In this article, I will summarize all of the reviews of the Oneplus One out there, focusing solely on the often overlooked negatives, and reveal to the reader how the One falls short despite what the hype would have you believe. This is by no means an impartial review, and is an attempt to help prospective buyers make informed decisions in the wake of the tremendous hype making this phone out to be flawless.
If you're reading this here on xda, you're probably already aware of the beastly specs and a price comparable to Google's Nexus line. The use of Cyanogenmod is also a welcome change that implies the phone was built with flashaholics like myself in mind, and will appeal to most power users here. This, coupled with a 'never settle' motto, attempts to fill a void that users of various other flagships have been feeling for a while.
To begin with the hardware, the One does not come with an SD card expansion slot. This is why the phone comes in a 64gb variant in addition to the 16gb One. But this does not even come close to the 144-160gb of maximum storage that other flagships are offering. With pictures taken in RAW format and 4K video recording, you can expect to run out of space all too quickly with less than 60gb of usable space. Assuming, of course, that you are not opting for the 16gb variant, which would seem all but pointless in this regard. Oneplus has been parading Koushik Dutta's views on SD card storage as some sort of excuse for this missing feature, forgetting that it needs to be adequately compensated for before being phased out.
The One uses a non-removable 3100mah battery. Oneplus has been busy trying to convince the consumers that a removable battery would have resulted in sacrifices like lower battery capacity and a thicker phone. This is contradictory to the 3000mah battery found in the Oppo Find 7, which also happens to be using the same chassis as the One, and has a near identical thickness (8.9mm vs. 9.2mm on the Find 7). The Find 7 has both a removable battery and an SD card slot.
The camera is probably one of the defining features of this phone. "6 lenses with an f/2.0 aperture" certainly sounds impressive on paper anyway. However, reviewers have unequivocally been complaining about the poor camera performance and low quality photos, CM hurried to get a fix out, and while they were able to improve upon the downright terrible and washed out photos, they've thus far been unable to resolve the choppy 4k video due to the phone apparently being unable to keep up.
Reviewers have also consistently complained about the in call volume being inaudible: something one would think is the most important aspect of any phone. CM released a quick fix that improved the volume 'a little' but still leaves a lot to be desired. Oneplus claims that this is a software issue that can be addressed.
Coming to the software, anyone who's used CM11 will be aware that there isn't a stable release out yet and only nightlies and snapshots are available. As expected, CM11s is riddled with bugs and FC's on this phone. Indeed, several settings are inaccessible due to FCs and the Xposed framework is unusable if you opt for ART runtime. If you're familiar with JIRA, you will also be aware that such bugs are fixed on a priority basis, and with the CM team already thinly stretched out, you're looking at upto several months before all of these bugs are sufficiently ironed out.
The process of procuring a phone has rarely been this relevant before. Oneplus have added to the One's shortcomings with their insulting invite system- the only possible way of acquiring the One. Despite what faithful disciples of the Oneplus marketing propaganda would have you believe, the invite system is not a result of an inability to meet demand. At a maximum production capacity of 30,000 units per day, it would be safe to presume that they would have amassed a huge stock by now. Their policy is doubtlessly aimed at giving their product a faux feeling of exclusivity and get owners drunk on the power to choose who can have one. Of course, this is false because the invite system will eventually be downsized to "easily attainable invites for all" once the hype machine has slowed down to a crawl. Meanwhile, regular customers who don't want to jump through hoops will have to wait for the majority of 'faithful' forum members to be served before they can have the opportunity, which brings us to the forums.
The Oneplus forum atmosphere is competitive and designed to make you crave the phone by overcoming reasoning. The invite system predictably has many begging for an invite in futility. Members are encouraged to 'contribute' to build up their post count and acquire 'likes' and 'trophy points' to improve their chances of getting an invite. Users who do anything less than glorify the phone are routinely singled out and rebuked. This is further exacerbated by non-existent moderation on the Oneplus forums. The moderators flat out refuse to take any action against racist comments, bigotry and just plain spamming on the forum, calling this style of non-moderation 'discretion'. They obviously want to hold on to prospective customers like grim death.
The latest invite system debacle introduces a 'contest', where users need to accumulate contest points by following Oneplus and posting about them on facebook, twitter and google+. To further improve your non-existent chances (150 invites will be distributed amongst the 50,000+ members), you have to do this everyday for 5 days. To use an analogy, they're holding a sort of lottery but giving everyone 5 tickets which defeats the purpose. They could just as easily give everyone one ticket, which amounts to the same thing, but then this wouldn't make for good advertising. It is plain to see that Oneplus only want the desperate following that other major smartphone manufacturers have- even more so since they need to be desperate enough
to do Oneplus' marketing for them. Here, Oneplus ask for nothing less than your dignity in return for the opportunity to pay anyway.
To conclude, specs alone do not a good phone make and the Oneplus One is certainly lacking in several aspects. The adoption of Cyanogenmod is nothing less than an attempt to buy their following and appeal to the xda flashaholic, and the 'never settle' motto is simply a hollow marketing slogan that falls short of it's promise at the first hurdle.
One tends buys a phone for how it currently performs rather than how it may perform in the future. If you decide you want the One after weighing it's shortcomings, be prepared to either wait for a long time, or prostitute yourself for the early 'privilege' of paying for one.
I have read and watched a Dozen reviews of this phone. And like every other Flagship Smartphone (be it SAMSUNG, LG or SONY) out there, there have been issues/niggles reported for this one too. But, nothing is as DRAMATICally World-Shattering as is being made out by the writer here.