OnePlus 2: What We Know and What We Don’t
Well, everyone, the OnePlus 2 is upon us. In preparation for its much-anticipated reveal on July 27 at 7:00pm Pacific Time, several OnePlus staff have taken to reddit, answering questions from reddit users for almost two hours about the upcoming and anticipated OnePlus 2 Android phone.
For those that didn’t pay much attention to both the fame and notoriety surrounding this phone’s predecessor—the OnePlus One—let’s take a brief moment to review before jumping into the OnePlus 2.
In April 2014, the Chinese startup, OnePlus, announced and launched their first phone, the OnePlus One. Hyped as a “flagship killer“, the One sported a Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB RAM, 5.5” 1080p IPS display, 13MP camera with a Sony IMX214 sensor, and LTE, all wrapped up in a magnesium shell with a 3,100 mAh battery. Oh, it was unlockable and rootable like a Nexus device, shipped with CyanogenMod out of the box (now replaced by the in-house OxygenOS), and it cost only $299 or $349 for 16GB or 64GB storage, respectively.
For some context:
- Its Snapdragon 801 CPU is shared by the Sony Xperia Z3, LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 (US variant), and 2014 Moto X (though clock speeds vary by device).
- Its camera sensor is shared by the Nexus 6, and is an upgrade of the IMX135 used in the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and 2014 Moto X (though different lenses and software result in significant real-world performance differences).
- It has as much RAM as the Xperia Z3, LG G3, and more than the Galaxy S5 and 2014 Moto X
- Its battery is larger than the LG G3, Galaxy S5, and Moto X.
- It cost substantially less than all other flagships.
- It was easily unlockable, rootable, and flashable, unlike most non-Nexus devices
All this in early 2014. Sounds too good to be true. So what’s the catch?
Well, the problems started almost immediately from the time the phone was announced. Everyone wanted to get their hands on one, but the thing is… you couldn’t just buy one. Phone purchases were by invite-only. The general public couldn’t actually buy one until April of this year. There were other issues, too—like initial quality (which OnePlus has been working hard to improve). And if you did have problems, OnePlus wasn’t and isn’t known for their customer service (as a startup based in China, they’ve had difficult meeting customer service needs for their global customers—though they’re working hard to improve).
OnePlus 2: What We Know
So the OnePlus One had potential to be a real carrier-killer, but it had some issues and fell short. In many aspects, OnePlus’s first phone was a moonshot—they aimed high, but they were in a bit over their head and fell short. Maybe OnePlus has learned from their mistakes, and their next phone will be even better?
That’s the hope. And that’s where there’s so much hype.
So, what do we know about the OnePlus 2?
In truth, we know… a lot, actually. There is plenty of speculation based on leaks, and there are plenty of promises, and sometimes it’s hard to tell fact from speculation. But confirmed facts are aplenty.
We know that the OnePlus 2 will be using a Snapdragon 810 CPU.
Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the CPU that suffers from overheating and throttling?” Yes, it is. But OnePlus has promised that the OnePlus 2 “meets the industry standard for phone temperature,” even after “hours of use” and “rigorous testing.” They also announced that they worked with Qualcomm engineers to integrate the newest version of the chipset (v2.1) into the phone, which is “cooler than ever,” and they use both thermal gel and graphite to disperse heat. So while we might know that the OnePlus 2 is using a SnapDragon 810 v2.1, we can only speculate as to whether it will suffer from overheating and throttling problems. We are promised, however, that the phone will run “cooler than ever.”
We know that the OnePlus 2 will come with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM.
That’s a lot of RAM—more than this year’s Galaxy S6, LG G4, Xperia Z3+, or HTC One M9. The only other players in this class are the Asus Zenfone 2 (4GB) and Lenovo K8 (4GB).
We know that the new phone will have a 3,300 mAh battery.
That’s a bigger battery than most other flagships on the market—Xperia Z3+, Galaxy S6, LG G4, HTC One M9. It’s even bigger than that in the Galaxy Note 4.
We know that the phone will ship with a new version of Oxygen OS based on AOSP 5.1 Lollipop.
OnePlus is committed to Oxygen OS—their own fork of AOSP and alternative to Cyanogen OS—and they have an impressive team of people working on it. OnePlus is “very excited” to show off the new features and improvements they’ve made to the OS since its last release, and they claim to have very worked to tailor the OS specifically to the SnapDragon 810 v2.1, optimizing for power, agility, and temperature.
Whether the new phone will be easily unlockable, rootable, and flashable, is a matter of speculation. But, given OnePlus’s history and work with Cyanogen, despite Oxygen OS being the new “official” ROM, it’s nearly inconceivable that regular updates of CyanogenMod and other custom ROMs won’t be forthcoming—or even directly encouraged.
We know that the OnePlus 2 will be one of the first flagships with a USB Type-C port, behind LeTV’s Le 1, Le 1 Pro, and Le Max.
There’s not much to say, here. USB Type-C is the future. It’s reversible, it’s faster, it carries more power, it’s more versatile, and it’s quickly becoming the unified port of the future. It’ll do everything from powering your next phone or laptop to, in combination with Thunderbolt 3 (which will piggyback on the same port), potentially connect an external GPU to your computer.
We know that the price of the OnePlus 2 will be “less than $450.”
This is much higher than the original OnePlus One ($299–$349), which was a major selling point. Though the OnePlus 2 will still be much cheaper than any of this year’s flagship devices, last year’s flagships can be had for cheaper. That means that the OnePlus 2 is going to need to solidly outperform last year’s major phones—like the Galaxy S5, LG G3, Xperia Z3, and HTC One M8—on all fronts to stay relevant.
Screen Size & Physical Size
We know that the OnePlus 2 will be physically smaller than the OnePlus One, which had a 5.5″ screen.
We could speculate that the OnePlus 2 will cut down on the bezel while keeping the screen size the same (5.5″).
We know that the OnePlus 2 will have a fingerprint scanner.
OnePlus announced that the new device will ship with a fingerprint scanner on their forums, and that it will save up to five profiles.
We know that there will be two global versions released: a US GSM and a Europe GSM model.
“US GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8 FDD-LTE: Bands: 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17
Europe GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/5/8 FDD-LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/20”
So that’s good news for US AT&T and T-Mobile customers. Verizon, however, will not be supported.
Wi-Fi calling on T-Mobile will not be initially supported, either, but there is promise for the future.
“The OxygenOS team is working to bring [T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling] to the OnePlus 2, but it’s very likely that this will arrive after the launch via OTA.”
Lastly, besides the two international versions, there will be a third version released. It’s most likely that this will be a model designed for the Chinese market, but that is speculation.
We know that the back will be removable.
OnePlus has confirmed that there will be five swap covers available at launch. The company has also said that they’ve learned a lot from their experience trying to manufacture StyleSwap covers for the OnePlus One, and they are working to prevent repeat problems on the OnePlus 2.
We can certainly speculate, from some of their early OnePlus One promises, that we’ll see a lot more options for the OnePlus 2—such as the fabled denim and kevlar covers, in addition to bamboo and possibly leather.
One thing that a removable back does not mean, however, is that the battery will be removable. Way back around the time the original OnePlus One was announced, the rationale behind the choice of a non-removable battery for that phone was explained.
“The decision was clear for us. A removable battery would have meant adding a protective layer to the motherboard as well as extra circuitry, resulting in a smaller battery (2500mAh, 20% less battery juice!) or a significantly thicker phone.
With our configuration, the battery will last long enough to get even the most active users through an entire day of use without adding bulk to the overall build and design.”
Given that the OnePlus 2 will be smaller than the OnePlus One, a removable battery seems unlikely at this point. This is merely speculation—but then, so is any other discussion about removable batteries. We simply don’t have any facts about the battery other than that it will be 3,300 mAh.
They’re back. We know that the new phone will initially be invite-only, just like the OnePlus One.
This is a contentious issue. Like the OnePlus One, this phone is highly-anticipated, and demand will undoubtedly exceed supply—déjà vu.
What Don’t We Know?
As the mantra goes, there are things that we know that we know, and things that we know that we don’t know. We’ve spent all this time discussing what we do know, so now it’s time to learn what remains a mystery.
We don’t know what kind of storage space the OnePlus 2 will ship with. The original One had 16 GB and 64 GB versions, so it’s probably safe to speculate that we’ll see versions greater than or equal to that. Judging from this comment on reddit, however, a 120 GB version is probably not in the works.
The OnePlus co-founder recently mentioned in their reddit AMAA that they hired an engineering firm in Taipei with a lot of ex-HTC engineers to work on the camera for the OnePlus 2. The OnePlus One used a Sony IMX214 sensor, which while technically superior to what was used in the LG G3, underperformed. So, a lot of the issues with camera quality come down to the hardware design and software algorithms. We’ll have to wait and see what the first hands-on reviews say about the camera to see if OnePlus’s engineers in Taipei have delivered a miracle, or not.
We don’t know anything about the buttons that will be used for the navbar. On the original OnePlus One, there were two options: you could either have software buttons at the bottom of your screen like a Nexus device, or you could use capacitive buttons built-in to the black bezel at the bottom of the phone.
For the OnePlus 2, however, the only discussion about the navbar is this cryptic comment:
“We have a solution in place that will satisfy everyone.”
We don’t know much about the build quality of the new OnePlus 2, but the reviews of the original OnePlus One, with its magnesium shell, were generally positive, provided you weren’t one of the several percent of owners that had issues.
The co-founder of OnePlus has stated that he’s particularly proud of the progress they’ve made on build quality for the OnePlus 2, however, so this is something to keep an eye out for in the first hands-on impressions.
Screen Resolution & Display Type
We don’t know anything about the screen resolution (FHD, QHD, 4K) or display type (IPS or AMOLED), and OnePlus isn’t interested in leaking those details before the July 27 announcement.
So, in summary, there is a lot that we know about the OnePlus 2, and there is a lot that we, as of yet, do not know. Just like the OnePlus One, on paper, the OnePlus 2 will almost certainly look like a flagship-killer. Like in the past, however, the success of this phone is contingent on OnePlus’s ability to manufacture enough phones to fulfill demand, as well as its ability to do so while maintaining consistent quality and decent customer service.
Keep your eyes peeled on July 27. It should be an interesting day.