The OnePlus One is sort of a rare Pok©mon if you will; pretty readily available in its home country of China but not quite as easy to get a hold of in other parts of the world. While this has been remedied over time with the addition of tons of different contests and events to give away invites to purchase the phone, it's still not something that you can buy the moment you want to if you want the international model. One of the coolest features of the OnePlus One when it was first announced. was the ability to switch out the backplate with a number of different materials and colors. This was aptly called Style Swap and ultimately the additional colors and materials got canceled except for the Sandstone Black and Silk White versions.
The only other one made was the Bamboo Style Swap cover, which initially was only available to a few hundred individuals lucky enough to score an invite. In my interview with Carl Pei, the co-founder and director of global OnePlus, he dropped the bomb on me that they had not only tried again to manufacture the Bamboo backs, but this time around had quite a few thousand instead of a few hundred. Thankfully I was able to get one of these bad boys myself and I'm here today to give you a little review of the back itself and the process of getting it on the phone.
For starters, one of the reasons OnePlus said they canceled the Style Swap program was because of general difficulties concerning the process of removing the old cover and putting the new one on. While manufacturers like Samsung just make a simple back plate that removes with tabs, OnePlus sealed the device much more thoroughly, but this also means it's not as easy to remove. We will have a how-to guide on the best way to remove this soon, but in the mean time know that you need patience, and while all the necessary tools are included in the cover box it's not for the impatient.
Now to the Bamboo cover itself. This thing is truly a wonder of engineering in that it is actual Bamboo, not plastic printed or painted with a Bamboo design, and as such feels ultra high quality. The looks of the cover are particularly fantastic because no two covers are exactly alike, given that it's real wood grain. This lends a uniqueness to an already unique phone, making the Bamboo backed OnePlus One the rarest Pok©mon of all. The biggest problem here is that since it's glossy wood it's no less slippery than plastic or metal would be, so if you've had a phone with a glossy plastic back or one made entirely out of metal you know how difficult this can be to hold in certain situations. The Sandstone Black back is obviously the best one to use for maximum grip, but the Bamboo cover definitely eschews a more beautiful aesthetic. For an easy reference, it essentially feels like having a wood floor on the back of your phone.
The real question here is whether or not it's worth the $50 entry cost or $20 more than either of the other two styles available for the phone. That's certainly up to a number of factors, including whether or not you want your phone to look like wood, and of course if you can land an invite to buy the thing in the first place. There are some definite positives here in that the phone looks absolutely stunning with the back on, but it loses a significant amount of grip when compared to the sandstone black back that mine originally came with. While I won't be switching them out day to day to fit my style I can definitely see myself going back and forth every now and then, but Bamboo is here to stay for most of the year. For those wondering how to get hold of one for their OnePlus One, we're working with OnePlus to get the best way to do that, but as always head over to their forums and keep an eye out for any invite giveaways.