The OnePlus 2 has just had its Virtual Reality Launch event. The event itself was streamed through the OnePlus 2 Launch application, and now that it is over, we know plenty about the specifications and everything the new device is offering.
On the surface, the OnePlus 2 is very similar to its predecessor. It’s still the same 5.5-inch device, but the body material is significantly nicer this time — most of the frame is made of aluminum, but the back keeps the textured, grippy material featured on last year’s phone. That back is easier to replace this time; OnePlus showed me a handful of new backs including two wooden options and a kevlar back that brings to mind Verizon’s never-ending parade of Droids. The combo of the unusual textured back with the shiny metal frame looked great to me, and the Moto X-like contour of the phone meant that it nestled into my hand and felt a bit smaller than such a large phone should feel.
There are a few other hardware tricks you’ll see on this phone that you won’t find on most other devices, perhaps most importantly the USB-C connector on the bottom. We knew this would be the case, but it’s still nice to see a company moving people over to the new port as soon as possible. There’s also a three-position switch on the side of the phone that lets you cycle through the three default notification settings in Android Lollipop (all, priority, and none). I use an iPhone pretty frequently and am very used to using the side switch to silence sounds, so having a more granular hardware switch on the OnePlus 2 is a very welcome addition.
Another new addition is the front-facing fingerprint unlock sensor, and it does indeed work as advertised. With the phone locked, it only took barely a second of laying my finger on the sensor to get the phone open and ready for use. Much like the iPhone, you have to back up the fingerprint sensor with a traditional on-screen lock, but whatever sensor and software OnePlus are using here seem like a very reliable combo.
Once you’ve unlocked the phone, you’ll see the very familiar stylings of Android 5.1 — but this time, OnePlus has added its own in-house software (called OxygenOS) over the top, rather than using Cyanogenmod as it did last year. Fortunately, it’s a very clean skin, with minimal extra features — there are some new options included in the settings, like a menu that lets you enable gestures to tap the screen to wake it, or draw a circle on the screen to launch the camera.
But the biggest addition is something OnePlus calls the “shelf.” When you swipe to the left from your home screen, you’ll see an area that collects your favorite contacts and most used apps (Google Now can still be accessed by long-pressing on the home button). OnePlus says it’ll extend the functionality of the shelf over time, but right now it doesn’t really do much worth noting. Hopefully that’ll change by the time this phone gets into consumers’ hands, because right now I’d rather just have Google Now in its default spot.
The internal specifications are what we have been expecting: inside the OnePlus 2 rests a Snapdragon 810 processor. Qualcomm’s VP of Marketing showed up in a virtual video-conference during the launch event to reassure us once more just how powerful and cool the processor is. We are taking it with a grain of salt, of course. Other than that, the 4GB of DDR4 RAM also made the cut as promised, and it will also come with 16GB (with 3GB of RAM) or 64GB of storage. OnePlus claims that this package powers up one of the fastest experience available on the market, something which we cannot wait to test for ourselves.
The main camera of the OnePlus 2 is a 13MP shooter with a 1.3μ sensor that OnePlus claims will allow for more light and thus better pictures. The camera also comes with Optical Image Stabilization and Laser Autofocus, and all of this is claimed to be put to great use through a simple and powerful Camera app. The OnePlus fans in the launch event had good commentary to say, and the team took a selfie with the crew with the 5MP front-facing shooter.
The phone’s display is a 5.5 inch LCD In-Cell display with 1080p resolution powered up by a 3,300mAh battery. The phone also comes with style switch removable back covers that are easy to remove and snap on, and in terms of charging, the hyped-up USB Type C cable made its appearance with another reversible partner on the other end: the USB plug that goes into your charger and computer is a USB plug that is reversible as well.
By and large, though, OnePlus’ software implementation is graceful and minimalist, with thoughtful additions like the ability to swap between on-screen navigation buttons versus using the capacitive buttons below the screen. OnePlus also included its own camera software, which is fast and minimalist; we’ll have to wait until we get to spend more time with the phone to judge the picture quality.
Similar to what we’ve been seeing in the previous devices, Oneplus has also provided a lot of casing options. We noticed that the first party cases are pretty weak and do not provide much of a protection. However, you can always check out the 3rd party options like stylebaby.com
Unfortunately, just like last year, the OnePlus 2 will be available online through an “invite” system — you’ll only be able to preorder it if you get an invite. The good news is that getting an invite will hopefully be easier this time around, as anyone can sign up to receive one on the OnePlus website (among other places, like OnePlus’s social media accounts). There’s no telling how long it’ll take to get an invite once you’ve signed up, but OnePlus knows it needs to move faster than it did last year: the phone will start shipping to the US, Europe, and India by the middle of August.