Does OnePlus 2 live up to 'flagship killer' claim?
LAST year, Chinese phone maker OnePlus made a name for itself with its high-performance and low-price OnePlus One handset, a flagship-level device sold at a mid-range level price. But it was frustrating to get one, thanks to OnePlus' "invite only" buying system.
OnePlus is back, proclaiming its latest 5.5-inch OnePlus 2 smartphone as the "2016 Flagship Killer".
Priced at $598 for the 64GB model and scheduled for release in the fourth quarter (a 16GB version will be available later), the OnePlus 2 boasts a new premium design, a fingerprint scanner, Qualcomm's latest flagship octa-core processor and an improved rear camera with optical image stabilisation.
But will it really be the "killer" of next year's flagship phones?
Unlike the mostly plastic OnePlus One, the 2 boasts a frame made from a magnesium/aluminum alloy. It looks and feels a lot more premium than last year's model. But it is about 1mm thicker and at 175g, it's also 13g heavier.
The phone's rear has a high-friction finish which makes it easy to grip.
Just below the display, the home button doubles as a fingerprint scanner, so you can use your fingerprint to unlock the phone. You can have five prints on record.
It also uses the new USB Type-C reversible port.
Like many China-made phones, the OnePlus 2 has two nano-SIM card slots that are 4G LTE compatible.
But there's no microSD slot anywhere on the phone to expand its built-in 64GB of storage.
The OnePlus 2 has a 5.5-inch full high-definition 1,080p in-plane switching LCD display, giving it a screen pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. That's not as good as those for the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. But you'll be hard-pressed to see any difference in clarity between the devices.
Colour reproduction is vibrant and bright, although, as expected with an LCD display, contrast is not as good as an Amoled display.
The OnePlus 2 runs on the firm's own OxygenOS, which is based on the Android Lollipop 5.1 operating system. Still, the OxygenOS is similar to stock Android, and takes almost no time to get used to.
You do get a few custom additions, such as double-tapping to wake the phone up, customisable app icons and gesture drawing on the screen to quickly launch the camera or flashlight when the phone is asleep.
The OnePlus 2 also has a handy feature to control app permissions for those concerned about privacy.
The OnePlus 2 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor and has 4GB RAM (the 16GB version only has 3GB RAM).
The OnePlus 2 was pleasant to use for browsing and, with a smooth Internet connection, it was an enjoyable experience with fast load times.
For a test on a device's central processing unit, memory, data transfer and graphics performance, the OnePlus 2 did better than the G Flex 2 and Mi Note, but was behind the Samsung handsets. For regular use, the OnePlus 2 chugged along fluidly with no signs of lag.
In a test of an Android gadget's graphics processing unit, the phone was comparable to the Galaxy S6 Edge and Mi Note but was slightly behind the G Flex 2 and Note 5.
The OnePlus 2 uses a camera module with an f/2.0 aperture and a 13MP sensor that has a 1.3-micron pixel size. The sensor is 1/2.6-inch - effectively 35 per cent larger than typical 13MP sensors which sit at around 1/3.06-inch.
The camera is acceptable in terms of its picture quality. Images produced are clear for a 13MP camera, and most colours are pretty accurate except for an issue where the OnePlus 2 seems to struggle around brightly lit subjects and mostly white objects.
Images captured are also not as sharp or vibrant as those on other flagship phones. Even with a bigger-than-average sensor, the OnePlus 2 has problems dealing with contrast.
Under our standard battery test for mobile phones, the OnePlus 2 lasted 660 minutes, better than the Mi Note's 627 minutes, but behind the S6 Edge's 910 minutes and the Note 5's 890 minutes.
At $598, the OnePlus 2 can't be beaten on value. For producing a device that is nearly half the price of many flagship smartphones, OnePlus is certain to make some enemies for "spoiling the market".
But for all of OnePlus' bluster about being the "2016 flagship killer", its only killer feature is its price point. Other than that, it's just another high-powered smartphone and there's really nothing else that sets it apart.
One issue is getting the device. It is available only with an invite code from OnePlus. The good news is that OnePlus said there will be up to 50 times the number of invites compared with last year.
One way to get an invite is to monitor OnePlus' social media sites for contests. Another way is to get on the invite reservation list here: http://bit.ly/1NXXrYP. But there's a queue with over 4.7 million people. You can also get invites from people who bought the phone, or from attending a OnePlus event.
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