The OnePlus X is a solid phone at a great price, but you should still know a few things about it before buying.
Whether you're just a little curious about the latest phone from OnePlus, are actively looking at picking one up or even have one on the way, you'll want to learn all you can. This isn't a proclaimed "flagship killer" like the OnePlus One and 2, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have some great features.
But of course at a $249 price there are a few omissions — and we're going to cover both sides of the spectrum here. Read on for the first handful of things you should know about the OnePlus X.
1. The glass back is slick
The first thing to know about the OnePlus X is that it's incredibly slick. The smooth glass on front and back of the phone is accented by a thin metal band that has a little grip to it but doesn't do enough to make the phone sit firmly in your hand. The fact that the screen is just 5-inches makes it a bit easier to wrap your fingers around it, but you still may find it hard to hold.
Perhaps the bigger issue is that the back is completely flat, meaning it has a tendency to slide around a lot — whether that's on a smooth couch, a kitchen counter or your usual workspace. You really don't want to leave the phone unattended on a flat surface for long, lest you come back to find it on the floor.
The simple solution? Pop on the thin rubber case that's included with your OnePlus X. It'll work for most people, and it doesn't cost you anything extra. If you want something a bit more stylish (the included case is amazingly bland) you can pick up one of several silicone cases or hard cases from OnePlus for a reasonable price.
2. It's missing an important radio band for AT&T
Whenever you buy an unlocked phone, it's always important to look at what radio bands it supports and how those line up with your carrier of choice. That's particularly true here with the OnePlus X, where the phone is missing the primary LTE band used by AT&T (and its MVNOs). Band 17 LTE is really important if you want to use the phone on AT&T, and it means that if you aren't willing to switch carriers or deal with mostly HSPA+ data you should leave the OnePlus X off of your purchase list.
For the full breakdown of the reasoning, be sure to read our complete explainer on the subject below.
3. It lacks a handful of features
When you're building a phone that's going to retail for just $249 unlocked, you have to cut corners somewhere. We think OnePlus did a pretty admirable job of choosing where to spend money, with the screen, external hardware and main internal specs stepping above what you'd expect for the money. But that means that a handful of ancillary things were dropped from the spec sheet.
You don't get NFC, for example, or 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 5GHz Wi-Fi, a fingerprint sensor, wireless charging, or Quick Charge. Those aren't the biggest features ever, but when they add up they make an impact on how you use your phone. Just know before you buy what you are and aren't getting.
4. The screen is fantastic
OnePlus freed up some money by dropping fringe features, and that means money was spent on bigger things — like the screen, which is absolutely great. The 5-inch AMOLED panel comes in at a comfortable 1920x1080 resolution, but more importantly has great colors, viewing angles and brightness. This is a way better display than you expect for the money.
And because of how AMOLED panels save power when displaying dark colors, you can save a bit of battery by using the included dark mode for the interface. It also means that the ambient display mode that pulses to show notification content on the lockscreen won't drain your battery over the course of the day.
5. OxygenOS is light and simple
If you've used a OnePlus phone in the past year you'll be familiar with the company's take on Android, called OxygenOS. But even if you haven't, know that OxygenOS actually doesn't deviate from stock Android much either. This is a fairly plain build of Android 5.1.1, with just a handful of useful features thrown in to improve the experience.
OnePlus includes a couple tweaks in the launcher, SwiftKey as the default keyboard, a dark theme, some gesture support, and a few small customization options — and that's it, you don't have to deal with any other changes from stock. Of course you can tweak things to your liking with apps from Google Play, but unlike many phones you won't be disabling and uninstalling tons of apps from OnePlus to clean up your X.
6. We still don't know about Marshmallow
Of course any time you have a non-Nexus phone there's a question of how long it'll take to get software updates out the door. As of now, OnePlus has committed to getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow out for the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 within Q1 2016, but hasn't put any sort of time table out there for the OnePlus X.
Considering the light customizations in OxygenOS and the OnePlus X's internal similarities to the OnePlus One we wouldn't expect its updates to be far behind, but not knowing can be tough for some people. We can say with confidence that the phone will get an update, but we just don't know when.
7. Every phone should have this Alert Slider
One of the nice little hardware features carried over from the OnePlus 2 to the X is the Alert Slider. This little three-stage hardware slider on the left side of the phone instantly switches your phone between Android's three "Do Not Disturb" modes — all / priority / none — without having to open the phone, unlock it and mess with the software. It's something other phones have done in the past, and it's a welcomed addition here.
We're not entirely sure how the functionality of the Alert Slider will change with Marshmallow, but considering the Do Not Disturb similarities we're sure it'll hold much of the same value after an update.
8. You'll need an invite, at least for a little while
That all sound good? Alright, now you just have to go sign up for an invite to buy the OnePlus X. That's right, in the first handful of weeks after release you'll have to wait to get one of these phones, but thankfully invites aren't that hard to come by. Sign up, and you'll get an invite in short order with a code to pick up the phone from the OnePlus online store. You're not committing to buy a phone when you sign up, so even if you're on the fence it's worth signing up while you figure it out.
OnePlus has said it wants to drop the invite process entirely by the end of 2015 — and we hope they do just that.
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