OnePlus One

Coming around on a week since getting our hands on a OnePlus One, we've been deep in the forums answering your questions about the latest CyanogenMod device. We're seven pages into the discussion right now, and while there have been a lot of unique questions, some of the same big questions are being asked.

In order to give some deeper thoughts on each of the big questions, we've rounded them up and condensed down to eight big questions, covering a lot of the curiosity around the OnePlus One. Narrowing things down also lets us give a more in-depth answer to each, which means we can get a better explanation of how we feel on each subject. Read long with us and check out the top questions about the OnePlus One, and our answers.

What carriers will the One work on?

OnePlus One SIM slot

According to the spec sheets and backed up by my testing, the OnePlus One will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile here in the U.S. (that includes their MVNOs, too) — sorry, no Sprint or Verizon. Now things get a little fuzzy in terms of LTE bands when you step outside of the U.S., so I'll refer you to the exact specs, where you can compare the bands in the device to the bands your carrier uses:

  • GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz
  • HSPA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8
  • LTE: Bands: 1/3/4/7/17/38/40

Performance on both AT&T and T-Mobile has been relatively comparable in terms of speeds and connectivity to the Nexus 5 and Galaxy S5, which I'm also currently using, though the radios seem to be holding a slightly weaker signal than other devices. Based on readings from the "about phone" screen, the OnePlus One held an LTE connection at 5 to 10dBm lower than other phones on both carriers — for example my Nexus 5 would have a -95dBm signal, the One would have -105dBm. It's not a huge deal, but it's big enough of an "issue" that the One will drop down to HSPA+ in low signal zones faster than other phones. Not the end of the world, but something to keep in mind.

How has battery life on the OnePlus One been?

OnePlus One Battery

With a 3100mAh battery under the back cover, the expectations have been set pretty high for battery life on the OnePlus One. We can never give much in terms of absolutes when it comes to battery life on any phone we review, but we can give some anecdotal evidence of what we're seeing. Through my first week using the phone on a daily basis, I'm relatively pleased with the longevity of the One. Especially since the latest software update (we're still on pre-production software, mind you), battery life has been above what I've gotten out of other recent flagships.

I make it through a full day of use (~15 hours), with all of my accounts syncing and "screen on" time over three hours per day and rarely hit the 25 percent mark when I go to plug it in when I go to sleep. That's plenty good in my book — and I never once left the house worried about whether my battery was going to tank while I was out. Even with heavy photo taking, podcast listening or music streaming. Battery life will vary drastically based on how you use your phone, but without any special tactics I was able to get above-average battery life (for my use) out of the One.

How are you liking the cameras?

OnePlus One camera interface

On paper the OnePlus One has all of the right specs on the camera front — 13MP Sony sensor, six lenses and a newly redesigned CM camera app. In practice, this isn't looking to be the next awe-inspiring camera, but it is quite good. Capture time in "Auto" mode is very fast, and HDR isn't far behind it. You have lots of great controls for manual exposures, filters and tweaks, though most will simply go with the "point and shoot" method, and the One does a good job with that. White balance tends to be a bit on the cool side by default, but each camera always has its own tendencies on that front.

I found HDR mode to often make scenes a little too bright and apply a really heavy HDR look, which can be a bit jarring if you were looking for a more natural-looking picture. It does provide seriously bright and color-rich photos, though, which is ultimately the goal of HDR. Auto mode provides good light and relatively low noise provided you're smart with your touch-to-focus point and have a steady hand. This camera doesn't have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), though, which is a downside when it comes to getting pictures in really low light and reducing the grain created by high ISOs and over-processing after the fact.

Here are two camera samples (of many that I've taken so far). The first in HDR mode during the day, and the second in Auto in low light:

OnePlus One camera sample (HDR)OnePlus One camera sample (Auto)

Frustratingly, the camera interface still does one of the most annoying things for a photographer — it shows a 16:9 aspect ratio viewfinder for 4:3 pictures. Just like many Nexus devices of years past, the picture you see in the viewfinder is different from the picture you eventually capture, and that's just downright annoying. Luckily it's a simple software fix, but it's a fix that has yet to be implemented.

Overall I have a lot more testing to do — including video recording, which is supported up to 4K resolution — but I can say that the OnePlus One is performing above my expectations in the camera department. It provides a lot of light in shots of all kinds, does a good job (if maybe too good) with HDR and has a camera interface that's easy to use and get great shots with.

What is the One's build quality like, and how does it feel in your hand?

OnePlus One

The One is built extremely well by any standard, and is absolutely a cut above your average $300 off-contract device in terms of materials and finishes. It's an understated design overall with just a bit of flair in the form of shiny silver accents around the bezel of the phone, and I can appreciate the simplicity of the One overall. There's no weird materials at play here or gimmicky designs — it's just a nice looking phone. The back cover is technically removable (I say "technically" because it really does not like to come off easily), but it doesn't at all hinder the solid feel of the phone.

It's hard to complain about a single piece of the One's industrial design, aside from its generally massive size. All of this talk about it being a 5.5-inch phone fit into a 5-inch phone body really didn't come to fruition, and it's decidedly a step above your average 5-inch handset. It completely dwarfs the Nexus 5 and even the Galaxy S5, putting itself more in the range of the Galaxy Note 3 and larger devices. This is not a one-hand friendly device, even for my large hands, and even with using on-screen buttons I don't always feel comfortable reaching around the interface without a second hand close by for support. Using a keyboard with voice or swiping input is a savior in one-handed situations.

Everyone has different use cases and expectations of what they'll do with their phone so I can't say how the OnePlus One will fit into your life (and hand), but the biggest thing to recognize here is that the phone is big, and it feels big. Just know what you're getting in to.

How do you manage on-screen vs. capacitive keys?

OnePlus One buttons

Part of the "never settle" design of the One is having the choice between capacitive and on-screen buttons, and it's actually quite easy to switch between the two and find which one you prefer. You can simply choose which set of buttons you want to use on the fly from the settings, and in typical CyanogenMod fashion you can customize everything about either set you choose. If you go on-screen, you can change the position of the buttons and add/remove ones you dont want, and if you go the capacitive route you can choose what each button does for a single or long-press.

I've firmly settled on the on-screen buttons, and I think that'll be the best choice for most people. Because the One is so tall (and wide) you won't mind giving up that small portion of screen for the navigation bar, and having the buttons further up on the phone make them much easier to reach than getting your thumb all the way down to the bottom bezel to hit the capacitive keys.

Unfortunately there is a compromise at play here with the button choice. First off, the capacitive buttons are physically labeled as menu, home and back, so no matter what you choose them to be in the software, there's no changing that that darn menu button is still there. If you choose to go with the on-screen buttons, those capacitive keys are still visible. Although it's really hard to see them without tilting the phone at just the right angle, the OCD folks among us (myself included) will be bothered by their existence. Further, when you turn those capacitive keys off the entire bottom bezel loses its capacitive connection with the phone, meaning the bottom edge of the screen is particularly deaf to your touches of the on-screen button. It feels as though the touch targets for the on-screen buttons are smaller, and indeed when compared to the Nexus 5 you have to move a much larger portion of your finger onto the screen to get a touch to register.

What's the OnePlus One's screen like, particularly outdoors?

OnePlus One screen

The One's 5.5-inch 1080p panel is pretty great, and is right on par with other leading LCD's out there today. It offers all of the top features you want out of a modern display, including accurate colors, high pixel density and good touch response. My only problem with the display is it's just a touch darker at full brightness than other leading displays out there, which can hurt it outdoors in the daytime. The auto brightness levels can be manually adjusted to stay extra bright, which is nice and helps negate some of those issues — but at full brightness it's just good enough to get the job done, not make you forget that you're looking at an LCD in the sun.

What about speaker quality?

OnePlus One speakers

OnePlus makes a big deal about the phone having "stereo" speakers. I can confirm that those speaker grilles aren't just for looks, and there are indeed two speakers on the bottom of the phone. I do have an issue with calling two speakers a mere 2-inches apart "stereo," though. The speakers are relatively loud for the occasional speaker phone call or short YouTube video, but these aren't going to let you rock out to music at your next party, and you will always prefer using headphones for any real long-term listening.

What are you liking about CyanogenMod, and what still needs work?

OnePlus One themes

I'll be the first to say I haven't been intimately familiar with CyanogenMod since around version 9 (and early versions of 10), and using CM 11S on the OnePlus One has reminded me why it's so popular. Having it come pre-loaded on a phone completely removes the barrier of hacking it onto there myself, and I feel right at home on CM the same way I do on "stock" Android on my Nexus 5.

The big thing CM is pushing is the ability to customize anything and everything about the OS, but I still think that it goes a bit overboard with those customizations by default. Not having used CM in a while, I was utterly confused as a new user why some things were the way they were. It took a lot of jumping into the settings to turn off features rather than turn them on the way I like it. It reminded me a lot of turning on a Galaxy S5 and disabling TouchWiz features I have no use for — the only difference here being that when I turn them off, they are 100 percent off and out of the way, not nagging me to use them again.

As I noted in the camera section I think that experience needs a little bit of work, but I think CyanogenMod has done a great job on the new Gallery experience and theme engine. My One is still running pre-production software and doesn't have everything tightened down perfectly, but I haven't had a single crash, reboot or bug in the latest software build. There are still wrinkles to iron out, I assure you, but I can't pass too much judgment there until phones are shipping to real customers.

We know we can't answer every question in a single post, so be sure to hop into the forums and ask us a specific question about the OnePlus One, if you have one!


Reader comments

Your top OnePlus One questions answered


+1 but I plan getting it. I'm nerdy about this stuff and you can't beat the price with current flagship devices.

AC App via Nexus 5

Agreed, 5" would be ideal in my current phone is a Nexus 4 and at 4.7" it's fine but 5" would be my choice...5.5" is too big.

yeah, size would be great for me but too big for anyone else in my family. i can't even buy this for myself and hand my current phone down to my daughter. it's a Note3. haha

either way, i'm hopeful this phone does well.

Looks like that bug was tied to the gestures that could be used while the screen was off to auto launch the camera and music player. The screen sensitivity was WAY too high so it caught phantom touches that didn't exist and started to play music. I've turned off the gestures because of this — it doesn't seem the bug is "fixed" as much as the cause is found and mitigated.

Interesting hopefully they get the sensitivity tuned right before the final software hits consumers hands

Indeed. They're doing high-sensitivity stuff to be able to do the double-tap to wake when the screen is off as well as the gestures, and I hope they can get it tuned right as well. The good thing is you can turn the gestures off.

You can edit the capacative button in cyanogenmod (at least on my note 3) under buttons in the settings. The icons won't change (duh) but you can change the behavior. Is that not possible on the oneplus one?

Can you select double tap for an action on the capacitive keys, or enable both the capacitive /on screen keys at the same time? When I installed CM on my S3 it effectively gave me 9 shortcuts with each of the 3 off screen keys being able to do actions either by tapping once, double tapping or long pressing. And I could also add in on screen keys to the mix.

Posted via Android Central App

No, you can either have the on-screen buttons or the capacitive buttons. And I'm glad you can't enable both, that'd be a nightmare situation for most people.

OPPO for one. Granted they are not doing the software, which is a plus, but they still have 0 track record with anything.

Maybe in another year or so. Or maybe when you can head to their forums and not see 100 POSTS about things that a mature OEM has already figured out.

Posted via Android Central App

OPPO has been releasing phones for a while now, and they're damn good. OnePlus is an offshoot of OPPO, and everyone who's received a phone has said the hardware is solid.

That's such an uniformed comment. For one, Oppo has an EXCELLENT track record making high end home theatre equipment. They are not new to the electronics game by any means.

Posted via my Samsung GS4 using the Android Central App

1.Too big.
2.Bugs me that there are capacitive buttons, don't care that you can turn them off.
3.CM, love stock, N4 user. Used CM but it never grew on me, the additional options and tweaks just bugged me since I don't find them useful.
4.No ois
5.Too thick, another reason why I turned down the M8
-I'm not hating on the phone, it's just not what I am looking for in my next purchase. My N4 is sufficient for now. I want to wait for a real upgrade. I am also very picky. Price is a plus but it's not a deal-breaker for me. I'm sure this is a great phone, just not for me.

Posted via Android Central App

Since this phone is pretty much similar to the Find 7, there is a XDA "unboxing" of it that will give a good idea of the durability. Oppo phones are generally very durable so it should be the game with this one, it's good to know since it was one of my concern when I learned about the removable backs.

via android central app

I am a bit irked by the fact that it doesn't support Sprint. I want the future of phones to be like the Nexus 5, UNLOCKED, and capable of being activated on ANY carrier! (except Verizon, but you couldn't pay me enough to use them anyway!)

Blame Sprint not OPPO. Once Sprint and VZW get rid of CDMA, these type of phones (nexus included ) will most likely work on those carriers. OEMs don't bother with those LTE bands at this point because they aren't going to put a CDMA radio in the device.

You make reference to the size vs. N5, GS5, and Note3. Could we have a photo of all 4 devices, side by side, for comparison? Thanks!

Thanks for the summary of your preliminary observations - very helpful. I'm encouraged that most of the possible detractors on your list may be fixable with new code.

I'm still struggling with the size, though. I wish somebody would invent some new magical place to keep the darn thing while out and about.

My current convenient but very dorky habit of using a shirt pocket just won't work with this beast. Pants pockets won't work for me, so maybe it will have to be a case and holster arrangement.

With the camera quality, I'm curious what's hardware, what's driver, and what's software. Have you tried installing the new Google camera from the Play Store and comparing the two?

sweet, i cant wait, i need a new phone, the gt-i9506 has NO custom roms and doesnt even run kitkat, its killing me. Please send an invite my way if you get one. My fricken nexus s was running kitlkat, and my brand newish s4 isnt and i cant stand it!

Solid article. I'm in the forums as much as I used to be so this is great for myself and others alike. I want this phone and since the back is removable I will pay someone for their white back because I will be getting the 64GB version. My N5 is black but I use a case. I won't be getting a case for this device so I'd like it in white.

AC App via Nexus 5

Would you say cm11 is as fluid and refined as something like Sense 6 or stock android? Or would you attribute it to something loaded with features like TouchWiz?

Posted via Android Central App

I wouldn't say it's as fluid as Sense 6 on a new device or KitKat on the Nexus 5. Just a little more hesitation getting around, and a few more bugs. It's close, though. MUCH faster than TouchWiz on the GS5.

It isn't a standard feature on ANY flagship device. I can't think of any phone-outside of the Nexus line and a few Lumias-that include it out of the box.

Wrong screen size, bad BS marketing (advertising a 5"5 as big as a 5" is a total lie) and a botched product availability timeline. The 5.5 inch screen is a phablet size phone, you could never use it one handed and I'm sure its just as clumsy as any other big phone. Being 5.5" also makes it compete with the Note 3, which is a beast of a phone w/stylus and has its own fan base. The timeline release with the LG G3 and possibly the Prime will destroy any chance of this doing any volume besides already the M8 and S5 doing big numbers. Then two months later iPhone 6 with the right screen size finally, then its really over. Another epic chinese FAIL....

It's a niche device designed to be an alternative to a nexus...everyone who knows they want to buy one knows this going in.

Gee does anyone use a large phone with one hand?
I've got a Galaxy S3 and its a two handed use every time.
I'm 50 and I want a larger screen. 5.5 isn't that large.

Too big? Not for many people. It's a niche phone for those it fits, both in programming and physically. I use my GS3 with one hand constantly, and I only have average-to-slightly-large hands for a Caucasian man. As for the marketing, it's completely necessary given the size and capability their company has for production. That's WHY it's so cheap. That and not having carrier markup. Anyone who wants it sooner can buy one from the parent company's site and change the OS, or even from their Amazon sales. Even with all that, if there are a few things you dislike about it, the fact remains that NO PHONE IS PERFECT, and every phone becomes outdated. My guess is that you are angry because you haven't gotten an invite and don't want to spend more (you're not entitled). Either that, or you're just another Apple fan who thinks iPhones are great (they're worth less than half what you pay and put up with).

That HDR photo looks too overly processed. Too much halo and almost looks cartoony. This phone looks great, but does seem a little overly large. I'd love to see one of these in a slightly small form factor as well.

thanks AC, I am intrigued by this phone, I want to at least try it when I can but until then I only have you guys! :P

You Know What?
I don't need to go to the forums..
The Bottom Line Is..
You Andrew are Nitpicking.
There is not a damn thing wrong with this phone.. and between the lines, that is EXACTLY what you are saying.
The S5, M8, M7, G2 Z2, Moto X are NOT perfect phones either.. No Phone is "All Things To All People"
What it sounds like is,
For $299 - $349.00.. It Does Just What It Said It Was Going To Do...
Run Neck And Neck With The Big Boys.

No phone may be perfect, but people who read this site like to know these details. I think Andrew is doing a great job in covering the information readers here want to know. If you're not interested skip this story and move on to the next one.

Posted via Android Central App

I'd be more interested in it's performance. After owning a phone for a year it tends to fill with Apps and this slows it down. I've got around 100 Apps on my phone and whilst some I hardly use, I want access when I need them.
So I've come to realise 1GB of RAM doesn't cut it if like me you use your phone as a real reference tool. So sure reviewers say a brand new phone is quick and slick. But then they don't really load the phone do they? Common issue with most reviews sadly.

I'm confused. Why am I reading an article about an android phone on an Android website using an android phone and running chrome browser and still having problems getting the page to render? I can't read the end of each line, pics and comments get cut off, and no amount of zooming out or scrolling changes it. And now I have to add this text to see submit.

And after adding a comment the page goes from locked to the left to locked to the right, not allowing the start of each line to be seen.

So, are you saying that its speakers are not as good as HTC One's speakers? My decision to buy this phone rests on thie one comparison. I'm more of an audio guy than a camera guy. Please do let us know. Better yet, make a video comparing the two side by side in a speaker test. PLEASE? :)

Axman1000 , finally someone else that appreciates decent speakers, audio.... I hope this phone is much better than my GNex which I can't wait to replace!

I want to buy one, but can't because of the stupid invite system. I guess I will just take my money else where.

Posted via Android Central App

The whole signal strength thing is a big concern for me, I read on another android website that the person reviewing the OnePlus mentioned that it appears to have a worst signal strength than the Nexus 5, and my Nexus 5 isn't as strong as my LG Optimus Pro on AT&T.

Posted via Android Central App

Oppo find 7a is about 150 bucks more but in my opinion is better phone. The removable battery that has rapid charging is a better than any phone in US. 30 mins to 75% charge? Speakers on back might be louder based on initial reviews for OnePlus. Dont know yet. Slightly better camera? And sd slot for 128 gb. Still one plus 64g version is hard to beat.

Posted via Android Central App

Looks awesome, I'm really excited for this phone. If they manage to iron out all the little software/firmware wrinkles I'll be very happy to puck one up.

5.5 is going to be OK for me I think, I've been thinking for a while that I could go a good inch larger than my Nexus 4. If you pair with a Moto 360, you can have at a glance information on your wrist and a big screen in your pocket for gaming/browsing/chatting. Only trouble is, my Nexus 7 might see a little less action.

+1 I'm looking forward to getting mine as well. Selling my S4 with view case on swappa and getting this baby.
Posted via Android Central App

I'm definitely looking forward to checking this phone out when it is finally launched officially. Makes me wonder what the next Nexus smartphone will be like. The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Posted via Android Central App

I don't think Google is trying with nexus from this year out. They keep changing direction away from phones and android. And that whole thing with samsung where they supposedly agreed to stop selling cheaper devices... yeah they are making a mistake there.

Posted via Android Central App

I really love this device but I heard another commenter say that they must have cut corners to make this this cheap...

What do you guys think? I mean it looks amazing and that battery... oh man its s note 3 worthy.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm going to hold off judgement of the camera till I see some samples, considering how completely wrong Android Central was about the Nexus 5's camera. Daylight shots look pretty good to me...lets see what macro and lowlight look like.

I'm used to using a nexus 7 tablet. When I look at the note 3 I think it looks small. I own an iPhone 5 and its a joke as far as I'm concerned. I really wonder if people who say 5.5 is too big have ever lived with one for a month. 5.5 inch is perfect. If you are going to make one device they nailed it.

my main speaker is set to earpiece speaker and i can't hear songs from my main speaker..
sound comes from earpiece speaker instead of main speaker..
how to get rid off this problem plzz help me..