OnePlus 2: Low-Cost Android Alternative

Taiwanese starup OnePlus shook the high-end smartphone market last year when it produced a well-designed smartphone with the same (or better) specs than premium models -- such as the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S6 -- and sold it for half the price. Now, version 2 is hitting the market with a new Android OS.

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant

July 27, 2015

5 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: OnePlus)</p>

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ShenZhen, China-based startup OnePlus unveiled its latest smartphone, the OnePlus 2, today. The device, available for purchase by invitation only, will begin shipping to the US, Europe, and India on August 11 for $329-$389 depending on model. The device will ship to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore during Q4 2015.

OnePlus shook the high-end smartphone market last year when it produced a well-designed smartphone with the same (or better) specs than premium models -- such as the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S6 -- and sold it for half the price. With its slogan "Never Settle," OnePlus has been praised by some industry observers for delivering a superb smartphone and selling it directly to its fan base without any retail partners.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei recently told the Wall Street Journal that more than 1.5 million OnePlus One smartphones have been sold worldwide.

The OnePlus 2 is equipped with the Snapdragon 810 SoC, 64 GB eMMC 5.0 flash memory, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and an Adreno 430 GPU. A 16GB model is available for $329, and a 64GB version is priced at $389.

While the OnePlus One runs a modified version of CyanogenMod's Android OS, the "2" features OnePlus's own Android flavor, OxygenOS, which is based on Android 5.1. Various reasons were reported for the OS switch. Last year, Cyanogen was incorporated, and it announced plans to commercialize its CyanogenMod, which until then had been an open source community-based platform. Earlier this year, Microsoft reportedly took part in a $70 million investment round for CyanogenMod.

Figure 1: (Image: OnePlus)

(Image: OnePlus)

The OnePlus 2 OxygenOS has some interesting features, including:

  • Dark Mode, which gives a pleasant viewing experience, even at night

  • Off-screen gestures to launch some of the most-used functions, such as opening the camera and drawing "ll" with two fingers to play or pause music

  • App Permissions, borrowed from CyanogenMod, which give users control of the permissions an app has after installing it, such as location, contacts, or notifications.

Beyond its OS, the OnePlus 2 smartphone shares most of the features of its predecessor, with an aluminum-magnesium alloy frame and jewelry-grade stainless steel. Weighing only 175 grams, the OnePlus 2 5.5-inch display is designed for viewing in direct sunlight with 178-degree clear viewing angles. The 3300mAh battery is meant to deliver the power needed during the day, and the device supports two Nano SIM cards with 4G LTE capability.

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Last year the company made a point of focusing on the quality and make of the components of the OnePlus, including the rear camera sensor, a Sony Exmor IMX 214, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen, and the NXP PN65T NFC controller. This year, only functionality and performance are listed. Apart from the 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, there is no mention of the other components' make and model.

Another key difference between last year's OnePlus and this latest version is the lack of NFC support. In order to reduce the bill of materials, the company had to cut back on some functionality. In an email to InformationWeek, OnePlus said the reason for dropping NFC was that most people never use it. A spokesperson wrote: "While NFC acceptance is growing, it is not as widespread as originally thought. We built the best device focusing on what users really need and use."

Screen and camera specs are similar to those on the OnePlus One. While the "2" features an advanced laser focus system and optical image stabilization, the resolution of 13 megapixels for the rear camera and 5 megapixels for the front cameras match the previous model. While the OnePlus One uses a Sony Exmor IMX 214 sensor, the "2" uses a new Omnivision device -- with large 1.3 µm light-collecting pixels -- intended to deliver high-quality pictures in low-light situations.

The screen resolution is still full-HD 1920 x 1080, but with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD 1080p In-Cell display with a 178-degree viewing angle and 600 nits brightness. The screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass, although there is no mention of the version.

Like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S6, the OnePlus 2 is equipped with a fingerprint sensor. The company advertises that the sensor is faster than the iPhone's. It unlocks the phone in less than 500 ms and

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supports five different profiles.

The Alert Slider is of the most interesting features of the OnePlus 2. It allows you to change the way you receive notifications without unlocking the phone, even without taking it out of your pocket. You can switch between receiving all notifications, ones only from your priority contacts, or none at all (besides alarms). This is very convenient when attending a meeting or having dinner with your significant other.

The OnePlus 2 features two slots -- Nano SIM (Dual SIM, Dual Standby), an important feature for people with two accounts (work and private) or for international travelers.

The OnePlus 2 is the first smartphone on the market with a USB Type-C connector (reversible at both ends). The new standard provides high-speed connectivity and fast charging, features crucial to loading up the 3300 mAh LiPo battery. The supplied cable features the Type-C connector on one side and a specially designed Type-A reversible connector on the other end to plug into the wall charger or any computer for fast data transfer.

Depending on the region, the OnePlus 2 will support LTE Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20 (EU/India) or Bands: 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17 (US), plus all GSM and WCDMA Bands.

Now, about those invitations. OnePlus "Superfans" will get an invite immediately after today's unveiling. Those who have purchased the OnePlus One will also get invitations. Others will need to rely on the good graces of friends who have purchased the phone, or participate in contests on OnePlus's social media platforms. If you're a bit more patient, you can put your name on the OnePlus 2 reservation list and wait for an invite when available.

About the Author(s)

Pablo Valerio

International Business & IT Consultant

Pablo Valerio has been in the IT industry for 25+ years, mostly working for American companies in Europe. Over the years he has developed channels, established operations, and served as European general manager for several companies. While primarily based in Spain, he has also lived in Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark. His knowledge of the European IT business and his interest in EU technology initiatives spurred his move to technology writing. For the past four years, he has been a regular contributor to several publications in the IT ecosystem, focusing on privacy, security, mobile technology and smart cities. His work has appeared in InformationWeek, EETimes, Enterprise Efficiency, UBM Future CitiesDell's Tech Page One, and SAP Business Innovation, among others.

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