OnePlus X Review: Beauty, But Not the Beast
The OnePlus X is the third smartphone from OnePlus, a company that made waves with it’s first One. Featuring a classy glass and metal build, along with roughly the same internals as the OnePlus One, the device is aimed at the people who would prefer smaller and manageable phones with an exciting feature set nonetheless.
Will the X be the device that cements OnePlus’s position in the mid market? Follow along the review as we take a look at the device from all angles.
Firstly, here’s a quick look at the spec sheet of the OnePlus X:
|Dimensions||140 mm x 69 mm x 6.9 mm||Screen Size||5″|
|Weight||138 g||Screen Type & Resolution||AMOLED, 1080 x 1920, 441 ppi|
|Primary Camera||13 MP, f/2.2||Secondary Camera||8 MP, f/2.4|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801||CPU & GPU||2.3 GHz Krait 400, x4;Adreno 330|
|Storage||16GB Internal; expandable upto 128GB||RAM||3GB|
|Battery||2,525 mAh||NFC||No, again|
|Android Version||Android 5.1 Lollipop||SIM||Dual, Nano SIM|
|North America E1005:||GSM:||850/900/1800/1900|
- Design, Build Quality
- Software UI & Features
- Performance & Memory
- Battery Life & Charging
- Rootability & Future Proofing
- Final Thoughts
Design, Build Quality
The OnePlus X features one of the most premium builds amongst devices that can be purchased in the market right now – especially, and really stressing on this point – at the price range it currently retails at. For $249 in the USA, €269 in Europe and ₹16,999 in India, you’d be hard-pressed to find another decent Glass and Metal device. Our review unit is the regular Onyx variant, but there is also a limited-production Ceramic variant which has the back made of zirconia ceramic. There is not too much of a difference between the two, as Mathew found out during his hands-on.
Our review unit was provided to us by 28mobile.com. It came with an exterior packaging reminiscent of the OnePlus One unboxing experience, but with 28mobile’s branding colors. Inside was the OnePlus X box, sealed and with its plastic packaging intact.
The OnePlus X is a small device in an era where 5.5″ is the new normal. With a screen size of 5″, the device is just 140mm in length, 69mm wide and 6.9mm thin, making it one of the more comfortable phones to hold in-hand. The front and back of the phone is made out of 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3. The curved glass gives an impression of the device being thinner than what it actually is, as it blends in seamlessly with the frame. The mid-frame of the X is made of metal and has grooves etched all along the sides. Aside from the aesthetic value it adds, the etched mid frame improves the grip ability when compared to a smooth finish (on the Elephone P8000, for example).
The Onyx/Glass variant of the OnePlus X is a beautiful device, and everyone around you would likely agree. The low weight of the phone (138 grams), the small footprint and the choice of build materials; all of it works together to give out a premium aura to the device. It feels light, it feels thin, it feels smooth and it feels rich. And that really works in the favor of the X, as this premium feeling is one of the major ‘unique selling points’ of this affordable phone.
On the front of the device, you will find the 5″ display, flanked by thin bezels on the side. On the bottom of the display are three capacitive buttons which you will barely notice as they do not have any back lighting. Centered on top of the display is the earpiece, with the front camera on the left and the sensors on the right. There’s also a notification LED near the right edge of the device.
On the back of the device, you will find the camera towards the left edge, sitting a hair’s breadth inside the main frame of the device. A single LED flash accompanies it, sitting flush with the rest of the body. The most prominent aspect of the back is the silver, shiny OnePlus logo, which reflects back light giving your phone the bling in lighted environments. On the very bottom are very faint markings for FCC certification as well as the device model. Both the markings and the OnePlus logo are below the glass, so they will not gradually fade away with repeated use and touch.
The right side of the device has the power button around the middle, and the volume rocker positioned above it. This is also where you will find the slot for SIM cards and microSD, as the phone bears a configuration that we are seeing more and more devices follow: that of either dual SIM, or one SIM and one microsd. The positioning of the power button would have been perfect, had this been a larger device.
In its current form factor, your thumb will come to rest on the volume up key, meaning that you will have to bend your thumb to reach and press the power button. This is an action that is not very comfortable to undertake on a repetitive basis, which makes us wish for a repositioning.
On the left of the phone, you will find the differently-patterned Alert Slider, as seen on the OnePlus 2. The bottom position of the slider sets it on all alerts/general mode, middle position sets it on Priority Interruptions Only, while the topmost position sets the phone on silent mode. This behaviour is non-customizable, sadly.
Top of the device bears the headphone jack on the left, a secondary microphone and a plastic antenna strip.
The bottom of the OnePlus X has holes drilled in symmetrically on either side of the micro USB slot, but only the left serves as the speaker, while the right side packs in the primary microphone.
Included in the standard box of the OnePlus X was a Quick Start Guide, a User Guide, a Power Adapter, OnePlus’s flat style USB cable, pin for SIM tray removal and a clear silicon case which is more practical than it is beautiful.
The OnePlus X reminds us of the Nexus 4, or the iPhone 4 if you are from the other side of the river. Although the glass back just feels so good to touch, the practicality of it is very limited outside of the aesthetic value. The phone is a nightmare to photograph — smudges and fingerprints constantly grace either of its main sides, giving it a very “dirty” appearance. The phone also tends to slide at the slightest of movements. The smooth, curved glass offers very little friction on flat surfaces, meaning that there’s a very good chance your phone will slide right off any surface with the slightest of inclines. You do have to be careful with the device and use a good case, lest you wish to end up like this:
The OnePlus X marks a shift in the choice of the build material that OnePlus became uniquely known for — the Sandstone textured back. If OnePlus had to choose a texture radically different from the Sandstone feel, it would be Glass. And that is exactly what they did.
As far as feel-in-hand is concerned, the OnePlus X seems entirely disassociated from the OnePlus One. The X is light, flat, small and slippery; while the One is comfortably thick, big and sturdy. The use of glass acts like a dual-edged blade for the phone. On one hand, the OnePlus X feels really premium to anyone who holds it; on the other, you simply do not get the confidence of using the phone or giving it to someone else without a good case, which kind of defeats the premium feel that OnePlus spent so much effort into.
After having used both the phones for a considerable amount of time, the decision to make such a U-turn on a lot of fronts, including the size, feels justified. The design language that OnePlus opted for the X works well in conjunction with the screen size and the overall footprint of the device. Had the device been 5.5″ or more, the phone would have been very difficult to handle. With a 5″ display and the evenly distributed weight, the phone gets a comfortable grip in the hand. And since the phone bears roughly the same internals as the OnePlus One, going for the same design would give you nothing but a OnePlus One Mini. Mixing things up a bit has given the company a new product to add in their portfolio, a product that does indeed have its own identity.
Software UI & Features
The OnePlus X comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with OnePlus’s own OxygenOS skin on top. OnePlus has promised an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow for the device, but as is the case with OEM skins, the update will come when Marshmallow will be more than a few months old.
OxygenOS should feel right at home to whoever has used AOSP in the past. The skin is very close to stock Android, with a few useful additions on top of it, most of which are genuinely useful and non-gimmicky. OxygenOS started off as a replacement for CyanogenOS for OnePlus devices sold outside of China, and is shaping to up be a good contender for a ROM for the average user. The OnePlus X ships with OxygenOS v2.1 out of the box, but a few OTA updates have bumped up the current version to v2.2.0.
The X starts off with the standard Android 5.1 Lollipop setup wizard, and then proceeds to guide the user through OxygenOS additions such as enabling software buttons instead of the hardware keys, utilizing the “Shelf” homescreen feature and enabling screen off gestures.
Launcher & UI
The default Launcher on the OnePlus X is not feature-backed, opting for a bare-bones approach. It offers a limited set of choice in the grid size in the App Drawer and supports icon packs as well. You also get some built-in gestures, as swiping down on the homescreen pulls down the notification shade, and swiping down from the right-end on the statusbar directly pulls down the Quick Settings toggles. These gestures are not explicitly mentioned, nor are they customizable, meaning you are stuck with quick pulldown. But other than these and the Shelf Widget, there is nothing more to the Launcher.
There was one bug with the Launcher which took me far too long to narrow down and replicate than I’d care to admit: disabling the Google Search bar on the stock Launcher will leave the launcher unusable. The launcher will keep on closing as soon as you as open the app drawer. The cause of it does not become immediately apparent, as I presumed it to be because of me somehow messing it up while installing Xposed/App Ops. Accessing the settings for the Launcher could also have been simpler, as the settings icon only appears on a long press on homescreen, and is indistinguishable as an icon to the actual phone settings that a normal user would expect to see.
Here is a quick demo of the Launcher bug, along with the broken Shelf mentioned below:
When it comes to Shelf, it is nothing but a glorified Widget page on your homescreen, accessible from swiping left from the Launcher. You will find your frequent contacts and ten of your frequently launched apps over here, offering an easy to way to access your daily app routine. You can also add other widgets to Shelf, like I did with Google Now. But as of OxygenOS v2.2.0, Shelf is broken as it does not update any external widgets. This was not the case in previous OxygenOS versions, so the feature should be fixed again in future updates. But for my usage period, Shelf was nothing more than a gimmick.
Outside of the Launcher, the OxygenOS experience has been quite bug-free. The other features integrated into the OS are non-gimmicky and work as intended, and there’s plenty of tiny hidden functionality all over the Settings.
- Customize Quick Settings Toggles: You can enable and disable certain shortcuts as well as re-arrange them
- SIM Card Manager: Allows you to enable and disable SIM’s separately, without removing them from the device. You can also set up preferred SIM card individually for Calls, SMS and Data
- Button Customization: Choose between using onscreen buttons or capacitive buttons. You can also swap the order of back and recents on both of them, which is very handy if you like the back key on the right. Further customizations on long-press and double-tap are available for the capacitive buttons.
- Screen-Off gestures: Included inside is the familiar double-tap-to-wake gesture, along with gestures for camera, flashlight and music control. There are no options to add your own gestures, however.
- Ambient Display: Wakes part of the screen when you get notifications. Works well with the AMOLED display.
- Proximity Wake: When Ambient Display is enabled, you can also enable Proximity Wake, which wakes the screen when your hand slides above the proximity sensor even when there are no notifications. This is more of a gimmick than a feature, as the practicality of this feature is limited.
- Battery Indicator: Hidden within the Battery menu is an option to choose from various battery indicator icons on the status bar.
- System-Wide Dark Theme: This is one feature that makes a lot of visual impact, and is particularly useful for AMOLED displays. If you do not like stock Android’s obsession with white for background, you can choose to have a pitch-black UI background. This applies system-wide, including the Quick Settings Toggles. When enabled, you can also choose the secondary accent color.
- LED Notifications: You can set the notification LED color for Global notifications and a few battery states. We wish there was more control for LED, like per-app profiling, but some customization is better than none.
- App Permissions: This feature is available on stock Android 6.0, but OnePlus has a similar implementation already in OxygenOS on Android 5.1. You can deny permissions on a per-app basis which works as a basic privacy guard. Apps can break if you disable permissions crucial to its working.
OxygenOS is not the most feature-ridden ROM you will find. In fact, it sits in stark contrast to skins that other Chinese manufacturers prefer, as it leaves majority of stock Android untouched. The customizations that they do add are nice touches which improve the overall UX of the device. The ROM in its current state also has a surprising lack of bugs, other than those on the Launcher and Shelf. To this we say, good job OnePlus. If only the device had Marshmallow at the moment…
Performance & Memory
The OnePlus X bears the tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 — a processor considered one of the best during its prime time. But the good old days were more than a year ago. In its current form, the Snapdragon 801 is best used on a mid end device that is not expected to compete with the top cream of the market.
The Snapdragon 801 on the OnePlus X is a different variant than the one found on the OnePlus One. The One bears the MSM8974PRO-AC while the X bears the MSM8974PRO-AA. Here’s a quick comparison table from AnandTech explaining the differences between the various versions of Snapdragon 800 and 801:
As noted in the table, the AA on the X has a slightly lower maximum clock speed, capped at 2.3 GHz (2265 MHz) while the AC on the One can go up to 2.5 GHz (2457 MHz). The table from Anandtech mentions lower GPU maximum frequency as well. However, apps on the X report the standard 801 maximum GPU clock speed of 578 MHz (checked with CPU-Z and Kernel Adiutor), which implies that either OnePlus may have chosen to overclock the GPU on stock OxygenOS, or there is a misread on the app’s part.
Nonetheless, the four 32-bit Krait 400 cores , the Adreno 330 GPU and the 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM — combined, they make for a smooth overall experience in the mid end. Benchmarks, on the other hand…
The benchmark scores speak for themselves: the OnePlus X is no flagship killer. The device scores just about the OnePlus One in several areas, and that was a flagship killer 2 years ago, not today. You’re looking at theoretical performance that sits in the mid-end, ahead of devices like the honor 5X and the Moto G 2015, but behind others like the ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML, the Xiaomi Mi 4C, the LG Nexus 5X and understandably, its flagship brethren, the OnePlus 2.
Coming to practical performance, the OnePlus X will survive all the apps that you can feasibly throw at it. As of OxygenOS v2.2.0, there are no hiccups in launching apps from a cold start, no jitters in animations and no lag while swiping or scrolling. The UX is fluid, with no anomalous behaviour to report on when it comes to actually using the phone. In this regard atleast, OxygenOS has matured from its early days of jankiness to its current form where the phone works just as brand new even with over 30 apps installed. The processor and the RAM work out very well to give you a smooth experience on the app side of the experience.
The GPU found on the OnePlus X is the Adreno 330, and it just about chugs along. Less intensive games like Bloons Battles TD 5 (till level 85 on normal speed) run at a solid 60fps, while Ingress on portal-sparse areas runs consistently at 30fps. The GPU, or the CPU for that matter, rarely run on 100% and its not really needed for these instances.
For intensive games like Dead Trigger 2, Modern Combat 5 and Asphalt 8, the OnePlus X caps out at 30fps, which as we noted in the honor 5X review, is a popular cap for most phones. The GPU does run at 80% load, but there is still no discernible lag or missed frames during actual gameplay.
The OnePlus X does suffer from slight heat issues. The phone does not get hot during daily usage, but it’s a whole different story when it comes to gaming. Just 10 minutes of Crashlands is enough to send temperatures soaring on the device. The metallic mid frame, as well as the top portion of the back, near the camera, get not only warm, but actually hot. Here is a screenshot showing battery temperature after a 20 minute session of Crashlands:
As the overlay widgets point out, the device is not running at absolute 100% of its resources. The temperatures noted in CPU-Z are not too accurate, but you get a gist of the heating of the device. Yes, the OnePlus X gets hot during extended gaming sessions, even if you are not connected to a charger. Even with heat, though, the device does not stutter or lag, indicating a lack of aggressive thermal throttling.
When it comes to memory handling and multitasking, the OnePlus X performs like a champ, thanks to the 3GB of RAM which is ample to store a lot of apps in memory without closing any of them. It is also helped by OxygenOS being lightweight, as the OS does not have any abnormal memory demands. You can easily pause a game and return back to it a day later and still be at the earlier state, which is what happened with me all the time with lighter games such as Ingress and Crashlands. Here is a quick demo where you can see the OnePlus X holding around 12 apps in memory without showing any signs of slowdown:
The OnePlus X comes only in a 16GB (11.53GB user available) internal storage variant, but you can expand the storage via an optional microsd card slot if you are willing to give up dual-SIM capabilities. And if you like to have more than a few apps on your phone, you will eventually need to, unless you wish to wake in the middle of the night to find that your phone has run out of storage (and hence, can’t receive messages).
The OnePlus X started off with a lot of SD card related issues, but these, along with issues around gaming, were fixed in the OxygenOS updates. As of OxygenOS v2.2.0, you can move most apps to the microSD card and use the microSD card as the default location for camera images and videos too. Android 6.0 Marshmallow will bring adoptable storage with it, wherein the device formats the microSD card as a 128-bit AES encrypted EXT4 partition and mounts it as a part of the system itself. Ofcourse, there are downsides to using the sdcard as adoptable storage (like increased chances of sdcard failure, and fixing compatibility of the card with one device), but when you’ve barely got 12GB to store all your media AND your apps, you will need it eventually.
The OnePlus X comes with a 5″ AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, giving it a pixel density of 441 ppi. The whole combination of packing in a high resolution display in a small size, with one of the better display techs, makes for a stunning viewing experience
The display on X uses a Diamond PenTile matrix, but you will not notice this with the naked eye. The display gets very bright at maximum levels, meaning that you will normally have no issues with outdoor viewing (which was a very good plus for my Ingress activities). As for minimum brightness, the device gets really low as well, giving me no room to complain about it on these ends.
The OnePlus X is the best display amongst the devices I have used so far, all of which use LCD displays. OnePlus’s choice to opt for an AMOLED display, a good quality panel at that too, gives the X one really distinguishing USP in the mid-segments. The color reproduction on the device is excellent for its price: there is definitely room for increased accuracy, but you will be hard-pressed to find another phone in this price segment to best the X. Viewing angles are very large with barely any color distortion for most of it. No screen burn ins were noticed after my ~3 weeks of usage, and newer AMOLED panels have dramatically improved on that front.
There are no display calibration features in stock OxygenOS, and frankly, there’s a very high chance you won’t need it at all. The OnePlus X is just that good in this regard. Being an AMOLED display with its natural advantages, the X slays the competition which usually comes bearing LCD panels. Blacks are pitch blacks, and the whites pop out with all overlaying colors appearing vibrant, which could be an issue for those preferring neutral tones. Media consumption on the device is a joy to behold, albeit my personal subjective preference is larger displays. If you do not mind a 5″ display, the OnePlus X will not give you any reason to be disappointed when it comes to the display quality.
The speakers on the OnePlus X are present on the bottom, meaning they won’t be muffled when you put the flat phone down on its back. But, it’s all too easy to muffle it with your own hands during media consumption as only the left set of the drilled holes are the speaker grills.
The size of the device and lack of bezel (especially if you use the capacitive buttons instead of the virtual buttons) means that this happens more often than one would prefer.
Audio is an area which the OnePlus X could have used improvements on. The X is not a very loud device. The volume output is good for personal consumption, but you will find it inadequate if you are with a group in a slightly noisy environment. The phone does not compromise on quality though — which is difficult to say for other phones found in this price segment. But without higher volume output, it’s hard to give it credit for this. Either way, sound is crisp and clear and does not crack or jar on the highest settings.
The OnePlus X does not ship with any earphones bundled in, to keep the cost low. The audio experience via earphones (using my Sennheiser CX 275s) was pretty good, with richness and sound quality comparable to the OnePlus One.
When it comes to microphones, the OnePlus X features a microphone hole behind the drilled holes on the bottom, as well as one more on the top. Early adopters for the OnePlus X mentioned a lot of call echoing issues, but as of OxygenOS 2.2.0, I faced no echo issues during my calls. Even in talkative environments like campus canteens, calls were a comfortable ordeal with nothing to complain on loudness or clarity. The same is to be said for the front earpiece.
The OnePlus X bears a 13MP rear camera with a f/2.2 aperture and an 8MP front camera with a f/2.4 aperture. Unlike the OnePlus One, the OnePlus X does not sport an IMX 214 on the rear. OnePlus has been surprisingly quiet on the specific sensor that the X uses, with the Indian keynote only mentioning an ISOCELL camera with PDAF. Many sites reported that the OnePlus X uses the Samsung S5K3L2, which is the same sensor used in the Elephone P8000 (a device that I coincidentally own) and which is definitely not ISOCELL. Instead, based on my usage and an informed guesstimate, it uses the Samsung ISOCELL S5K3M2 which is the only ISOCELL sensor at 13MP that is currently in mass production by Samsung.
And as is the general case with most of Samsung’s sensor, the camera performs well under natural and artificial lighting, but struggles under sparse lighting conditions. Dynamic range on the phone is okay at best. Exposure can be set on every image manually, and the auto-settings do a good job on their own more often than not. Focusing on objects takes just under a second thanks to the Phase Detection Auto Focus system, but the phone does struggle at times if you are too close to an object, or if lighting is poor (both cases are alright and deemed normal for phones in this price category).
When it comes to video capture, the device continues with its mediocre performance. The OnePlus X is restricted to 1080p video recording, with no option to go 4K. There is no OIS or even EIS for that matter, so you need a steady hand (or a tripod) at all times. One redeeming factor is that you can focus on your subject during recording, and can also adjust exposure on the fly.
There’s one glaring flaw with videos: night recording. The OnePlus X struggles very badly at night. The phone skips frames constantly under poor lighting. Combined with no stabilization of any kind, what you end up with is a choppy, shaky and grainy video which appears laggy throughout. You can find a video sample demonstrating this negative aspect:
When it comes to the Camera UI of the OnePlus X, you are greeted with a simplistic UI, focusing on getting the job done in a hassle free manner. On the main screen, you have the main shutter button, and four other options: Timer, Flash Modes, Camera Swap and a 3-dot Overflow Menu button (which hides within three shooting mode: Beauty Mode, HDR Mode and Clear Image Mode). Focusing is done via tapping on the subject’s position on the screen, and exposure changes can be done by dragging around the settings gear icon that appears while focusing.
In landscape mode, swiping up and down on the UI changes the shooting mode to the next available up and down options. Swiping left to right opens up the entire shooting modes available, with another small settings icon available which hides options like Save to SD Card, Save GPS Location, Disable Shutter Sound and Enable Grid. This is a bit confusing as these options can not be accessed from any other settings menu. You have to swipe L-to-R for the settings icon to show up — it does not appear on a Up-to-Down swipe. Swiping from R-to-L opens up the gallery preview for images. You can also use the volume buttons to click a picture, with no customization possible on this end.
OxygenOS v2.2.0 brought with it a Manual mode for clicking pictures. This is quite a handy feature, provided you know what you are doing. Manual mode allows you to set various parameters before clicking a picture, such as focus, shutter speed, white balance and ISO. You are still limited to what the hardware offers, but the presence of a manual mode removes the software restrictions, allowing you to take more control over how you wish to shoot.
Here is a screen-recorded overview of the Camera UI:
As a wrap up for the camera, the camera on the OnePlus X does about okay. You can get more control if you use manual mode, but for the most part, you need adequate lighting to take a good picture.
Battery Life & Charging
The OnePlus One was a benchmark in itself when the device was released, packing in a decently-sized battery which helped it to achieve very good battery life for it’s time.
The OnePlus X, on the other hand, does not stand up to those benchmarks. Bearing a 2,525 mAh Li-Po non-removable battery, the X just about survives a day of use under average conditions. Even though the X has a smaller and more power-efficient display, the SD-801 processor does not have power-saving configurations to lend another hand in battery saving.
If your daily usage involves battery-strenuous activities like navigation with LTE, or gaming; you will reach for the charger halfway through your day. Light to medium usage, with activities like browsing on WiFi, keeping up with social media accounts or a few voice calls, can last you till the end of the day.
PCMark gave the battery 7 hours and 46 minutes of uninterrupted work to plow through to get the battery down from 100% to 20%, with minimum brightness. Under maximum brightness, the phone gets 4 hours and 52 minutes of life of repetitive CPU and GPU tasks — not an odd variation for AMOLED panels.
Even though the OnePlus X was released in late 2015, it still does not come with any form of fast charging or wireless charging for that matter. The device is restricted to the 5V/2A charger that came with the device, albeit external reviews have claimed that the phone supports only upto 5V/1.5A. As such, the phone takes close to 2 and half hours to charge till 100% from a dead state.
Is the OnePlus X entirely bad on the battery front? No, not really. There’s still hope, which will come in the form of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, whenever that comes. Of course, that will have impact only in the passive states of usage. So if you are someone who actively uses a phone unplugged all the time, the OnePlus X should not be making the top of your lists. If you are someone with moderate daily usage, with option to plug in towards the end of the day, then the OnePlus X should serve you just about fine, till the time the non-removable battery holds up.
Rootability & Future Proofing
OnePlus devices have a very good track record of being developer-friendly, with OnePlus being one of the very few OEM who openly states that the acts of rooting or unlocking the bootloader, by themselves, do not void the warranty of their devices.
The technical process of rooting or unlocking the bootloader does not void the warranty of the OnePlus device. However, we strongly suggest for you to only root or unlock the bootloader of the OnePlus device if you are confident that you understand the risks involved.
By accessing resources regularly unavailable to software, the process may damage your hardware during or after the procedure, which is not covered under warranty. In warranty handling, we will need to verify that any faulty behavior is unrelated to rooting / unlocking first.
Warranty is void if you undertake actions based on rooting or unlocked bootloader that then damage your device. This means that if you have hardware faults on your device, you can bring in a rooted and unlocked device and still claim your warranty without hassle on these accounts. Of course, knowing OnePlus, the hassle does eventually come with customer services.
But how easy is it to actually unlock the bootloader and root the device?
Remarkably easy, especially if you are used to the Nexus way of doing things. Even for a beginner, the instructions present around our forums, and the simplicity of the steps make it a comfortable exercise.
Starting up, you get a popup on your Windows computer for installing the requisite drivers from a virtual drive whenever you connect your OnePlus X. This eliminates the need to have a copy of drivers around in case you wish to access your phone on a new Windows computer.
OnePlus has also been diligent in providing kernel sources for the OnePlus X right up to OxygenOS v2.2.0.
Overall, if you are looking for a phone that is tinker-friendly, the OnePlus X could be one of the cheaper options that you could purchase. Our own OnePlus X forums are filled with a wide choice of custom kernels, ROM’s, modifications and fixes, so the flasher in you will have enough to get by.
The final question that needs to be asked and answered in this segment is, will the X get Android 6.0 Marshmallow?
The answer is Yes. OnePlus has promised that the One Plus X will get Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, when this update is released and reaches the consumer is a question that OnePlus has not answered so far. Other OnePlus devices like the current flagship OnePlus 2 and the previous OnePlus One have yet to receive Android 6.0 (both aimed for Q1 2016), and the OnePlus X is supposedly after them. It has been more than 4 months since Android 6.0 was officially released, so it is just another classic waiting game hoping for the update to land sooner rather than later. In this particular regard, OnePlus does not fare better (and arguably does worse) than many other mainstream OEM’s.
The OnePlus X is a beautiful device. We’ve said this in the review, and it is worth mentioning in the final thoughts as well. The “wow” factor will be one of the major criterion for the purchase of this device, along with its price. You will be hard pressed to find another Glass and Metal built device for USD 249 / EUR 269 / INR 16,999; even more so when you try to find a device that actually works.
There are a few missing features and negative points that work against the OnePlus X. For one, the device has no fingerprint sensor, meaning you will be a bit behind the curve when it comes to possessing a convenient layer of pseudo-security. Couple this with the absence of NFC (again), and there’s no way you will be able to use the device for mobile payments in its current, default form.
Then, there’s the issue with LTE compatibility for the USA. OnePlus advertises the X to be compatible with LTE networks on AT&T and T-Mobile, but the device lacks support for one of AT&T’s most widely used LTE frequency, Band 17 as well as Band 12, which is where T-Mobile is migrating its network onto. To put it into perspective for a normal user, you can get LTE on the X on both of these networks, but there will be plenty of occasions where you will be restricted to HSPA. The OnePlus X also does not work with Verizon and Sprint at all. This flaw really hurts the OnePlus X’s chances of becoming an instant recommendation for the USA, when compared to other devices like the Motorola Moto G 2015 or the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3. As such, we do not recommend this device for readers in the USA if they do plan to receive the LTE speeds they pay for.
For Europe and India though, the OnePlus X should be LTE-compatible for most major carriers.
There are other shortcomings and trade-offs of the device as well. The size of the device may not be suited for those acclimatized to larger 5.5″ displays (like me). There is no backlighting on the capacitive keys, which will leave you fumbling for the key position in the night. The battery is non removable with a battery life that is average at best, plus there is no quick charging or wireless charging. The camera is not a killer, but this theme resonates heavily in this price segment so we cannot hold it against OnePlus for choosing to settle on the camera hardware. OnePlus still continues to be on the path to improving their customer service and quality control; they are nowhere near as bad as they started off, but they still have plenty of room for improvement.
On the other hand, you have all of its positives as well. The gorgeous display is a treat for eyes who see nothing but LCD’s for the price. The pocketable size and the build quality will definitely set you apart from the rest of the crowd. The combination of the lightweight OxygenOS with a yesteryear flagship processor and 3GB of RAM means that the phone eases through everyday tasks without any hiccups. A good aftermarket ROM community and an encouraging OEM ensures that flashaholics will continue receiving their dose. And to top it all off, the price ensures that the entire OnePlus X package sits ahead in the premium mid-ranger category.
The OnePlus X is certainly not an affordable flagship, and does not even pretends to be one. The average consumer could care less about the processor in the phone; what matters to them is that the device looks good and fits in their budget. The X aces both of these parameters. With the invite system no longer existing for the OnePlus X as of a few weeks ago, the OnePlus X is a juicy option for people on a tight budget looking to get a beautiful phone. Ofcourse, the OnePlus One is also still around, arguably giving more value for its $299 (64GB) price tag. The OnePlus 2, which we reviewed previously, and its new found price tag of $349 (64GB) presents a more up-to-date package for anyone willing to shell out another hundred dollars. The honor 5X makes for another interesting choice at $199, as it bears more features at the cost of a mid range processor.
I personally enjoyed all of my time spent with the device, and the phone currently sits as my secondary device, bested only by the OnePlus One and my preference for a larger display. Whether you will like the phone or not, depends on your usage, your budget and what you look for in a device.
Many thanks again to 28Mobile.com for providing us a review unit!