OnePlus 2 The Flagship Killer From OnePlus

The past year has seen a bunch of new brand names pop up in the smartphone arena. While most incumbents like HTC, Sony seem to be having trouble making a profit in the increasingly aggressive smartphone business, there are a bunch of startups from mainland China that think they can do one better. Companies like Oppo, Xiaomi and now OnePlus are doing a David and Goliath reenactment in the Android smartphone marketplace. OnePlus is the latest entrant into the ring and their first shot at a an Android smartphone was the imaginately titled OnePlus One. The phone had a few rough edges but on the whole it was a shockingly good first product from a brand that no one had ever heard of even as later as the start of 2014.

This year OnePlus has started its second innings by launching the OnePlus Two. What the company lacks in interesting product names though it seems to have made up in its ability to design and manufacture a pretty compelling mid to high end Android smartphone. The pricing and specification list of the new phone means that the OnePlus 2 covers a broad range of the Android phone market, taking aim right at the premium mid-range to near flagship phones from other manufacturers.

OnePlus even plays this up by calling the Two a '2016 flag killer' meaning that it has specs that are equal to or better than phones that are going to be released in the next few months. So, is there any truth to OnePlus' bombast? Well, yes and no. OnePlus operates on a unique business model where they sell incredibly low volumes in small batches, sometimes as little as a few thousand phones. They do this with a reservation system where prospective buyers actually sign up and wait to receive an invitation to buy the company's phones. While many may balk at this somewhat unorthodox process, it is not to different from people physically queuing up for days on end outside and Apple store, waiting for the latest iDevice.

What this process allows OnePlus to do is sell phones with components that are not yet available at the scales necessary for giants like Samsung and Apple to put in phones that sell a few million units in a month. This means that for the price you pay for them, OnePlus phones are between a few months to almost a year ahead of the curve, technologically speaking, when compared to the competition.

While in the desktop space, innovation and even clock speed advances have slowed to an incremental pace, in smartphone hardware, a year is a lifetime. This means that OnePlus phones are technologically at least, as good as anything you are likely to be able to buy from the likes of Samsung or HTC in the next six odd months. The problem is that a high end phone is much more than just what's inside. Build quality, fit and finish and materials also matters just as much, if not more. This is where the OnePlus falls down, with a plasticky body and tacky plastic back that is anything but high end. This can completely be remedied with the huge selection of OnePlus 2 covers but people who want a truly flagship feel from their smartphone will have to look elsewhere.

OnePlus Won’t Take Away The Ease Of 3.5mm Audio Jack On OnePlus 5T

Right from the newly launched Google Pixel 2 phones to iPhone 8, all the shiny new flagships have abandoned the 3.5mm audio jack on their smartphones. Not many users are happy with the OEMs decision of leaving the universal audio jack on the devices and coming up with alternative audio connectivity like wireless earphones or USB Type-C headphones.

OnePlus, today, posted an image on Facebook and Twitter that makes a big deal about the presence of 3.5mm headphone jack on it. The company emphasised on the fact that its upcoming flagship will retain the 3.5mm audio jack, which has been stripped by the other manufacturers.

The image posted by OnePlus highlight the fact that all the devices by the company are complete with 3.5mm audio jack. The OnePlus One, OnePlus 2, OnePlus X, OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5, all of these phones have featured 3.5mm audio jack. The whole point of having an audio jack is that it is convenient for the users to plug in any regular headphones on the go. The image posted by OnePlus comes with a tagline – “What do our phones have in common?” That tagline is just to tickle the readers, as the answer is too obvious.

With the image posted on the official Facebook page of the company, we are now sure that the OnePlus 5T won’t let go of the 3.5mm audio jack. We are pretty sure that many users or potential buyers would be happy to see a flagship retaining the audio jack, unlike many others.

Expected to launch on November 16

The OnePlus 5T is expected to debut with a 9:18 display and bezel-less design. Regarding other specifications, the upcoming phone could come powered Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB of RAM, dual-camera setup, and more. The teaser poster for the OnePlus 5T was recently leaked online, and it shows the launch date on November 16. The company is yet to confirm this information, but most of the reports are also suggesting the launch date to be in the middle of this month



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Release date, specs, price & features rumor roundup

Update (11/1/17): Co-founders Pete Lau and Carl Pei are showing us the power of the new camera on the OnePlus 5T. We’ve added the pictures they’re sharing in our specs section.

Update (10/30/17): A new render of the OnePlus 5T has hit the scene. Be sure to check the design section of this post to check it out

Original post: With the OnePlus 5 no longer available and whispers about a follow-up getting louder and louder, we’re now turning our eyes to the rumored OnePlus 5T.

While OnePlus only released one flagship per year for the first few years of existence, 2016 brought us the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T. Since OnePlus skipped the number 4 for being bad luck in Chinese culture, it looks like this year we’ll be seeing the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T. Much like the 3 and 3T, the 5 and 5T should keep many of the same specs with only a few, but important, changes coming to the phone.

OnePlus is keeping the details under wraps for now, but has been known to be a bit leaky in years past. It’s possible that it just hasn’t kicked the leaks into high gear yet. We have run across some rumors that give us a pretty good idea of the changes we will see in the OnePlus 5T which you can find below.

OnePlus 5T: Release date

Information on the release date has been hotly speculated by several sources so far.

We find it unlikely that OnePlus’ shelves will stay bare throughout the holiday season so expect to see the 5T hit before shopping season begins. We’ve seen two rumored dates pop up: November 16 and November 20. It’s entirely possible that the OnePlus 5T will be officially unveiled to the world on the 16 of November, while it will go on sale after November 20. The OnePlus 3T was released on November 15 last year so this timing matches up.

GizChina.it recently uncovered a some alleged marketing materials that backs up the November 16 date. This picture states that the phone will be exclusively available on Amazon so we’re assuming that this is for India as OnePlus has been selling its phone through Amazon for a while now. An interesting note about the pictures is that the release date is covered up which we believe lends some more credence that November 16 is the announcement date while it will actually be released after November 20.

OnePlus 5T: Specs

Update (11/1/17): It looks like co-Founders Pete Lau and Carl Pei are tweeting out photos they’ve taken with the OnePlus 5T’s new dual camera. In Pei’s photo, we’re shown what the portrait mode (bokeh effect) can do on the OnePlus 5T, while Lau’s picture shows what the camera can do is a low-light situation.

Original article (10/27/17): Rumors suggest that the OnePlus 5T will keep many, but not all, of the same internal specs as its predecessor. You may remember that the OnePlus 3 and 3T shared the same design and specs, save for a bump in the processor and battery capacity. But, if new rumors are to be believed, OnePlus is forming a new strategy with the OnePlus 5T.

Since nothing has come out to supplant the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, OnePlus will use it for the 5T. Last year’s OnePlus 3T featured an upgraded processor but that doesn’t appear to be an option this year.

The OnePlus 5T is also rumored to come in two spec packages that will be familiar to OnePlus 5 customers and fans. The first will have 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, while the upgraded version will have 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. These are identical to the options on the OnePlus 5. In the past, we’ve seen OnePlus leave out expandable storage and expect that to be the case here too.

Some leaks suggest the OnePlus 5T battery might get an upgrade. We’d expect it to be in the same range as the OnePlus 5 which came in at 3300 mAh, and according to an AnTuTu benchmark, the battery capacity sits at 3,450 mAh. A minor bump, but more battery capacity is always better. Unless it makes your phone blow up.

While the battery capacity is far from confirmed, we do know is that the OnePlus 5T will feature DASH charging. Every phone since the OnePlus 3 has featured the fast charging technology and its a major selling point for OnePlus.

The camera could see a small upgrade too, just like the battery. The OnePlus 5 has a dual camera setup that features a 16 MP RGB lens and a 20 MP monochromatic lens. If new leaks are to be believed, OnePlus will bump that to a 20 MP + 20 MP setup. OnePlus CEO Carl Pei recently tweeted a picture with the caption “Cool photo, must have come from a great camera ” This, obviously, set off speculation that the picture came from the upcoming OnePlus 5T. We must say, if this is the kind of low-light quality we can expect from the 5T, we’re excited too.

OnePlus 5T: Design

Update (10/30/17): We’re getting an even better look at the OnePlus 5T before its release. Evan Blass has tweeted out a render of the top portion of the OnePlus 5T where we get an even better look at the 6-inch display, bezel-less design, and rounded corners. Above the display, we can see a front-facing camera, sensors and an earpiece which looks to sit flush.

Evan Blass

Another render we brought to you last week shows off not only the front of the device but the back too. In it, we can see a familiar camera layout and flash. The back houses the new the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and OnePlus logo. At the top and bottom of the rear casing, we can faintly make out some antenna lines as well.

Origanl post (10/27/17): A change in design will be the major selling point of the OnePlus 5T. We brought you an exclusive teaser image that shows the OnePlus 5T’s brand new design. The OnePlus 5T will feature a 6-inch 2160 x 1080 resolution display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. This follows the trend of phones in 2017 that have reduced the bezels to almost nothing and stretched out the displays from a 16:9 aspect ratio to an 18:9 aspect ratio.

To make room for the longer display, OnePlus looks to be removing the hardware buttons that have featured on its devices in the past. Since there will be no fingerprint scanner on the front of the device, we can only assume that it has been moved to the back like Pixel and LG phones. The teaser image also gives us a peek at the aluminum frame and bottom-firing speaker on the left side.

To add fuel to the all-display fire, a picture has popped up supposedly showing the phone in-hand. The picture comes from the Chinese social networking site Weibo and seems to backs up the teaser image we brought you. Interestingly enough, there are no navigation buttons shown on the display. Samsung and LG give you the option to drop the navigation buttons until you swipe up from the bottom of the device to reveal them. Could we be seeing something similar from OnePlus? Is this just a bad photoshop job?

Weibo

The Weibo post also compares the OnePlus 5T to the Oppo R11s. Oppo and OnePlus are closely linked and have been known to share the same design for their phones. Coincidentally, Oppo is releasing the R11s, a phone strikingly similar to the OnePlus 5T, at the beginning of November.

OnePlus 5T: Price

While we don’t have any firm leaks on the price of the OnePlus 5T, we can infer what it might be based on recent evidence. The base model OnePlus 3 launched at $399 and the OnePlus 3T carried a small increase and launched for $439. If OnePlus uses the same math for this refresh, then we could see the base model OnePlus 5T launched at $519 since the OnePlus 5 was $479 at launch.

The price of OnePlus devices has been steadily creeping up since the company released the OnePlus One for $299 back in 2014 which has lead to some fan dissatisfaction. One thing that is undeniable is that OnePlus’ flagship phones are still much cheaper than flagships put out by Samsung, LG, HTC, or Google, and often come with better specs to boot.


So far, these are all the rumors we’ve been able to dig up about the OnePlus 5T. We’ll keep our ear to the ground for more and update this post as we find out even more details.

In the meantime, head down the comments and let us know what you think of the OnePlus 5T. Will you be picking one up? If not, what features are missing for you?

OnePlus 5T/6: What’s the story so far?

Trying to predict what OnePlus will do next is something of an exercise in futility. After all, not one year since its first phone has been a mirror image of the previous one. The year after the OnePlus One saw the company launch a OnePlus X (small, cheap, glass phone) and the flagship OnePlus 2. In the following year we saw both the OnePlus 3, and a more powerful OnePlus 3T. No small model in sight. 

In 2017 so far, we’ve seen the OnePlus 5, which got a new gold finish a couple of months after launch, and then an exclusive limited edition design in collaboration with French designer, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. 

But smartphones are somewhat predictable and with the OnePlus 5 mysteriously going out of stock on OnePlus’ online store, there’s rumours of an incoming update. Here’s that’s being talked about so far.

The name is open to speculation. As we just surmised above, there’s no established pattern to OnePlus’ releases, with the 3T coming as an internal hardware upgrade to the OnePlus 3 and reflecting the hardware that was available at that time. In 2016, that saw the Snapdragon 820 move to Snapdragon 821, with OnePlus following that move.

In 2017 there is no step-up hardware platform. The Snapdragon 835 (powering the OnePlus 5) launched later in the year than the 820 and the next expected flagship platform jump from Qualcomm is expected to be to Snapdragon 845 (in line with the Galaxy S9 launch is rumoured). That suggests there’s no internal hardware move for OnePlus to make. That’s the argument for the OnePlus 6 name, a brand new phone to arrive in 2018.

However, 2017 has brought about one major smartphone trend: the 18:9 display. Taking the OnePlus 5 and shifting that display might technically be an upgrade and fit the OnePlus 5T name, as it would be an incremental step.

The jury is still out, and certainly there have not been enough leaks to suggest what it might be called or when it might happen.

GizmoChinaOnePlus 5T6 Whats the story so far image 2

There’s very little to go on at the moment when it comes to design, but we’d suspect that OnePlus will stick close to the design of the OnePlus 5 for its next device. The slim body and serious grey and gold finishes look great and are still contemporary, offering plenty of quality.

Currently, there’s nothing to suggest what this phone might look like, apart from rumours attached to a leak of a new Oppo phone. That’s right, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have realised the Oppo and OnePlus have a great deal of parity: just look at the OnePlus 5 and Oppo R11. 

So our biggest indication of the next OnePlus phone design may well be the leaks about the Oppo F5. The Oppo F5 is expected to launch in late-October and we suspect it will be the foundation for the new OnePlus 5T/6.

So far it looks like it will strip away bezels with an 18:9 display and stick to a metal unibody design, with a fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone.

There’s no word on waterproofing, arguably one of the biggest things that separates OnePlus from its more expensive flagship rivals, and no word on what will happen to the 3.5mm headphone socket, but we suspect it will stay.

The rumour of the 18:9 display for OnePlus came from GizmoChina, so it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t take it for granted that the information is accurate. This leak showing the longer display hasn’t been corroborated by any of the usual, more reliable suspects yet, and is also the same image circulating as the Oppo F5, so the evidence is currently lacking.

But let’s speculate that OnePlus will move with the trends. If it is an 18:9 screen, OnePlus will probably steer clear of QHD resolution and stick with full HD. In this instance that would be 2160 x 1080, due to the 18:9 ratio, likely pushing it closer to 6-inches. Is that out of the question? Not at all, because that’s exactly what Huawei has put in the new Mate 10 Pro, as well as being the rumoured specs for the Oppo F5.

There’s no word on what type of display it might be, whether we’ll see an LCD used, or OLED – but as there’s currently an AMOLED display in the OnePlus 5, we expect OLED to stay.

There’s one thing that we know for certain and that’s that OnePlus will continue to push Dash Charging, its fast charging solution. What the battery capacity might be we don’t know, but there’s 3300mAh battery in the OnePlus 5, so that might continue into the next phone. 

As for power, the internals depend very much on whether this is an updated phone or something new. The Snapdragon 835 is still top of its game, with the Snapdragon 845 not expected to appear in devices until about April 2018. So if this is an exercise in shifting the OnePlus to an 18:9 display pretty soon, we’ll likely see it equipped with Snapdragon 835 and 6 or 8GB RAM.

If we’re looking at a solid new phone, then expect SD845 and a much later launch.

We’d expect the storage to be 64 or 128GB, with no support for microSD.

Pocket-lintOnePlus 5T6 Whats the story so far image 3

Nothing has been said about the next OnePlus phone camera, but with a dual camera setup on the OnePlus 5, that’s likely to stay in the next models. Expect bokeh, expect portrait mode and expect a drive toward higher quality. 

Whether OnePlus will shift from the current arrangement of a rear pairing of a 16-megapixel camera and a 20-megapixel telephoto camera is hard to tell. The current trend is for less megapixels with larger pixels, and certainly we’ve seen a lot of manufacturers opting for 12-megapixels instead – with great results.

The front camera is also 16-megapixels and it’s difficult to tell if OnePlus will look to change this. Currently, we just don’t know and there’s nothing reliable to go on.

Let’s be straight here: the only real indicator that something is going on at OnePlus is the fact that it has no OnePlus stock to sell to customers (some retailers do however) and we’re approaching Christmas. This situation occurs when a manufacturer either hasn’t made enough and has seriously under-estimated demand, or is clearing out stock to replace it with something else.

Currently we’re in that position where there’s a lack of handsets to buy, an idea of a new handset, but nothing concrete to set these rumours against. It could be an updated 5T in time for Christmas (something that HTC is rumoured to be doing with the U11 Plus), equally, it could be a brand new phone in Spring 2018.

Currently, your guess is as good as ours, put we’ll keep our eyes peeled.

OnePlus turns to customers to fix its identity crisis

For one Saturday last month, OnePlus gave a few of its European customers a unique opportunity: If they had a beef with the company, they could take their complaint straight to the top.

From its original OnePlus One in 2014, the Chinese company has built a reputation for making fantastic, affordable phones with premium parts. But in its early years, it also evoked the wrath of some OnePlus owners over incidents like bungled customer support, an invite-only system for early handsets and an ill-advised promotion aimed at women.

Some of that ire has subsided as OnePlus continued to build well-received phones, but co-founder Carl Pei is determined to keep making things right. On September 30, he met with a group of 20 OnePlus users in London to get their honest feedback about how the company is failing its customers and what it needs to do to fix them.

Customers (dis)service

I visited the event to hear what the customers had to say. It was held in central London in an event space with blank white walls — walls that were soon plastered in poster-size pages of notes from all the attendees. Coffee flowed freely, as did the conversation about what OnePlus is doing right and what it’s doing wrong. Pei greeted every attendee at the door and played an active role throughout the day.

snapseed

Carl Pei (centre, orange shirt) with all the attendees of the London meetup.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Pei was open about OnePlus’ past issues. “If I had to honestly assess our service, I’d say it’s average,” he said. “If you have a bad experience with our product, you’ll put off your friends and family from buying that product. If you have a good time, you’ll become an advocate for that product.

“People don’t believe in what the adverts are telling them, but they’ll believe what their friend has told them,” Pei said.

Complaints that day ranged from delays in deliveries to faulty handsets not being replaced quickly enough to poor quality of accessories to difficulty in even getting in touch with a service representative.

But it isn’t just customer service that’s been a problem for the company. As OnePlus grew in popularity, it lost touch with the solid community that had built up from day one.

“We were sitting in an ivory tower.” Pei said. “We stopped coming out and engaging directly with our users. We’ve talked about ‘Never Settle’ [the OnePlus slogan] now nobody even knows what that means anymore.”

Attendee Joshua agreed. “After the OnePlus 2, they just closed off and decided not to talk anymore,” he said. (The attendees I spoke with declined to give their last names.)

Following the London event, OnePlus published its promises for better customer service, which includes additional repair centres, better troubleshooting apps and insurance options, as well as further customer meetups to discuss ongoing issues. 

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Carl Pei addresses the attendees


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Mass market… but generic

While much of the day’s conversation focused on customer service issues, the question of OnePlus’ identity cropped up again and again.

“If you look at the OnePlus 5, it’s very generic and that’s a bad thing.” says Joshua, “At the end of the day, do you want to be like every other smartphone brand or do you want to stand out from the crowd? They’re trying to appeal to more users, but it’s at the detriment of losing their true identity.”

It was exactly that identity as a welcoming, community-led company that’s helped OnePlus pull customers away from Google.

“I’ve always been a Nexus freak,” explained another attendee, Jessica. “But Google have gone mainstream with the Pixel. At first I was really excited and then I saw what it actually was — shiny and nice, but so expensive. And that’s not what I want. I got the OnePlus 5.”

Attendee Tom feels the same way: “The reason I was originally interested was because OnePlus filled the hole that Google had left with the Nexus devices — being developer friendly and very customisable and so forth.” Tom also uses the latest OnePlus 5. “I don’t like Samsung at all, I think they have no taste,” he said

A more open OnePlus

Pei hopes that meeting face-to-face with customers at events like this will help him learn which areas of service need addressing most and show also customers that the spirit of OnePlus is still there.

For Tom, that open interaction was a big draw. “They had transparency with the users, they interacted with them on forums, they were accepting of developers and modders,” he said. “They were very much about making a device fit to the users, rather than making the user fit to the device.

“If they actually listen to us properly and decide to make changes — even small changes — would make a huge difference, and I’d feel more like they are listening to us,” Tom said.

Jessica agreed. “If they keep learning and progressing the way they have, I’ll be very interested in the OnePlus 6 whenever that’s unveiled,” she said. “As long as they don’t sell out! And that’s what a lot of companies do.”