OnePlus One review

A Galaxy S5 rival for £230 - is the OnePlus One all hype?

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fantastic price

  • +


  • +

    sharp screen

  • +

    Fast processor

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Patchy 4G

  • -

    Hard to get hold of

  • -

    No memory card slot

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

High-end specs with a mid-range price tag - is this bargain handset your next smartphone? Find out in our OnePlus One review

The OnePlus One has caused quite a stir. It's a phone that offers specs you'd normally have to pay £500 for, but you get the lot for £230.

It sounds too good to be true, but is it? There are a few problems holding it back, but the OnePlus One is a cracking phone for the most part.

OnePlus One: Size and build

Every year phones get bigger. And the OnePlus One is even bigger than the other top phones of 2014. Casting a longer shadow than the Samsung Galaxy S5, make sure you're up for a palm-filling phone before ordering one.

It's 153mm tall, 76mm wide and 8.9mm thick. It may not be chunky, but it is an imposing slab of plastic and glass.

As well as being a bit bigger than many, the OnePlus One doesn't feel like every other phone. The black version we used has a strange texture that's a bit like soft sandpaper. Sounds weird? It is, and is sure to put a few strange expressions on people's faces when they first touch it.

But you do get used to the feeling, and we've even grown to like it. It's infinitely more stroke-able than boring old smooth plastic.

As well as the black version, there's a white OnePlus One. You can choose between 16GB and 64GB varieties too, but make sure you choose carefully as there's no memory card slot on this phone.

OnePlus One: Features

Aside from expandable storage, there are few missing bits here. You get ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and a real top-end brain running the show. The OnePlus One has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU used in the Samsung Galaxy S5, and with 3GB of RAM this is one of the best-equipped phones you can buy right now.

There are just a couple of missing features. There's no IR transmitter and as the phone's 4G is really made for the US, you won't be able to get 4G on some UK networks with the OnePlus One - including O2 and Vodafone. It's a sacrifice you have to live with, as this can't just be patched in.

The OnePlus One does give you loads of scope for tinkering, though. It runs CyanogenMod, rather than bog-standard Android. CyanogenMod is a tweaked version of Google's OS that lets you fiddle away to your heart's content, with more customisation options than you get with just about any other version of the system.

It's not hard to use as a result, but it's those who know the difference between Android 4.0 and Android 4.1 that will get the most of it - the hardcore crowd.

There are some nice extras for normal people too, though. CyanogenMod's themes browser lets you radically alter how your OnePlus One looks and sounds, and unlike some other versions of CyanogenMod, this one has the full range of Google apps too.

OnePlus One: Screen

The OnePlus One has a pretty big 5.5-inch screen. That's just small enough to avoid being lumped in with the 'phablet' crowd of phones.

1080p resolution gets you 401ppi, and while it's soundly beaten on this front by the LG G3, it's still very sharp indeed. You'll need good eyes, and have to get them pretty close to the screen, to notice the difference.

Such a large, sharp screen makes the OnePlus One a dream for games and videos, and image quality is fairly similar to top phones like the HTC One M8. The tone is pretty warm, with a hint of yellow to the whites, but it's something your eyes adjust to pretty quickly.

OnePlus One: Camera

Another surprise for the price is the camera. You get a 13-megapixel one on the back, alongside a dual-LED flash, and a 5-megapixel one on the front.

With good lighting you get loads of detail in your snaps. They'll be a little grainer than a very top-end mobile camera like the Galaxy S5, but look again at the price and you really can't complain. It's a good deal better than the Nexus 5 camera.

Extra modes are a little light, but you do get favourites like HDR. And video capture doesn't end at 1080p - you can go all the way up to 4K.

OnePlus One: Performance

Where there's no compromise at all is performance. A Snapdragon 801 CPU and 3GB of RAM is a real high-end spec.

Aside from a few little graphical glitches in the CyanogenMod software, the OnePlus One runs like a dream, and can easily handle any fancy 3D game Google Play has to offer. It really can keep up with the £500 Android royalty.

OnePlus One: Battery

It's the same story with the battery. You can't remove it, but the 3100mAh battery will last for a solid day and a half - or a full two days if you go easy on the browsing and gaming.

However, unlike rivals such as the Sony Xperia Z2, you don't get any super power-saving modes in the OnePlus One. These are pretty common in the latest phones, and let you stretch your final 10 per cent of battery out for as much 24 hours.

OnePlus One: Verdict

The OnePlus One offers an awful lot of phone for not much money. In most respects, it's the equal to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. And given it costs as little as £229, it's pretty amazing when you think about it.

However, there are a few niggles - the dodgy 4G support being the most important one. The biggest problem in reality is quite how tricky these phones are to buy. In short supply and not available on shelves in the UK, you need to put some effort in to get hold of one.

OnePlus One release date: June 2014

OnePlus One price: £229