Pros / With simple elegance and some clever design moves, the OnePlus 2 manages to strike a great balance between power and affordability.
Cons / Its lack of standard features like NFC can be a deal-breaker, depending on your needs.
Verdict / Industry-leading components, mediocre battery life, innovative design moves, missing features – the OnePlus 2 balances triumph with disappointment, and the result is just barely above average.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
When the playfully named OnePlus One came out last year, it stormed onto the scene with impressive specs at an affordable price. Its sequel is more expensive, more powerful and ultimately, more disappointing. That’s not because the OnePlus 2 isn’t a great device – it is, and it deserves to stand with the year’s other top smartphones for the forward-thinking design moves that it takes. With a couple glaring feature absences, underwhelming battery life and a waiting list you have to stay on for a while just to buy the phone, there are too many frustrations here to warrant our full-throated recommendation.
The OnePlus 2 definitely has its shining moments. The phone packs the same octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor that Samsung squeezes into its Galaxy phones and averaged the same overall performance as the Galaxy S6 in our benchmark tests. We did notice a lot of variance in results during our testing, which tells us that background processes can take a lot out of the phone. For everyday purposes, though, you probably won’t notice much difference from moment to moment.
Games performed admirably and transitions in the UI are velvet-smooth. In conjunction with the OnePlus 2’s clean and crisp Oxygen OS – a variant of Android 5.1 that’s still in beta but offers an appreciably minimalist take on the operating system – the software experience you get is among the best that smartphones have to offer.
However, that high level of quality does not extend to the phone’s battery. Despite packing a 3300 mAh cell, the OnePlus 2 only managed a little over eight hours in our battery endurance test. By comparison, the Galaxy S6 managed 8.5 hours with just a 2550 mAh battery, and the Note 5 blew past 9.5 hours with a 3000 mAh battery. What’s more, they both have 2560 x 1440 displays, which use a lot of energy; the OnePlus 2’s 1080p screen shouldn’t draw as much. There’s a clear lack of optimization in how the OnePlus 2 handles power, and you can’t remove the battery or use quick or wireless charging.
Also troubling is the OnePlus 2’s lack of features that, at least among other Android phones, have become standards in the industry. Chief among them is near field communication, or NFC: the chip that makes Android Pay and Apple Pay possible. Without NFC support, you can’t use the OnePlus 2 to make contactless payments at stores, something Apple, Google and Samsung are all rushing to get behind for its security and convenience.
The other notable absence is aptX, a wireless technology that greatly enhances audio quality over Bluetooth. While many users might not care about it, aptX is a must-have for audiophiles and can be found on virtually every new smartphone we’ve reviewed.
Granted, the OnePlus 2 has a couple extras that aren’t as common, including a USB-C port and a fingerprint scanner. Our favorite feature, though, is the notifications switch on the phone’s left edge, which lets you change what level of notifications you want to receive at any given time: all of them, priority interruptions only or just your alarms. It’s a simple, elegant form of control over a phone’s incessant buzzing that’s completely separate from the volume rocker or silencing the phone, and we love it.
The OnePlus 2 is a device of dueling identities. It’s a powerhouse with a ho-hum battery; an innovator that doesn’t offer features everyone else in the industry packs standard. Of course, it’s significantly more affordable than most flagships, coming in about $200 less than its competitors, but there are other cheap-yet-powerful smartphones available. There’s a certain amount of prestige that comes with owning a OnePlus 2, simply because it can be hard to buy; just be aware of the caveats before you hop onto that waiting list.