Thursday, 28 July 2016

A Phone To End All Phones?

 OnePlus 3
You must have heard this one before, right? The Thing™ to end all things™. Talk about famous last words. Laughable, eh? There'll always be a better mouse trap. De gustibus and O, mores!

And you'd be right (reader is always right). But...

Let's talk about buts (not butts; of those maybe some other time).

Or rather, let's talk about shapes. Of things™.

Remember the good old telephone? Not the mobile variety and not necessarily the cordless one either. If you do, good. If you don't do a Google search and revel and marvel at the variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and all the other ways various models could be distinguished. Quite a few variations on the theme there, right? Right?

Now, cast your  mind's eye on how many different shapes "modern" mobile phones came in and - more importantly - come in today. Disregarding the antenna (or lack thereof), thickness, and the curvatures and I think we can agree what we have is essentially a brick shape.

Yes, some "bricks" are made thinner than the others - especially these days - but overall we seem to have now settled on a slate-with-one-side-covered-by-screen form factor.

And it is good. Don't get me wrong. Hard to improve upon even. Which is exactly the point I'm trying to make.

Therefore, I think we can agree that the phone to end all phones is, more likely than not, going to be brick-shaped. A slate if you want.

QED. For now.

Now, by this point you must have guessed (you readers, who are always right, are a clever bunch) where I'm going with this, trying to prove to you (even though you, being a clever bunch who is always right, certainly know better) that above pictured OnePlus 3 is, indeed, the phone to end all phones. And again you clever lot would be absolutely spot on. On the money, as it were.

But how does being brick-like help a phone be such a marvel? If you bear with me you may be enlightened (despite yourselves).

So, bear with me...

Being of perfect basic shape is, of course, not sufficient for world domination. So, let's introduce some limiting factors. Let's introduce some conditionality. Being a phone, our OnePlus 3 will have to be just the right size, proportions, and weight that it satisfies the largest number of its users. And it does, but how does it do it?

First, at 5.5" the screen is large enough to allow most things on it to be readable, legible and useful. It really does: do a side-by-side between 5", 5.5", and 6" screens and see for yourself. And now that you've done it (you did do it, right?) you also know that this size is also very good - if not perfect - for holding and using single-handedly. It also has just enough pixels for clear view, but at the same time not too much so that the battery lasts for fifteen minutes between recharges (I hear you shout "VR!" - I whisper back "get real").

Second, it's weight and thickness make it feel just right in hand. It's not too light. It's not too heavy. It doesn't have tendency to flip over the top of your hand (try a 6" variety). Yes, it may still wobble a bit placed on the desk, but hey, who these days does not keep their phone in a cover? Get one and the camera bump will no longer be an (rocking) issue.

Now, what else do we want out of our phones these days?

Processing power. Check. As of this writing OnePlus 3 runs on the fastest CPU there is.

Storage. Check. Yes, it's non-expandable, but 64GB is quite something, especially in these cloudy days.

Working memory (aka RAM). Check. There's 6GB of that. Yes, six. That's two more than nearest competitor. It's also probably three more than reasonably required. But it comes with a twist: only up to twenty apps will be held in memory at any given time. Too little? You must be raving mad! Too much? Probably, but there's another twist: you can select which apps will stay in memory whatever happens. Now both the size and the twenty apps limit start to make sense. Oh, and root your phone and change this setting to your liking.

What else we're concerned about?

Ah, yes. Camera. Well, check. There is one. And it makes nice pictures. It's focus is good and quick enough. It's colours are just fine. The selfies are nice (as selfies go, that is). It does video well enough. Want professional photos and videos? Buy a DSLR or something. Even a mirrorless will do a better job. Some bridge cameras, too. A budget compact? Probably not. Therefore, OnePlus 3 has as good a camera as one needs on a phone. Probably better, too. Get real.

Anything else? Of course.

The Big B. Or, rather, more like a small b these days. The Battery.

Yup, OnePlus 3 has one. And it's not the biggest there is. Nor is it the longest lasting, alas. Still, it'll last you a day. Maybe a bit more. Don't tell me you don't recharge your phone at least daily. More like, your phone is being plugged more times a day than what even the most industrious lady of the night might find acceptable on a night before the mortgage is due. So, it doesn't really matter. As long as, in a pinch, your phone can keep going between two bedtimes it's fine. No, it really is. Get real.

Almost forgot. There's this OnePlus thing called Dash Charge (not Daesh, mind). This will charge your phone from almost empty to almost full in around half an hour. Really. It works. As. Advertised. Does that small(ish) battery look better now?

Anything else I didn't cover? Oh, yes. The OS.

It's Android, of course. While you may think you covet other people iPhones because of their inherent iPhoneyness, it is really other bits of their lifestyle you're after (and the bank balance part of it most of all). Yes, they're nice. Yes they sell like hot cakes. But they're also a minority pursuit. Don't trust me on this. Just count 'em. Oh, and Android is inherently better than iOS - if you even care. And, after all, pretty much every app worth its salt is available on both. And if you ever do decide to switch phones, your investment in Android apps gives you way more options of alternative handsets. With iPhone you're doomed to whatever Apple decide to sell you next (anyone channeling drug dealers by now?).

OK. So far I have described just a really, really nice phone. But how does all of this make it the phone to end all phones? That's relatively simple to prove, too. Just look around yourself at the apps that are in vogue now. Yes, please put an emphasis on the most resource heavy ones. Apart from full-blown VR experience on you phone (get real!) there is barely a whiff of a doubt that apps won't get significantly more performance hungry in the foreseeable future (remember, it's a phone, not a dedicated games console).

So, I finally submit that OnePlus 3 is future-proof to the point that nobody would want a better phone in the foreseeable future barring having lost or broken one. OnePlus, save for the non-replaceable battery, have almost designed themselves out of their jobs. So, come the time your OnePlus 3 battery finally meets its maker, you may indeed have to hunt for a replacement. But, having already started with a rock-bottom price and considering it can only go down with time, you may find that your phone needs are best served by digging out another OnePlus 3, new from well hidden stock reserves, or maybe even used, but with still acceptable battery life.

That is, unless, like all excellent things, the price of the last few well-preserved ones does not sky-rocket - as it is often wont to do.


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