Whatever faults OnePlus might have, false modesty is certainly not among them. However, the company which dubbed its smartphone a “flagship killer,” is slowing down invites to users to purchase its OnePlus 2 device.
The phone, which runs the proprietary OxygenOS based on Android 5.1, features a 5.5-inch display and starts at $329 for the 16 GB model.
The low price is probably part of the reason OnePlus feels justified calling the device a flagship killer. The OnePlus 2 boasts specs similar to other topline phones such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S6, which both retail for more than $600.
A Few Bumps in the Road
The Chinese company behind the OnePlus device is little known compared to handset heavyweights like Apple and Samsung. But its inaugural smartphone, the OnePlus One, managed to make headlines last year by offering users a premium handset experience at almost half the cost of its rivals.
That’s not to say the little smartphone that could hasn’t faced some bumps along the road. An ugly breakup with its partner Cyanogen left it without a provider for its Android ROM (read-only memory). OnePlus responded by developing the Android-based OxygenOS, a lightweight operating system that promised to forgo feature creep to remain agile relative to other systems suffering from “bloatware” that can’t be deleted.
However, the OnePlus 2 hasn't been trouble free. Issues with the company's production schedule have caused it to delay shipping handsets to North American customers for several weeks. The company had originally been expected to start shipping to the U.S. and Canada on August 11, the same day as to European
"I know we promised that it would be easier to get invites for the OnePlus 2 this time around," a company staff member said in its online forum last week. "Yet, the struggle to get an invite is more real than ever. The launch has been a rollercoaster ride both for our users and for OnePlus. I want to clarify the situation with our invite and product rollout. On [August 10] we wrote a note about a 2-3 week delay in North America. I want to let you know that we’re going to slow the rollout of invites in other regions as well in the coming few weeks."
Not Winning the Beauty Pageant
The company has already registered more than two million reservations for the phone, up from 1.5 million units of the OnePlus One sold last year. Like other high-end smartphone models, the OnePlus 2 features a sturdy metal frame in a variety of colors.
However, the handset can’t compete with the likes of the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy in terms of style. Avi Greengart, research director for consumer platforms & devices at Current Analysis, told us that despite the quality of the specs, the OnePlus 2 can’t compare with the craftsmanship of the iPhone. “I would not describe it as beautiful,” he said. “The design and style are absolutely not matched.”
Greengart said Samsung and Apple still offer features the OnePlus 2 doesn't offer, including curved screens or integrated pens for Samsung, and Apple's ecosystem. Still Greengart said OnePlus isn’t aiming to seduce consumers on style, but on the number of features for the dollar.
The phone's two nano SIM cards can be useful for international travelers. It also features a Snapdragon processor on par with other high-end phones. But although there’s plenty of demand for the phone globally, it won’t work on Verizon or Sprint networks in the U.S., which will constrict its market appeal.
For amateur photographers, the OnePlus 2 comes with a 13-megapixel camera with laser autofocus and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. Unlike some of its competitors, the OnePlus 2 can capture images in RAW format, a must for people who need the additional data for photo editing.
There are some features that are lacking, however. And despite having a fingerprint sensor, the OnePlus 2 does not seem to have a near-field communication chip, meaning it cannot take advantage of Google’s contactless payment service, Android Pay, when it launches later this year. It also lacks a microSD slot for expanding memory.