- Amazing value
- Classy screen tone
- Reliable fingerprint scanner
- Good camera image quality
- HDR and camera speed performance just OK
- Hard to get hold of... again
- Review Price: £239.00
- 5.5-inch 1080p screen
- Snapdragon 810 processor with 3/4GB RAM
- 16 or 64GB storage
- Dual SIM
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 5-megapixel front camera
- Fingerprint sensor
- 3,300mAh battery
Updated by Sean Keach
OnePlus 2 – Long-Term Review
When my colleague Andrew Williams first reviewed the OnePlus 2 last year, he was enamoured with it – and rightly so. OnePlus was selling a smartphone with specs that could rival the flagships of 2015 and, better still, for a lowly price of £239. Purchase was by invitation only, but if you could get your hands on one, the OnePlus 2 was a steal.
A lot has changed since then. You don’t need an invite to buy the OnePlus 2 anymore. And a brief check on the OnePlus UK store tells me that the 16GB £239 version is no longer available. Instead, OnePlus is now selling just the 64GB OnePlus 2, albeit at a discounted £249 (down from the £289 launch price).
I used the OnePlus 2 for about nine months, and only recently traded it out for a Samsung Galaxy S7. This phone was my daily driver and was, for the most part, great. The camera took nice pictures, battery life and storage were never an issue, and the griptape back offered welcome friction to my buttery fingers.
But the halcyon days of 2015 are over, and I now have some serious complaints about the OnePlus 2.
The first issue is charging, and the sheer slowness of it. The OnePlus 2 might use a USB-C connection, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get fast charging. In fact, the OnePlus 2 generally took just north of two hours to charge from empty to full. Charging the Galaxy S7, by comparison, is…well, there’s no comparison. Fast-charging devices are the future, leaving the OnePlus 2 feeling like a bit of a relic.
The second issue is performance, and this is the big one. We’ve received plenty of complaints about the OnePlus 2 from readers, all of which claim that the phone has slowed down significantly since purchase. I can vouch for this. The OnePlus 2 often slowed to a crawl for no apparent reason. Near the end, I was having to reboot the phone at least three or four times a week.
But here at TrustedReviews, we’re all about the actual numbers.
In our original review, the Geekbench 3 score for the OnePlus 2 was 4,460. I recently ran 10 tests on the phone, giving me a new average score of 3,654 – with a low of 2,121. That’s not great, but it’s not a huge drop either. In any case, this probably isn’t the real root of OnePlus 2 performance problems.
That’s because once an app is running on the OnePlus 2, it tends to work just fine. But switching between apps, loading apps, and other multi-tasking functions often – and inexplicably – make the device unusable.
What’s telling in this regard is how much the RAM write speed has dropped since our original review. Back in 2015, tests showed that the OnePlus 2 managed an 8,000MB/s write speed. But now the average (over 10 tests) has dropped to 4,494MB/s – that’s with a high of 5,061MB/s, and a low of 1,223MB/s.
The storage read and write speeds are similarly concerning. The original storage write speed for the OnePlus 2 was 125MB/s. It’s not 98MB/s. The original storage read speed for the OnePlus 2 was 234MB/s. It’s now 184MB/s. Yuck.
To make matters worse, the OnePlus 2 was marketed as the ‘2016 flagship killer’. But as is evident by the performance drop, that’s simply not true. The last 12 months have brought us a smorgasbord of powerhouse flagships – like the Nexus 6P, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the HTC 10 – all of which run rings around the ailing OnePlus 2.
To be fair, OnePlus tells us that it is trying to address these issues with software updates, but a quick search online shows that customers are still experiencing issues, and have been for a while.
OnePlus 2 – Long-Term Verdict
The OnePlus 2 is a phone that looks like good value for money on paper, but it’s not the 2016 flagship killer it was marketed as. If you need a cheap phone, the OnePlus 2 isn’t a bad choice. But if you have the extra money to spare, I’d recommend grabbing an actual 2016 flagship instead. Hopefully the company’s rumoured OnePlus 3 will fare better when/if it arrives later this year.
Buy Now: OnePlus 2 at Amazon.com from $274
You can check out our full OnePlus 2 review below.
What is the OnePlus 2?
Just like the OnePlus One, the OnePlus Two hits the bullseye. It offers a slick build and a spec-list that matches most of the far pricier high-end devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S6. Oh, and it only costs £239.
Yet, it’s not perfect. You still have to battle with the annoying invite system and even though the phone has been out a few months you can’t just go onto the website and buy one. It lacks NFC too, which isn’t ideal if you want to take advantage of Android Pay.
OnePlus 2: Design
At first glance, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t appear anything special. Coming from a manufacturer no-one has heard of you might expect it to bear some obvious USP that’ll scream at you from the shelf.
But that’s not the point. The OnePlus 2 isn’t meant to be sold on shelves, ever. Aside from the odd importer, you can only buy the phone from OnePlus direct. You need an invite to even be able to order the thing and, at the time of writing, they aren’t too easy to get hold of.
The cynics among you may think: what better way to breed hype and anticipation than by limiting stock? Such thoughts aren’t groundless, but if there was a middle-man retailer or network in-between, you can bet the OnePlus 2 would not cost £239. There’s a lot of new-model marketing behind the phone, but that the thing is hard to get hold of isn’t just something made up by the OnePlus marketing department.
Related: OnePlus 2 vs Samsung Galaxy S6
In person it certainly doesn’t seem like the hype machine that is OnePlus’s online presence has overshadowed the OnePlus 2’s design. It’s a phone that feels great, and is at home when sat next to more expensive mobiles like the HTC One M9 and LG G4.
Unlike the mostly-plastic OnePlus One, the OnePlus 2 has sides made of magnesium alloy. This feels a lot like aluminium. A little less cool to the touch perhaps, but we bet more than 50% of OnePlus 2 owners who haven’t pored over the spec sheet would assume it’s aluminium, as used in the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9.
One of the benefits of magnesium alloy is that it’s a bit lighter than aluminium. However, the OnePlus 2 is not a particularly light phone at 175g. It’s 20g heavier than the LG G4, which is no small amount in the phone world.
On first getting our hands on the OnePlus 2, this extra weight was quite obvious. But the sum total of our reaction was to silently think “cor, this one has some meat on it”, before promptly forgetting its size and weight more-or-less completely.
It’s a non-issue for those with moderate-to-large hands. And if you have smaller mitts, the OnePlus 2 lets you switch between hardware soft keys and software ones, and you can flip the ‘back’ and lesser-used ‘recent apps’ soft keys around. With or without a tweak, the soft keys are fairly easy to reach.
Still, if having a super-slim phone is top of your wishlist, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t really fit the bill at 9.9mm thick.
Related: 10 Best Android Phones
OnePlus 2: Covers and Connections
As well as having that nice band of magnesium alloy to tart up its design, the OnePlus 2’s back feels quite unusual. Sharing the same back texture as the OnePlus One, the rear feels a little rough and fuzzy, almost closer to a sort of fabric than anything else.
It’s a high-friction, tactile surface that we’re honestly surprised not to have been adopted by anyone else (to our knowledge) since we saw it in the OnePlus One. However, there are mixed reviews on it from the Trusted team, and if the thought of your phone feeling like a shaved hamster doesn’t appeal, there are other covers on offer.
These come with a £20 price bump, but feature ‘real’ materials, including kevlar and various kinds of wood. Kevlar and the standard grey-black rear are the best picks if you want a low-key phone.
The rear can be prised off with a finger easily enough, and while it doesn’t give you access to the battery, it does mean the OnePlus 2 can avoid using one of those SIM slots that needs a pin/tool to unlock. There are two SIM slots, both nano-size, and both fit into a single piece of plastic that slots into the body.
There’s no waterproofing here, and no microSD card either, so be sure to choose carefully between the £239 16GB and £289 64GB versions. We’re using the 64GB edition. It’s the best choice if you want to store a lot of music on your phone.
Both versions come with a few neat little hardware extras you don’t see on most other phones. First, there’s a little 3-way switch on the left side of the OnePlus 2 that turns all notifications off, only allows priority notifications and lets the lot through.
It’s a neat way to silence your phone quickly, although you do need to remember not to check you’ve not accidentally set the thing to silent if you’re expecting a phone call.
Then there’s the socket. Most phones have a microUSB 2.0 slot. Some phones even have a a microUSB 3.0 slot, like the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, the OnePlus 2 has a USB-C socket. This is likely to be the successor to microUSB, and the main benefit is that it’s reversible. It’s way more convenient. In one sense at least.
The downside is that you can’t use any cables you’ve accrued over the years to charge the phone. And if you lose the cable, replacing it could be a pain. It’s only really the socket that has changed too. You don’t get USB 3.0 speed. We like USB-C, but at this point using it is a mixed blessing.
OnePlus 2: Fingerprint Scanner
The most important extra hardware feature, though, is the fingerprint scanner. Taking inspiration from the iPhone Touch ID sensor and, more recently, the Samsung Galaxy S6 scanner, it sits under the Home soft key on the front of the phone.
Crucially, you don’t need to swipe your finger over it, just hold it there. We’ve found this is a vital part of making a phone finger scanner quick and easy to use.
Sure enough, the OnePlus 2 scanner is another winner. While it’s a bit slower than the iPhone 6 scanner, it’s about as reliable and still quicker than using a pattern or pin for security. You can teach the phone up to five fingerprints, and 99% of the time we ended up using a thumb. Two down, three to donate if you like.
The OnePlus 2 scanner does not sit on a physical button like the iPhone 6’s, though. The sensor pad is static, its indent there to give you a physical guide as to where your finger needs to be.
Like the other two soft keys, which are lit-up with simple blue dashes, it’s a touch-sensitive pad rather than a clicky button. Just fitting in features like a fingerprint scanner, let alone a good one, at £239 is impressive. However, there are a few omissions to balance this out. There’s no NFC, for example. And no IR transmitter. Oh, and no FM radio.