacturer's own Android skins are considerably prettier than previous efforts, what you see is generally what you get unless you can mod the phone yourself or have a great community that's willing to do it. The OnePlus One's version of CyanogenMod comes with a brand new theming engine that lets you theme the entirety of the phone out of the box without any modifications to the phone's operating system or software. Want to change the colors of the phone's navigation or notification bars, swap out the icons, font or other properties of the phone that just aren't normally possible? It's as easy as it gets and it's all packed right into the OnePlus One. CyanogenMod even has their own theme showcase that neatly and coherently organizes all the supported themes into one easy to find place and provides links directly to the Google Play Store listing for these themes. Simple click to apply and you're done. You can even swap out sections of themes with other themes, like the font from one theme and the color scheme from another. It's incredibly powerful and it's wholly unique to the OnePlus One out of the box.
Most smartphones released today seem to claim to have the best camera, but when we put that to the test they don't always stack up. There have been tons of different ways of going about taking better pictures, from increasing the lens size and count to increasing the pixel size and count, everyone has a different opinion on how to do it better. The OnePlus One uses Sony's newest sensor, the Exmor IMX214, which is actually a generation newer than even the one found in the LG G3, the Exmor IMX135. As such it boasts a number of different features that weren't available on last generation's sensor such as better, sharper HDR, more accurate colors, better lighting balance and so and and so forth. We've seen these claims of taking better pictures from other manufacturers and sometimes those claims live up to expectations and others don't. So far though I've been incredibly impressed with the OnePlus One and its camera, and it's definitely something special. From a new slow shutter mode to just taking great shots in seemingly any lighting condition, the OnePlus One's camera delivers on those claims of taking the best pictures possible.
Now that you've read about the top 5 features all there is to do is wait for an invite. Mass production is slated to start next month or August, but given the specs and the price of the OnePlus One vs. the competition we're not likely to see a significant improvement in competing phones by that point in time, meaning it'll be worth the wait to get the phone. We'll be publishing our full review this coming week, so stay peeled!