There’s always a common trend among manufacturers in tech – first there’s a world class leader, then the leader sells its products at an unreasonable price and has totally no specialty or whatsoever (coughSamsungcough) and they start losing customers. Soon, there’s an existing manufacturer who gets a lot of praise ad overtakes the leader. That’s commonly the case for phone manufacturers and also laptop manufacturers.

This time around though, an entirely new company – OnePlus, comes out of nowhere and causes a worldwide commotion about the one and only phone that they are currently selling – the One. I’ve been difficult to get your hands on, but I got mine on one of the One.

Packaging

The OnePlus One comes in a rather simple packaging – red and white all over the square box, has a few rather unconventional methods to open the box, such as the string in the picture above.

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Pulling the flip we will be presented with another red box, but this time with a flap. Opening the flap and we can see some of the magic that OnePlus has been boasting about.

DSC_4121 copySuper huge 5.5-inch screen right here!

DSC_4122 copyNow we’ve all seen packaging of phones before, but I got to say that OnePlus box is one of the most inefficient in terns of how compact it is. Sure, laying out everything is good and all but seriously, there are a lot of space wasted here.

DSC_4124 copyAnother reason why the packaging is inefficient? The charger comes in a separate box. Yet, the charger is actually very thick compared to other manufacturer’s chargers.

Design and build quality

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The OnePlus I got is the 16GB version, which is to say the white coloured one which OnePlus claims that its back plate is as smooth as baby skin. Damn right it is. Rub it on your face and you’ll feel that it’s really one of the smoothest surfaces you’ll ever find on everyday objects. Not even paper can be this smooth.

I love the OnePlus One’s design because of its practicality. What I mean here is the ergonomics of this phone. It is so well thought that for a left-hand user like me, my fingers can reach the volume and power button with no shift in grip.

DSC_4270 copy DSC_4272 copyNo issues at all in ergonomics, and finally a phone made left handed users smile in one-handed usage.

Well, the design is not all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to the speakers. They are loud and procudes great sound for a phone, but the position is something that OnePlus will need to fix quickly.

DSC_4268 copySure, many phones have its speakers at the bottom, but no, speakers placed at the bottom is going to be a dealbreaker for me, no matter how great the sound is. If I’m ever playing games or watching videos on the One, I would like to hear the audio myself, not other people listening for me.

The build quality of the One is definitely top notch. The back plate is magnificently etched and clipped to the phone. The metal rim around the screen feels and looks nice. Heck, even the speaker grills and micro USB opening are smooth, and I have no idea why it is so.

For a new manufacturer who is only selling their first and only phone now, they have done an excellent job in design and choosing the materials as the build quality is definitely something that is beyond what big companies like Samsung has done.

Display

The OnePlus One has a 5.5-inch full HD (1920×1080) LCD screen, but they are not using any type of conventional panel. The One is the first phone I’ve used that uses LTPS panel – that is low temperature polysilicon. It’s an alternative of IPS or TN panels, and I have to say that the LTPS panel produces some great colours and did not have much colour shift even on a near-parallel angle of view.

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LTPS displays are a tad more costly, but consumes less energy and thus can have higher resolution displays on the same amount of energy consumption. Pretty great, eh?

Performance

The OnePlus packs up quite a bit of punch, as it has the latest and greatest hardware to date – that is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU to go alongside with a total of 3GB of RAM. The specs here are comparable to the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, and that is exactly what we are going to do in this benchmark.

Screenshot_2014-08-16-23-16-59On Epic Citadel, the OnePlus scored a lower average FPS compared to the One M8, but that is because the One M8 has a little lower resolution as compared to the OnePlus One, thanks to the on-screen controls bar. Comparing to the S5 however, the OnePlus won by a large margin. Well done!

Screenshot_2014-08-16-23-26-34Comparing scores on Vellamo however shows that the OnePlus One is a little inferior compared to the One M8, but there is nothing to worry about as I actually cannot feel any difference in real life usage for both the phones.

The One is definitely a strong contender with other smartphones in the hardware section as it packs the exact same hardware as other manufacturer’s flagship devices have. And yet you only pay a fraction of what other manufacturers are asking for. Greatest deal ever.

Software

OnePlus One has a special offering compared to other manufacturers in terms of software – they’re using CyanogenMod 11S. If you are one of those people who lives on custom ROMs (myself included), you’ve probably discovered CyanogenMod and might have used it before. Well, this is where the custom ROM becomes an official ROM for a phone.

The official ROM for the OnePlus One has all the great stuff that CyanogenMod had been offering in its custom ROMs – the equalizer and theme engine, just to name a few. Everything works just like the custom ROM and here you can even download those themes from Google Play Store and change your boot animation, ringtones, icons, style, font, everything! It just works!

Screenshot_2014-08-17-11-37-10And since this is an official ROM after all, CyanogenMod decided to have some UI overhaul for some applications like Gallery. Best thing is, they have kept mostly everything close to vanilla Android. That way, they can push updates faster, have less bugs and glitches, and most important have a unified user experience even when users switch back and forth between Nexus devices and the OnePlus One.

Conclusion

The OnePlus One is a phone that I never got to keep after reviewing, as this phone is not mine. Certainly though, for only RM1069 over at DirectD. There is a debate of whether to buy the OnePlus One instantly from a distributor like DirectD or to wait few months (if you’re lucky) to get an invite directly order from OnePlus website.

I’d say, get it from DirectD, but the reason is longer than a novel.

So in short, the OnePlus One is a great phone – it definitely tells its users to never settle for anything expensive and sub-par (coughSamsung Galaxy S5cough) and OnePlus showed that this new company has the potential to compete against the latest and greatest only with one phone, which is also their first.

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It shook the entire smartphone industry with the price, performance, and build quality. Top notch everything for a low price – who else could complain?

OnePlus won hearts of Nexus users with something magical.

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The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!