So yes, its been close to a fortnight since I got my hands on the OnePlus One, and it has been a good experience.

OnePlus One

Ever since the motherboard of the Note2 was replaced in June, and given the recent issues with random re-starts, I’d been looking around for a replacement phone. I wasn’t keen to buy the Nexus 5 or wait for the Nexus 6, not too enthused with the Moto G or Moto X, had to be incredibly lucky to snag any Xiaomi Mi3 or Redmi 1S off Flipkart, and for a brief moment, even considered buying the iPhone 5s (Gold, 16GB)off Amazon as the sale price plummeted from 35-36K to 30K. However, being used to larger screens now, this was a no-go. And nope, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plusweren’t feasible options either :p

A couple of friends had already bought the OnePlus One and although I hadn’t seen the phone physically, it looked quite attractive online. My initial reaction of course was one of scepticism; unknown company, unavailable in India, quirky invite system / contests to buy it, doubts about warranty etc. However what finally decided me was the combination of those specifications at that price, so I bit the bullet and decided to go ahead as a friend had an invite.

Claiming the invite (within 24 hours) was simple enough. They have a 16GB and 64GB variant, and I chose the latter in Sandstone Black ($349). Added a ClearCase as well for $11, so the total cost came to around $375 including ~ $15 for shipping. Payment was done via PayPal (there is no other way to pay), and after initial hiccups with the U.S address (courtesy Shop and Ship), the order was finally through.

It was delivered by OnePlus to the SnS address in 3-4 days and from there to India in another 4 days, including one day on hold to dispute customs duty. My shipment was listed as “Home Appliance” instead of “Mobile Phone” and customs duty was higher. If you’re ordering via SnS, remember to send them a copy of your invoice within 24 hours of intimation of the tracking number to ensure the correct customs duty is charged.

On opening the box, the packaging left me speechless; probably the best I’ve ever seen for a phone. Most come with all the stuff crammed into a small box, barely the size of the phone itself. In this case however, this was no less than some luxury item – the phone, the charger, cable, SIM removal tool, clear case. Gorgeous 😀

OnePlus One

With a  Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2.5GHz quad-core CPUs, powered by CyanogenMod 11S running Android 4.4.4, this is a 64GB (Sandstone Black) beast with 3GB RAM, a 5.5 inch IPS LCD display, 1920 X 1080 full HD resolution, a Li-Po 3100 mAh battery, and an Adreno 330 GPU for superior graphics and gaming experience. It isn’t super slim, but reasonably so, and not very heavy either. Some might crib about lack of microSD storage but considering I didn’t need one for my 16GB Note2, 64GB here is more than adequate for me. I like that the back is actually rough like sandpaper making it easier to grip. However, with the clear case on, no worries on that front.

OnePlus One

During the first couple of days, the battery life was good, then dipped after one update, and then the latest XNPH38R update seems to have taken care of that. This update was also expected to fix touchscreen related errors, but I didn’t experience any, so no worries there.

The rear camera is a 13MP one while the front facing one is 5MP. Both images and video output were pretty good as far as my usage is concerned. There are several options to tweak the mode even as you’re readying to take a pic, which I found useful. The latest update also brings with it the ability to shoot images in RAW.

I ran the AnTuTu Benchmark app to check how the OnePlus One stacked up against the competition and while looking at the results feels great, it doesn’t take too long for others to catch up nowadays. Playing games like Carmageddon, Riptide GP2, and Asphalt 8: Airborne was a breeze and I didn’t notice any frozen frames or lag / stutter.

OnePlus One

All said and done, at 25-26K for a 64GB phone with top of the line specs, this is one heck of a phone. No other comes close!

* Google has announced Lollipop, the next version of Android, along with the Nexus 6 phone and Nexus 9 tablet. At $650 for the phone, it does seem a tad steep, and is available in 32GB and 64GB versions on pre-order by end-October.

* Update: Just as OnePlus was getting ready to launch the phone in India, their partner Cyanogen seemingly pulled the rug from under their feet by signing up with Micromax, putting up a question mark on future OS updates for those buying the phone *in* India. OnePlus were taken by surprise, and though Cyanogen issued a statement after the ensuing shitstorm, the damage was done.

* Meanwhile, Micromax obtained a single judge court order to restrain OnePlus selling, marketing or shipping any phones in India – which was overturned by the Delhi High Court.

* The phone is being sold in India on Amazon without the Cyanogen branding – Rs 21,999 for the 64GB Sandstone Black version – even as OnePlus is getting their KitKat based OS ready to ship.

* The invite system still continues though, whether in India or via their own site. They’ve introduced invite-free Tuesdays, opening a window when the phone can be bought without an invite.