OnePlus gets a lot of hype for just about anything they announce (including limited-availability toys for April Fools day). Part of that is because of their genius marketing (I can’t count the number of people who used “#hype” and “#NeverSettle” in their Google+ posts, ironically or not, when mentioning the OnePlus 2 over the last few months), and the other part is that they actually make really good stuff. The OnePlus One is a stellar phone. In my opinion — and many agree with me — it was probably one of the best of 2014.
The OnePlus 2 also looks like it’s going to be a stellar phone, and we’re looking forward to reviewing it in very full soon. It offers a lot of great features, it comes in a physical build that’s marketable as something — much like Apple’s hardware — extremely sexy, and it packs some specifications that contend with top-of-the-line flagships. All of this, and it comes at a price — if you’re buying in the United States, at least — that makes it seem ridiculous to ever buy a Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6 Plus off contract.
But the #NeverSettle company, which did a pretty good job at bringing a phone with hardly any compromises last year, seems to have introduced something that requires its buyers to make some compromises. From the outside, at least, there are two that stick out to me. First, the OnePlus 2 completely forgoes any NFC hardware. Yes, the recently-made-official Android Pay is going to be completely useless on a OnePlus 2. Secondly, the phone — in exchange for USB Type-C support — ditches any kind of Quick Charge feature…
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Quick Charge is something that I can’t live without. Having a 5.7-inch (or greater) device with a huge battery in the range of 3,000+ mAh is a blessing from heaven, and it’s sometimes hard to go back to my iPhone 6 which can barely last a day on a single charge. It’s great to see that the OnePlus 2 will have a 3,300 mAh battery, but that’s going to take forever (see: 3+ hours) to charge without Qualcomm Quick Charge support. I love seeing that my Nexus 6 is dead, realizing that I’m leaving the house in an hour, plugging it in, and then getting enough juice in 1 hour to take me the rest of the day. I don’t worry about charging my phones as much any more, because they charge so fast.
Arguably, the lack of Quick Charge is both a non-problem, and a compromise (but isn’t a hashtag 2016 flagship killer supposed to have no compromises?). It’s a compromise because assumably the company just didn’t have access to hardware that supported both Quick Charge and USB Type-C, and we do get access to USB Type-C (woo!?). USB Type-C is great, and I can’t wait to see it come to next year’s flagships (and probably the upcoming Nexus?), but I don’t know if I would be willing to give up Quick Charge for a fancy new port if I were in the market for a new phone right now. I would rather go with a company, like Motorola, Samsung, Huawei, or HTC, that may be a little slow to the game (but get USB Type-C done right).
And that leads me to my second big complaint with the OnePlus 2: The phone doesn’t have NFC. This may make me sound like those who complained about the new MacBook ditching traditional USB ports in favor for USB Type-C, but I don’t think it’s the same thing. Sometimes you have to (uncomfortably) ditch old technology to move into the future, but I don’t see how ditching NFC helps anyone, anywhere. NFC has had a very slow start, but it’s now the standard for mobile payments in hundreds of thousands of retail locations all over the world, and with Apple Pay, it’s only becoming more prevalent. Android Pay is launching with Android M. How could OnePlus decide to just completely ditch an emerging technology?
Apparently, not that many OnePlus One owners ever used NFC, and this warranted its removal. But I would argue that, in the coming years, anyone who owns a OnePlus One still will begin using NFC more and more, and anyone who owns a OnePlus 2 will wonder why they can’t use Android Pay. On top of all this, OnePlus is building its own flavor of Android that is definitely not based on Android M, and probably won’t be for some amount of time after it’s released to Nexus phones. And that’s yet another compromise. Not only is the phone lacking the hardware to support NFC, but the software that Google is investing in to launch this Android Pay platform won’t be coming to the phone without considerable delay either.
I was excited for the OnePlus 2, and I’m still going to give it a chance, but these two things are making me feel a lot less stoked. They may not be deal breakers for everyone, but they mean compromises. OnePlus’ brand is built on the “#NeverSettle” mantra, from its phone’s wallpapers to its ad campaigns. The lack of these two features means I’m settling. Is this the OnePlus sophomore slump?
Alternate headline: OnePlus 2 minus two key features equal OnePlus 0