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OnePlus One review

Andrew Williams

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
OnePlus One

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Superb value
  • Plenty of power
  • Large, high-quality screen

Cons

  • Patchy 4G support in UK
  • Too-quiet call speaker

Key Features

  • 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD screen
  • Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz CPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • Android 4.4.2 with CyanogenMod
  • Manufacturer: OnePlus
  • Review Price: £229.00

Originally reviewed on 3 July 2014 - read the latest on its successor the OnePlus Two

What is the OnePlus One?

When the OnePlus One was first announced we were sceptical. How can a phone priced at £229/$350 really compete with the might of Samsung in the high-end phone arena? There was a lot of hype around it, in fact the OnePlus One is the most hyped phone from an unknown manufacturer ever. It wasn't that long ago that OnePlus didn't even exist as a company.

The good news is that you can have your cake and eat it. The OnePlus is a proper high-end smartphone that comes at a fraction of the price of the competition. Of course it's not perfect, no phone is, but it's hard to find another phone that offered as much bang-for-buck as the OnePlus One when it first launched. It's been out for over a year now though, and the price of it's key competitors – the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3 – have tumbled.

So is it still worth getting? The answer isn't the resounding yes it was last year. You can now get the similarly specced LG G3 for just a little more – and that won TrustedReviews Phone of the Year in 2014. You also need to consider the fact that it isn't compatible with some 4G networks in the UK. That makes it an instant no-go for many of you.

With those caveats in place, let's take a closer look...

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OnePlus One 2

OnePlus One – Design

The OnePlus One is actually significantly larger than some of the phones it's designed to compete with, like the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9. That's because the phone has a 5.5-inch screen – just like the iPhone 6 Plus that costs three times as much. We imagine OnePlus takes no small amount of glee in offering such a large screen at half the price of its 5-inch competitors.

Consequently, though, the OnePlus One does take a bit more getting used to than those phones. But it is way off the ridiculous size of supersize phones like the Nexus 6 and HTC One Max. You can still use it in one hand. It's just big.

One other way the OnePlus One manages to have a style all of its own is by using a very unusual rear finish. We used the black 64GB version and it has an oddly, deliberately rough soft-touch finish. It's like a cross between sandpaper and felt. That may sound terrible, but it's very tactile surface that makes the phone feel that bit more substantial than a lot of other phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S5. It almost feels like it's made of stone.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus One vs Oppo Find 7a

OnePlus One

The OnePlus One also comes in white, but only in its lesser 16GB storage edition. OnePlus plans to offer other back covers made of different materials, but don't hold your breath about these being easily available in the UK.

The back of the phone is removable, but it's not designed to be removed frequently, there's no hidden memory card slot and the battery is locked in place. You need a tool to get the back off too – it's just there to let people customise the phone if they really want to.

OnePlus is a Chinese company and China is famous for its phones that 'borrow' the designs of other better-known phones. But the OnePlus One successfully creates its own look and feel, and one that compares fairly well with all the other top-end phones we have here in the UK.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus One Problems: Is it too good to be true?

OnePlus One 12

The design is deliberately simple, too. A micro-SIM tray sits near-invisibly on the phone's side, and as the volume and power buttons are a similar colour to the OnePlus One's back, they're effectively hidden when viewed from any distance. Even the OnePlus logo is remarkably small – especially given that building a brand is OnePlus's number one priority at this point in its sub 1-year existence.

Clear design thought has gone into the OnePlus One. It's not as stunning as the HTC One M8, but for a first effort from a small company, it's quite the achievement.

OnePlus One – Dimensions

OnePlus One 21

This picture tells you a little more about quite how bit the OnePlus is. While the LG G3 has the same size screen, the OnePlus One is still significntly bigger as it doesn't have the super-slim screen surround of LG's latest.

The OneOlus One is 153mm tall, 76mm wide and 8.9mm thick. It is thin, but has a substantial footprint. Weight is no real issue, though.

As its core is made of lightweight magnesium, the OnePlus One weighs 162g. That's a very similar weight to the smaller HTC One M8.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phone Round-up

OnePlus One 5

OnePlus One – Connectivity

The hardware is a success story as long as you can handle that extra size. But there's a serious problem under the hood of the OnePlus One, and we think it is the number one problem with the phone.

What is the issue? 4G. The phone supports the 700, 1700, 2600, 2300, 2100 and 1800MHz bands. If this means nothing to you, don't worry – it's not what's there that matters.

The problem is that there's one missing band that's extremely important in the UK – 800Mhz, also known as band 20. Several networks here use this band, and as the OnePlus One doesn't support it, you can't get 4G on O2, Vodafone, GiffGaff, Tesco or Lycamobile. Three also relies on the 800MHz band for some of its 4G, so 4G signal on that network in certain areas may not be too hot.

That only leaves EE and Three, which use the 1800MHz band that's compatible with the OnePlus One. If you're on one of those networks, you're good to go (4G).

SEE ALSO: Best Mobile Phones 2015

OnePlus One 1

This is a serious issue, and is the best reason to leave this phone on the shelf. Why has OnePlus left such an important band out? Because it's not really an important band in other key territories.

An official statement on the OnePlus forums suggests the band was left out as it is only used to supply rural areas of the UK and other countries with 4G. Last time we checked, London wasn't all that rural. Still, let's not forget this is OnePlus's first go at a phone.

The one other missing connectivity bit is an IR blaster, which lets you use a phone as a universal remote for your TV, Blu-ray player and so on. Over the past couple of years we've mellowed from thinking this is pointless to kind-of useful, but we're yet to meet many people who have the feature and actually use it.

All the other high-end bells and whistles are here. NFC, ac-grade Wi-Fi and Cat4 4G are all in place in the One.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Edward

July 3, 2014, 8:03 am

One of your "cons" has nothing to do with the phone? And I don't see you mentioning the lack of 4G in the UK on the "cons" list for the galaxy S5 or iphone 5s? Honestly, if you can only think of one con just put that - no one is going to judge you for it! :)

chaosdefinesorder

July 3, 2014, 8:28 am

You've missed the point slightly. The con is not about the lack of 4G in the UK, it is that the OnePlus One is missing the 800MHz frequency band in its radio, which is one of the frequencies used for 4G in the UK. This means that even if there was a complete blanket 4G coverage in the UK then the OnePlus One could not use it on all carriers...

Edward

July 3, 2014, 8:33 am

Ah! That makes much more sense thanks... So, they're only producing a worldwide variant? Yeah... That's definitely a con. Which carrier has the affected band?

toboev

July 3, 2014, 8:40 am

Page 1
Section headed:
"OnePlus One – Connectivity"

Edward

July 3, 2014, 8:43 am

Yeah... I've been lazy and stupid. Apologies to all.

Alex Walsh

July 3, 2014, 8:48 am

Will it work on Three's 4G? Can't remember who they share masts with but was under the impression that the hardware on them was their own?

chaosdefinesorder

July 3, 2014, 8:54 am

Technically they all are; the 800MHz band is the one repurposed from analog TV and while it doesn't have as much bandwidth as the other frequencies, it has a far greater penetration and range. This means if you are in a larger town/city you shouldn't notice a problem, but if you're out in the country, you will have less success with 4G...

Laurent Lejeune

July 3, 2014, 9:05 am

I don't understand the logic behind this statement "Quite simply, it wouldn't be feasible for Samsung to make this phone this cheap."

One would think that the world's largest manufacturer of phones would be able to make the cheapest phone. If only due to the cheer volume they produce.

chaosdefinesorder

July 3, 2014, 9:10 am

It will work on Three's 1800MHz band 4G, but not the 800MHz band when that gets enabled later in the year. It is unclear whether they will switch off their 1800 when 800 is enabled or keep them both in parallel, though...

toboev

July 3, 2014, 9:11 am

The cheapest high-end phone you can buy?
Buy where? Do you still need an invitation? Other than eBay, who sells this phone?

chaosdefinesorder

July 3, 2014, 9:13 am

Simply put; profit and shareholders. A lot of the pure cost-to-produce vs. cost-to-consumer profit is lost on marketing expenses. The added problem for companies like Samsung is the shareholder expectations and their duty to provide a return-on-investment to them...

OnePlus doesn't have to worry about that so much, so can operate with significantly reduced margins.

At least that's how it appears from everything I have gleaned from various sources on the 'net

Monch Lopez

July 3, 2014, 10:31 am

Great! Where can I buy--oh, it's not widely available yet? Cool, where can I pre-order--oh, there's an invite system AND I have to register in a forum? Not to mention, I also have to do all sorts of PR gymnastics on social media just to improve my member standing and have a better shot of getting the privilege to snag the One? OK, I'm fine with--oh, the invite system hasn't been fully realized and there's still a lot of pending invites to be handed out because OP simply can't make the phone fast enough to keep up with the demand, but the company has no problem selling thousands of phones to the Chinese market and online retailers who sell the One with a huge markup?

aksolanki

July 3, 2014, 1:45 pm

One has to be 'invited' to spend money with this company? WOW. A modern day Masonic lodge, or golf club.

How can a consumer product be given a score of 9 out of 10 when consumers can't simply buy the product? Surely this is a con?

Clearly this review isn't for consumers. Next week I hope you review the mythical Unicorn.

Geoff Richards

July 3, 2014, 4:28 pm

The Invite system is only to manage initial orders, since demand is naturally so high. Wider retail availability has been promise in the coming weeks / months, so anyone & everyone who wants one can just buy one.

aksolanki

July 3, 2014, 5:02 pm

"Wider retail availability has been promise in the coming weeks / months". I have heard similar promises from manufacturers before. Large well known manufacturers to boot.

But I thought Trusted Reviews did reviews of consumer products. Products that a consumer can actually buy. Not products that may be available in the future.

Perhaps this is a one-off situation for Trusted Reviews?

ApesWhat ?

July 3, 2014, 8:50 pm

One Plus minus an invite = Nothing ?
Surely the cost in $ of running around cyberspace to get an invite , kills the good price ?
Yes ? No ?

ApesWhat ?

July 3, 2014, 8:56 pm

Thanks for explaining . Why production outputs were not figured
to deal with the (anticipated?) demand from such a bombastic marketing campaign , prior to it's inception ?
Simply put : At this rate 1+ have already missed (their own) train ...

Monch Lopez

July 4, 2014, 4:16 am

When? That's rhetorical, by the way, since OP refuses to answer questions about availability and instead continues to throw up smoke screens at its fan base. I've been an active member of the forum since early May and jumped through all sorts of hoops just to get the One. No dice. OnePlus refusing to confront customers facing shipping or hardware/software issues is another red flag. I think anyone remotely interested in the One should take time reading the stuff posted on the official OP forum.

Monch Lopez

July 4, 2014, 4:26 am

I figured since all the other international websites are writing about this unicorn, Trusted Reviews decided to come out with a review of their own. One problem, though: All that does is create more demand for a product people won't be able to purchase until (at the earliest, based on how things are moving along) three months later. How many people own the One right now? Based on responses posted on the forum, likely fewer than 5,000.

toboev

July 4, 2014, 6:44 am

And why stoke up demand that can not be satisfied?
Not satisfied = dissatisfied. When did that become a good idea?

Monch Lopez

July 4, 2014, 9:01 am

OnePlus wanted to sell the One so bad they overhyped the phone and encouraged fans to spam social-media sites and forums. Obviously, the plan backfired because (unsurprisingly) they couldn't produce the One fast enough to keep up with the growing demand.

Andrew_TR

July 4, 2014, 10:45 am

Fingers crossed it'll all clear up soon, otherwise this might end up being the great phone that never was...

iFrank

July 4, 2014, 6:37 pm

Three UK have a deal with EE for sharing transmitters, so you will get now it works, now it doesn't.
I don't understand the criticism of TR for a review of a phone that actually IS out there, I was glad to read it.

grelum

July 10, 2014, 12:55 pm

I can't find a One for anything less than £300 or thereabouts when the review price is £229. How do you get hold of a £229 One?

nebulaoperator

July 15, 2014, 10:57 am

It must be mistake that trustedreviews site made but have to point out three UK network supports 1800 band . here is a link : http://support.three.co.uk/SRV...

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