When making a budget phone, especially one that you plan to make money on, you have to make compromises. That’s really all there is to it. Which means you, as a manufacturer, are left with two choices:
You can either build a phone with all the features you can imagine — like NFC, wireless charging, quick charging, a microSD card slot, and USB 3.0 — and buy all of those components, and everything else in the phone from the display, to the camera, to the speakers, CPU and RAM at the lowest price possible. Skimping on the display, buying cheaper camera sensors, throwing in a slight smaller, battery; you get the point.
Or you can leave out all of those features and place that money into splurging on the components you do need, like having a killer display, an awesome camera, a top of the line CPU and GPU, and more than enough RAM to handle anything you could possibly want to do.
With the OnePlus 2, OnePlus opted for the second option. Instead of offering a device with a subpar camera with a cheap display, they went with USB 2 instead of 3, left out quick charging, and used a high-quality 1080p display and a 13-megapixel camera with OIS and laser autofocus. Instead of going with a last-gen Snapdragon and 2GB of RAM, they went with the latest and greatest Qualcomm has to offer paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and left out wireless charging and NFC.
OnePlus made the call and decided to prioritize certain features over others, and I believe the things they chose to prioritize make more of a difference to the experience of using and enjoying your phone. The OnePlus 2 is beautiful, fast, has a huge battery, and will take great pictures, all for only $329. But you have to plug it in to charge it and doing anything involving NFC simply isn’t an option.
Again, I think they made the right compromises, especially since those choices extend further than internal specs. That includes the build quality, which has been universally praised, the fingerprint reader, customizable capacitive buttons and custom notification switch.
For years now, as long as I can remember blogging about Android (which is more than 6 years now), people have said things like “why not cut something that doesn’t matter quite as much and throw in a better camera and display?” Well, OnePlus finally has.
At this point, we just have to see if people vote with their wallets and agree with me, or if Qi and NFC are really worth a bad camera or $300. What do you think?