Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Smartest Way To Phablet: Oneplus One Plus Zenwatch Review

I thought I was ready to phablet again. All the indications were there. The desire hit me in waves because of the reveal of the snowboard-like Nexus 6. And the want of that phone persisted until I held one, and it was just a wee bit too big. like, it wouldn't fit all my shirt pockets too big. I saw myself bending over to pick up a laptop bag, and losing the top-heavy thing to the unforgiving concrete or road below. And while that killed the Nexus 6 for me, it didn't kill the phablet lust. 

Huge screen
Huge battery
Huge storage

All my music and movies on what is essentially a smallish always connected tablet.

That's the dream. 

The Oneplus One satisfies that dream for half the price of the Nexus 6 while not being half the phone, and while not being nearly as unwieldy. For 350 dollars unlocked (you should have ditched the carriers by now) your total cost of ownership for two years for a Sandstone Black Oneplus One and a decent prepay carrier is roughly 1400 bucks, and you'll have the freedom to change phones when you feel like it and only lose the difference between what you can sell the old phone for, and what you'll pay for the new one. Compare that to the over 2800 bucks you'd spend on a Nexus 6 from ATT that you'd be locked into. 

I'm not going to repeat what everyone else has said about the Oneplus One. It literally has no blind spots. And for those living in the real world, that just doesn't seem true. You never get a great deal without some drawback. But this thing has a great screen, great construction, great camera, great hand-feel. Great Android flavor. Great battery life. It's great looking even. I got stopped about ten times and asked what phone it was. Some folks knew what it was, and expressed jealously. I'll do the best I can to come up with any pertinent negatives:

1) It's not stock Android

That could be a deal killer. It's a version of Android named Cyanogenmod. And at this time, Cyanogenmod is 17 days late delivering on the CM12 Nightlies they promised. So folks are waiting to essentially beta test a Lollipop Android from the Cyanogenmod team while other phones already have official Lollipop Android releases. Now, that being said, the stock Cyanogenmod 11S rom is fantastic. So if you are normal, and don't mind waiting 3-4 months for a major OS update, the stock experience is exquisite. I adore Cyanogenmod 11S on the Oneplus One. 

2) LTE may or may not work

This could also be a deal killer. The Oneplus One isn't registered with any major or prepaid carrier in the US. So despite having an LTE radio that will work on both T-Mobile and ATT, it may not work for you. I somehow lucked out and did get LTE on Straight Talk, but still elected to use HSPA+ on purpose because it uses less battery, and it's more reliable in the DC Metro area. Still, real LTE matters a lot to some folks.

3) You can forget about Verizon

Because Verizon uses their proprietary bullshit technology, with its weird voice/data issues, and ridiculous pricing structure, you won't be using the Oneplus One on their network. I'd consider this a plus because you'd also be spared their shit-fucking horrible customer service, but a lot of folks would not. Verizon actually has groupies, if you can believe that.

4) A whole class of things to complain about
unless you own an Android Wear device

The right awesome Asus Zenwatch
In the spirit of the Oneplus One, the least expensive Android Wear Smartwatch you can buy right now is so very good, it almost doesn't make sense to spend 50-100 dollars more for something else that in most cases won't be as good. It's great looking, has great battery life, feels good to wear, gets complemented, and most surprisingly comes with VERY good companion software. So good in fact, that when I swapped out my Moto 360 for it, I was able to remove 5 apps that were simply included with the Zenwatch package. I can't say enough good things about this device. Folks that remember my Moto 360 Review will recall that I was VERY hard on the device because of the cheap plastic back. It cracked when I tried to put a real watch band on it. You won't have that problem with Asus's superior design.

A metal back and dedicated strap lugs. The way it's fucking supposed to be.
No shitty plastic back. Dedicated lugs so you can use any 22mm watch band your heart desires without having to worry about plastic cracking. It's simply constructed better. The Moto 360 may look a little better, and be a better design on paper, but the Zenwatch is simply built better, while not being bad looking at all, and costing significantly less. There's no regret with this watch. No blind spots either (other than the crappy heartrate monitor).

So for those keeping score:

Nexus 6 + Moto 360 = 1000 bucks
Oneplus One + Zenwatch = 550 bucks

And both experiences will be very similar (fantastic). 

And you want a smartwatch with a phablet. It's like the perfect use case for one. Ninety percent of the time you are pulling out your phone, it's to check some notification that you don't even have to reply to. You just have to acknowledge it. Better to have that on your wrist than to have to keep pulling out a big phablet. 

Makes sense doesn't it?

Now, I'm headed in another direction as I'm wont to do....


But I did spend a very intense month with the Oneplus One. If you want to phablet, I can't recommend this price beating combination enough. This is the smartest way to phablet. 

No question.