Which is to say, I’ve been carrying the OnePlus One since early January; a third of a year, outside the event horizon of most mobile-device reviewers. I stand by the conclusion in my January write-up: It’s a lot, really a lot, of device for the money. Herewith the history, which surprisingly stretches back to 2011; also how the O+1 has changed my mobile habits.
2011 · The scene: Building 44 at Google, where Android was made (at that time, dunno if it still is). A gaggle of Developer Relations (“DevRel” we said) geeks on sofas, passing around the outlandish Samsung Galaxy Note. It was insanely big. It had a stylus. We didn’t get it. The consensus was along the lines of “WTF would a sensible human want with a swollen turd like this?!”
Were we ever wrong. Samsung sold millions, and then tens of millions. People loved ’em. And thus (more or less) the Big-Ass Phone was born. Relevant: The original Galaxy Note had a 5.3" screen, and my One+1 is 5.5".
I pretty well loathe everything about Samsung: the labyrinthine snakepit of its corporate culture, the tone-deaf cluelessness of the marketing, the tacky plastic of the devices.
By capitalist criteria I’m objectively wrong. They’ve figured out how to produce devices that people find useful, then convinced telcos to offer them to anyone wandering into the mall phone store.
Mobile-device history goes like this: In Korea, someone said “Suppose we make them stupidly huge?” They tried it and it worked.
The camera · Both shots here are the O+1 of course. On the second, I got lucky; went out to the local microbrewery to refill a couple bottles with fresh draft, and the dinnertime sun was pointing through the skylight just so. But you have to admit, the camera got out of the way.
No, it’s not a low-light champ; falls short of its predecessor in the Nexus 5 in a couple of ways. I’ve got a couple of funky alternate camera apps, one of which comes with plug-ins that claim to do Raw and special-effects; but haven’t got anything but the Google default camera app to really sit up and sing for me.
The rest · It’s plenty fast enough. The battery never fails to get through a day. It charges fast. It’s locked onto a good signal pretty damn quick in two continents in different hemispheres, in the city and out in the sticks. The GPS is much better than average. It’s survived some falls and the screen remains un-scratched (that’s actually a strong statement, since I’m abusive toward possessions). It looks OK.
Going solo · Up until last year, every day I carried the Nexus 5 in one pocket and a Nexus 7 in another. I used the N7 more: for Ingress, social media, email, whatever. The N5 was basically just a telephony-and-SMS device.
But that extra little bit of glass face turns out to make a crucial difference. The N7 now lives on my bedside table more or less permanently; it’s a book reader and that’s about it.
It’s not just me. I’m a regular subway commuter these days and so I see everybody’s devices, and the big-ass-phone faction is ever-increasing.
It’d be nice if one of the efforts reaching toward Android 5 bore fruit, releases of mobile OSes are well into diminishing-returns territory, even major ones.
Like I said: Good device, excellent price.