OnePlus One Impressions

Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.
OnePlus One
Yes I was lucky enough to get an invite for one

The OnePlus One
OnePlus Logo

Who is OnePlus and what is the OnePlus One? OnePlus is a "new" phone manufacturer started by Pete Lau who used to work at Oppo. Their first phone is the OnePlus One, which bears a striking similarity internally to the Oppo Find 7a, leading many critics of the company to believe that the company is being funded by Oppo despite OnePlus's refutal of such claims. What makes the OnePlus One so special though is that it offers specs that equal those of the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 but at a much lower price off contract. For $299 USD, you can get the 16GB version of the phone, but for only $50 USD more you get 64GB of space. Compared to the Nexus 5 which sells for $350 for a 16GB model, this phone is definitely the best value for a high end phone. However, to be able to buy the phone you need to get an invite first then you can buy the phone. The company has caught a lot of flack for this but it is understandable as a small company doesn't have the power to mass buy parts and build the phone.

Outside the device
First things first, this phone is huge. Official dimensions on the OnePlus website puts this phone at roughly the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, though a bit taller. Despite this, the phone has a 5.5" screen, 0.2" smaller than the screen used in the Galaxy Note 3. This is mostly due to large top and bottom bezels and the chrome trim that frames the display glass. Despite this size however, I didn't have many issues with using the phone in the few days that I've had it. I can still do most things one handed though it isn't exactly comfortable to do so.
OPO in my hands

For reference I have I would say average sized hands for a 5'4" male. Still, expect to use this phone with both hands most of the time if you don't want to strain yourself. If you do have to use it one handed, you don't have to worry too much about it slipping out of your hands. The Sandstone Black back on the 64 GB version of the phone (currently the only version of the phone being sold) is very grippy and feels nice in the hands. It doesn't attract fingerprints and overall looks very nice. The 13MP camera with dual LED flash can be found back here along with various logos and regulatory seals.
OPO in my hands

On the bottom, there is the microUSB port and 2 speaker grills. OnePlus says that it is a stereo system but they're so close together they might as well be a mono speaker. Sound comes out of both sets of holes but it may not have separate audio channels. They can get very loud though which is nice though it is very easy to cover them up when gaming in landscape. There is also a tiny microphone for use with phone calls. On the left side of the phone, you'll find the volume rocker and microSIM tray. On the right there is the power button. Both the volume rocker and power button are about 2/3 up the side of the device, making it easier to reach without having to readjust the phone in your hand. On the top, there is only a 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise cancelling microphone.

Inside the device
As stated earlier, this device is very similar specs wise to the Oppo Find 7a, HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5. It uses the same screen as the Oppo Find 7a, and all devices uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU. The OnePlus One (OPO) however though has 3GB of RAM versus the 2GB found in the other devices. This combination helps the OPO be super fast at doing pretty much anything. In my time of using this phone, it has surpassed my old Nexus 4 at doing basically everything. This should be expected of a device using one of the latest Qualcomm CPU available. Multitasking is a breeze though there is a minor issue that I have that I will mention when I talk about software. However, the old Nexus 4 was never really slow in the first place1 and only really slowed down when attempting to do too much at one time. Once this device gets the Android L update (which Cyanogenmod and OnePlus have stated will come within 90 days of Google releasing Android L), this phone will probably be even smoother and should last for the next 2 years without any issues.


The OnePlus One is the first phone designed to run CyanogenMod (CM). For those who don't know, CyanogenMod is one of the most popular custom firmwares in the Android community. I have used CyanogenMod on most of my Android devices and was very interested in seeing a phone designed to run the firmware from the start. CM maintains a stock like appearance but is far more powerful underneath and allows for a lot more customization.
CM Customization
Some of the things that can be changed

For the OPO, the CM team made a special version of CM named CM11S. There are only a few differences between CM11S on the OPO and CM11 that you can flash onto most other Android phones. First off is the new lockscreen that is used.
CM11S Lockscreen

This lockscreen has a big blue block that you slide down to unlock. You can also swipe in from the right edge to open up the camera. If you have a PIN code to lock your device, the PIN input is overlayed on top of the block. There are a few issues that I have with this lockscreen. One is that you cannot easily change the color of the block. There are mods that you can flash that gives you the option to do different colors for it but it should have been built in in my opinion. It seems that the mod isn't very stable so it should not be used. Another issue with it is that you cannot use lockscreen widgets with this lockscreen. I personally don't use the widgets that much but it might be a nuisance for others. At the very least though, there is an option in the Lock Screen settings to disable this if so desired.

Another difference between CM11S found on the OPO and CM11 is the inclusion of CM's new gallery and camera apps. I won't go too much into them since I haven't had enough time to use them. I will say that the camera app is pretty easy to use.
CM Camera App

Beyond those 2 things there aren't very many other differences. If you do use CM11 nightlies on the OPO the only real thing that would be lost is the lockscreen as you can just install the CM camera app separately.

OnePlus One Specific Features
The OPO does have some CM features that are specific to the device. These can be found on both CM11S and CM11 nightly builds for the device. The first such feature is the ability to choose between software navigation keys and hardware navigation keys. Though the OPO has capacitative buttons on the bottom (Menu, Home, Back in that order), you can choose to use software keys like on Nexus devices. I personally use software keys as I'm used to having them from using Nexus devices before.

In addition, there are several gestures available to the OPO. First is the option to tap the screen twice to wake up the phone. This feature can be found on other phones like the HTC One M8 and recent LG phones as well. There are also additional gestures that can be done.
OPO Gestures

As seen in the picture, you can go into the camera app by drawing a circle when the screen is off or you can turn on the flashlight by drawing a V when the screen is off and control music playback. Turning these features on don't seem to impact battery life that much and are convenient to have. Other users of the phone have reported these gestures being activated while the phone is in the pocket, but CM has addressed this by using the proximity sensor to check if it is in a pocket. This should be available in the early August OTA update and is already being used in the nightlies.

CM General
Though CM looks like a very stock Android experience, it is very, very powerful underneath. There are a ton of options that can be changed to suit the user's needs. That being said, there are other ROMs out there that have even more options available, but CM is pretty extensive as is. There are far too many options for me to cover but I'll just go over the ones that I find the best.

First, is the ability to theme the interface and change icons, wallpapers, and many other things.
CM Theme Engine
There are many things that themes can change

There are many themes available on the market, some free and some paid, that can change various aspects of the interface. For example, this theme colors the settings menu, the notification drawer, and the quick settings toggles area black and adds a bit of an Android L look to it. If you get the paid version it'll also theme Google's apps as well.
Quick Setting No ThemeQuick Setting with Theme
Left: Quick Settings with no theme; Right: Quick Settings with the DarkUI Theme

With the theme engine, you can change how the phone looks and find a look that suits you. It may not be cheap as some themes can run as much as $7 USD but most are pretty well done.

Beyond just theming however, you can also change how the phone behaves with the Profiles feature.

With profiles, you can set up different profiles based on where you are, what WiFi or bluetooth device you're connected to, or use NFC tags to change profiles. Each profile allows you to change settings like turning various radios on and off, turning off lockscreen security, and manage notifications from apps. Personally, I use it to toggle my lockscreen security off when I connect to my home WiFi and turn security back on when I leave. Though something like this can be accomplished in Tasker, this feature is built in and is far easier to use in my opinion.

CM Issues
Though CM is pretty stable and runs really well, there are a few issues I would like to note that will hopefully be fixed. First, as I mentioned above, there is a bit of an issue with the multitasking menu. Occasionally, when entering the multitasking menu, it doesn't always show the most recent apps that I have used. Instead it shows the apps that I have used the last time I went into the menu. What's weird is that though this occured before on my Nexus 4 running CM11, it wasn't present on the Nexus 4 in recent nightly builds so I don't know why it occurs on the OPO. Another issue that I came across was low microphone sensitivity in CM11S. When I would try to say "Okay, Google" to get into Google Now, it wouldn't detect it at all. This was fixed though in nightly builds and should be fixed in the early August update. Beyond these issues, I haven't come across any other issue that impacts using the phone.

Other stuff
Just a few comments about the phone. First off, the display is quite nice. Very sharp and has decent contract. I can use the screen on the lowest brightness in a dark room without it being too bright for my eyes and yet I can still see the screen decently well at max brightness when I am outside. Compared to the Nexus 4, images are a bit sharper though not noticeably so for me. On the other hand, colors are far better calibrated than the stock Nexus 4 colors and you can adjust the colors a bit in settings on the OPO if you so desire.

The phone has a magnetic lock built in which is needed for the official flip cover case. However, if you lay the phone down on something in the right position (say a tablet case that has magnets in it), it can trip the magnet sensor and cause the phone to go to sleep and then wake back up when you move the device away from the magnet. This is useful if you use a case like that but for me I didn't really find a use for it so I installed an Xposed module called MagnetOff (it can be found in the Xposed repository) to disable the sensor.

Battery life on this phone is also amazing. In the first few days that I had the device I could easily use it for 6 hrs before it ran out. After I switched to nightlies, I did notice that battery life wasn't as good, though I'm not entirely sure why. It still isn't bad, it just seems like battery is draining just a smidgen faster on nightlies than on CM11S.

I also noticed that dust and list gets stuck between the chrome and glass pretty easily. Not much of an issue if you live and work in a relatively clean environment, but can get pretty dirty. Some compressed air should be able to clean it out pretty easily.

Overall the OnePlus One is a great phone. It is certainly a worthy upgrade for any phone over a year old. If you're already using something like a HTC One M8 or Samsung Galaxy S5, there is little reason I see to buy the OPO. If you have an aversion to large phones, I would also avoid the OPO. But if you can get an invite and can afford to pay for the phone, I see very little reason as to why you shouldn't buy the phone. If there are any other questions I would be happy to answer in the comments.


1: Do note that I am using the ART runtime on CM11 on my Nexus 4. Even with the old Dalvik runtime on the OPO, it still performs far better than the Nexus 4 on ART.

Updated 08-09-2014 at 08:42 PM by stab244 (Fixes)

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