OnePlus One Bamboo Styleswap Cover Review
After months of waiting and anticipation for users, OnePlus finally launched the Bamboo Styleswap Cover for the OnePlus One in India on May 29th. Priced at Rs. 1,499 (~$24), the accessory is being sold at a price less than the rest of the world. But is it still worth buying?
Listing, Packaging & Delivery
The product listing for the Bamboo Styleswap Cover was scheduled to go live on Amazon.in on May 29th 2015 at 2pm IST, but it did not go online till 3pm. This did cause some confusion and sparked fears that the product was already sold out within a few minutes of launch, but that was not the case. Once the listing went live, everything sailed smoother.
Orders from Amazon.in which fall under the “Fulfilled By Amazon” guarantee are packed and delivered by Amazon itself. The Bamboo cover is “Fulfilled By Amazon”, so a certain level of quality with regards to delivery and packaging can be expected. The delivery of the Bamboo cover took place well within the promised timeframe. The Amazon packaging on the product was a waterproof bag with a layer of bubblewrap on the inside, so you can rest easy with the approaching monsoon season, at least as far as the delivery goes.
The actual product packaging is standard OnePlus style. The box follows the same minimalistic white background with the red OnePlus logo. Sliding out the box reveals the Bamboo Styleswap Cover.
The retail box contains the Bamboo Styleswap Cover, a matching Micro Sim card tray, a blue tool to help in installation and an instruction manual. The instructions are in Chinese as well as English, along with accompanying pictures. Unlike the international retail unit and what was mentioned in the OnePlus India Blog post (and later clarified), the unit received by me did not have a matching Nano Sim card tray. So, if you are a Nano Sim card user, you would still need a Nano-Sim-to-Micro-Sim adapter. For installation, you also need to remove the Sim Card tray using the tool given in the retail packaging of the OnePlus One phone as there is no tool for Sim removal provided with the case packaging. Not much of an issue by itself, but worth pointing out for future owners.
Getting to installation of the cover, it is certainly not an easy task. The back covers for the OnePlus One are not “hot-swappable” (for lack of a better term). You need to remove the Sim Card tray before trying to pry the existing cover off. The Instruction Manual recommends using the headphone jack to create a gap. This is done by half inserting the headphone pin into the jack and applying a bit of pressure at an angle to create a gap. Once a gap is created, use the included blue tool to pry the cover off from the top first, and then extend on to either side of the phone. Lastly, simply pull the cover downwards and away to completely remove it.
Even with fairly experienced hands, it took me 10 mins to successfully remove the existing phone cover without any damage. There is certainly scope for damaging your existing cover if you do things the wrong way, so be sure to follow along the Instruction Manual carefully and take your time with the procedure.
Snapping on the Bamboo Styleswap Cover was a cakewalk compared to removing the Original Cover and took all of 5 seconds to lock in place and be ready for use.
Look and Feel
The Bamboo Styleswap Cover is basically a plastic cover with a Bamboo overlay on the back panel. As a result, the sides are still plastic and give a different feel compared to the Bamboo back, unlike the Sandstone Black which had the same texture on the sides as well.
Being an official accessory, the cover has all the requisite cutouts for the micro-usb ports as well as the speaker holes. The cover also retains the NFC capabilities of the phone, and also does not affect the radio signal reception of the phone in any noticeable manner.
As far as the Bamboo texture goes, it feels great. It has slightly grainy vertical lines along the back resembling the ones in the actual Bamboo fibre. The vertical lines are not deep but are noticeable when you actively try and feel them by sliding your finger across the back panel.
Coming from the Sandstone Black cover, the Bamboo styleswap cover was a welcomed change. The Bamboo cover exudes a premium and unique feel from a distance, in comparison to the Sandstone Black cover which gave a premium feel only when someone held the phone. In the three days that I have used the Bamboo cover, it has elicited more questions and compliments from people than the Sandstone Black has in my month long usage of the OnePlus One. The Cover is prominently different than what the Indian market and public is used to, and it encourages people to ask questions about it and hold the phone to feel it for themselves.
With regards to grip, the Bamboo Styleswap cover features way smoother finish than the Sandstone Black. This can be a bad experience for those who prefer the rough feel and extreme grip that the Sandstone Black allows. However, once your hands get used to the smooth finish and Bamboo texture, the phone still remains grippable. The phone slides in and out of the pocket with better ease, but does not simply fall out (as compared to smooth glass phones like the Nexus 4).
There is another thing to note about the Bamboo Styleswap Cover. The cover is actually just a tad bit thicker on the main back panel as the Bamboo wood is overlaid on top of a plastic back shell. This actually helps the phone, especially in the camera area as the protruding camera lens now sits inside a recession created by the slightly thicker bulk. On the Sandstone Black cover, the entire camera exterior protrudes out of the cover, while on the Bamboo Styleswap cover, only the top 10% of the camera exterior is protruding so you can just feel the edge of the module exterior. I no longer need a case to get the confidence of putting down my phone with the screen up to avoid scratching the camera lens, as the lens no longer touches the surface upon placement.
One gripe I had with the Bamboo Styleswap cover, however, is the noticeable rattling of the power button. Unlike the buttons on the Sandstone Black cover, there is a noticeable gap between the power button and cutout in the case, leading to back-and-forth travelling movements when I place my finger. The clickability and responsiveness of the button is intact, but the travel is definitely there. This is not an issue with my installation of the cover as the volume buttons do not travel in a similar fashion. Removing and reinstalling the cover did not fix it, so future buyers do need to take note.
As a whole, the Bamboo Styleswap cover complements the OnePlus One. The phone itself is a beast on the inside, and the Bamboo cover gives it the touch of uniqueness on the outside. Apart from difficulty with installation and some power button travel, there is nothing else to complain about. Coupled with the fact that it is available in the Indian market at a very reasonable price of Rs. 1,499 ($25) with free shipping makes it a very good add on. If you like to turn heads and want people to ask you about your phone, this is something you should definitely buy. Know what you are expecting and you will not be disappointed with this one.