It wasn’t long ago that the world was slathering at the mouth for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2. Two flagship phones with specs to match. But they also have flagship price tags and now, almost out of nowhere, the OnePlus One has arrived with similarly top tier specs and a price tag that’s far, far lower.
So is there a catch? And is there any reason to still pick a Galaxy S5 or Xperia Z2? Read on to find out.
The OnePlus One has a fairly plain plastic case in either black or white, however it also has a series of ‘StyleSwap’ covers, allowing you to buy replacement covers made from materials as diverse as wood, bamboo, kevlar and denim. So while it looks fairly plain and dare we say cheap out of the box it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The Galaxy S5 is mostly plastic too, with a perforated cover that looks unique but not particularly attractive, though while the OnePlus One is 8.9mm thick the galaxy S5 is just 8.1mm, so it’s a little slimmer.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is probably the most attractive of the three with its metal frame and glass back. The OnePlus One could potentially beat it if you replace the cover but with the default covers it doesn’t look anywhere near as premium. Plus the Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are both dust and water resistant, which the OnePlus One isn’t.
The OnePlus One has a 5.5 inch 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch, while the Galaxy S5 has a 5.1 inch 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED screen with a pixel density of 432 pixels per inch and the Sony Xperia Z2 has a 5.2 inch 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch.
The overall quality of all the screens is fantastic, but the Galaxy S5’s is probably the best, with very bright, very rich, yet surprisingly natural colours and the highest pixel density. Beyond that it comes down to size preference. The OnePlus One is verging on phablet territory while the S5 and Z2 are both just about normal smartphone sizes.
The OnePlus One is theoretically the most powerful smartphone on the planet, with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. The Galaxy S5 isn’t too far behind though with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM, while the Sony Xperia Z2 has a similarly impressive 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM.
So while they’re all very powerful the OnePlus One wins out by combining the 3GB of RAM from the Z2 with the 2.5 GHz processor from the S5.
The OnePlus One has a 13 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and can shoot 2160p video. It also has a 5 megapixel front facing camera for superior quality selfies.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 16 megapixel camera and can shoot 2160p video, but it only has a 2 megapixel front facing camera.
The Sony Xperia Z2 has a 20.7 megapixel camera and can match the other two for 2160p video as well as having a 2.2 megapixel front facing camera. While we haven’t been able to put the OnePlus One properly through its paces yet it should, on paper, be able to stand up quite well to the competition, though the Xperia Z2 is likely to top it for camera performance.
The OnePlus One has a 3100 mAh battery which OnePlus claims can keep it going for over a day of active use. The Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery which can last for up to 390 hours of standby time or 21 hours of talk time and which in day to day use is one of the best around. The Xperia Z2 has a 3200 mAh battery which can’t quite match the S5 in use but isn’t far off, with quoted times of 740 hours standby or 19 hours of phone calls.
While we can’t yet say exactly how the OnePlus One will fare in use it sounds like it should have pretty good battery life, though probably not as good as the Galaxy S5.
The OnePlus One has a choice of 16 or 64GB of built in storage but no microSD card slot. The Xperia Z2 comes with just 16GB of built in storage but does have a microSD card slot (with support for cards of up to 128GB) and the Galaxy S5 has a choice of 16 or 32GB of built in storage and the same microSD capacity as the Xperia Z2. So the OnePlus One has more potential storage out of the box but the other two trump it for total possible storage.
Connectivity options are broadly similar across the three handsets. They all have Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G LTE, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0, but the Galaxy S5 also has an infrared port.
Given that it starts at just £229 the OnePlus One would be a decent buy even if it was only half as good as the Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5. But in fact it looks like it stands up to them in just about every way.
Its screen is bigger and just as high resolution, it’s more powerful than either of them, has a camera and battery which should be roughly comparable, a lot of built in storage and a decent build quality, especially once you swap out the back cover. The only real area where it falls short is that it isn't wateproof and dust-proof like the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5.
The OnePlus One might be a tougher sell at £500+, for under £250 it’s a no brainer if you’re looking for flagship specs without the price tag.
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