As I return in the wonderful month of Blogtober I thought I’d post something other than concepts and idea and talked about actual tech. Conveniently, I also needed a new phone after my LG G3S started to show it’s age in it’s 3 years of intense service. After much research I needed a device that could benefit me in my home life, work life, allow me to continue working online, have an optional bit of power for creative applications and have a battery and stability that’ll hold.
Recently, the criteria of having dual SIM support and supporting US frequencies also became a factor. This narrowed things down a bit.
Eventually I settled on a choice, checked some more reviews and discovered more about the OnePlus 3T’s newer brother. To cut a long story short – I landed on that, getting the largest option in order to future-proof my purchase for the next few years.
Having run out of stock on the official site for the standard 8GB RAM, 128GB storage option, I decided to join the creatives and get the limited edition that was redesigned collaboratively as part of the ‘Callection’ by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Software wise, this is identical to the original phone, save for a few nice surprises.
On opening my parcel, I found my edition of the phone came with a very stylish, compact box featuring small renditions of some of Castelbajac’s artwork on the faces. This theme continues opening the box, including a small fold-out of more works.
Getting back to the phone, the box is jam packed and contains the unit itself and a series of goodies split over two layers and a hidden pouch. The second layer houses the red USB-3 Dash Charge cable and accompanying adaptor. Whilst I was dubious about using a proprietary high speed charger, I’d heard good words about how well Dash Charge worked and in my test, I achieved 10%-100% in the space of 90 minutes (which for me was enough to leave it unplugged overnight, run it through a normal office work day with half an hour on it at lunch and 7 hours unplugged with texts and WhatsApp messages being sent/received throughout the evening). I really liked the nice detail of wrapping up the cable carefully and providing reusable clips to ensure you can store the cable the same way again if you so choose.
Removing this layer and opening the secret pouch on the back reveals another cardboard holding a quick start guide, the safety information, a rather nifty SIM tray removal tool and a set of OnePlus stickers to show your love and pride.
The unit itself on reveal raised a few eyebrows, indeed looking very similar to Apple’s offerings in the iPhone 8. The unit itself though feels very light and for a Phablet size is pretty easy to handle thanks to the curved back and the ridged edge – meaning there is something solid to grip onto. The rear even came with a protective sticker offering some sage advice to the uninitiated (and even suggested to keep said sticky in case you need a reminder!). On the JCC edition, there is the additon of a laser etched musing from the fashion designer himself.
Coming from a 3 year subscriber to having my volume and power buttons on the rear of my phone, using a side volume rocker came quite naturally again, though having the power button on the side will take some getting used to (I struggled to remember this when using a former partner’s Sony XPERIA SP phone). The addition of having a dedicated ringer switch/alert slider was a welcome addition too, having never had this since my Palm On the JCC edition, these buttons are vividly coloured, which I personally found not only aesthetically pleasing, but actually quite useful in learning what was there.
Booting up the phone for the first time was a cool experience with an animated approach, giving the phone a chance to live up to it’s name that even the graphics never settle. Having 8GB of RAM, it didn’t take long to get going and I was soon into the setup of the device. Like most Android phones, the basics were largely the same. What came in between was a level of service that impressed me they were keen to show normal consumers. From font selection to integrations with other phones for data transfer (including the iPhone) to having everything written in plain English, it felt comforting to know there’s a manufacturer that genuinely wants you to know what you’re doing.
From there I preceded to spend 4 hours setting up the phone (some of which took until this morning to sort out after realising I had no mobile data).
As first impressions go, I was blown away at the smoothness of navigating between and launching apps, the amount of options and switches in Settings to put a stealth bomber to shame (such as whether to display on-screen nav buttons or to use the hardware ones on the phone, what sort of lighting would you like – reading, night, standard backlight, what codec Bluetooth should broadcast in and the definition of each position on the alert slider…as well as your usual WiFi, Lock screen, Wallpaper etc) and the sheer depth they go into (such as what should double tapping the home/back/recent apps buttons do, or what to launch if you draw the letter “M” on your screen when it’s off, or indeed what colour gamut should your phone screen display in) and even the sound the phone can make for a mono speaker.
The only thing I could fault so far, that was pointed out in this review I read beforehand was the uber sensitivity of the fingerprint sensor. They weren’t kidding about the seemingly random vibrations whenever it meets a piece of skin or senses your leg if you happen to have thinner trousers and and it moves against your leg in your pocket.
Overall a very good start for a £500 phone, offering the same and possibly even more than the likes of the flagships that are Samsung and HTC. How will it fair after 30 and 90 days? We’ll see in parts 2 and 3.