The OnePlus 2 mobile phone: One user's experience

In this first part of a three-part series, expert developer Barry Burd takes you through his experience ordering, receiving, unwrapping and setting up the OnePlus 2 mobile phone.

It's hard to believe that, not long ago, the primary functions of handheld mobile devices were to act as digital calendars and personal organizers. Not only are modern mobile devices like Samsung's Note 5 and the iPhone 6 capable of hosting an incredibly diverse set of software apps, developers are actually writing the Java and .NET code using the devices themselves. And although author Barry Burd may not be developing software on his recently acquired OnePlus 2 Android smartphone, he is reviewing it for TheServerSide in a three-part series, which starts here with an overview of the device and a short history of how the OnePlus 2 mobile phone found itself into Burd's hands. Part two looks at the phone's hardware and part three covers the software and wraps up the series with an overall review.

The OnePlus 2 mobile phone certainly isn't the only smartphone on the market. An easy way to identify the competition is simply by performing a Google search; add a "v," implying "versus," after the product's name and see what the search engine's autosense comes up with.

My search showed me the names of products that people commonly compare with the new OnePlus 2 mobile phone. The entries include the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Moto X and Samsung's Note 5. Prices for most S6 models range from $540 to $725, with the least expensive 64 GB model costing $680. A 32 GB Note 5 costs around $680. And a 64 GB Moto X is a steal at $500. But I got my 64 GB OnePlus 2 for $390.

Several months ago, I applied online for an invitation to purchase the OnePlus 2. I received an invitation in mid-September. The invitation email said, "The invite can be only claimed from this email address," and, "Claim within 24 hours!" I had a choice of back panels, in a few colors and textures, and a choice of memory capacities: 16 GB of storage with 3 GB of RAM or 64 GB of storage with 4 GB of RAM.

Before ordering the unit, I had a few questions about the order and the options. I called the support phone number in my home country, the United States, and found the support rep to be quite helpful.

Connecting with the right connector

I ordered the 64 GB model and an extra USB Type-C adapter. The OnePlus 2 has the new Type-C USB connector. With a Type-C connector, you don't have to make sure that you're not trying to plug a cable in upside down. The cable fits in either way. Life is good!

The only downside with the Type-C connector is that such connectors aren't very common. If you're away from home and you need a charge, you won't easily find a friend with a Type-C connector. That's when OnePlus's extra USB Type-C adapter comes to the rescue. The adapter is a tiny gadget that converts from Type-C to a commonly found Micro Type-B connector. When you attach your friend's phone charger to the USB Type-C adapter, you're ready to go.

A slight inconsistency in the product marketing of the various connectors is worth noting. The OnePlus 2 user manual says, "Please only use the official OnePlus charger." But the site sells this adapter to enable the use of unofficial chargers. I'm not surprised. For legal reasons, most products' user manuals probably say, "This product is not intended to be used for any purpose, so don't use this product."

Stumbling through the Initial Setup

About 10 days after I ordered the OnePlus 2 mobile phone, it arrived via DHL from China. I hurriedly ripped open the box and started the setup procedure. My first roadblock was inserting the SIM card. The paper instructions gave me the impression that I should insert the card in a side slot. But an online video showed me that I had to remove the phone's back panel.

The software setup had some speed bumps, too. Network setup was particularly clunky. I saw no scanning indicator during the uncomfortably long scan-for-networks period. I tried tapping the option to add another network, but that didn't help.

Eventually, the phone found my home's wireless network. A message told me it would take up to two minutes to check the connection. Eventually, the check timed out with a "try a different network" message. Then I discovered that, in spite of all these messages, the phone was already connected to my home network.

Setting up the built-in fingerprint reader was fairly easy. You can register up to five fingers (for example, your right and left index fingers, your right and left thumbs, and … what do you do with your fifth registration? Can you register your nose?) Some other authentication methods are available such as a swipe, a pattern, a PIN or a password. That's good because, in an emergency, you want other people to be able to unlock your phone. In fact, you can't set up fingerprint scanning without having one of the other authentication methods in place.

Pairing the phone with Android Wear watch

Near the end of the setup, I paired the phone with my Android Wear watch. Android Wear pairing is never easy for me. My old Nexus phone would refuse to pair during nine out of 10 attempts. I think it had something to do with the absence of Bluetooth LE. But the OnePlus 2 paired with my Samsung Gear Live on the first try. The only hitch was when Android Wear insisted on a Google Play services update. The Update graphic looked like a button, but clicking the graphic had no effect.

After fumbling around for several minutes, I tapped the ellipsis in the screen's upper right corner and chose to view a tutorial. For some strange reason, playing the tutorial took me to a proper Update button. I call this strange because it was the act of playing the tutorial -- not the information in the tutorial -- that took me to the Update button.

This has been a high-level overview of the OnePlus 2 mobile phone, as well as my experience receiving the phone and setting it up. Part two in this series will take a deeper look into the hardware that makes the phone work. Part three will look at the phone's software and provide an overall review.

What has been your first-hand experience with the OnePlus 2 mobile phone? Let us know.

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