It may not have the name recognition of phones from Samsung or Apple, but the OnePlus One is a powerful smartphone with an affordable price point and a bunch of handy features for business users. The phone was actually launched a year ago, but up until now it was only available to users who could snag an invite from someone who already owned it.
But now OnePlus has finally opened up orders to all comers. Anyone can buy the Android-powered device for just $299 off-contract, making it one of the best smartphone values around. Here are five reasons the OnePlus One is still one of the best business phones you can buy, even one full year after its initial release.
Okay, so $299 might not seem like such a great deal for a smartphone, especially if you're used to upgrading through Verizon or AT&T and getting a subsidized phone for a lot less. The difference is that you can get the OnePlus One for a relatively low price without a pricey two-year contract attached, then opt for a more affordable monthly plan through a smaller carrier.
Consider that the Samsung Galaxy S5— which has comparable hardware to the OnePlus One — still sells for $599 off-contract, while this year's model sells for $1,100 without a two-year agreement. In comparison, the OnePlus One starts to look insanely cheap, making it an enticing option for business users on a budget.
The bottom line is that while the up-front cost of the OnePlus One might be a little more than you're accustomed to, you could save a lot of money in the long run by going off-contract.
It may have an affordable price tag, but the OnePlus One doesn't look or act like a budget phone. The device is slim and sleek, and still offers snappy performance that should satisfy serious business users. You get a 2.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor — the same chip you'll find in the Galaxy S5 — which still feels pretty speedy, even if it's not quite as fast as the newest flagship phones. You also get a big, sharp 5.5-inch display that gives you tons of space for screen-intensive tasks like editing documents and spreadsheets on the go. The $299 model includes just 16GB of storage, but a $350 version with 64GB is also available. Remember that the device doesn't have a microSD card slot, so the storage you choose at the outset is all you get.
Long battery life
Long battery life is crucial for business users who need a smartphone that can last through the end of the workday and beyond. The OnePlus One doesn't disappoint on that front, with a beefy 3,100-mAH battery that lasted an incredible 13 hours and 16 minutes in our test, making it one of the longest-lasting mobile devices we've ever used. It performed far better than Samsung's Galaxy S6 (8:32) or Apple's iPhone 6 (7:27).
The OnePlus One runs on a special version of Android called CyanogenMod, which includes a few notable security features you won't find on most Android phones. That's a big perk for security-minded business users.
For starters, the device automatically encrypts SMS text messages, which can help ensure that your private business communications stay private. Even if your messages were intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient, the content of the message would stay hidden.
Then there's Privacy Guard, which lets you encrypt files and emails so that only specific users can view them. It works by storing the device credentials of people you interact with, then encrypting files in such a way that only those users can open them.
Always-listening voice commands
This one's tricky, since OnePlus has been promising to deliver always-listening capabilities — similar to the Moto X's Moto Voice functionality— since the One launched last year, but the feature hasn't yet materialized. Recently, it was announced that the feature will be included in an upcoming release of the phone's CyanogenMod software, so we expect that it could arrive very soon. Given the company's track record on the issue, however, we can't make any promises.
To explain further, always-listening functionality lets you issue voice commands to your phone at any time, even when the screen is turned off and your phone is sitting halfway across the room. You simply utter a launch phrase to trigger the voice command prompt, then say what you want your phone to do. For example, you might tell your phone to add an appointment to your calendar, or save a quick note. It's also handy for finding your phone when it's hidden in a coat pocket or behind a stack of papers on your desk.
It might not seem like a big deal, but voice functionality this seamless is a huge perk. After all, manually inputting a quick reminder into your smartphone is almost more trouble than it's worth, but doing the same task via voice commands is effortless. It can also make you more productive, since you'll spend less time fiddling with your phone and more time working. I use a similar feature on my personal Moto X smartphone every day, and it helps me stay on top of tasks, perform quick Web searches, instantly access weather reports and a lot more.