Like them or hate them (and people always seem to be at those two polar extremes), OnePlus’ phones have always stood out from the crowd. The OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 have both turned heads with their now-famous slightly rough Sandstone-finish backs, and now comes the OnePlus X, which will again get glances, although for being smooth rather than rough.
We have to get this out of our systems – the OnePlus X reminds us a lot of the iPhone before it went into large mode. The glass front and back (we got the Black Onyx model) resting on a metal frame SO reminds us of the iPhone 4 and 4S. And so does the compactness – mind you, that is only in terms of previous OnePlus devices. With a 5.0-inch display and a frame that is a mere 6.9 mm thin and just 138 grammes in weight (the ceramic build one is heavier but that is an exclusive edition), the OnePlus X is easily the smallest device to issue from the OnePlus portals.
And it certainly is the best-looking as well. While the OnePlus One and 2 tested conventional design with their slightly rough exteriors, the X sees a return to classic smoothness. Yes, the speaker grilles at the base with the drilled holes again bring memories of that phone from that company in Cupertino, but overall, this is a very good-looking phone with its brushed aluminum frame and chamfered edges, and yes that glass back.
The front has the 5.0-inch display, with three touch buttons, one spherical and two marked by simple dash signs – one is for back and the other for recent apps. You can also opt to have the navigation buttons on the lower part of the screen where they come in the typical square-circle-triangle pattern that we have seen on some other devices. Running around the phone is the brushed aluminum frame which looks classy, although it is a trifle slippery. None of the sides is bare – the left has the notification button that we also saw on the OnePlus 2, the top houses the 3.5 mm audio jack, the right side has the power/display button as well as the volume rocker and the dual SIM card slot (a tray which pop outs, one of the slots can be used for a memory card), and the base has the micro-USB port (no USB type-C for this phone) and the iPhone-like speaker grille holes. The back is jet black Onyx glass with the OnePlus logo and the 13.0-megapixel camera with flash. All the buttons are metal – this is a phone with a definite premium feel to it.
The OnePlus X is in three words: compact, sleek and very shiny. And the last of those is its blessing and its curse. Yes, the shiny black looks gorgeous but it also picks up more fingerprints than a blood stained murder weapon in a Holmes mystery. Perhaps that is why there is a cover bundled in the box. It does keep the fingerprints away, but ah, it also mars the beauty of the phone. If Hamlet had been given this phone, he would have ended up pondering whether To Cover or Not To Cover that brilliant back. Doing so would extend its life and beauty but kill its identity, while leaving it uncovered would expose it to the scratches and smudges of outrageous fingerprints (oh all right, so we were reading Shakespeare just before this piece was written!), no matter how many hymns the manufacturer may sing to praise its resistance to scratches (look, it WILL pick up scratches if you leave it uncovered in your pocket with your keys, Gorilla Glass 3 notwithstanding!). It is definitely a very striking device, and praise be, a compact one in these days of hand-stretching devices – we suspect it might appeal to the feminine side of humanity for those reasons.
Beneath all this beauty lurks some hardware that is impressive for its Rs 16,999 price tag – the display is a full HD AMOLED one (which means the same resolution and a higher pixel density than the OnePlus One and 2), and making everything tick is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB RAM with 16 GB storage, expandable by 128 GB if you are ready to use one of those SIM card slots for a microSD card. The camera on the rear is supposed to be one of the fastest around, and connectivity options include 4G, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi, although NFC remains off the agenda. The battery is a 2525mAh one, which is definitely on the smaller side for these days. And running on all this is Oxygen OS based on Android 5.1.1 – OnePlus’ own OS which does not deviate too far from stock Android and also comes minus the preloaded games and apps that are the bane of some devices (although some consumers do love them!).
All said and done, the OnePlus X is OnePlus turning on the style on lines that are slightly more conventional than the ones it has adhered to in the past. It is a bit like moving from sandstone to silk in that department. And yes, while some might say that a OnePlus One costs just a little more, the fact is that the OnePlus X is clearly targeted at a more style conscious audience. And yes, for the price, it delivers some very decent hardware (only the Xiaomi Mi 4 comes close to it at the time of writing). Whether its performance backs up its looks or detracts from them will be revealed in the days to come in our review. Stay tuned. As of now, we can say that the OnePlus X ticks the beauty (design) box. We are now going to check out the beast (hardware).