Six Months In: OnePlus One

Has the dust settled on the phone that never settles?


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The OnePlus One is a captivating and polarizing device. If you have been anywhere near the Android-centric part of the internet in the past year, you have heard of OnePlus. OnePlus has obviously had some growing pains since their founding. But regardless, they have produced one of the best Android phones of the year. Six months is a long time in the technological space, how has the “Flagship Killer” OnePlus One held up?

For a comprehensive look into my experiences with the OnePlus One so far, here’s a list of everything I’ve written about the OnePlus One

Hardware

The OnePlus One ships with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801. The SoC is no longer considered cutting edge. But it is still incredibly powerful. After six months, tasks are still a breeze,everything is responsive and quick, and gaming is buttery smooth. The Snapdragon 801 coupled with 3GB of RAM is still immensely impressive.

The hardware behind the OnePlus One is brought to life thanks to the 3100mAh battery. The battery life is nearly unmatched for flagship level smartphones. The power sipping 801, giant battery, and some software tricks all compile into an Energizer Bunny-esque package. It just keeps going. Easily lasting longer than my Nexus 6.

The industrial, machined design is something I have grown so fond of. I enjoy holding and using the OnePlus One in my hand. I love the ergonomics of the Nexus 6, but there is something about a piece of technology feeling industrial that I love. Luckily, I was able to snag a Bamboo StyleSwap Cover from OnePlus a few weeks back. The Sandstone Black cover(that I adore) offers a great grip and is amazing in the hand. The Bamboo adds a subtle softness to the entire phone, giving it a more natural feel. Both of these backs are incredibly well built and are accessories I hope to see rolled out fully with the next phone from OnePlus.

Software

The OnePlus One is going to be officially supported by CyanogenMod for their Lollipop based CyanogenMod 12. Currently, the OnePlus One ships with CyanogenMod 11 based off of Kit Kat. Right now an official, stable build of CyanogenMod 12 doesn’t exist. It is probable that this is due to drama between Micromax, OnePlus, and Cyanogen. I’m hoping for an official OTA update from CM11 to CM12, which has not been confirmed, but looks to be due out next month.

This drama is potentially troublesome for OnePlus One owners. OnePlus is currently working on their own in-house ROM, but it’s in ultra-alpha mode right now. There are currently CyanogenMod 12 nightlies being built out for OnePlus One. While nightlies are beta products at best, I’ve been pleased with the performance of CM12 on the OnePlus One. I don’t recommend people going out and rooting their devices just to slap on a work in progress(and there are still some bugs, obviously). But CyanogenMod’s Lollipop ROM is far more stable than OnePlus’s own ROM.

Camera

The camera on the OnePlus One is still incredible. The 13.1 megapixel sensor is one of the best I have ever used on a phone. Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of the OnePlus One camera. I have long been impressed with the power of the CyanogenMod Camera App that came with CM11. With the CM12 nightlies, it is sadly not present. You can use the Google Camera app and achieve great results. But if you want flexibility and power on the CM Camera, you are sadly out of luck for the time being.

My most popular piece as of today is my Photography With The OnePlus One photo essay. It was featured by TheTechBlock and by OnePlus themselves. It clearly shows how great the camera on the OnePlus One can be.

Also the 5 megapixel front facing camera takes great selfies. Ugh.

Conclusion

After six months, the OnePlus One is still one of the best phones on the market. With a price to performance ratio that simply cannot be beat, the OnePlus One is the new Nexus. With Google going all in on carrier subsidy and premium everything. A large majority of consumers have clamored for a price to performance balance that the Nexus line once defined. OnePlus has gladly taken the reigns of this endeavor. Even after six months since I received my OnePlus One, it is easily a top five phone on the market, at any price point.

But the OnePlus One isn’t perfect. There are far more questions than answers for the young company OnePlus. OnePlus has had a troubled, rocky start to their phone startup. The invite system was put in place to manage inventory, but was met with large backlash due to unexpected demand. Multiple PR blunders caused OnePlus to be constantly apologizing. Now the CyanogenMod drama. The company has plenty of growth to do. It will be hard to find official support for a product if all bridges or burned or if the company no longer exists. While I do not believe either of these things will happen, one should be cautious.


The OnePlus One is an amazing device. It is leaps and bounds better than the Nexus 5 at the same price. It is nearly every bit of phone the Nexus 6 is at half the price. If you’re diving into the “Never Settle” family, you will not regret the purchase. The OnePlus One is the spirit animal of the Nexus line of old, long live Nexus.


Remember to follow me on Twitter & Google+ for all of my Tech Reviews, Features, and more!

And I’m on Instagram! I post tech, coffee, and my photography there. If that’s your gig, hit that follow button there, too!