Once Again, Excellent Value for Money
The OnePlus 2 is a very appealing flagship Android smartphone at its low price of just $329 unlocked and off-contract. You’d be hard pressed to find a handset that delivers this sort of value while still packing high-end hardware, so for the second year running OnePlus can be commended in this respect.
There are a lot of things I like about the OnePlus 2. The Snapdragon 810 has copped a lot of flak for its heat output and habit of throttling, but it’s undoubtedly a powerful SoC that provides top-end performance in any task. The GPU is especially powerful when paired with the OnePlus 2’s 1080p display, and should keep the device future proofed for the next few years as new Android games get released.
While the design of the OnePlus 2 is somewhat bland, I generally liked the build, especially the use of metal around the edges of the device. Normally the back would feature a simple plastic panel, but the dbrand skin applied to my review unit looks awesome and really enhances the look and feel. The OnePlus 2 brings USB Type-C and a fingerprint sensor, both of which are handy features. The Alert Slider can also be handy if you’re a fan of Android’s notification profiles, though it wasn’t a significant inclusion.
The 13-megapixel rear camera with OIS and laser autofocus is one of the better cameras I’ve used this year, taking great shots in good lighting and especially at night thanks to the use of a sensor with large pixels. I also liked the OnePlus 2’s large display, which mightn’t make the smartphone as ergonomic as smaller flagships, but it’s great for gaming and viewing videos.
The OnePlus 2 isn’t without its flaws, though. I appreciated the use of mostly stock Android in OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, but I experienced several annoying software issues throughout my time with the handset. Most notably, the auto-brightness feature isn’t hugely effective, and often the capacitive home button (which doubles as a fingerprint sensor) simply didn’t work. Addressing these issues would go a long way to improving the user experience, but judging by what happened with the OnePlus One, I’m not holding my breath for major or speedy updates.
There is also a general feeling while using the OnePlus 2 that the phone was built to a strict budget rather than to produce the best flagship device. No NFC is a big omission considering Android Pay has just launched, and a lack of a microSD card slot will inevitably annoy some users.
And while the hardware in this device is still high-end across the board, the OnePlus 2 isn’t superior to the top class of flagships in any way. The Galaxy S6 is both faster and comes with a better display, the LG G4 has a superior camera and camera app, and the latest Motorola phones feature far more polished versions of stock Android. Even some headline features, such as the fingerprint scanner, are better executed on rival devices. As the OnePlus 2 doesn’t really top any 2015 flagships, it’s hard to call it a “2016 flagship killer”.
However, despite the aforementioned issues with the OnePlus 2, it’s hard to ignore the device from a value perspective. The Galaxy S6 and LG G4 are better smartphones overall, but they also carry significantly higher price tags. There are plenty of reasons to pay the extra $100-200 to get either of these devices, but if you would rather save some cash, the OnePlus 2 is a pretty decent choice.
Pros: Excellent value for money. Top-end performance complemented by a decent display and camera. Fingerprint sensor and USB Type-C are good inclusions. Solid (if somewhat bland) construction.
Cons: Several software bugs hamper the user experience. No NFC, fast charging, or microSD card slot. Hardware isn’t as good as flagship competitors across the board.