Once Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG threw down their proverbial gauntlets earlier this year, everybody assumed the coast would be clear for the four to duke it out amongst themselves for the Android crown through the summer at the very least.
But boy, were we wrong. Up-and-coming Oppo was the first to try to crack the elite, which they may well succeed if distribution isn’t a problem, and absolute rookie OnePlus is on the verge of remodeling conventional tech business models with a unique blend of affordability, cutting-edge performance and cheap, shrewd, untraditional marketing.
Sure, they’re noobs, automatically making them untrustworthy for the day-to-day mobile user. On top of that, the HQ is set in China, and shoddy build quality-centric myths and preconceptions still galore vis-à-vis Middle Kingdom-based OEMs.
Last but not least, OnePlus’ resources (or lack thereof) is likely to prevent them from achieving their mighty world domination goals, as OnePlus One orders are at this time conditioned by a controversial invite system.
Then again, it’s not all doom and gloom for Pete Lau & co., or else we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place. Their dependability is validated by not only Lau’s name and reputation as a former Oppo higher-up, but also by CyanogenMod and Steve Kondik’s involvement. I mean, come on, do you really think Mr. Cyanogen himself would endorse a cheapo, shabby piece of China-produced plastic?
No way, so stop worrying. Instead, let’s pit the OnePlus One against the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) in a numbers war to see who prevails. No marketing mumbo-jumbo, no brand awareness BS, no supply and demand crap. Just three spectacular Android handhelds in a cold, objective numbers duel:
One Plus One vs Galaxy S5 vs HTC One (M8) – design comparison
Okay, so evaluating designs 100 percent objectively is virtually impossible. But impartially comparing product dimensions isn’t. Let’s see. The OnePlus One offers by far the largest screen real estate, so naturally, it’s the tallest and widest phone too.
Specifically, it’s 152.9 mm tall and 75.9 wide, compared with 142 x 72.5 (Galaxy S5) and 146.4 x 70.6 (One M8). Meanwhile, it’s slightly thicker than the S5 (8.9 vs 8.1 mm), yet thinner than the M8 (9.4 mm). Finally, heavier than both its rivals, at 162 grams (vs 145 and 160 respectively).
Wait, only two grams bulkier than HTC’s latest One? That’s incredible. And mind you, it’s no fluffy piece of plastic, with a chassis wrapped in smooth, sturdy magnesium. As far as overall design language goes, the OnePlus One is definitely unique in its simplicity and minimalism, featuring absolutely no embellishments.
It’s rectangular, it’s nearly curve-free, somewhat elegant and very low-key… in a good sense. All in all, you’re more likely to pick the GS5 out of a lineup, and M8’s all-aluminum build is unrivaled, but the OnePlus One is not far behind in aesthetical grandeur.
Full HD vs Full HD vs Full HD. How to set these vibrant devices apart? Well, once again, the OnePlus One has the biggest usable glass, which is an upside for some and downside for many. Pixel density-wise, the underdog is overpowered by the two front-runners: 401 ppi vs 432 and 441 respectively.
But that’s way too little to establish beyond the shadow of a doubt GS5 and M8’s panels are superior to OnePlus One’s screen. And sure, the S5 was recently named the smartphone with the best performing display around, however in all honesty most everyday users can’t tell any difference between its image reproduction, contrast and viewing angles and those delivered by the One M8.
Processing speed, RAM and cameras
It’s mind-boggling how OnePlus can trounce HTC and Samsung’s hardware configurations and ask half of what the two charge for their newest flagships. I get it, the noobs don’t care about profits… right now, but don’t they need to eat?
Probably not, as they found enough resources to pack a state-of-the-art quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 GPU and 3 GB RAM inside a $300 handheld. The CPU/GPU combo is the same that Samsung uses, but the S5 comes 1 gig short in the RAM department. Meanwhile, the M8 also carries 2 GB random-access memory, plus a Snapdragon 801 chip clocked a little lower – 2.3 GHz.
The cameras are a touchy subject until OnePlus One reviews and tests start to pile up, but on paper, everything looks good for Pete Lau’s outfit. The rear snapper touts 13 megapixels, dual LED, autofocus and f2.0 aperture and the front cam is ideal for selfies, with a 5 MP sensor.
The secondary shooter is at worst tied with M8’s and better than S5’s, whereas the rear camera should perform more or less the same as HTC’s system and slightly worse than Samsung’s. Slightly.
Software and battery life comparison
Look, I dig what Samsung’s been up to with TouchWiz lately as much as the next guy, and even HTC’s Sense has come a long way. But no skin is always better than any skin. Even better, no skin with a caboodle of customization options.
Enter OnePlus One’s Android 4.4 KitKat-based CyanogenMod 11S, guaranteed for timely updates until the end of time, tinkerer-friendly and just all-around awesome.
Battery life? Like camera performance, it’s really hard to rate with no real-life evaluations to rely on. Sure, in theory, a 3,100 mAh juicer should be enough to keep the lights on a good continuous 16 hours or so regardless of how power-demanding the S801 is.
However, both the S5 and M8 have shown tremendous stamina in reviews and battery tests, despite their ticker capacities coming in at 2,800 and 2,600 mAh respectively. So yeah, I’m pretty sure the OnePlus One will impress in autonomy, but won’t stick my neck out to predict better endurance than its competition.
Storage, connectivity, pricing and others
Before getting to the final chapters of this epic battle, let’s do a quick recap. The OnePlus One is unmistakably the stronger contender of the three in processing speed and RAM, it features a top-shelf front-facing camera, massive battery, smooth, highly customizable software, minimalistic, elegant design, five-star display and, at worst, decent rear snapper.
Add in a starting price of $300 outright, which is literally half of S5 and M8’s market value, and the buying decision is a no-brainer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you get no water or dust protection, fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor or microSD card slot.
But there’s 4G LTE support and everything else you need connectivity-wise. Plus, JBL-designed stereo speakers. And in case you need north of 16 GB storage (which you probably do), the 64 GB variant costs $350. Contract and SIM-free. Where do I get an invite again?