- Amazing value
- Classy screen tone
- Reliable fingerprint scanner
- Good camera image quality
- HDR and camera speed performance just OK
- Hard to get hold of… again
- 5.5-inch 1080p screen
- Snapdragon 810 processor with 3/4GB RAM
- 16 or 64GB storage
- Dual SIM
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 5-megapixel front camera
- Fingerprint sensor
- 3,300mAh battery
- Manufacturer: OnePlus
When my colleague Andrew Williams first reviewed the OnePlus 2 last year, he was enamoured with it – and rightly so. OnePlus was selling a smartphone with specs that could rival the flagships of 2015 and, better still, for a lowly price of £239/$358. Purchase was by invitation only, but if you could get your hands on one, the OnePlus 2 was a steal.
A lot has changed since then. You don’t need an invite to buy the OnePlus 2 anymore. And a brief check on the OnePlus UK store tells me that the 16GB £239/$358 version is no longer available. Instead, OnePlus is now selling just the 64GB OnePlus 2, albeit at a discounted £249/$373 (down from the £289/$433 launch price).
I used the OnePlus 2 for about nine months, and only recently traded it out for a Samsung Galaxy S7. This phone was my daily driver and was, for the most part, great. The camera took nice pictures, battery life and storage were never an issue, and the griptape back offered welcome friction to my buttery fingers.
But the halcyon days of 2015 are over, and I now have some serious complaints about the OnePlus 2.
The first issue is charging, and the sheer slowness of it. The OnePlus 2 might use a USB-C connection, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get fast charging. In fact, the OnePlus 2 generally took just north of two hours to charge from empty to full. Charging the Galaxy S7, by comparison, is…well, there’s no comparison. Fast-charging devices are the future, leaving the OnePlus 2 feeling like a bit of a relic.
The second issue is performance, and this is the big one. We’ve received plenty of complaints about the OnePlus 2 from readers, all of which claim that the phone has slowed down significantly since purchase. I can vouch for this. The OnePlus 2 often slowed to a crawl for no apparent reason. Near the end, I was having to reboot the phone at least three or four times a week.
But here at TrustedReviews, we’re all about the actual numbers.
In our original review, the Geekbench 3 score for the OnePlus 2 was 4,460. I recently ran 10 tests on the phone, giving me a new average score of 3,654 – with a low of 2,121. That’s not great, but it’s not a huge drop either. In any case, this probably isn’t the real root of OnePlus 2 performance problems.
That’s because once an app is running on the OnePlus 2, it tends to work just fine. But switching between apps, loading apps, and other multi-tasking functions often – and inexplicably – make the device unusable.
What’s telling in this regard is how much the RAM write speed has dropped since our original review. Back in 2015, tests showed that the OnePlus 2 managed an 8,000MB/s write speed. But now the average (over 10 tests) has dropped to 4,494MB/s – that’s with a high of 5,061MB/s, and a low of 1,223MB/s.
The storage read and write speeds are similarly concerning. The original storage write speed for the OnePlus 2 was 125MB/s. It’s not 98MB/s. The original storage read speed for the OnePlus 2 was 234MB/s. It’s now 184MB/s. Yuck.
To make matters worse, the OnePlus 2 was marketed as the ‘2016 flagship killer’. But as is evident by the performance drop, that’s simply not true. The last 12 months have brought us a smorgasbord of powerhouse flagships – like the Nexus 6P, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the HTC 10 – all of which run rings around the ailing OnePlus 2.
To be fair, OnePlus tells us that it is trying to address these issues with software updates, but a quick search online shows that customers are still experiencing issues, and have been for a while.
ONEPLUS 2 – LONG-TERM VERDICT
The OnePlus 2 is a phone that looks like good value for money on paper, but it’s not the 2016 flagship killer it was marketed as. If you need a cheap phone, the OnePlus 2 isn’t a bad choice. But if you have the extra money to spare, I’d recommend grabbing an actual 2016 flagship instead. Hopefully the company’s rumoured OnePlus 3 will fare better when/if it arrives later this year.
WHAT IS THE ONEPLUS 2?
Just like the OnePlus One, the OnePlus Two hits the bullseye. It offers a slick build and a spec-list that matches most of the far pricier high-end devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S6. Oh, and it only costs £239/$358.
Yet, it’s not perfect. You still have to battle with the annoying invite system and even though the phone has been out a few months you can’t just go onto the website and buy one. It lacks NFC too, which isn’t ideal if you want to take advantage of Android Pay.
If you’re happy to spend £400-500/$600-750 and money is not a major concern, phones like the Nexus 6P and iPhone 6S still top the OnePlus 2. But for the money it’s hard to argue against.
At first glance, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t appear anything special. Coming from a manufacturer no-one has heard of you might expect it to bear some obvious USP that’ll scream at you from the shelf.
But that’s not the point. The OnePlus 2 isn’t meant to be sold on shelves, ever. Aside from the odd importer, you can only buy the phone from OnePlus direct. You need an invite to even be able to order the thing and, at the time of writing, they aren’t too easy to get hold of.
The cynics among you may think: what better way to breed hype and anticipation than by limiting stock? Such thoughts aren’t groundless, but if there was a middle-man retailer or network in-between, you can bet the OnePlus 2 would not cost £239/$358. There’s a lot of new-model marketing behind the phone, but that the thing is hard to get hold of isn’t just something made up by the OnePlus marketing department.
In person it certainly doesn’t seem like the hype machine that is OnePlus’s online presence has overshadowed the OnePlus 2’s design. It’s a phone that feels great, and is at home when sat next to more expensive mobiles like the HTC One M9 and LG G4.
Unlike the mostly-plastic OnePlus One, the OnePlus 2 has sides made of magnesium alloy. This feels a lot like aluminium. A little less cool to the touch perhaps, but we bet more than 50% of OnePlus 2 owners who haven’t pored over the spec sheet would assume it’s aluminium, as used in the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9.
One of the benefits of magnesium alloy is that it’s a bit lighter than aluminium. However, the OnePlus 2 is not a particularly light phone at 175g. It’s 20g heavier than the LG G4, which is no small amount in the phone world.
On first getting our hands on the OnePlus 2, this extra weight was quite obvious. But the sum total of our reaction was to silently think “cor, this one has some meat on it”, before promptly forgetting its size and weight more-or-less completely.
It’s a non-issue for those with moderate-to-large hands. And if you have smaller mitts, the OnePlus 2 lets you switch between hardware soft keys and software ones, and you can flip the ‘back’ and lesser-used ‘recent apps’ soft keys around. With or without a tweak, the soft keys are fairly easy to reach.
Still, if having a super-slim phone is top of your wishlist, the OnePlus 2 doesn’t really fit the bill at 9.9mm thick.
COVERS AND CONNECTIONS
As well as having that nice band of magnesium alloy to tart up its design, the OnePlus 2’s back feels quite unusual. Sharing the same back texture as the OnePlus One, the rear feels a little rough and fuzzy, almost closer to a sort of fabric than anything else.
It’s a high-friction, tactile surface that we’re honestly surprised not to have been adopted by anyone else (to our knowledge) since we saw it in the OnePlus One. However, there are mixed reviews on it from the Trusted team, and if the thought of your phone feeling like a shaved hamster doesn’t appeal, there are other covers on offer.
These come with a £20/$30 price bump, but feature ‘real’ materials, including kevlar and various kinds of wood. Kevlar and the standard grey-black rear are the best picks if you want a low-key phone.
The rear can be prised off with a finger easily enough, and while it doesn’t give you access to the battery, it does mean the OnePlus 2 can avoid using one of those SIM slots that needs a pin/tool to unlock. There are two SIM slots, both nano-size, and both fit into a single piece of plastic that slots into the body.
There’s no waterproofing here, and no microSD card either, so be sure to choose carefully between the £239/$358 16GB and £289/$433 64GB versions. We’re using the 64GB edition. It’s the best choice if you want to store a lot of music on your phone.
Both versions come with a few neat little hardware extras you don’t see on most other phones. First, there’s a little 3-way switch on the left side of the OnePlus 2 that turns all notifications off, only allows priority notifications and lets the lot through.
It’s a neat way to silence your phone quickly, although you do need to remember not to check you’ve not accidentally set the thing to silent if you’re expecting a phone call.
Then there’s the socket. Most phones have a microUSB 2.0 slot. Some phones even have a a microUSB 3.0 slot, like the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, the OnePlus 2 has a USB-C socket. This is likely to be the successor to microUSB, and the main benefit is that it’s reversible. It’s way more convenient. In one sense at least.
The downside is that you can’t use any cables you’ve accrued over the years to charge the phone. And if you lose the cable, replacing it could be a pain. It’s only really the socket that has changed too. You don’t get USB 3.0 speed. We like USB-C, but at this point using it is a mixed blessing.
The most important extra hardware feature, though, is the fingerprint scanner. Taking inspiration from the iPhone Touch ID sensor and, more recently, the Samsung Galaxy S6 scanner, it sits under the Home soft key on the front of the phone.
Crucially, you don’t need to swipe your finger over it, just hold it there. We’ve found this is a vital part of making a phone finger scanner quick and easy to use.
Sure enough, the OnePlus 2 scanner is another winner. While it’s a bit slower than the iPhone 6 scanner, it’s about as reliable and still quicker than using a pattern or pin for security. You can teach the phone up to five fingerprints, and 99% of the time we ended up using a thumb. Two down, three to donate if you like.
The OnePlus 2 scanner does not sit on a physical button like the iPhone 6’s, though. The sensor pad is static, its indent there to give you a physical guide as to where your finger needs to be.
Like the other two soft keys, which are lit-up with simple blue dashes, it’s a touch-sensitive pad rather than a clicky button. Just fitting in features like a fingerprint scanner, let alone a good one, at £239/$358 is impressive. However, there are a few omissions to balance this out. There’s no NFC, for example. And no IR transmitter. Oh, and no FM radio.
The OnePlus 2 is a phone with a large screen, measuring 5.5-inches across. That’s larger than the Samsung Galaxy S6, the HTC One M9 and, of course, the iPhone 6.
Quality matters, but having a larger screen is generally always a benefit when matching video or playing games. Display quality is good too.
The OnePlus 2 has an LCD, IPS, LTPS screen, a great trio for any phone. To unpack these terms a bit, LCD means that you shouldn’t expect quite the black level and contrast you get from an OLED Samsung Galaxy S6 or similar. The phone still has a standard backlight, so contrast can only reach so high.
Of course, this only really becomes evident in a darkened room. In normal conditions you’ll not notice any diminished blacks. They’re strong for an LCD display.
IPS gets you great viewing angles, with fairly little loss of brightness off-axis and no contrast shift from any angle. Colours are very pleasant too.
This year we’ve seen a few phones try that bit too hard to bring the super-deep colours that very obviously telegraph to your eyeballs quite how much of the sRGB palette a phone can render. They often end up looking oversaturated, but the OnePlus 2 takes a far more relaxed approach. There’s no toxicity to the reds, and no other shades look as though they’re ready to leap our of the screen and stab you.
The OnePlus 2 is quite iPhone 6-like in this respect. It’s a very pleasant screen.
The final bit of tech jargon we mentioned earlier is LTPS, another screen architecture tech. This one helps cut down on the power the display uses. Of course, none of these screen techs are remarkable. They’re all very common.
Aside from that the OnePlus 2 has a very pleasant screen tone, one that offers punchy colour while appearing totally natural, the other bit worth paying attention to is the resolution. It has a 1080p panel, matching the iPhone 6 Plus pixel-for-pixel with 401ppi density.
We can’t go without mentioning the higher-resolution options out there. The LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 provide radically higher pixel density, simply because they use QHD screens.
Up-close there is a difference between a QHD screen and a Full HD one, especially at this size. But it’s a minor and we’re a way off any phone launching at a sub-£300/$450 price with one of those. Resolution-obsessed bargain hunters out there should also consider the LG G3, now available SIM-free for as little as £229/$243. It has a QHD screen and is still immensely capable, although feels a little cheaper than the OnePlus 2.
With a Gorilla Glass 4-topped display and good top brightness, the OnePlus 2 is not too susceptible to fingerprint smudges, offers good scratch-resistance and fares pretty well outdoors on bright days. The one complaint we began to notice after using the phone for a week is that the auto brightness setting could be improved.
It works, but tends to make the screen too bright indoors, and doesn’t react nearly enough to where you set the brightness slider. This is one of those auto backlight modes that operates relative to a slider, giving you a but of control.
Other than the brightness issue, the display is a winner. And OnePlus could easily improve things with a software update.
ANDROID AND OXYGEN SOFTWARE
The OnePlus 2 runs Android 5.1.1, with OnePlus’s Oxygen UI on top. This is a custom interface, but one with quite different aims to HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz.
It keeps the look and feel of standard Android, but adds loads of features under the surface, ones designed to appeal to power users. Just the the kind of gadget fans likely to go out of their way to find out more about a ‘mystery’ phone like the OnePlus 2, then.
When you first turn on the OnePlus 2, you could almost mistake it for a Nexus-style device, though. Its extra features are more covert than overt. There’s one extra bit that sits front and centre, but OnePlus is so dedicated to the standard Android feel that it even asks if you want to disable it on first boot-up.
It’s called Shelf, and is an extra homescreen that holds your favourite app shortcuts, your favourite contacts, and any widgets you might use but don’t want to keep on a homescreen. This feels like something OnePlus may develop more over the coming 12 months, because at the moment it feels a very much non-essential part of the experience.
We’ve used it for the purposes of checking every nook and cranny of the OnePlus 2 out. But we can’t imagine using it much day-to-day.
This doesn’t matter, though, because we have found ourselves using the bits that Oxygen is really about, those little tweaks and customisations. We’ve looked at these in more detail in our OnePlus 2 tips and tricks article, but they effectively let you make the phone your own, without the brash, system-wide themes that some other manufacturers are adopting (like it’s 1999).
You can do things like switch the menu system from a white colour scheme to black, choose between using software/hardware soft keys and alter the icon set used for installed apps. Ultra accessibility isn’t the key here, as these little customisations are kept in different areas of the OnePlus 2’s menu system. However, the phone remains easy to use for non-geeks because the phone is just as good if you ignore al the extra bits.
At this point Samsung’s custom UI is good enough not to make us wish everyone would take this approach. But Oxygen does a great job of keeping things familiar on the surface, while hiding a load of geeky gems under the surface for those who’ll appreciate them.
The OnePlus 2’s performance is generally excellent too. Android Lollipop has a more languorous style than the Android 4.4 KitKat software of the last generation, but the phone doesn’t compound this with any further lag. It’s smooth.
Anything less would a disappointment given the level of hardware in the OnePlus 2, though. It has a Snapdragon 810 SoC, the current top mobile chipset in Qualcomm’s line-up. This is the same grade of processor used in the HTC One M9 and Sony Xperia Z3+.
It comprises an octa-core CPU, with four 1.8GHz Cortex-A57 ‘power’ cores and four lesser Cortex-A53 cores, and an Adreno 430 GPU. Power is no issue: no current Android games are really a match for this spec. After all, it’d be a little silly for devs to release a game that doesn’t work well on top-end hardware.
The Snapdragon 810 is a somewhat-contentious chipset, though, which has led to some complaining that OnePlus should have used a Helio X10 chipset instead, from generally less-well-regarded MediaTek. The issue is heat.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 causes serious overheating problems in the Sony Xperia Z3+, and less serious ones in the HTC One M9. Sure enough, the OnePlus 2 tends to get quite warm without all that much provocation. Browse the web using mobile internet for 10 minutes or so and the top half of the phone will get quite warm.
However, OnePlus seems to have put some work into ensuring it never gets flat-out hot, even when tackling demanding 3D games.
The iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 generally stay cooler, though. Samsung’s S6 is the most apt comparison here, its Exynos 7420 being flat-out better in some respects. The most important is that it is made using a 14nm process, a generation ahead of the 20nm Snapdragon 810. It’s also more powerful, at least in benchmarks (the OnePlus 2 scores up to 4460 in Geekbench 3, the S6 can score upwards of 5000 points).
Still, while the Snapdragon 810 is not Qualcomm’s finest hour, it remains a good processor when sufficiently tamed and its inclusion in a £240/$360 phone it’s amazing. The RAM used is great too. The £289/$433 version we’re reviewing has 4GB of DDR4. Only a few phones to date have begun to use this faster kind of RAM, including the Galaxy S6 and LG G Flex 2. The rest use DDR3.
Benchmarking the phone, it’s able to juggle RAM data at around 8000MB/s, pretty much the same as the S6, while it’ll write to its internal memory at 125MB/s (234MB/s read). It has fast memory, radically outstripping the slightly cheaper 2GB RAM Moto G’s 11MB/s (write) storage.
The only area where performance needs a tune-up is the camera app. We’ll cover most areas of camera performance in the next section of this review, but it’s the one part of the OnePlus 2 that feels a little under-optimised and buggy. For example, you can’t properly zoom into shots you’ve taken, and just flicking through them often causes the app to freeze.
That we’ve made this a little addendum tells you how much importance to lay on it, though. This feels like a launch bug that should be squashed before too long.
The OnePlus 2 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front one. That sounds like an on-the-money spec for a £239/$358 phone, especially now that really very cheap phones have started to use 13-megapixel sensors.
However, not all 13-megapixel sensors are made equal. Where once a sensor’s megapixel count could be used as a rough indication of its quality, Sony now makes some slightly ropey 8-megapixel and 13-megapixel units that are worth avoiding. More so than ever: don’t trust the numbers.
Like the Moto G, though, the OnePlus 2 has an excellent 13-megapixel sensor. And one not made by Sony, which makes the majority of camera sensors in the phones we review.
This one is made by Omnivision instead. It’s a much smaller name, of course, but has proved its worth in numerous China-made phones. Most notably, Oppo often uses its camera sensors.
The OnePlus 2’s sensor measures 1/2.6-inch, meaning its light-sensitive pixels are significantly larger than those of the competition. It has 1.3-micron sensor pixels, where the top-end standard is 1.1 microns. Without wanting to descend too much into the tech behind the tech, larger sensor pixels generally result in better dynamic range, a crucial part of image quality.
The OnePlus 2’s rear camera is also aided by a bunch of periphery camera features that make it just as well-equipped as all the £500/$750-plus phones out there. It has laser-assisted focusing, a dual LED flash and optical image stabilisation.
The hardware has bags of promise. Ultimately, it doesn’t quite reach the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S6 or LG G4, but it is capable of some excellent moves for a sub-£300/$450 phone.
We’ll start with the bad, though.
It’s not quite as fast as the quickest out there. OnePlus has put some serious work into getting rid of the shutter lag that afflicted the phone at launch, but when taking HDR shots the OnePlus 2 still takes about three seconds to process a shot.
Thankfully, normal shooting feels pretty nippy at this stage.
The next iffy bit is its high dynamic range (HDR) subtlety. Most savvy phone-makers have now switched to thinking of HDR as a tool to be used in general photography, not as an ‘effect’. An awful lot of phones these days have an ‘Auto’ HDR mode that uses dynamic range enhancement when the scene demands it, letting you forget about it. It’s very useful.
In the OnePlus 2, though, it’s very much a separate mode, and its effects are nowhere near subtle enough to use 24/7, as you can do with the very best HDR modes. It has a tendency to significantly oversaturate colours, making photos lose all connection with reality. It’s similar to the ham-fisted HDR style we saw in the OnePlus One. And it’s not really good enough in 2015.
Here are a couple of HDR samples:
The camera app is that great, either. It’s roughly based on the standard Android one, but when shooting in landscape the gesture that brings up the mode selection menu can also fire-up the notification drop-down if you’re not careful: not smart UI design.
One recent addition to it is the manual mode. This gives you quick control over parameters like focus and shutter speed. It’s probably the best part of the app, using a responsive control wheel for each parameter.
You can only alter one at a time, though, so it’s perhaps not the quickest kind of manual mode I’ve ever seen.
It does, however, open up loads of creative potential, especially if you have a phone tripod to hand. This will let you create awesome low-light images by keeping the shutter open for ages, letting the OnePlus 2 use a very low ISO sensitivity.
The shutter can open for as long as 30 seconds, letting you shoot in more-or-less pitch black conditions. Very sensibly the OnePlus 2 also offers a timed shot, which get rid of any slight hand shake caused by pressing the shutter button.
However, standard image quality is generally very good, with excellent detail, and a lens/sensor combo that can deal with tricky lighting conditions without major optical distortions of any kind. To explain: give a lower-end 13-megapixel phone camera a scene where a very strong light source is in the shot and it’ll generally suffer from masses of flare-like distortion and have purple fringing around any high-contrast objects. To name just a couple of potential issues.
There’s a tiny bit of purple fringing here, but it’s impressive stuff. Here are some daylight samples:
Loads of detail, nice colour and even exposure
Here’s a look at how the phone’s camera processing handles fine detail at pixel level
This tells you why you don’t really need to worry about missing out on an extra three megapixels
Sun behind cloud or not, the OnePlus has handled this shot extremely well, showing off the dynamic range capabilities of the sensor
Lesser phone cameras often end up underexposing the foreground in this shot
The colours could be a tiny bit punchier, but they are at least realistic
The OnePlus 2 does tend to meter quite conservatively at times, though. Metering is where the camera works out its exposure, how bright the scene needs to be. Unless you manually pick a point of focus, you seem to get a highlight-preserving exposure here.
When we’re dealing with a DSLR camera, that can be great, as we’ll expect from post-shoot fiddling. But shooting side-by-side with the Samsung Galaxy S6, we prefer the Samsung’s slightly less conservative approach. It generally gets you slightly brighter-looking photos, generally with at most a tiny bit of overexposure.
Like the recently-reviewed Moto G, the OnePlus 2 does actually let you control the exposure level as you shoot. There’s a dial that sits around the shutter you can swizzle around to tweak exposure. However, unlike Motorola’s version this one doesn’t feel quite intuitive enough. It’s as simple as the control not being placed at quite the right angle, but meant we ended up ignoring it a lot of the time.
The OnePlus 2 software doesn’t quite make full use of the great hardware here. However, it’s far from bad. You can get some excellent shots without any effort, and aside from slightly dodgy HDR there are none of the image-destroying idiosyncrasies of the HTC One M9/One M8S.
Probably the most impressive part of the OnePlus 2’s camera is its low-light shooting ability, especially considering the price. You absolutely see the effects of the optical image stabilisation packed into the sensor module. While we’ve been comparing the OnePlus 2 to the real top-end Androids for the most part in this review, the most important comparison here is with the Moto G (at £209/$313 for the 16GB version, it’s not far off money-wise).
Where the Moto G has an excellent camera that tends to capture limited detail at night, the OnePlus 2’s detail capture stays strong when the lights go down. In low-light conditions the phone will drop its shutter speed down to 1/10 sec. Without OIS it’s hard to get sharp images with an exposure time this long, but it’s pretty easy with the OnePlus 2.
Plenty of detail, lively colour and loads of contrast
The phone also goes easy on noise reduction during night time, allowing a fine grain that’s not ugly and ensuring fine-ish detail isn’t totally smeared away. Performance is similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6 at night, which is impressive.
Other features offered by the OnePlus 2 are sensible and useful. We don’t like the app’s execution much, but its style is perfectly good. You get panorama, time lapse, slow motion video and standard-speed video up to 4K resolution. The front camera uses a 5-megapixel sensor and offers reasonably good image quality, generally rendering more detail in dodgy light than most 5-megapixel selfie cameras.
There’s also a Clear Image mode, which turbo-charges image sharpening so that fine details are emphasised to make it seem like there’s more of the stuff there without zooming in to see it. We prefer the standard mode, though.
One of the areas we’ve been looking forward to testing the most is the OnePlus 2’s battery life. After the HTC One M9 and LG G4 offered pretty disappointing stamina, we had high hopes for the phone’s large 3300mAh unit.
The results are fairly good, although anyone hoping for two-three days from a charge needs to re-think their expectations. It lasts for 11.5 hours of 720p video playback, and with moderate-intensive use it’ll last for a full day.
With light use you’ll get a day and a half between charges. We found it to be somewhat-similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6 with general use. The Galaxy S6 appears to be better at holding charge when the phone is used intermittently, though. Monitoring the battery level closely, the draining-down doesn’t plateau quickly as it does with the more efficient Galaxy S6. Of course, that observation relies on the idea that the OnePlus 2’s reporting of its battery level is somewhat-accurate.
That the phone gets warm quite a lot and the auto brightness setting tends to raise screen brightness a little higher than is necessary a lot of the time won’t be helping here. However, we did find stamina to be significantly better than the LG G4.
There are no explicit battery-saving modes beyond Android Lollipop’s inbuilt Battery Saver. This uses a number of measures to improve battery life, but as it also makes the top and bottom of the screen go orange, it’s clearly only really meant for emergencies.
However, you can also restrict background data separately, which should dramatically improve stamina if you’re on-the-go a lot. Doing things like restricting maximum screen brightness is often a bad idea anyway, with a tendency to make phone displays all-but-invisible outdoors.
Like most premium phones these days, the OnePus 2 doesn’t give you any access to the battery. It’s locked in. Of course, with ultra-high-capacity external battery packs (and not dodgy knock-off ones) available for under £20/$30 these days, it’s not an issue unless you’re worried about charge capacity diminishing 18 months down the road.
Then it’ll be time for a… OnePlus 4 anyway, right?
CALL AND SOUND QUALITY
OnePlus has clearly put a lot of effort into getting many elements of the OnePlus 2 right. However, there are predictably a few elements that are just decent, not exceptional.
Call quality and speaker quality are such areas. The OnePlus 2’s call speaker is clear, and there’s a secondary microphone up on the top edge to provide active noise cancellation in calls. However, it doesn’t quite have the beefy sound or top volume level of the clearest mobile phones.
The OnePlus 2 also has a single speaker that sits on the bottom of the phone, not stereo or front-facing speakers, which are generally the preferred kinds these days. Its design is deceptive too. There are grilles on either side of the USB-C port on the bottom, but the sound only actually comes out of one of them.
It’s fairly easy to block. But top volume is respectable. It’ll cope with the noise of the kitchen or shower if you like to listen to music/podcasts while cooking or having a wash, but you don’t get the mid-range beefiness we’re starting to hear more often in phone speakers. The HTC One M9/One M8S speakers are better, as is the similarly-designed Samsung Galaxy S6 speaker.
SHOULD I BUY THE ONEPLUS 2?
The OnePlus 2 is a remarkable phone. At either £239/$358 or £289/$433, the prices of the two different versions, it’s terrific value. It comes across a sensible alternative to phones in the £400-600/$600-900 price range, without any particularly obvious compromises involved.
Its camera needs a bit of work on the software side and you need to think carefully about which model you’re going to buy given there’s no microSD slot. But the only serious obstacle is quite how tricky the OnePlus 2 can be to get hold of.
You can’t walk down the high street and buy one, and, as of August 2015, if you’ve not registered for an invite you may have a bit of a wait on your hands until you can actually buy one of these phones. However, if you have the patience, the sheer value the OnePlus 2 represents makes the effort worthwhile.
A true phone bargain, and sure to be remembered as one of our favourites of 2015