Guest Post by Aditya Shenoy.
The OnePlus One has been the hottest phone in 2014. Dubbed as the Flagship killer and priced at $349 for the 64GB model, the phone did extremely well. Now with the OnePlus 2 right around the corner, people have a lot of expectations from the new phone. There have been constant leaks about the OnePlus 2 building the #HYPE around the smartphone; first from the media, and then from the company themselves.
While the juicy pieces of information are extremely promising, there’s also one thing to consider — the OnePlus 2 won’t carry the sweet $349 (~ Rs. 22,000) price tag of its predecessor. OnePlus CEO Peter Lau has suggested that the OnePlus 2 will cost under $450, hinting that it will be more expensive than the One. We have seen in the recent past where the Xiaomi Mi4 priced at Rs. 20,000+ in India didn’t fly off the shelves like its Rs.13,999 predecessor, the Mi3. It has come to a point where new smartphone makers have got the attention of the people with predatory pricing with their initial generation of devices. Now that they’re expected to up the game with their successor, the bill of materials is bound to inflate. So would you pay more for a phone from a relatively newer company? In the case of the OnePlus 2, we think the increased pricing is justified.
Snapdragon 810 Processor
This chipset has been in the news for a while now and not necessarily always for the right reasons.Yes, I am talking about the chronic heating issue that seem to plague the chipset. OnePlus has stated that they are working with Qualcomm very closely and are using v2.1 of the chip with optimised cooling mechanism on board. No matter what the perception of the people are, the Snapdragon 810 is currently the best processor from Qualcomm in the market and that definitely doesn’t come cheap. The Snapdragon 801 on the OnePlus One was no slouch either and the next cheapest phone (barring the Xiaomi Mi4) with this chip was the Moto X 2nd Gen (back then sold at Rs. 31,999). Interestingly, all the smartphones that come equipped with the Snapdragon 810 today, are marked well above the Rs 40,000 mark. If you do your maths right, there’s almost no chance the OnePlus 2 could be priced the same as the OnePlus One with that kind of chipset powering the guns in it. The game would get interesting, if OnePlus manage to price it at least $200 (~Rs 12,000) cheaper than the cheapest phone with the Snapdragon 810 in the current market.
While there have been some rumors about the OnePlus 2 having a Dual Camera setup, one feature that is almost a certainty is the Laser Autofocus. OnePlus had sent a review unit to YouTube blogger, Marques Brownlee a.k.a MKBHD, who did a detailed camera review (without revealing anything else about the phone). From all the tests, he concluded that the camera is a 13 megapixel unit with no mention of the said dual camera setup, but did reveal the f/2.0 aperture. He also said it did not feature OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), though did mention towards the end of the video that the phone was able to focus on the subjects really fast, which was attributed that to the presence of laser autofocus (a feature we have already seen on the likes of LG G3/G4).
The OnePlus One sported a Sony IMX 214 sensor. Although MKBHD said the OnePlus 2 shot at the same 13 megapixels resolution, it is not beyond the realms of hope that the sensor used would be a more advanced one, as the side-by-side comparisons with the OnePlus One show sizeable improvement in image quality. The quality in fact, seems on par with the likes of the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6. Worth noting that, the next cheapest phone to feature laser autofocus is the LG G3, which is about Rs. 32,000 in the current market.
For those reading it for the first time, yes, the fingerprint scanner is indeed coming to the OnePlus 2. The purpose of the scanner remains the same as that on the likes of the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S6, which is to easily unlock the phone. There has been a major uproar about these finger print scanners right from the days of the Motorola Atrix, though the trend did not pick up until Apple brought it on board with the iPhone 5s. Many flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9+ already employ a very usable fingerprint sensor and now you can be forgiven if you expect every upcoming flagship device to feature one. Add on to the hardware popularity, Android M has fingerprint sensor support in built making it easier for app developers to make good use of the hardware available. All said and done, the cheapest phones that have a usable fingerprint scanner today are the iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy S6, which are priced in the range of Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000.
A Higher resolution 2K display
Flagships have moved on to higher resolution displays and recent rumours suggest that the OnePlus 2 would also join the Quad HD bandwagon. Phones like the HTC One M9+, the LG G4 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 already have a 2K displays. With that kind of resolution on a 5.5 inch display you can expect a pixel density of 534 PPI which means a crisp, detailed screen. The Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro and the LG G3 are the cheapest phones in the market to sport Quad HD displays, priced around Rs 30,000. These panels are expensive and not to forget the the Lenovo and the LG run on the Snapdragon 801 processor while the OnePlus has the Snapdragon 810.
Better build quality with metallic chassis
Build quality on smartphones have more emphasis now than ever. Most top end smartphones have moved on to premium materials and the OnePlus 2 isn’t far behind. The phone image leaked reveals that it has a metal trim running along the sides of the phone, while some earlier leaks also suggested a full metal build. The Xperia lineup of smartphones have made use of glass in the Z series of smartphones while HTC have gone all metal with the One Series. It is unclear how premium the body of the OnePlus 2 will be, but if it’s any more premiumly built than the current phone, it would cost more to make.
Taking these facts that we know into account, it is only fair that the OnePlus 2 cannot hit the same $349 sweetspot price tag is the OnePlus One. But given all the feature upgrades, the OnePlus 2’s under-$450 price at this point seems to be justified. The only question is, has the budding phone startup generated enough clout in the market to recreate the same roaring response that the OnePlus 2’s predecessor received? We will know in the months to come.
Aditya Shenoy is the Sub-Editor at Price Baba. His life revolves around three passions — tech, cars and fitness, and he has a hard time deciding which is the biggest of them all. You can talk to him on Twitter @adishenoy.