For the last six months, the Nexus 5 has stood as the best combination yet of high-end smartphone hardware and affordable off-contract pricing. But there's a new kid in town that might give the Nexus a run for its money. Join Gizmag, as we compare the features and specs of the new OnePlus One with the LG/Google Nexus 5.
The Nexus 5 isn't a small phone by any means, but it almost looks that way next to the OnePlus One. The One is a full-fledged phablet, and is about 11 percent longer, 10 percent wider, and 3 percent thicker than the Nexus.
If you'd expect all that extra surface area to translate into extra weight, then, well, you'd be right. The OnePlus One is about 25 percent heavier than the Nexus 5.
Most smartphones you see these days have plastic chassis, including the Nexus 5. But OnePlus went with a material that we haven't seen very much of in smartphones, magnesium.
OnePlus is also going to sell replacement back covers that let you change the One's finish. That list will include some unconventional materials like kevlar, bamboo and denim.
Out of the box, the One will come in both "silk white" and "sandstone black" colors. Right now it looks like the white model is tied to the cheaper 16 GB version, while the black is married to the US$50 more expensive 64 GB One.
Yep, the OnePlus One is a big-ass phone with a big-ass display. Its screen is not only 23 percent bigger than the Nexus 5's, but it's 93 percent as big as the Galaxy Note 3's huge display.
That screen size difference can potentially be even bigger. The OnePlus One lets you choose between using onscreen or capacitive (below screen) navigation keys. If you go with capacitive keys, then you'll always be able to use 100 percent of the screen for your apps and content. If you go with onscreen navigation, then you end up sacrificing a little real estate (as the Nexus 5 requires you to do), but you get more customization in return.
Both handsets have 1080p displays. That makes the Nexus 5's smaller screen a little sharper, but both should look plenty crisp.
Like LG's Knock-On, the One lets you wake its sleeping display by just tapping twice on it. You can also create custom patterns that, when you draw them on the sleeping display, will jump straight into specific apps.
It looks like OnePlus also took a little inspiration from the Moto X, by letting the One respond to Google Now voice commands, even when it's asleep. Like Motorola's phone, it also learns your unique voice.
The Nexus 5's Google Now launcher also has an auto-respond voice search feature, but you need to have your screen on for it to work.
Like most recent high-end phones, the One is launching with Qualcomm's blazing-fast Snapdragon 801. It's a relatively minor upgrade over the Snapdragon 800 found in the Nexus 5.
OnePlus didn't mess around with the One's internal hardware. It's also one of the few phones with 3 GB of RAM inside.
We're seeing an interesting storage tier strategy here with the One. OnePlus is skipping the 32 GB option, jumping straight to 64 GB for just $50 more than the 16 GB model. Considering Apple charges an extra $100 to jump from a 16 GB iPhone to a 32 GB one, $50 for an extra 48 GB is looking like a pretty sweet deal.
We'll have to wait to put the OnePlus' battery through the paces, but its 3,100 mAh capacity definitely looks good on paper. For what it's worth, OnePlus is advertising "over a day's worth of battery life."
OnePlus is also aiming high with the resolutions in both of the One's cameras.
Like the iPhone 5s, HTC One (M8), and several of Nokia's Lumia flagships, the OnePlus One has a second flash. This should help its flash shots to look more colorful and balanced.
Along with lots of other high-end phones from the last year, the One lets you record video in slow-motion. There are third-party apps that can help you to do that on the Nexus 5, but there isn't any native software devoted to slow-mo.
Both phones have NFC chips inside.
Both phones run Android 4.4 KitKat, but the One ships with the mod community's favorite custom version, Cyanogenmod. CM builds that you download for rooted phones typically feature the stock Android UI (or something very close to it), but the special version of CM (11s) that runs on the One has its own unique appearance. Like all versions of Cyanogenmod, though, the beauty is in how customizable it all is.
The One isn't available just yet, but is set to launch sometime within the next three months. The Nexus 5 has been available since late 2013.
Based on the categories we've covered here, you could easily argue that the One is the more advanced phone. But it starts at $50 cheaper than the (already aggressively-priced) Nexus 5. And if you decide to pay $350 for the OnePlus, then you get 64 GB of storage – 4x what the same-priced Nexus 5 gives you.
With new high-end phones often starting at $650 off-contract (see iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5, and HTC One M8), it's refreshing to see OnePlus duking it out with Google and LG at a much cheaper price point. The startup OnePlus won't be able to compete with Apple's or Samsung's marketing or brand recognition, but – like the Nexus 5 – its combination of price and high-end hardware should be enough to turn a few heads. We can't wait to get our hands on this one.
For more, you can read our full Nexus 5 review. And if you want to cast your net a bit wider, you can check out our updated 2014 Smartphone Comparison Guide. The next time we update it, I'd say the OnePlus One has a great chance of sneaking in there.
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