The OnePlus One has been one of the most hyped smartphones of 2014. There's really not much else to be said, as OnePlus' marketing has been quite noticeable amongst Android enthusiasts. The OnePlus One seems to come from nowhere, although there is a noticeable resemblance to the Oppo Find 7A which is produced in the same factory. The OnePlus One is said to be a flagship killer, as its high-end specs come with a mid-range price. The 16GB version starts at 299 USD and the 64GB version starts at 349 USD. With a 5.5" 1080p display, Snapdragon 801 SoC, and plenty of other bits and pieces to go around, the specs are certainly enough to make it into a flagship phone. Of course, the real question is whether it really is. After all, while specs provide the foundation, what makes a phone bad, good, or great has to do with the entire phone, not just the spec sheet. At any rate, I've attached this spec sheet below to give an idea of what to expect from the phone.

  Oppo Find 7a OnePlus One
SoC MSM8974ABv3 2.3 GHz
Snapdragon 801
MSM8974ACv3 2.45 GHz Snapdragon 801
RAM/NAND 2 GB LPDDR3, 16GB NAND + microSD 3GB LPDDR3, 16/64GB NAND
Display 5.5” 1080p IPS LCD (JDI) 5.5” 1080p IPS LCD (JDI)
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE) 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE)
Dimensions 152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm, 170 grams 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, 162 grams
Camera 13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing, 1/3.06" CMOS size (Sony IMX214), F/2.0, 5MP FFC w/ F/2.0 aperture 13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing, 1/3.06" CMOS size (Sony IMX214), F/2.0, 5MP FFC w/ F/2.0 aperture
Battery 2800 mAh (10.64 Whr) 3100 mAh (11.78 Whr)
OS Android 4.3 with ColorOS Android 4.4.4 with CyanogenMod 11S
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, DLNA, NFC
SIM Size MicroSIM MicroSIM

Needless to say, the OnePlus One is a close cousin of the Find 7a, and its specs are top notch. There's a great foundation, so we'll move on with some initial hardware impressions.

Of course, the first part to look at is industrial and material design, along with any other immediate observations about the phone. From the front, the phone is almost a pure expanse of black glass. There are outlines for the capacitive keys, but these are quite faint most of the time. The contrast of the silver plastic ring only emphasizes this, and the lack of logos helps to make the design stand out by virtue of its minimalism. Picking it up, the feel of the sandstone black finish is incredibly unique and unlike anything I've ever felt. The finish has been described as soft sandpaper, and that's a description I'd agree with. It makes the phone feel much grippier than one might expect. The back cover is also strong, with no real give and no flex. Other than a few logos, the only significant design elements on the back are the camera, dual LED flash, and a hole for the microphone. The front of the phone has surprisingly great attention to detail as well. The silver plastic piece on the front of the phone makes the finger smoothly roll off of the display when swiping around, and the imperceptible feel of the earpiece helps to contribute to the sense that this is a single, well-built phone.

On the sides, the minimalistic theme continues. There's only a power button on the right side, a headphone jack and microphone port on the top, and a volume rocker on the left side. The SIM tray is also on the left side, and on the bottom of the phone we see two speakers, a USB port, and a microphone hole. In general, the feel of the power and volume buttons are great, with no slack and a clean, if subdued click upon activation.

Needless to say, OnePlus has done a fantastic job. However, there are a few issues to talk about. First, the size is definitely too much to handle. If the LG G3 was at the very edge between a phone and phablet, the OnePlus One firmly steps into phablet territory. At some point a line in the sand has to be drawn, and it only makes sense to do so here. The angular corners of the OnePlus One combined with its larger footprint makes for a phone that is almost impossible to comfortably use with one hand. I can't help but feel that this would've been a far more impressive phone if shrunk to a 5" display size, as in my experience it takes two hands to comfortably use this phone. The other issue is much more subtle though. For some reason or another, the glass lens covering the display of the phone feels as if it has noticeably higher friction than other phones I've used. It almost feels as if the oleophobic treatment of the glass is either missing or thinner than most. Of course, overall the phone is great from a basic design perspective. The size seems to be a matter of OnePlus' start-up position and the need to share parts with the Find 7a, although the feel of the glass is unlikely to be an issue for most.

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  • MadDuffy - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Thanks for your review.

    Some corrections on page one specs: MHL not supported and BT 4.0 (not 4.1).
    Reply
  • anneoneamouse - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    "Reception, at least for T-Mobile US' band 4/AWS LTE is noticeably worse than most devices that I've tried."

    This would seem to be a significant issue; yet this one-line detail is buried under the "misc" section, and not discussed in the conclusions at all. Three pages are devoted to analysis and discussion of photo / video quality, which for most users are likely to be secondary functions.

    It's a phone; can I use it to speak clearly to a client? If not, I'll look elsewhere.

    AoN.
    Reply
  • DoktorSleepless - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Yes, this needs some serious elaboration. Reply
  • Cinnabuns - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    I agree. Especially with all the praise and in-depth look given to the Moto X's cellular reception on this site, it would be helpful if all phones reviewed had a small section describing its reception characteristics. Reply
  • Harry_Wild - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    As a T-Mobile customer; this reception quality is top priority for picking a phone! LTE is for most data until T-Mobile changes it to Voice over Internet using LTE band. But that will be in middle 2015 and later.

    It not a hardware problem; it a software problem so One Plus should be able to fix it with T-Mobile's assistance.
    Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    @Harry, how come you are sure this is a software issue. Could be bad placement of the antenna or bad antenna design in general. Also, I think we don't know if the issue is limited to T-Mobile. That was just the network he tested it on.

    You make a good point though, if this is an LTE issue (which the article does not say), then in 2015 this phone on T-Mobile goes from good voice and bad data to issues for both.

    More questions: There were software updates mentioned. Did those affect the reception issues? And did they swap out the baseband?
    Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    That also made me really nervous. I'm a T-Mobile customer and really need to know how he did notice this. I have seen some good cellular comparison tests in the past on Anandtech. Please lets get some objective comparison or at least some more detail on how this does effect the phone? Indoors, outdoors, calls dropped or not starting, get no reception where other phones have reception. Any reaction by the company? Reply
  • Munna2002 - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    I am a T-Mobile customer with an OPO. My family also all use OPOs. We have no problems with LTE speeds in the NYC Metro area, although we do not have the T-Mobile Wifi calling app, which requires messing with the bootloader and kernels from what I understand. Reply
  • jmasterj - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    This review is missing an important section that always appeared in Klug's phone reviews: network performance. There's one anecdote about how it performed on T-Mobile's LTE, but nowhere are listed even the HSPA or LTE bands supported by this device. It would be nice to see testing in this area. Reply
  • pjcamp - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Since you took the time to review this vaporphone, perhaps you could also do the Xperia Z3? Reply

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