Commentary
10/29/2015
03:11 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary

OnePlus X Blends Style With Substance

The Chinese company's new smartphone features attractive materials and a solid spec sheet to back it up.



13 Geekiest Halloween Costumes For 2015
13 Geekiest Halloween Costumes For 2015
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OnePlus today announced the OnePlus X, an inexpensive smartphone that will be sold to US consumers next month. The device aims to appeal to style-conscious buyers who are on a budget.

The OnePlus X borrows its design from any number of smartphones. The phone has a metal frame that is sandwiched by two glass panels. OnePlus says the rear panel is "polished repeatedly" until it achieves a mirror-like finish. The panels are curved ever so slightly along the edges to make the joint between the glass and metal as seamless as possible.

The main model is called the OnePlus X Onyx, which uses black glass on the back. OnePlus will also sell a ceramic-backed version of the X. The ceramic rear plate takes OnePlus up to 25 days to craft through a series of baking, cooling, and polishing steps. OnePlus is only making 10,000 ceramic variants, and they will only be sold in select markets.

The phone has a 5-inch full HD AMOLED screen. It relies on an older Snapdragon 801 processor with four cores at 2.3 GHz each. The processor is joined by an Adreno 330 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 128GB. The older Snapdragon chip helps OnePlus keep the price down, while still providing a solid degree of performance.

(Image: OnePlus)

(Image: OnePlus)

Shutterbugs may like the X's 13-megapixel camera, which has auto, HDR, and Clear Image capturing modes. The phase-detection autofocus is able to deliver crisp photos in 0.2 seconds. The camera has an aperture of f/2.2, which is competitive, but not nearly the best available from a phone. The user-facing camera, which has an 8-megapixel sensor, includes software for automatically improving those selfies.

One sticking point (depending on your point of view) could be the operating system. OnePlus relies on a forked version of Android that it calls OxygenOS. Oxygen is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, but doesn't include Google Services. The platform includes on-screen gestures, an enhanced file manager, and custom quick settings for a more personalized experience.

The OnePlus X adds an FM radio, something not available to OnePlus's older handsets. Proximity sensors will wake the display when the phone is pulled from a pocket or bag, and a duochrome ambient display mode will deliver notifications that don't sap battery life.

[iPhone 6s can do more than you think: 9 iPhone Apps Perfect For 3D Touch.]

As it often does, OnePlus is making the X available through a controlled invitation system. Anyone interested in the OnePlus X should sign up for an invitation right away. Only those who are granted an invitation will be able to order the phone. OnePlus uses this convoluted process to manage supply and demand.

The OnePlus X goes on sale internationally on Nov. 5, and in the US Nov. 19. It will cost $249. A word of caution: The US model includes support for some LTE bands, but not all of them. Notably missing are the 700MHz bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile for 4G. The US model will work, but won't have access to the best possible LTE signal.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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