The OnePlus One smartphone was one of the biggest tech phenomenons of 2014, becoming the smartphone of choice for power users.
The device is basically a premium Android phone that looks and feels as good as anything from Samsung but at around half the price.
Now the makers of the OnePlus One are coming out with the sequel.
On August 11th, you’ll get your first shot at the OnePlus 2, which takes everything people loved about the first model and makes it faster, more powerful, and prettier — but maintains its budget-friendly status, with 16GB and 64GB models selling for $US329 and $US389, respectively (that’s without a wireless carrier contract).
Indeed, the OnePlus 2 looks like a very cool phone, especially for the lower cost.
I got a little bit of hands-on time with the new phone at a OnePlus One event in San Francisco, ahead of the official launch event going on now. A lot of what we saw had already been rumoured or leaked, but there are still a few pleasant surprises.
And yes, the company says it will be easier to get one this time out.
As rumoured, the OnePlus 2 has a metal frame, instead of the OnePlus One’s polycarbonate plastic back. It gives the OnePlus 2 a nice, solid heft that makes it feel more durable than your average phone, but it’s probably also why the price is slightly higher than the original’s $US299 MSRP. It’s thin and lighter than it looks.
The OnePlus 2’s 5.5″ display is gorgeous at a 1080p resolution, and has a high enough brightness setting to be totally legible in direct sunlight.
It comes with a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor paired with the Adreno 430 GPU, which OnePlus says is more than enough juice to put the phone to work streaming high-def movies or playing graphics-intensive games.
The camera is a major point of pride for OnePlus, with the new phone boasting a 13MP resolution with a low-light sensor, optical image stabilisation, and a “laser focus” system that doesn’t require you to touch the screen to focus on a subject.
The phone has a slider right on the side of the phone to switch between three alert settings: None, Priority, and All, so you can choose what your OnePlus 2 phone alerts you for without taking it out of your pocket.
Also as rumoured, the OnePlus 2 has a fingerprint sensor/lock that the company claims is “faster than the iPhone.”
You can also customise the notifications from the LED light on the top of the OnePlus 2, so it will glow green for an email but blue for a text message.
OnePlus will be selling a selection of custom backplates for the OnePlus 2, made from materials including black apricot wood, bamboo, rosewood, Kevlar (if you’re concerned about stopping bullets with your OnePlus 2, I guess), and black sandstone. For what it’s worth, the bamboo plate caused the OnePlus 2 to slip from my hands repeatedly.
OnePlus is bundling in a brand new charging cable that’s reversible on both ends, solving a lot of “which-way-is-up” headaches. It’s also flat, making it easier to roll up without a tangle. The new cable uses the same kind of USB Type-C connection as the newest Apple Macbook.
On the software side, the OnePlus 2 introduces OxygenOS, a slightly customised (but still very familiar) version of Android that adds a couple of neat features from the last model.
Foremost among those is a new feature called “Shelf” that lets you keep a handy collection of most-used apps and contacts that are available by swiping right on the home screen.
OnePlus says that it’s going to keep working on OxygenOS, optimising for power efficiency and performance while still adding more features. The OxygenOS can run any Android app.
The OnePlus 2 also includes a new Audio Tuner app, so you can change the sound levels for music, movies, and games to your liking and swap between those profiles from the quick settings menu. And it uses the popular SwiftKey predictive keyboard as its default text entry tool.
How to get one
The original OnePlus One caused something of a commotion last year: Because OnePlus is a tiny startup compared with the Apple/Samsung manufacturing superpowers, it limited orders of the phone to those who could get an invitation code out of somebody who already had one.
It was, perhaps inadvertently, a brilliant marketing move that only served to drive demand way up. Eventually, OnePlus opened the One up for general sale, but only on Tuesdays.
This time out, the system is going to work much the same. OnePlus “superfans” who are active on the phone’s community websites will get invites, and you’ll have to either know somebody who owns a OnePlus 2 or keep an eye on OnePlus’s social media to get your own.
There is one key difference, though. This time, OnePlus will have a standard waiting list, so if you don’t want to hustle for a code, they will get to you on a first-come first-served basis eventually.