Wednesday, 23 April 2014

OnePlus One initial impressions

Image: Google+
There was a lot of hype leading up to the launch of the OnePlus One. Like seriously, a lot of hype. So much so that people were beginning to get annoyed with OnePlus, who were actively mocking existing flagships while they themselves didn't have anything at the time to show. Their "Never Settle" campaign pointed towards a device that would please everyone, spec heads, Android purists, people on a budget and whoever else. A phone that would be second to none. A phone that no one would settle for, but a phone that people would actually want. But as is the case with every flagship, no phone is perfect. There will always be some criteria that a phone fails to fulfil for certain individuals. But if you ask me, the OnePlus One ticks more boxes than any other current flagship in the market.


The good

Software
If you follow me on Google+, you'll know that I value software over hardware. Not saying hardware isn't important, it is. But I feel like software is more vital to the user experience than hardware. Which is why I think CM 11s on the OnePlus One is a great feature. I'm a fan of stock Android. But I'll easily acknowledge its shortcomings. Which is why I use Xposed Framework with GravityBox to "fix" those shortcomings. CM is possibly the most popular custom ROM on Android, and with an optimised version specific for the OnePlus One, users will be able to experience the best of stock Android, with some very useful enhancements as well, like a built-in theme engine, gesture controls, app privacy guard, and much more. If CM can deliver quick updates (which they should be able to), the software on the OnePlus One will be amazing.
With CM 11s, nobody should worry about the software. Image: YouTube
Specs (specifically storage space)
I did say I value software more, but that doesn't mean we should overlook the hardware completely. While most of the specs are pretty standard for a 2014 flagship, I'm really excited about the 64GB storage option. Most people seem to think that the battle for storage space is merely between SD cards and cloud storage. Everyone seems to forget the third option, which is actually the most sensible option, internal storage. When most flagships come in just 16/32GB models, the OnePlus One comes with either 16GB or 64GB storage. No need for SD cards when you have 64GB storage which can easily be supplemented with the cloud. 

Capacitive and on-screen buttons
One of the many wars that happen within the Android community is the hardware vs capacitive vs on-screen buttons war. The OnePlus One is the first (to my knowledge) to offer two types of buttons right out of the box. This is just awesome. Some people might like capacitive buttons so they can enjoy all of the FHD display, others might prefer the added functionality and flexibility that comes with on-screen buttons. The OnePlus One can provide for both types of people.
Capacitive and on-screen buttons. Image: YouTube
Price
The price. Oh My God the price. Nexus devices are enamoured for their price. Motorola learned from Google's Nexus line and made their Moto X more affordable, and following up with the amazingly affordable Moto G. At $299 for the 16GB model and just $349 for 64GB, the OnePlus One is an even better deal than the Nexus 5. Great specs, great software, great price. Motorola and OnePlus are making a mockery of $600 flagships from the other OEMs. Remember what Motorola said about the end of $600 smartphones? It's happening.
Crazy prices. Image: GSM Arena
The bad

Availability
Or should I say, lack of availability. OnePlus said that the majority of smartphone launches are a "frustrating experience". Which is true. Most launches are plagued with inventory shortages and shipping delays. But the way OnePlus decided to "solve" this problem is kinda weird. Certain people will be invited to buy the phone. That's right. You want the phone? OnePlus will have to invite you to buy it. A bit of a douchebag move if you ask me. Rather than give everyone an equal chance to endure the "frustrating experience", OnePlus will select who can buy the device. You can read more details here but needless to say, many people are upset about this. 

Size
I've made it a point in both my Xperia Z2 and One (M8) initial impression posts that I don't like big phones. I was never a fan of the Note series, and phones like the Z Ultra and Oppo N1 never appealed to me. As amazing as the device is, it's just too big for my personal preference. But if you like big phones, this won't be a problem for you.
Too big for me. Image: PhoneArena
Price?
There's a question mark there for a reason. While the price is amazing for the phone you're getting, you have to wonder how OnePlus can pull this off. Google have other revenue streams which allows Nexus devices to be sold as affordable as they are. Motorola's Moto X and Moto G make some sacrifices on the specs sheet which can explain their affordable prices. But the OnePlus One? How can it be so affordable? It'll be interesting to see how OnePlus stay in business, because if you don't make a profit, well, it's not much of a business is it?

One amazing reaction to the OnePlus One I've seen is how people think this is the "end" of the Nexus line. If anything, this phone is a great example of how the Nexus line acts as a reference device for the rest of the industry. Nexus devices are known for offering flagship specs and a great user experience at an affordable price. If you ask me, OnePlus did an amazing job at following the Nexus line and in doing so, just put other OEMs (except Motorola) and their overpriced flagships to shame. The OnePlus One isn't a Nexus killer, it's a product of the Nexus philosophy. Flagship specs, stock Android with just a little flair thrown in, at a price everyone can afford. Nexus users won't hate this device. They'll welcome it.