A weekend with the OnePlus One

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OnePlus One
Last weekend, I spent time with the OnePlus One. Interesting name. Interesting smartphone. Very rare one too.

It is a 5.5-inch display smartphone. It feels just right in the hand, size-wise. The build is good too. And this unit runs a custom CyanogenMod ROM (version 12.1) based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. What could there be not to like? In fact, this ROM lets the user have a taste of the new app drawer in Android M.
Android M app launcher

The sandstone textured rear cover makes for a good grip. The battery performance is good. In terms of audio, there is nothing special. The One has no stereo speakers or special music gimmick.
OnePlus One

The One offers some nifty extra privacy features built in. The Privacy Guard app lets me deny or allow individual apps access to my personal details as I deem fit. I mean, when a photo editor app asks for access to my contacts or location….denied. Nice.

The camera had a quirk though. Shots taken in landscape position with the flash on all had a blemish: the exposure is split in two. One half of the photo is darker than the other half. Like this:

A workaround is to set the camera app and the device’s screen rotation to be locked in portrait mode so all your photos will never be shot as landscape, thus not triggering the half split issue.

The photos don’t look horrible. They almost look like a deliberate editing has been done or a special filter applied. Still, that’s not what you set out to do. I am told that OnePlus is working on a fix via a software update. It needs to come fast.

There’s another quirk: at random, the One shuts itself down, and when you boot it up, it looks like the whole OS recompiles itself – as if you have just flashed it afresh. Is this a function of the custom ROM or this is Cyanogen at work? I have no idea.

The OnePlus is difficult to get. It is a very rare phone on the streets too. No-one apart from tech enthusiasts know who OnePlus is. There’s this blank stare on faces when I respond to their enquiry about what phone it is.

The One performs smoothly. It fits nicely in the hand. Good for one-handed operation. I like it. I like it a lot.

To be sure, my opinion is that it is not a mainstream smartphone. It was designed for enthusiasts and will likely remain so for a while. If you are an Android enthusiast and love tinkering with your smartphone, this is the One.

I so enjoyed my time with the OnePlus One that returning my SIM to my daily smartphone is tough. I was supposed to pull out my SIM yesterday. I still have it in this morning. But no worries: Elroy will make sure that I pull it out. He wants to get his geeky hands on this lad. And it is he who shall give thee the detailed review that thou cravest.

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