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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  • ttremeth - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Agreed. Reply
  • grayson_carr - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    I owned one for a while and this comment is truth. Reply
  • DanD85 - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Definitely not agree! As someone who had purchased 3 of OPO phone, I can tell you that all the phones I had purchased were & still are excellent. If you are calling yourself a techie than with this complaining act of yours, you are not deserve to call yourself that. I myself also received a DOA charger from OnePlus and the feedback from them has been great. I received a replacement unit not so long after I filed my report with them. No complaint from me so far. Haters like you go around the web and spreading bad rep about OPO and I would recommend those who still on the fend buy one and try for yourself. You won't find a better deal anywhere else period! The price to pay for those living in the USA is actually even lower than China! Which phone you can buy now can have that? Reply
  • augiem - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Why is there always someone out there who tries to make things personal? You have no right to tell me what I deserve to call myself or not and have no right or reason to label me as anything. I have done the research and there are _many_ others who would agree with me. Read the OPO forums. I will not defend myself to you. God! EVERY single time. You people need to get a life and stop making tech your own personal religious war. Reply
  • srkelley - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    *claps* Reply
  • Harry_Wild - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    I just got done reading the feedback on OnePlus.net forum and cancel my order too. To much of a hassle if something happens to go wrong with the One!

    I rather spend a little more and have good customer service!
    Reply
  • K_Space - Sunday, November 23, 2014 - link

    I do not honestly know if Oneplus originally intended this a phone to the mass market; even though for all intends and purposes it is now. The clue should be the invite system.
    I propose this was originally aimed as a 1st edition phone designed semi-exclusively for techies so that it irons out all the hardware, software buggy features. To this effect, the invite system would have worked pretty well with invites being sent out to developers, and android fans who not only are able to come to term with minor bugs but also tackle them in their quest to nourish their problem-solving addiction. It also gives OnePlus an accurate assessment of their customer care (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, the phone has become the victim of it's own popularity and when the phone landed with the non-intended target audience they rightfully complained about how unpolished it feels; the inviters should be a lot more cautious with their invitations. Joshua has done a splendid job reflecting his opinion regarding the suitability of the phone for the mass market, but if he received this as a developer phone I am certain he'd be extremely pleased.
    If I was a phone producer; this is probably what I'd have done. Indeed all tech companies do this with their pre-alpha or alpha builds but to a much narrower base. Think Glass or Project Ara. OP just went global and now they are reaping their harvest (both good and bad fruits). I'm sure the Oneplus Two will be a far more polished and probably more expensive phone.
    Reply
  • mrex - Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - link

    "Even people who are extremely happy with the phone consistently live with problems always expecting them to be fixed in the next patch"

    No problem, im happy, not waiting a fix. No crashing or so. Works perfectly. Yellow banding issue? yes, and that cannot be fixed (it is in hardware). I could have sent the phone back and got mobey back. But the yellow gloe can be hide with an app changing the colour hue of that area. So it doesnt bother me because i cannot see it at all. I only know it is there, and that bothers me, lol. For me this is the best phone i have had. I could buy another if i needed. I knew that the screen may have a yellow bottom before i bought this and i decided to keep this, because it was only visible in certain situations and i was able to fix it with an app though. Disappointed? Sure. Customer support prooably sucks - althought i got an answer on the next day, but i know many complains about it.

    Battery is great. No signal lost. No crashing apps (i do have "only" paid apps, so i dont know if free apps have serious bugs.) No touchscreen lockups. Earpiece failures?? What kind? First time i hear about this.

    Your reply was basicly just an assumption based on opinions from people who have had problems. How about making the same kind of assumption based on opinions from people who dont have problem? Or better, bash the phone when you actually have one to bash.

    Could you show me the extremely buggy software topic? Im running official 44s without any problems at all.
    Reply
  • johnny_boy - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    I just picked up an Honor 6 for nearly 100 euros cheaper (!) than the OnePlus One goes for on Amazon. (The European version of the Honor 6 is only available from Amazon.) Given the price difference, the more preferable screen size on the Honor 6, the better CPU performance of the Honor 6 and its expandable memory, seems like a no-brainer to me. If I were to get a Chinese smartphone, it wouldn't be the OnePlus One. (Also, what's up with the stupid sexist promo they had and the invite-only way to buy the thing?) Reply
  • ttremeth - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    I have one and was a little naive caught up in overwhelming positive reviews. Yes, head over to the OPO forums where people beg for invites. I bought one from China (identical except some LTE frequencies) and then got one of these elusive invites a few weeks later. Someone got very upset that they did not get my invite. It is absurd behaviour for adults begging and being so “nice” to get someone to give them an invite to buy the phone.

    Then if you read through their forums you will see many complaints of non-existent customer service and RMAs taking months as well as some hideous problems. Of course you need to weigh people’s comments against common sense but the Flagship killer is definitely not what it claims to be. However, I do like the phone personally.
    Reply

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