OnePlus X Review
One Plus X
• Stunning construction
• Light weight
• Regular updates
• Long battery life
• No UI skins to bloat the OS
• Beautiful AMOLED screen
• Average camera sensor
• Low light performance is not that great
• Slight heating while heavy games are being played
• No NFC and 5GHz WiFi band
• No fingerprint scanner
• Invite system
• Almost non-existent customer support
OnePlus One, a 2014 flagship killer brought the performance of the once super expensive, high end smartphones in the reach of a person with low budget. OnePlus X appears to uplift the benchmarks of mid ranged smartphones. I happened to buy it recently and I have been extremely happy with the device. It is the first time I feel like I am owning a well constructed smartphone for which I did not have to shell out too much money. OnePlus also released the “Two” this year which is a successor to the “One” from last year.
The phone came in a white coloured box with a huge X marked on the top face and a small, red OnePlus logo. Everything inside the box is coloured red. The red surface on which the phone was sitting is actually a box containing the silicon cover and the tray ejector pin. Underneath this box is another slimmer box containing the quick start guide and the warranty document. Finally, underneath this second box is the neatly rolled flat red USB cable and beside it is the 2A charger. The micro USB connector is golden colour giving a premium look and indicates the attention to detail from One Plus.
The metallic edges with precision micro cuts are very eye catching. Even the buttons have circular micro cuts meaning they underwent a separate process at the factory. I know this because the grove pitch on the buttons are smaller than the cuts made on the edges. The 6.9mm iPhone like thickness of the phone does not go unnoticed either.
On the top side, there is a microphone vent drilled, perfectly de-burred and we also have the 3.5mm audio jack. Coming on to the right side, you will find the volume rocker and the power button. Both the buttons feel solid thus, boosting your confidence in the device even more. Coming to the bottom side, there are drilled vents for stereo loud speaker with the micro USB connector sitting in the middle. On most of the other phones, this would be it, but OnePlus X comes with additional 3 position slider switch to change the notification settings. The options include ‘no notifications’, ‘notification on selected apps’ and ‘all notifications’. The slider switch can be useful for Whatsapp if you are in a talkative group and want to turn off notifications quickly.
After admiring the metallic edges, my attention quickly moves to the shiny Gorilla glass on the back where you will find the OnePlus logo and also the camera at the upper corner with the flash right below it. The flash is a single LED which is glows quite bright. The top side of the phone is also made of Corning Gorilla glass 3 as well with a neatly placed screen protector that comes pre-applied out of the box. I have kept mine intact to avoid putting my own because it is good enough for me. You will also find the 8MP front facing camera, speaker and the proximity sensor at the top.
There are three capacitive buttons at the bottom that are not very visible, neither do they light up. However they can be used to replace the on-screen buttons ‘Home’, ‘Back’ and ‘Recent Apps’ to have more screen area. The bezels are kept to the minimum giving the screen all the area it needs. The AMOLED screen size is 5 inches diagonally.
First Boot, First impressions
During device boot up, a bright white OnePlus logo appears with remainder of the screen remaining completely black. Being an AMOLED panel, the blacks are really deep and since the device is also black it was difficult to identify how much area the display panel occupied on the front face while the device remained off. After filling out information over the next few screens I was finally able to use the device.
I was skeptical about the battery prior to buying this smartphone. I had questions, whether it would survive a whole day without charge? Such skepticism is obvious since, the battery capacity is only 2500mAh. The battery level was around 50% at first boot. OnePlus X comes with Oxygen OS 2.1.0 but you will be instantly notified about the 2.1.2 upgrade available for download. The OTA upgrade is only 161 MB in size. While doing the OTA upgrade, I had not yet plugged in the charger and the battery was down to 45%. The update process took around 10 minutes to complete. One major thing I noticed on the first boot was the device heating up. I had just updated the OS, which taxed on the processor and now I was moving on to install all the apps that I needed to get myself moving. After continuously using the OnePlus X for next 2 hours, the battery was down to 20%. I had still not inserted my SIM card since, the device needs a nano SIM and I did not have one. I left the device overnight on standby, connected to the WiFi only to unlock it 24 hours later when I finally inserted a nano SIM.
I was expecting the battery to have died completely, but it had only dropped to 10%. The SIM card then helped me verify my device for WhatsApp, which then downloaded the massive backup saved on Google drive.
While doing so I was busy playing HD videos off YouTube for another hour after which the battery dropped to 3%. I finally plugged in the charger. The battery needs around 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours max to go from <5% to 100%. Which, I feel is good enough. OnePlus X does not come with the fast charge technology and that can be a bad thing for some of you, but I am perfectly fine without it.
Approximately 2 hours were spent setting up my device including the upgrade. It could have been faster if I had a faster internet connection.
Going In-depth with the Battery
After charging my phone to 100% overnight, it was ready to replace my old phone. Mobile data is always on throughout the day. I browse the internet, text people, surf on Facebook from time to time and listen to music for sometime and even play a game or two once in a while. By the end of the day, around 7pm, the battery level had dropped to 55% with enough juice to spare. When I come home from work, I switch to WiFi. After surfing on Facebook, watching few HD videos and playing some more, there was still some battery left to spare as you can observe in the screenshot below.
With more than 4 hours of screen on-time, it is more than enough for most people. This was without the battery saver option enabled. To achieve even more battery yield, you can turn on the Battery Saver option which can effectively give you more usage before plugging in the charger.
The Full HD AMOLED screen is gorgeous and very bright. AMOLEDs are known for their superior contrast ratio and saturated colours but they are also known to have less pixel density. Given that, OnePlus X manages to achieve a 440 PPI pixel density spread across 5 inches of screen. The text looks sharp and is a treat to eyes. Oxygen OS is made to have a darker theme (you can change to have the Light theme on) in order to save battery, that is because, on an AMOLED display, black pixel equates to a turned off LED and it does not draw any current at all. Since each pixel is an RGB LED it means the whole screen can glow very bright which is good outdoors on sunny days.
The screen can handle 5 point touch and it is very sensitive. Being made from Gorilla Glass, it is glossy and attracts finger prints. You can choose to put a matte finish screen protector instead if you want, but I prefer the glossy type because it looks cleaner. On the right top corner, there is the notification LED which you can configure to have different colours for different notifications. Comparing the OnePlus X screen with the other mid range phones such as the Moto G and Mi 4, we can see OnePlus X stands above all.
The OnePlus X comes with Oxygen OS built upon Android 5.1.1. Oxygen OS tries to maintain vanilla Android appearance. By default it comes with the dark theme turned on to show off the quality of AMOLED dispay and also to save battery. Under the hood, it offers lot of minor customisations and tweaks that are actually very useful. One such example is, the ability to change the notification LED colour to indicate the priority of notifications. We cannot go through each and every small detail, but I have written about the most significant features.
One of the most useful features that I have seen. A lot of apps these days will ask you to grant them whole lot of permissions and you cannot deny any specific permission if you wanted to. You can now do so through the App Permissions feature that allows you to deny certain permissions such as reading your contacts or accessing your accurate location information and as such. Pretty self explanatory!
ADB over network
This is a nice addition for developers. In order to debug your apps, you need to have your device connected with USB or you can do that wirelessly by installing an app that allows you to debug over WiFi. This feature now comes out of the box and you can find it in developer options.
With over 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, around 1GB is occupied by the OS, another few hundred MBs occupied with background apps and around 1.5GB on average is left free most of the time. I have several tabs of Chrome open, a pretty heavy game sitting idle in the background, WhatsApp, Facebook and bunch of other apps. Even then, I have not felt the device slowing down, not even one bit.
The OnePlus X uses a high end processor from last year instead of using a mid range CPU from the current year. This is in fact a nice decision on their part because the Snapdragon 801, in spite of being a 32 bit processor from 2014 it out performs all the mid ranged 64 bit processors that have come out this year. The Snapdragon 801 was used in many flagship phones last year. A few among them include Samsung Galaxy S5, Mi 4, HTC One M8, and even the OnePlus One.
The OnePlus X comes with a 13MP camera but this number does not mean everything. The OnePlus One and the Two use a larger sensor with f/2.0 aperture resulting in better images. The sensor on the X has f/2.2 aperture which is one third stop smaller in comparison to the One and the Two. With smaller sensors the amount of noise increases and with a smaller aperture you will be getting a lesser depth of field in your images. The camera works great in daylight, but images turn out grainy in low light conditions.
Another problem with the camera is more of a software issue. The ‘Camera App’ fails to set the White balance correctly and the result is dull images. This can be fixed if you download some other camera app, but ideally OnePlus should have got this part right before releasing the phone. The second issue is the lack of options to store images on to the SD card. Again, OnePlus has noticed this issue and promised to release the fix in one of the upcoming updates.
Full HD video can be recorded and the videos turn out great during the daylight. You can also record slow motion video at 120fps with 720p resolution, although it is virtually useless in low light because of crazy amount of noise grain. The camera is not that bad for the price you are paying. For an average user, these problems are trivial.
The camera interface orients itself according to the way you are holding the device. The problem arises in the panorama mode. If you happen to switch to panorama mode while holding the device horizontally, the interface orients itself verticially and this can be a little irritating.
In spite of all the drawbacks, the camera was quick to load and took pictures in an instant. The burst mode can capture around 20 images in 1 second. This only works best in good lighting; with out you will end up with motion blurred images. Never was there a time when I wasn’t able to capture the moment I wanted to.
The stereo speakers at the bottom of the device are loud and clear. All the music that you will play on this device will sound sharp and it even has bass to some extent.
You do not get a pair of earphones with the package, so you are left to use your own. For this test, I am using the low cost Philips SHL3005 headphones. Low cost does not always mean poor audio quality and the SHL3005 has a quite natural response. Whatever audio chip is being used inside OnePlus X, it seems to work very well. I did not find the need to use equaliser because the sound coming out was perfectly fine. It is known that the OnePlus Two has a NXP TFA9890 sound maximiser and a Qualcomm WCD9330 codec. Unfortunately for me there is no information regarding the OnePlus X’s audio codec. It is possible that the same codec is being used.
The two microphones, one at the top and the other at the bottom work exceedingly well during noise suppression. The video recording app effectively records stereo sound. As always, you can pair your phone with the external surround sound speakers using a Chromecast Audio device or Bluetooth depending on what you have. By default, the OnePlus X comes with Google Play Music installed, which is fine, but I prefer to use MX player.
There were no smartphones in the $250 price margin which have solid construction and snappy performance. The market is still filled with plasticy smartphones that lack aesthetics. With the launch of X, OnePlus aimed at bringing a structurally solid smartphone with slightly older hardware and they have done that job very well. Even if there is no latest and greatest 64 bit octacore processor, the smartphone works flawlessly. I am yet to be disappointed by this device because ever since I have been using it, there has been no glitch that has annoyed me or made me hate the device. Whatever I throw, it handles very well.
The OnePlus One was the flagship killer which stirred the entire market by bringing flagship hardware in the $300 price range, OnePlus X aims to do the same in the $250 price segment. There is only one problem, you need an invite to buy this hardware, however today and over the weekend they are removing that temporarily. The other bad thing about OnePlus is, they have still not got their customer service right. We hope to see that improve.
If you want to buy the OnePlus X, our partners at gearbest have a good offer going on. If you are ordering for this christmas, make sure to order now as it has to come from China.
With glass to the front and back and metal to the sides, this phone looks and feels gorgeous. The device is a well-built one and easy to use wth one hand. I am impressed with lag free performance and glossy amoled screen with 441 ppi. The audio quality is also wonderful. This device was bought for myself and is a hands-on review.
With glass to the front and back and metal to the sides, this phone looks and feels gorgeous.
The device is a well-built one and easy to use wth one hand.
I am impressed with lag free performance and glossy amoled screen with 441 ppi.
The audio quality is also wonderful.
This device was bought for myself and is a hands-on review.