OnePlus Two: Expectations and Boundaries
OnePlus is a company that has been through controversies and praise in what was perhaps one of the most dynamic years for a company – and all of this with a single phone. The OnePlus One was, indeed, flagship killer that didn’t settle in many ways. The device went on to sell over a million units – an impressive number considering the invite system meant limited sales and that its advertising was mostly word-of-mouth.
OnePlus made it clear that their device was not a one-off thing, and that they didn’t want to be a one-trick pony either. Their ambitions are typical of a well-backed and cunning tech startup, and you can tell how driven they are just by looking at their offices. Not only are their facilities great, but they are multiplying their staff to scale up and compete with bigger stakes against the giants of the industry. But OnePlus themselves admit that their early success and their investments put pressure on the company, and that the upcoming phone will certainly be shaped inside that environment of competition. The company recently teased an announcement scheduled for June 1st, and it is believed that this could very well be about the OnePlus Two. What can we expect, and what should we not expect?
Where is the Info?!
The OnePlus Two is not as much of a high-profile release as the Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9, so it is understandable that their rumor and leak base is not as strong as these two. Whilst the M9 saw many outings ahead of release, the rumors and leaks of the OnePlus Two remain inconclusive at best. The gossip centers around the typical key areas: processor, camera megapixel count, battery size and screen. So far, we have not heard anything with enough evidence or credibility to truly amount deep pondering or important announcements. This is a shame, because our hobby’s discussions are partially fueled by the expectations that leaks provide.
What we do know a lot about, however, are things that are likely not to make it into the OnePlus Two. Moreover, statements from OnePlus shake the possible rumors that we’ve been having this past year. When it comes to the release window, the company has stated in their Reddit AMAs that they aim for a Q3 release. Earlier this year, though, rumors had it that it would be a Q2 release. The June announcement could be their new phone(s), as they claim to want to “shake things up”, but their new devices might not arrive until after the end of the month – which would suggest a Q3 release. The company stated that they changed the release window many times during development, but a Q3 release is what seems most likely.
On the software side of things, the OxygenOS team revealed early on that their ROM would be the one to star in the OnePlus Two, and they also confirmed that the device would still remain competitively priced. That’s as much as we’ve officially heard about the OnePlus Two’s software: if you want to learn more about OxygenOS, you can check out our hands-on review by XDA TV Producer Jordan.
When it comes to the display, there’s very little information that has been confirmed. The OnePlus One featured an amazing display for the price, but the touchscreen issues held it back. The company attempted to fix these through software updates with varying degrees of success on each new revision, and the latest one which was claimed to be final still brought issues with it. So for this screen, it is likely that OnePlus will make sure that there are no issues with the touchscreen nor any kind of tinting (as the OPO had issues with this as well). The size of the screen was said to change many times across development, and OnePlus says the result will “surprise people”. We don’t know if the panel will be 1440p, but the motto “Never Settle” would suggest that they’d want to raise the bar on this arguably important aspect. On this front, it is imperative that OnePlus gets their hands on a battery-optimized panel. The one detail we do know about the screen is that it will be a bundled touch-on-lens panel like that of the OPO (which makes repairs a tad harder).
OnePlus made it clear in both of their reddit AMAs that battery life was a priority to them in both software and hardware, but they still didn’t have positive things to say about removable batteries nor wireless charging. They claimed that removable batteries are not size-efficient, and that wireless charging is too slow in its current form. This leads us to believe that the next OnePlus devices will not have these features. However, when asked whether the OnePlus Two would feature a USB Type C port, OnePlus replied with a wink and the words “Never Settle”. If this device does feature such port, it could very well be the first mainstream Android phone to have one, and it would aid in data transfers, battery charging and all sorts of other tasks. On another note, OnePlus claims that micro SD cards are “a nightmare” for developers, so they might stay away from these as well.
What we wish we knew more about is the processor. Rumors currently talk about the Snapdragon 810 being the chosen chipset, but at this point of 2015, the mere mention of the possibility raises concerns. In their AMA, the company was asked about the Snapdragon 810’s issues, and the company responded that they didn’t know “how to reply without p*ssing off a chipset supplier”. This could go either way: they may have meant not to anger Qualcomm, but also Samsung who was deeply involved in the controversy, as the korean company was accused of starting the early rumors for its own gain. They did specify that it would not feature a Mediatek chip, and that they believed Intel’s x86 chips don’t provide the “flagship killer” experience. They could very well go for a Snapdragon 808, as it seems to be their best bet if they want an efficient non-Samsung 2015 chip.
OnePlus also is under pressure in their pricing strategy. Their loyal fans expect an affordable smartphone once more, and word has it that there will be two phones with one of them having the core focus on this aspect. However, OnePlus did answer a question regarding price in their AMA, and they stated that the OnePlus Two will be “a different product with a different price”, but they will still keep razor-thin margins, even with the rising costs of components. They also claim that availability for the OnePlus Two will improve over that of the OPO: it will ramp up faster, and while they will still do invites, the quantities will be several times higher than OPO levels. They will, however, still try “a lot of crazy ideas” to see what sticks. Finally, when it comes to market availability in particular regions, the company realised that it over promised and under delivered, and they do not want to repeat it.
Shaping a Sequel or Two
The OnePlus Two faces a much tougher competition than it did last year. Since the OPO’s release, many OEMs have put their focus and strengths towards the affordable segment, and other chinese OEMs are offering increasingly solid packages for prices very similar to those of OnePlus. With Huawei and Xiaomi expanding to new markets, and Asus bringing the ZenFone 2 to the United States, OnePlus’ main strength needs to be continued and reinforced if they want to stay at the top of the “flagship killer” game. We don’t know much about the device, but what we do know does give us an idea of where OnePlus could be heading.
If they do release two phones, they could appeal to a wider range of users. And if this is indeed the case, we can fully expect a regular sized phone and phablet duo, just as Google is said to be planning. The OnePlus One was a great package and it remains a favorite amongst our own Portal team. Many of us also can not wait to see what OnePlus will announce. The current information suggests that they will still offer top-of-the-line specifications, but with a more traditional approach in many regards. No removable battery, no micro SD card slot, and no wireless charging are all things we should be expecting a this point, but it’d be nice to see these features make it in.
The processor alone could be a deal-breaker for many, as the number 810 is already enough to put informed power users off a phone, and we hope to hear that the OnePlus Two does not have it. But as far as trust goes, OnePlus is a big company, and their previous Flagship Killer achieved the best bang-per-buck ratio of its time. Now that the company has a success in their book and has been scaling up in almost every way, they have the potential to once again impress us with an amazing package; we don’t think they’d blow this chance up with a sub-par device. We expect to hear more about this device on June 1st, and we will be covering whatever developments occur that day in detail. I know that our office is anxiously awaiting news, and that many wallets are salivating at the potential of said news’ contents.
Let’s just hope that the announcement is not another silly drone troll.
What do you expect out of the OnePlus Two? Don’t settle for silence, speak your mind below!