It’s been a while since the OnePlus Two hit the market, we have taken our time but the review is here after having used the phone as a daily driver for over a month.
There are tall claims of it being the “2016 Flagship killer“, let’s find out where it really stands.
Hardware & Build Quality
Let’s admit it, we have had enough of plastic flagships. The OnePlus Two, although not complete metal in its build has a lightweight, resilient aluminum and magnesium alloy as per what the company says. The alloy frame coupled with the trademark sandstone back differentiates the phone and gives a somewhat premium feel over the rest of the phones out there.
The phone although a bit smaller as compared to the OnePlus One, but is a bit heavier than it. It still is a bit big and personally I am not comfortable doing a few tasks on single hand use.
Unintentional drop tests confirm that it is built to last a while. It fell off my table twice, face down, and survived. I had no case on, but there was a tempered screen protector which did not crack either. It fell again, twice while I was working on this review. The tempered screen suffered a crack but the display was still intact.
The Volume rocker remains on the same side as the power button. The headphone jack is on the top & the single speaker is placed at the bottom just like in the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S6. There are two grills on either side but the speaker is present only beneath the right grill. OnePlus did give some explanation for it, but that’s a bit hard to get over especially given the fact that the single speaker could easily be blocked by your palm. It happened to me a lot during gaming.
The “Alert Slider” is something that sets the OP2 apart. It is a sweet new addition not found on any other phone till date. It lets you toggle between no interruptions, priority interruptions and all notifications without having to turn on the display. Personally, it wasn’t of much use to me but everybody else seems to have found it useful. I would have preferred it to be actually reversed, down being no notifications and up for all notifications but then again its my personal choice.
This is a new addition to the OnePlus flagship over the previous year’s model. It makes sense since Android 6.0 is going to natively support fingerprint sensors. On the real life usage aspect, the sensor was spot on 9 out of 10 times. The best part here is that, you need not wake up the device to activate the sensor. You can save up to 5 fingers for unlocking the device, unlike Samsung devices there are no third party apps which can take advantage of the sensor, with android M we hope things change.
There has been no change to the display this year from the one used previously(pun?). It is still the same 5.5-inch full HD display, I wouldn’t call it a let down but would admit that when placed next to the Galaxy S6 the difference remains obvious.
This is one of the aspects where OnePlus has clearly settled, they say its for striking a balance between battery life & display crispness. It wouldn’t bother you much unless someone around is flaunting the latest Galaxy flagship.
Fortunately, there are no ghost touch/yellow banding issues on this unlike the previous one. Thankfully, there is no branding on the front unlike many other phones out there. We loved the OnePlus One for this reason and OnePlus has managed to keep it similar.
The OnePlus Two sports a 13MP camera. The numbers remain same as the previous one (OK, this is it) but OnePlus claims it has a 1.3µm light-collecting pixels—the biggest ever in a 13MP smartphone camera for unmatched low-light performance. It has dual led flash and there is laser auto focus and also OIS which were missing in the OPO.
The laser auto focus did speed up focus time, OnePlus claims it does the job in 0.2 secs and there is no reason to doubt it. The Optical Image Stabilization on the other hand did not impress me much. The inbuilt camera app supports 4K video, slow-motion video, and time lapses.
Although, I have to say the 4K videos are not that great and it shuts down after a few minutes of recording. The best part is that, it supports “Manual Camera” app which according to us, is one of the best camera apps available on the play store.
The camera position is a bit awkward in the beginning, having been used to seeing the camera sensor being placed either on the top or towards a corner, it felt odd on seeing its position on the OnePlus Two. Once you’re used to the device, it doesn’t really matter.
The first thing that comes to mind when speaking about the snapdragon 810 is undoubtedly overheating.
OnePlus claims to have used special engineering techniques to prevent overheating, little tinkering with the device shows that the processor has been underclocked.
It is coupled with 4GB of LP-DDR4 RAM (3GB in the 16GB model, but there is no reason why anybody would want to buy that) and Adreno 430 graphics. Honestly, there was not a single game (That I tried) on the play store which the phone had problems running.
Asphalt 8 to GTA SA, NFS No Limits to Modern Combat 5 to Implosion, every game worked smooth as butter. No lag whatsoever, but the toll on the battery remains obvious.
Yes, it heats up!
On intense gaming (Even a few minutes) the phone breached the 42 degree C mark, the heat becomes noticeable and it starts getting uncomfortable to even hold the device. It has to be noted that the area around the camera and the alloy chassis at the sides on the upper half of the device heat up but not the bottom half. The metal alloy doesn’t really help the heat from not making an impact.
As per CPU Z, the phone easily reaches 50-55 degree Celsius on minimum gaming. This has more or less become a standard among all phones to heat up during gaming.
Battery & Charging
It boasts a massive 3300mAh battery, but the boasting remains to be on the paper. The OPO with lesser capacity was more impressive when it came to battery life.
Having said that, the battery lasts all day. You need to go out in the morning with full charge and can remain safe exploring the outer world until night but not a moment beyond.
There is no wireless charging and the absence of quick charge is made obvious. It takes almost 3 hours for the battery to reach 100% from 0. Also, I noticed a lot of fluctuation during the charging. USB Type C cable introduced doesn’t help either, you need to go around with either an adapter or the cable itself. On the plus side, it is reversible on either ends.
With the Marshmallow 6.0 update around the corner, it would be interesting to see the battery life post updating. Google has deployed a new feature called “Doze”, battery life seems to have raised dramatically as per their claims but unless we get the update we wouldn’t really know.
The OnePlus 2 runs on the in house made Oxygen OS which is currently based on Android 5.1.1 with minor enhancements and hardly any bloatware except for an added keyboard and the kindle app.
Oxygen OS has quite a few options to tweak the device to ones liking, it comes with a dark mode where you can even choose the accent color. This features comes in handy for people using the device mainly during nights. Similar to the one, you can choose between on screen and hardware navigation keys on the Two.
The stock android experience is undoubtedly a strain on the eyes during nights, thankfully OnePlus has implemented a system wide dark mode which is simple to turn on and it also lets you choose an accent color of your choice which is a sweet addition.
Waves Maxx Audio
There is an inbuilt equalizer on the Oxygen OS, it is further enhanced by Waves Maxx Audio. The best part is the way it has been implemented, rather than digging into settings to tweak it, you can simply access the presets from the volume control panel like shown in the image below.
A few more words..
The hype remains to be exaggerated, OnePlus has gone overboard claiming it to be a “2016 flagship killer”. The truth be spoken, it lacks certain features present in 2015 phones while outdoing most of the other flagship phones. The recently launched Nexus 6P is more solid than the OnePlus in many aspects. If you remove the shady marketing and all the hype, the device is totally worth the price tag (& beyond). The lack of NFC shouldn’t really bother us, it has a long way to go in India before we can use it for payments. It lacks essential features like Quick charge, which could be a deal breaker. Other than that, if you’re looking for a phone to get your daily job done, there is no reason to look any further. Unless you are willing to shell out a few more bucks, in which case you must go for the Huawei made Nexus 6P.