I’ll start this off by stating that I have tried this before. In fact, it was just before Christmas last year that I bought my wife the Moto X in an attempt to move her away from her iPhone and over to Android. The migration lasted only about three weeks because she “accidentally” dropped and smashed her phone. Admittedly, it wasn’t an easy transition. I’m not sure if it was because she didn’t like the physical device, Android or that I hadn’t provided enough help to ease her through it. Possibly, and very likely, it was a combination of all of those factors.
This time, I feel as though I’m more prepared and I have a better device for her. The OnePlus One.
As some of you know, I am a CyanogenMod device maintainer … or at least I used to be. The devices I supported are long gone from popularity and not very many people use them any more. Either way, I have a clear bias in terms of the Android experience. I like the stock system from Google, it is by far the best version and I simply don’t understand why manufacturers and carriers feel the need to fuck it up with their skins and bloatware (I’m looking directly at you Samsung – dumb asses). I think that CyanogenMod provides more functionality and configurability without sacrificing the overall feel and spirit of AOSP.
With all that being said, this article is hopefully going to be a mix of a review on the phone, both from my perspective and my wife’s; as well as a pseudo how-to/overview of what it’s like to transition to Android from years on an iPhone.
Unboxing the OnePlus One:
I think this is standard issue stuff here. The packaging is well done, nice materials and very pleasing to look at. Janel likes the red highlights. Beyond that, I think this keeps up with the rest of the mobile marketplace in terms of lavish packaging quality and materials. A lot of people really care about how their devices are packaged. I figure as long as it gets here without being broken then I’m good – I’d much rather a manufacturer spend that extra money on the device itself. You look at the box for the 3 minutes it takes you to tear into it, you have to look at the device for the foreseeable future …
A couple things that I immediately noticed though. First, there are no instructions (more on this later) and second, this phone is fucking huge.
Powering it on and initial configuration:
One of the things that I wanted to make sure of, that this device had all of the apps and settings that my wife needs to manage her small business the second I hand it over to her. Most users transitioning to Android won’t have the luxury of an android developer to do this for them. So take that into consideration as you read this article.
Since I know my way around Android and CyanogenMod already, it was very easy for me to run through the initial Google and CyanogenMod account setup screens. After that, I was prompted for a software update on the device.
After a quick download and reboot, I was back to the PlayStore for updates to existing applications on the device. While this was running, I was prompted for yet another CyanogenMod update.
After another reboot, I was back to the PlayStore to continue downloading app updates and the applications that my wife is going to need. After getting through about 3-4 application downloads I was prompted again for a CyanogenMod update. C’mon guys … three separate updates? Can we not package these things together into a single update?
Rebooting … now I’m about 30 minutes into things. So far, so good. I mean the whole three patches from CyanogenMod was really just an annoyance if anything at all. Now that I have all of the apps that I think she needs, based on what I saw on her iPhone, I start actually configuring the device settings – making sure things are really going to work and be easy for her to use.
It’s at this point that I realize, normal users wouldn’t do this. They would simply expect things to work. That should be it. There should be no configuration beyond setting up your Google account(s). For the most part you can do that, and I think average users wouldn’t realize that the have so much flexibility in what they can do with their device for a couple reasons …
- It’s flat out painful to figure out if you aren’t at least slightly technically savvy. The settings menu is simply a mess regardless of Android distribution your device has. It could use a significant overhaul. But in all fairness, the iOS settings menu is shit too.
- They shouldn’t have to know all this crap in order to get the most out of their device. Average users expect their devices to work out of the box without having to fuck around with things. Something like unblocking offensive language in voice dictation and voice searching is utterly a mess to find and disable … Go into Settings, Tap Language & input, Tap Voice search, Unckeck “Block offensive words”. Really? Are you kidding? My device will, by default, censor me? *sigh* (Obviously, this has been a long time pet peeve of mine.)
Here’s where the users manual comes into play. Remember that I mentioned earlier that the device didn’t come with one? There’s the problem. Now I personally don’t need one, but my wife certainly would have. I’m not expecting something massive here, but a basic setup guide would have been great for someone like her. Maybe OnePlus doesn’t include them in the early release versions of the device? Nope, it’s really a growing trend in the tech industry to include less and less documentation with devices.
“Hey asshole! Go check the internet if you want a manual, ” says everyone reading this.
That’s a fair point and I do agree that a larger, more detailed manual shouldn’t be included and you should be able to find one on the internet. Again, just looking for basics here like; 1) this is how you turn on your device, 2) this is how to insert a SIM card, etc. Remember that fancy ass packaging that probably cost a bunch of money? Well, I know where manufactures try to recoup some of that cost: don’t include any documentation what so ever.
The actual device …
Wow. This thing is nice. Get beyond all the crap I said about no manual, this device is really well put together.
The overall design is smooth and clean, with the back cover providing enough texture so it won’t slip out of your hands. The size of it, well, it really is gigantic. I have a Nexus 5 and I thought that was big, the OnePlus feels like it’s substantially larger in my hand. But, I don’t really have a problem with that, I like it. The thing about size though, I have large hands and can still use the device with a single hand … my wife has small hands, she’ll need both to manage this beast.
Now I’m not going to waste time listing out technical specs and all that shit, you’ve probably already read it and I don’t feel like copy and pasting it all into this article. Suffice to say, the phone is fast as hell and the animations/transitions between apps and screens are really smooth. Like butter smooth. Like as smooth as my Nexus 5. Dare I say it even feels a bit snappier? Maybe placebo, I dunno. This is one fast device.
The OS itself is certainly a major factor here. I think the CyanogeMod team have done a good job of revamping CM11 into a more consumer friendly operating system without going overboard and taking it too far aware from what Google intended Android to be. CyanogenMod has added in quite a few features specific to their software without really masking or removing the core of AOSP – this is a good thing.
Handing it over to my wife.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. After oogling over the phone while setting it up, I actually have to give this thing to my wife. And this is really the second major benefit she has over most users – hands on training from someone who knows Android, knows CyanogenMod and knows her well enough to understand what she’s going to need to know immediately and what she’ll be able to figure out on her own.
Now, her first impression after being married to me for all these years was how big it was. I mean, she really noticed the sheer size of the thing. I’m not so sure how I feel about that. Anyway …
I spent a solid 10-15 minutes showing her the basics. How to unlock the phone. How to turn it on and subsequently turn it off. How to use her email. How to call someone (people still do this?). How to use Hangouts and SMS/MMS. You name it, I went through all the critical aspects of daily use in a relatively short period of time.
From there, I cut her loose.
So far so good. The wife is happy, she’s using the device without any problems. Has installed and configured her favorite apps including square reader, paypal and others for her small business.
WTF? MMS isn’t working? Classic … this issue has plagued me in the past with android I cannot believe that it still exists. I had to fiddle with APNs and network settings and I *think* it’s working now. Frustrating. A non-tech user wouldn’t be able to figure this out, in fact, I’m not even sure that I have. If MMS messages continue failing to download, this phone is being sent back. That’s simply unacceptable.
Fortunately, I think I was able to fix this for her by changing the default APN and a few other settings. Time will only tell. But at the end of the day, this should NOT happen on ANY device EVER. If she were without me to help, she’d have two options … 1) continue to deal with it or 2) call OnePlus tech support, message board, whatever and try to resolve it.
I wonder if the second option is even viable.
If the issue persists, I’m going to find out. Even though I have a direct line into the developers and employees of OnePlus, I’m going to see if my wife is able to get this issue resolved (assuming I haven’t fixed it myself).
So that’s where we at the start of the second day. As things progress, I’ll post an update article with more notes and even maybe have my wife write a blurb with her impressions.