OnePlus shook up the smartphone world in 2014, delivering a flagship-level phone at a fraction of the cost of most premium devices. Many phone makers followed suit, including Alcatel and Asus, and low-cost unlocked phones are becoming the next big thing. On July 27, OnePlus launched its next-gen flagship, which looks set to take on the industry's leading smartphones. Here's what you need to know about the OnePlus 2.
Price, configurations and invite system
The original OnePlus made waves with its jaw-droppingly low starting price of $300 unlocked (now dropped to $250), but the OnePlus 2 costs a bit more than that, because of a more expensive processor.
Available in the U.S. on Aug. 11, the 16GB OnePlus 2 costs $329, while the 64GB version costs $389. That's still less than the $815 you'd have to shell out for a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 unlocked (on AT&T).
MORE: OnePlus 2 Hands-on: Better Camera, New OxygenOS
Just like with the OnePlus One, you'll need an invite to be able to purchase the OnePlus 2. The company promised a shorter process this time around, and has set up a reservation list on its website for people to sign up for invitations. Invites are sent out as devices are produced, and guarantees each holder the chance to buy a OnePlus 2.
OnePlus also said that pop-up stores would come to New York and San Francisco, and seven other cities around the world.
Snapdragon 810 CPU, stainless-steel construction
While the One was armed with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU, the new OnePlus is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip. This chipset supports 4K streaming video and speedier camera performance. There's also an Adreno 430 graphics processor to provide 3D gaming capability.
Dispelling concerns about the 810's tendency to run hot, OnePlus assured its fans that the OnePlus 2 will be "cooler than ever," thanks to a lot of work on the hardware and software fronts. In addition to thermal gel and graphite placed in different areas of the phone to dissipate heat, OxygenOS has also been optimized to use smaller processor cores for easier tasks and to avoid using adjacent cores to prevent excessive heat from building up.
Previous leaks showed that the OnePlus 2 would have stainless steel parts, and that turned out to be true. OnePlus has swapped the One's plastic frame for an aluminum-magnesium-alloy one on the OnePlus 2. That makes the new handset slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor, but gives it a more substantive feel.
Fingerprint sensor: faster than Apple's Touch ID
Integrated into the OnePlus 2's home button is what the company calls "one of the latest and most advanced fingerprint sensors out there." At the device's launch, OnePlus demonstrated how this feature can wake up your phone in just 0.5 seconds -- faster than Apple's Touch ID. You'll be able to store up to five fingerprints to unlock your handset, but it's not clear yet whether this can be used with third-party apps or any other parts of the OnePlus 2's OS.
Featuring a 13-megapixel rear shooter that's as sharp as that on its predecessor, the OnePlus 2 has improved photo-taking capabilities to help you take better pictures. In addition to an optical image stabilization and laser focus system for sharper pictures, the OnePlus 2 has a larger 1.3-micron sensor that lets in more light for better low-light shots.
OnePlus also said that its software team is working on improvements to the phone's camera and photo software for more enhancements after it hits the market.
USB Type-C, bigger battery
Think of the USB-C cord as the non-Apple equivalent of the Lightning charger. The reversible plug will fit into compatible ports any side up, and the OnePlus 2 will be the first global flagship smartphone to carry such a port, according to the company. It also made the Type-A (larger) end of its charging cable reversible, so you can easily insert it into any computer or wall port. OnePlus will be making this cable available for purchase to encourage USB Type-C adoption.
The OnePlus 2 will carry a 3,300-mAh battery, bigger than the 3,100-mAh pack on its predecessor. The company says battery life should still be similar -- about a day's worth of endurance on a full charge.
OxygenOS: Bye-bye, Cyanogen
Having ditched Cyanogen as its software partner, OnePlus has created its own OS that will run on its next-gen flagship. The company says the new system, named OxygenOS, will be open, customizable and bloatware-free.
Based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, the new platform lets you chose your lock-screen wallpaper, switch between physical and software navigation keys, and reorganize a Quick Settings panel, among other tasks. It also ports over some gestures from the original OnePlus, including double-tapping to wake the phone, and drawing a "V" to toggle the flashlight and an "O" to start the camera, even when the screen is off.
OxygenOS also packs a new feature called Shelf, which collects your most frequently used apps and contacts in one screen that you reach by swiping all the way to the left. It's still in beta at launch, but OnePlus says it's actively seeking user feedback so it can keep adding to the feature over time.
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Cherlynn Low is a staff writer at Tom's Guide. When she's not writing about wearables, cameras and smartphones, she's devouring old episodes of Torchwood or The X-Files. Or taking selfies. Follow Cherlynn @cherlynnlow. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.