OnePlus X Review: Affordable Good Looks

Sleek looks and good performance can't overshadow this phone's weak battery life and mediocre cameras.

Our Verdict

Sleek looks and good performance can't overshadow this phone's weak battery life and mediocre cameras.

For

  • Beautiful design
  • Affordable price
  • MicroSD card slot

Against

  • Short battery life
  • Mediocre cameras
  • Heavy for the size

The OnePlus X offers Gucci looks at a Gap price. In addition to a sleek glass design, the affordable $249 unlocked phone also offers some clever features via its OxygenOS, which is based on an aging version of Android. You also get decent performance out a quad-core processor and expandable memory. However, a lack of endurance makes the OnePlus X not quite as attractive as its exterior.

How to Get One: Still Invite-Only

Just like other OnePlus phones, you can only get the OnePlus X by invitation. To get an invite, you'll have to sign up on OnePlus' website, take part in a bunch of social media contests or get one from a friend who's already purchased a OnePlus phone. The invitations are notoriously difficult to obtain, and OnePlus has faced multiple shipping delays in the past, so actually getting a OnePlus X may be a tall order.

Design: Glossy Glass

OnePlus makes a big deal about its design efforts with the X — from the phone's anodized aluminum frame with chamfered edges to the glass on both the back and the front — and it shows. With its glass-covered body and rounded rectangle shape, the OnePlus X is like the sexy love child of Samsung's Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 5s.

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

The glass covering feels premium, but it also makes the phone slippery and prone to smudges.

On the OnePlus X's right edge is a dual nanoSIM/microSD card slot, as well as volume and power buttons, while a three-stop slider sits on the left. OnePlus calls this the Alert Slider, and it lets you set a sound profile (Silent, Priority and All) without having to unlock your phone.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

A micro-USB port and iPhone-like speakers line the bottom, while a 3.5mm audio jack sits on top.

OnePlus also offers a Ceramic version of the X, though it's not available in the U.S. Only 10,000 Ceramic units will be made. 

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

Compared to similar phones, the OnePlus X stands out as the smallest and slimmest phone of the lot. At 4.86 ounces, it's about the same weight as the 5.5-inch Alcatel Idol 3 (4.85 ounces) and the 5.2-inch Google Nexus 5X (4.8 ounces). The 5.45-ounce Motorola Moto G (5-inch screen) and 6.17-ounce OnePlus 2 (5.5-inch screen) are heavier.

Display and Audio: Good enough

Watching a 1080p trailer for Zoolander 2 on the OnePlus X's 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display was an enjoyable experience. Individual hairs on Ben Stiller's luxurious fur coat stood out as he strut down a runway, and the bright red jumpsuits and blue name tags on Stiller and Owen Wilson popped as they emerged from coffins. Viewing angles were generous, as images only dimmer slightly when I tilted the phone to extreme sides.

You may have trouble viewing the OnePlus X's display in bright light, though. Registering 295 nits on our light meter, the OnePlus X is dimmer than the average smartphone (408.5 nits). It's outshone by the OnePlus 2 (331 nits), the Moto G (463 nits), the Nexus 5X (453.6 nits) and the Idol 3 (736 nits).

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The OnePlus X is capable of producing plenty of colors, covering 186.2 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That's much more than the average smartphone (115.4 percent), as well as the Nexus 5X (106.3 percent), the OnePlus 2 (104 percent), the Moto G (103.3 percent) and the Idol 3 (94 percent).

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

However, the X's display is one of the least accurate of its class, with a Delta-E error rating of 2.95. That's better than the average smartphone (3.26), but poorer than all the other phones we compared it to. Numbers closer to 0 are better.

While the two speakers on the bottom of the OnePlus X were loud enough to fill a small meeting room, One Direction's Drag Me Down sounded hollow and tinny. Vocals sounded flat, while instruments clanged unpleasantly during the chorus. It's easy to accidentally cover the bottom-mounted speakers with your hand, which muffles the sound slightly.

OxygenOS

Running the company's own OxygenOS on top of the relatively outdated Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, the OnePlus X offers nifty touch screen gestures that let you wake the device up with a double tap or launch the camera by drawing a circle. OnePlus hasn't said when it expects to upgrade the OnePlus X to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

OxygenOS offers several other shortcuts, such as one-swipe access to the Phone and Camera apps from the lock screen. When enabled, the Shelf feature pulls up your frequent apps and contacts when you swipe all the way to the left of the home screen.

New to the OnePlus X is OnePlus Radio, which lets you access FM radio stations when you plug in a headset. I loved being able to look for a fresh radio station to tune into instead of bringing up one of my tired playlists on Spotify or YouTube.

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Other OxygenOS touches include a Dark Mode that turns the background color of menus and the system interface to black, custom icon pack support and an enhanced File Manager that includes its own Zip Extractor and Picture Viewer. Dark Mode, which is on by default, helps the phone last longer, is easier to look at and can be customized to show other accent colors.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

There's also the a la carte app permissions tool that lets you set precisely what data each app you've installed can access. I was surprised to find out that the Dumb Ways To Die app was allowed to get my location and record audio by default, so turned the latter function off through the permissions tool. 

Performance: Good for the Price

Sporting a 2.3-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU with 3GB of RAM, the OnePlus X ably handled a game of Dumb Ways To Die while several apps — such as Camera, Google Drive, Lyft, Chrome and VidTrim — were open. 

Opening a complicated PDF file in 10 seconds, the OnePlus X is faster than the average smartphone (17.02 seconds).

On general performance test Geekbench 3, the OnePlus X scored 2,402, to beat the quad-core Snapdragon 410-backed Moto G (1,591) and the octa-core Snapdragon 615-equipped Idol 3 (2,029). However, it lost to the average smartphone (2,664), the hexa-core Snapdragon 808-powered Nexus 5X (3,507) and the octa-core Snapdragon 810-armed OnePlus 2 (3,894).

The OnePlus X delivered smooth graphics as I defeated a three-headed dragon in Eternal Arena. Its 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited result of 16,705 proves it can handle graphics better than the average smartphone (14,886), the Idol 3 (6,384), the Moto G (4,467) and the Nexus 5X (14,599). The OnePlus 2 got a higher score (21,507), though.

Cameras: Bright, But Not the Sharpest

The 13-megapixel rear camera on the OnePlus X took bright, colorful pictures. Reds, whites and blues of flags lining Manhattan buildings were vivid, and lines on buildings looked clear.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

Red strawberries and pale-yellow bananas atop three slices of French toast were accurately colored, but details, such as the pitted texture of the strawberries or lines on the bananas, were fuzzy.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

The OnePlus X has trouble picking a spot to focus on, especially when more than one object is on the same plane in the scene, unless you activate Clear Image mode.

My 1080p video of passing cars appeared smooth and clear; words on a white van were legible, and a red-and-white awning in the background looked true.

Selfies shot with the OnePlus X's 8-MP front camera looked bright but somewhat fuzzy. While my forest-green coat and gold zipper were correctly colored, individual strands of my bangs looked muddy and dappled.

Credit: Cherlynn Low

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)

The camera app, customized by OnePlus, has a bare-bones interface. The shutter button sits on a bar that takes up almost a third of the viewfinder. You'll need to swipe in from the left to switch among Photo, Video, Slow Motion, Time Lapse and Panorama modes. Tapping the three-dot button next to the shutter lets you choose among Beauty, HDR and Clear Image modes, and you can activate only one of these modes per shot.

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When you tap anywhere on the viewfinder, the OnePlus X will readjust focus and exposure for that area. Two concentric circles and a gear icon will appear, and you can drag the icon to edit the brightness of the scene.

Battery Life: Below Average

Clocking in at 7 hours and 21 minutes on our battery test (Web surfing over T-Mobile's 4G LTE network at 150 nits of brightness), the OnePlus X lacks the stamina to get you through the workday. The average smartphone lasts nearly an hour longer (8:12), while the OnePlus 2 (8:07), the Moto G (9:00), the Idol 3 (9:16) and the Nexus 5X (11:30) all provide enough battery life to make it through a full workday.

Bottom Line

Do not judge this phone by its stunning cover; you will be disappointed. The OnePlus X is very attractive and affordable, but its mediocre cameras and below-average battery life keep it from being a superb phone.

For the same price, you'll find a longer-lasting battery and a larger, brighter screen in the Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3. But the Idol 3 is slower, and lacks the OnePlus X's style. If you want a compact, premium-looking handset with decent performance and you don't mind charging your phone more often, the OnePlus X is worth considering.