So, the OnePlus 2 is after the 2016 flagships and making no secret of it. Ambitious? Quite so, but OnePlus believes it can keep last season's momentum. The company is keen to try and make an even bigger splash but it's dealing with a different kind of competition now.
Snapdragon 810 is soon to make room for the highly-anticipated Snapdragon 820, which offers a custom processor, more powerful graphics and much improved thermal characteristics. Quad HD displays were questioned last season for the toll on battery life but will probably be the flagship standard in 2016. Unable to compete on ppi and missing things like QuickCharge and wireless charging, NFC and memory expansion, the OnePlus may end up struggling against rivals who typically make no compromise with the level of equipment.
But there is still a very good chance for the OnePlus 2 to get chosen ahead of more expensive alternatives and if the company delivers on its promises of a more straightforward invitation system and higher stock, the OnePlus 2 may after all have successful sales.
The OnePlus 2 offers excellent design and commendable specs, the latest software and some real future-proofing in the USB Type-C port (which however is more of a liability at this point unless you get the right adapters) and a convenient sound switch.
The new design introduces metal and improves the overall feel of the handset. The home-brewed Oxygen launcher keeps pure Android Lollipop almost intact, adding a handful of little improvements: the new gestures, a widget-only homescreen pane, a new camera app and fingerprint sensor integration.
The OnePlus 2 makes perhaps more compromises than a flagship should but knows how to get away with it. At about €300 for the 16GB option and less than €400 for the 64GB, the OnePlus 2 is in a price bracket indeed that has very little flagship competition, which is not to say there's no competition at all. Just on the contrary.
The LG G Flex2 was the first Snapdragon 810 smartphone and it has become one of the most attractive offers lately. The curved phone goes for about €300, offers a big 5.5" 1080p curved OLED screen, self-healing back panel coating, a great 13MP OIS camera with laser auto-focus, and already runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.
The 5.7" Xiaomi Mi Note and Mi Note Pro are both excellent choices for power users. The standard Note packs a 1080p display on a Snapdragon 801 chip, while the Pro edition bumps the resolution up to Quad HD and promotes the SoC up to Snapdragon 810. Both feature a 13MP OIS camera, rich connectivity options, non-expandable 64GB of inbuilt storage and 4MP selfie snappers.
The 5" Oppo R7 and 6" R7 Plus may run on an inferior Snapdragon 615 chip, but impress with superb build quality and slim bodies. The AMOLED screens are a real treat as is the 13MP OIS rear camera and the Color OS on Lollipop. Those aren't cheap but are true attention-getters.
Huawei Honor 7 or the Huawei P8? We couldn't quite decide when we recently reviewed them, but maybe you can. The P8 is more beautiful, but the Honor 7 is more powerful. Both offer 5.2" IPS 1080p screens, run on the proprietary Kirin 935 chip, come with expandable memory and rich connectivity. The Honor 7 is cheaper, but boasts a 20MP main camera with phase-detection AF, while the P8 has a 13MP OIS camera.
The list of competing smartphones only confirms that the OnePlus 2 is very competitively priced. It improves on the original in a number of ways but it may find it hard to repeat last season's performance and, ultimately, own the box office.
Popping right out of the blue (or Oppo's back door), the original OnePlus One didn't just want a place under the sun. No, it came banging right on the door of the flagship club. Unwelcome, uninvited but ready to win everyone's respect. And it did.
The OnePlus 2 has the background and credentials now but if the competing flagships are showing any sign of fear, it's not the fear of the unknown anymore.