We've had the OnePlus 2 for a couple of days now, with retail software onboard and everything. While many of the conclusions drawn about the hardware in our initial hands on remain true, a closer look at this device has revealed some interesting stuff. In some ways our positive opinions of the device were cemented, but there are a few peculiarities that stand out and make you wonder what went wrong when this phone was being created.
We're not quite ready for a full review yet, but in the mean time we've assembled a list of things about the OnePlus 2 for you to chew on.
1. The phone never stops feeling heavy
In a world where Samsung is boasting 4.8oz phones while LG and HTC are rocking 5.5oz rectangles to slide into your pocket, the 6.2oz OnePlus 2 is noticeably heavier than the current competition.
The aluminum frame and sandstone back for this model come together to form a solid, grippy feel in the hand, which is great. Some folks will absolutely appreciate the heft this phone offers, but when combined with the 5.5-inch display and extra bezel on the bottom to make room for the fingerprint sensor this phone could easily be considered unwieldy for others.
2. The fingerprint sensor is almost perfect
Having used the fingerprint sensors on just about every smartphone to have been released in the last couple of years, I can say with some certainty the sensor included in the OnePlus 2 is well done. It's fast, the failure rate is lower than the Galaxy S6, and the setup process is solid.
The only complaint to voice about this sensor currently is the occasional failure to wake the phone on first press. Unlike the Galaxy S6 fingerprint sensor, this isn't a physical button. That means the capacitive sensor is supposed to be always on, and when it detects a finger the screen wakes. Every once in a while, especially when the phone has been asleep for a while, you have to take your thumb off and place it back on the sensor to wake the screen up.
3. There's almost no point in using the software buttons
Like the OnePlus One, there's an option in setting that lets you activate on-screen buttons and disable the capacitive buttons under the display. Unlike the OnePlus One, there isn't a compelling desire to use them. The fingerprint sensor is good enough that most folks are going to want to use it, and having the back and multitask buttons to the left and right of that key feels natural.
While there's bound to be a few folks who want to do things the other way, the original key layout OnePlus set up on this phone is solid.
4. The USB-C port is strangely satisfying
Despite the USB-C port in the OnePlus 2 lacking several key features that make this new cable standard special, using the port itself is strangely satisfying. Not needing to flip the cord around isn't as life-altering as many have sworn it would be, but the port itself is genuinely enjoyable to use. There's a noticeable click when the cable is seated in the socket, and zero wiggle once its in there.
It's probably not time to rush out and buy everything USB-C that becomes available, and this transition is going to suck for those of us who have many microUSB cables already, but in the long term it seems like this port is going to be a good thing.
5. Wifi isn't quite fully baked
It may sound strange, but a great way to test the quality of Wifi firmware is to throw something unusual at it. In this case, a 5ghz network with an SSID of (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ and a 2.4ghz network with an SSID of ┬─┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) lets you know whether ASCII can be read by your firmware. Not only can the OnePlus 2 not read these SSIDs, but trying to do so breaks the English translation of the OxygenOS ROM being used on the phone.
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal. In fact, it wouldn't be a bug at all to just display non-ASCII characters. Where the issue comes in is the OnePlus 2's inability to remain connected to these networks. As soon as the phone falls asleep, it disconnects and doesn't reconnect until you either manually select the network again or restart Wifi on the phone.
6. The camera is great, but not quite the best
There's a lot of mixed feelings about the camera on the OnePlus 2 right now. The camera UI is plain and clunky, but the results so far have been great. It's clearly one of the better smartphone cameras on the market today, but not quite good enough to be considered the best.
We're going to have a much more comprehensive look at the capabilities of this camera compared directly to the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 soon. In the mean time, check out some of our initial camera samples to get a feel for what this camera can do.
7. OxygenOS Permission controls are nice
OxygenOS does a great job delivering a Nexus-style UI with a handful of subtle tweaks for users to take advantage of if they know where to look. One of the more technical features available is direct access to permissions for each app. You can go through and disable each permission individually, and create exactly the kind of experience you want.
There isn't much stopping you from breaking things here if you turn off the wrong permission, save for a warning as you enter the permissions section of Settings telling you almost exactly that. It's the kind of thing that could get folks in trouble if they are poking around without being sure, but if you know what you are doing — and lets face it, most OnePlus 2 owners will fall into this category — it's a feature worth exploring.
8. The speaker is mostly garbage, and MaxxAudio doesn't help
There's not much to say about the speaker on this phone. It's really not great, no matter what you're doing. As a speakerphone it's tolerable, but if you're doing more than having a conversation the audio quality is tinny and low.
OnePlus includes their heavily skinned version of MaxxAudio with this phone, and in no way does this software improve the audio coming from the speaker. It's by far the weakest part of the phone.
9. Audio through headphones, on the other hand, is exceptional
As useless as the speaker on the OnePlus 2 is for music, the reverse is true of everything that comes out of the headphone jack. Testing with our Audio Technica M50 headphones, the sound coming out of the OnePlus 2 is fantastic. Just the right amount of bass, with decent highs and smooth mids.
Like the speakers, Maxx Audio does little to improve the audio quality. In fact, in most cases it seemed like MaxxAudio introduced distortion in an attempt to improve the audio. Your best bet is to leave the software disabled, and you'll be happy with the results.
10. Every phone should have an Alert Slider
The decision to include a three-position slider on the OnePlus 2 and use that switch to control notifications is a stroke of genius. Not only is the button satisfying to use as it click into place and doesn't wiggle around, but the instant flip to priority or mute with alarms is the best implementation of Google's new notification system.
Smartphones seem to be moving towards fewer and fewer buttons, but this Alert Slider deserves to be a standard feature in Android, especially if you're using it with Android Wear.