Hands On With The OnePlus X: A Humble Leap in the Right Direction
Overlooking the city of London I hold the two phones up to the light, to my left I can hear a group of people expressing the same thoughts as mine. Turning to the group on my right I ask them “so, can you tell them apart?”, “we were going to ask you the same question”. The rapidly growing confusion was in reference to the OnePlus X.
The company responsible for this confusion, OnePlus have taken a new approach to their mobiles after releasing this latest model, an incredibly aesthetic mid-range smartphone available in two variants. The first variant features a glass back they are calling “onyx” and will be available for the full duration that the company sells the OnePlus X, while the other variant features an almost visually identical back, however, this one is made of a zirconia ceramic and is limited to just 10,000 units. Carl Pei, co-founder of the company had been bragging during the launch, that each ceramic plate takes 25 days to craft with a failure rate of 80%. Calling him over he was happy to show us the slight difference in the shape of the back plates’ curved edges which indicate ceramic or glass. From an aesthetical point of view the only issue with the device is that whilst the black glass looks exceptional out of the box, the first time you pick it up there will be fingerprints covering the glossy device.
Of course there are ways around the smeared distraction through the use of the cases available from OP, these include real wood, kevlar and rubber. Whilst likely not offering the most protection as far as cases are concerned they are certainly of quality construction and look exceptional.
The edges of these devices are a sturdy aluminium with 17 etched grooves running their way around the frame. These give superb grip and at the same time add a unique flair to the device. You then have the notification slider, which in a similar manner to the OnePlus 2, is a software switch and not hardware meaning that it should not conflict with changes made by other means such as Android wear however it can result in the switch being in the incorrect place for the setting. The sim tray lays opposite to this switch and allows for two nano SIM cards or one SIM card and an SD card. Sorry folks! If you wanted dual SIM and expandable storage simultaneously this is not the phone for you.
Moving on to the front of the device you find an display coming in at 5 inches and 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) cis ample for a mid range phone and it does not disappoint. The stock black theme of OxygenOS is complimented perfectly by the AMOLED display chosen by the team.
Enabling developer mode and running profile GPU rendering showed virtually no frame drops through menus and the play store, giving a wonderfully smooth experience partly due to the Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. The camera has been improved and seems much faster than the Oneplus 2, images were handled well without any over-exposure and long pressing on the screen allowed for exposure adjustment at any time. Video quality was acceptable however audio quality did seem to be lacking much in the way of low end.
The Oneplus X is not a step in the right direction, it is a giant leap. By not claiming greatness expectations were not raised above and beyond what OnePlus can deliver. By creating a mid-range device at an excellent price the community can forgive them the features that were missing that we would have expected from their flagship line. They have set a standard for future devices of theirs which they will be hard pushed to beat.
Final verdict: while their last phones may never have been flagship killers, the X has been executed brilliantly