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OnePlus One Review

The OnePlus One has an off-contract price starting at only $299, but don’t call this smartphone cheap. Hiding behind the OnePlus One’s 5.5-inch HD screen is some high-end hardware.

Call Quality And Audio Performance

Our experience with using the One as an actual phone was mixed. When it first launched, call quality was quite poor and there were volume issues. These were software related, so updates to the One have addressed most of the problems, making calls sound a lot better. The One also has three microphones for its noise-cancelling technology, and we were told that our voice did come through nice and clear when we used the phone.

However, while the actual in-call quality is now quite good, the One does still have some problems with cellular reception. For example, in our tester’s home in the middle of the large city of Toronto, the One often dropped to one or two bars in places that other phones had full reception. We also found that it sometimes dropped from LTE to HSPA data and wouldn’t go back to LTE unless you rebooted the phone. These issues are most likely software related, rather than unfixable hardware problems, but obviously shouldn’t be occurring. Also, these issues are based on our experience using the One on only one carrier network, Canada’s Telus, so users on other networks might not face the same issues.

In a recent software update (CM 11S 38R), OnePlus enhanced its audio playback capabilities by adding support for high-resolution music. The One can now play 24-bit, 96/192khz flac/alac/wav files without resampling. This upgrade lines up nicely with its announcement of the new OnePlus branded JBL in-ear headphones, shown above.

To test the One’s audio quality, we played some classical music in a 24-bit, 192kHz flac format. The One’s speakers played nice and loud, but were a little thin sounding and distorted at maximum volume. A YouTube music video also played back nice and loud, but again there wasn’t much bass and it distorted at high volumes. While you can use the included Audio FX EQ application to improve the sound quality when using the speakers, it doesn’t make a huge difference to the overall quality.

Even though there are two speakers, they are so close to each other that there is no stereo effect at all. Also, since they are bottom-facing, when the phone is held in landscape mode it is clear that the audio is only coming from one side of the phone. There is also the problem of your hand muffling the sound when holding the One in two hands, like when gaming. With the amount of bezel space above and below the screen, it would have been nice if OnePlus could have incorporated front-facing stereo speakers like the HTC One (M8) and Xperia Z3.

In contrast to the poor performance of the external speakers, when using a good set of headphones, like the SteelSeries 9H’s we tested the One with, there is a huge improvement in audio quality. In fact, we’d have to say the same audio tests using the flac audio file and YouTube videos sounded exceptionally good when using headphones. While we are not sure of the specific audio hardware in the One, it is clearly a step above what is found in many other smartphones. As when using the speakers, you can use the Audio FX EQ application to tweak the audio, and even add a simulated surround sound effect to whatever you are listening to.

  • MrEssesse
    You forgot to mention how the iphone 6 plus costs 299 $ with a 2 year contract, unlocked its around 700 $.
    Reply
  • Mike Coberly
    So the device itself supports the CDMA bands, but is not compatible with one of the major CDMA carriers here in the US? What a shame. :( This could easily replace my now aging Galaxy Note 3.
    Reply
  • kamhagh
    wow cyanogen improved a lot since 2005 ! :D im gonna try it again on my nexus 4 :D
    Reply
  • kamhagh
    i meant 2010 :|
    Reply
  • Memory Ever
    Summary is all kind of noise voice out because it's a China phone.
    If this is a phone from Apple, people will only ask when they can buy it. They don't real care about of the specification.

    This is the different.
    Reply
  • house70
    Got one for my wife, she loves it, esp. that she doesn't have to keep an eye on the battery icon anymore. This thing will run forever... Getting another one for myself.
    For about USD 350 you can't really do any better. They could sell it for 550-600, but they won't.
    CM12 (Lollipop- based) is around the corner.

    Only thing they botched really big was the sales; this phone had a huge potential to when first launched, but making it almost impossible to buy doesn't help.
    Reply
  • uplink-svk
    As owner of three 1+1 phones I'm heavily dissapointed with this phone. I really loved the Crysis Music trailer, and there I decided to go for this phone.

    Things that really dissapointed me are:

    - display is yellowish, at least was on all three pieces I owned
    - it's made out of cheap plastics, I don't care it feels "great", I wanted metalic phone, like they said it's gonna be in the beginning
    - one of the pieces was doing purplish photos
    - it's way too big
    - CM is fine, but still misses some of the basic features offered by 3rd party GUi from Samsung/HTC, which are in my eyes normal - RMAing the 1+1 is a hell, You need to send it back, wait and stuff, thank You, but no

    In general I bought the first one for 290 euro, second one for 250 euro, and third one for 390 euro, which are pretty good prices in my country for these phones, and all were a disaster :\
    Reply
  • rexter
    This is what Nexus 6 should have been - price-wise. Watch out Google here's OnePlus. Too bad, you'll need an invitation to get one, why not invite me instead if I give them my e-mail; this just show that the company don't have much stocks to share to every, I suppose? and that pink wall paper reminds me of Ubuntu. I like the black one if I can get my hands on one... or two.
    Reply
  • Karksken
    Can you use this one as phone too or is it just a tablet(review). Smartguys please give us on smartPHONES also the real info as Phone quality, connection quality, e.a. info when you get the out of memory error when there is still a lot of mem available and you SIM is disconnected. How does the apps interact with the phone part.
    Reply
  • D A
    The invites are easy to get with a little patience. I just bought three of them in the last tow weeks. All my invites I got where from google + where previous buyers are giving out the invites hourly. Jut go onto Google plus and do a search for "Oneplus Invite", then click "MOST RECENT". be patient and keep refreshing and be ready to respond to a post where someone is offering an invite... respond with your email address that you would like one. I did this for all three of my invites, there was only one person that did not send me the invite. I was able to get all the invites within an hour.
    Reply