Initial Thoughts on the OnePlus One Android Phone

one-plus-oneOn occasion I can be impulsive. This combined with the fact that my two-year Nexus 4 has been troublesome of late, left me open to suggestion. When Dave Michels offered an invitation to order a OnePlus One I jumped at the opportunity.

I ordered the OnePlus One largely without investigated it’s details. That’s unusual for me, even in an impulsive moment. The Nexus 4 has been behaving like a two-year-old…pitching fits, and generally not doing what it should. There have been numerous times when it would spontaneously reboot. Other times a call would come it, but it would not ring. If I was lucky I’d see the screen light up. Then yet other times I’d answer a call and there’d be no audio at all. That situation would persist until it was rebooted.

The One+ One seems like a suitable replacement. It would run on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ and LTE networks. It wasn’t as large a Nexus 6. And at $349 for the 64 GB version stipulated in the invitation, it was priced right.

I’ve had the phone in my hands a couple of days now. Just long enough to offer a few initial observations.

It’s big

That 5.5” display is the defining factor in it’s size. The bezel is not overly large, but the phone is a lot bigger than the Nexus 4.

Nexus4-Nexus5-OnePlusOne-Nexus7-comparative

This is perhaps the defining thing about my feelings about the device. It’s bigger than I would like. It’s not displaced my Nexus 7 for tasks where I prefer a tablet. However, for now, I find it to be inconveniently large.

Good Battery life

Hey, it’s a large phone, with room for a monster 3100 mAh battery. Battery life is not an issue. Then again, I haven’t felt that battery life was a problem since I carried a Galaxy Nexus.

No HDVoice

Since it’s not directly supported by any carrier there’s no access to mobile HDVoice. This despite the fact that the phone has the requisite hardware & software support, including three microphones for noise cancelling purposes.

No Inductive Charging

It’s 2105 and I would hope that inductive charging would be more pervasive. We have a couple of Qi inductive chargers that I have been using for my Nexus 7. It’s definitely convenient to just flop a device onto a charger, without a need to fuss with a micro-USB cable.

No SlimPort or MHL video output

Whereas my Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 can be connected to a monitor or HDTV via an HDMI interface, the OnePlus One has no such capability. In discussion just prior to VUC525 Tim Panton noted that such capability was unlikely from any device that was running Cyanogen Mod for DRM reasons.

The lack of this capability is a pity since a hardware video output has proven handy for capturing the output of apps into production tools. I initially explored this when considering how to document the (dreadfully poor) performance of DoorBot.

There are pure software approaches to obtaining a mirror of the devices display, including leveraging a Chromecast. However, these approached don’t deliver the pure performance (frame rate) of a hardware interface.

No Lollipop

At present the OnePlus One runs the Cyanogen Mod variant of Kit Kat. That’s something of a step back from the Nexus 4/5/7 that have been running Lollipop for some weeks already. The rumor is that Cyanogen Mod will release their Lollipop variant in the coming month.

It’s not yet clear if I will keep the OnePlus One or resell it in favor of something else. I’m not beyond sourcing a Nexus 5 for myself. While that device is older, it’s still decent and would deliver HDVoice, inductive charging and a smaller form factor.

There are a substantial group of people asking for a 2015 refresh of the Nexus 5. I’m hopeful that such an updated  version may eventually be announced. That would be an attractive for those of us who don’t want a phablet class device, like the OnePlus One.