From OnePlus to Honor

Finally, I’ve decided to change my phone. My last phone, the OnePlus One lasted a good 3 years 2 months and it is still going extremely strong albeit with lower battery life. It’s battery failed one fine day, 3 years into its life and it needed a replacement.

The One was truly a flagship killer with impeccable specs – processor, ram, space, camera et al. – at an unbelievable price of Rs.21,999. But more than these, what I fell for was the fact that you could unlock the bootloader and still not void warranty. Plus, it shipped with CyanogenMod, an open source OS based on AOSP! These two probably are the reason why there is a full ecosystem of custom roms that enable you to use the latest version of android on the phone within months of release. It’s popularity and current use can simply be judged by the fact that it remains the #1 device for LineageOS download till date.

It did have faults. The continuous auto focus in video didn’t work smoothly and was a big annoyance. I wonder why OnePlus passed on fixing so basic a problem. It was also a delicate phone; the back which had an amazing sandstone texture is easily scratched and cracks on minor impact. But, these were minor nits for what is otherwise an amazing phone.

Over the last 2 years though, I’ve started getting put off by OnePlus. The biggest reason was the fact that software support was stopped for the earlier phones within months of the release of a new phone. The fact that Snapdragon 801 powering the one was capable of VoLTE and OnePlus chose not to support it, really put me off. Then came the frequent and unwanted new launches – one device every year was fine but launching two (3 and 3T; 5 and 5T) because they couldn’t copy the best design and specs into the first release was just not acceptable to me. They were also losing on the price front – you copy but give a good price, people will accept; but, this wasn’t the case for the last few launches as the price kept steadily inching higher.

And this gave opportunities for new brands to step in and fill in the void. Now a number of brands offer comparable specs to a OnePlus product but at a substantial lower price.

The battery failure did make me lose trust on the stability of the product. So, I decided to get rid of the One before it completely gave up one day. And I started researching. The latest offering from OnePlus was in the consideration set. But two things put me off, a) the price-value equation was off and b) a “T” in its name, to me implied that it was an upgrade of an older flagship and a filler before another flagship came in a few months later. The one thing in it’s favour, and a big one at that, was the fact that there continues to be a large community working on the OS.

Coming to the replacement – the Huawei Honor View 10. It seems to have all those elements that worked in the favour of OnePlus One…

  • a great spec
    • processor: Kirin 970 is capable of giving a run to the Snapdragon 835 and has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (probably the first in a phone) which is one up
    • sufficient ram and storage: Using a phone with 3GB of RAM, I think 8 GB on 5T is a gimmick and many think so too
    • design: at least it’s not a blatant copy and feels different for a change
  • a killer price – I got mine at ~Rs. 24,500
  • a focus on the device and on India by the company; which signaled that the device would be supported by the company for sometime traded off against a healthy community of OS developers

The specs of the Honor View 10 match that of the One plus 5T. The NPU is definitely going to be a big plus at a later date when apps start using it better. But the price is the clincher. It’s a good deal less than the 5T which is what promises me to really consider this phone.

I have been using the Honour View 10 for a day now. It looks sleek, runs smoothly and can give any top end flagship a stiff competition.

The EMUI interface does have some getting used to. But it packs some neat productivity tweaks. And when I turned it on, what I loved was that it didn’t ask me to login to Google right at the beginning. That’s off to a very good start. Then the fact that I don’t have to use the Jio4GVoice app to make calls and receive sms on Jio is the icing on the cake (have been waiting to get rid of this for sometime now).

Now, I hope that Huawei/Honor encourages the community to start porting other versions of AOSP to this device as well as enables them to make good use of the NPU. Amen.

JBL T110I vs C100SI vs C150SI

A few months ago, I compared 2 VFM head phones from the stable of JBL – C100SI and C150SI. This one compares a third one T110I.

The Harman site lists the following audio specs…

Driver 9mm driver Advanced 9mm driver Advanced 9mm driver
Impedence 16±3.2 ohms 16±3.2 ohms
Frequency Range 20-20kHz 20-20kHz 20-20kHz
Maximum SPL 5mW 5mW
Driver Sensitivity 100±3dBSPL, 1mW 100±3dBSPL, 1mW
Rated power input 3mW 3mW
Headphone Jack 3.5mm 3.5mm 3.5mm
Cord Length (m) 1.2M 1.2M 1.2M

Not much right. So, here are the audiocheck results.

Frequency Response
     Bass  20Hz 30Hz
    Treble  16kHz 16 kHz
Perceptual Sweep Spectral Flatness Good Good
Dynamic Test 72 dBFS 66 dBFS
Bass Shake Rattles  40Hz onwards
Full Range Sweep  Good Good
Wiring  Good Good
Polarity  Good Good
Binaural Test  Good Good

As you can see from the above, T110I one is slightly better than C150SI in terms of bass frequency response and noise isolation. It also feels snug in the ear and doesn’t hurt the earlobes on prolonged wear unlike the C150SI which is bent at a very odd angle and can hurt sometimes.

Battery issues on Oneplus One

A couple of days ago, I started facing a reboot loop on my phone. The phone powered down after a complete battery drain. The reboot loop started after I turned it on after a bit of charging. Then even with battery 100% full, the reboot loop persisted.

The only way to keep the phone running was to have it plugged into the power constantly. It’s exactly similar to the problem described here. While I figured it was a battery problem, many online forums pointed to reinstalling software.So, I quickly made a backup of the important stuff on the phone as I could enter the recovery mode with the USB cable plugged on. Then reinstalled OS without luck.

While LineageOS got installed after a couple of tries, I couldn’t install (don’t know why). Which sort of put me off.

If your phone is ~2.5-3 years old and if you face a fast drain or reboot loop with OnePlus One, highly likely the battery is dead. Don’t bother reinstalling OS or doing these trouble shooting steps (Troubleshooting > Battery, Power, Charging > Device cannot power on). It’s a waste of 17 hours!

Finally I got the battery replaced at Heera Panna yesterday. This was because the OnePlus service center, which by the way promises a 1 hour service,  informed me that it’ll take them 15 days to order a replacement battery for the Oneplus one. There was no way that I could survive for those many days without a phone (especially with a Jio connection).

And since I was put off by my GApps experience, my quest  to use a pure AOSP without Google & Google Play Services started. A post on that soon.

If you are in Mumbai and looking for a good place to get the phone repaired, check this list or go to Heera Panna where you are very likely to find someone who can repair a phone in any condition. Almost every electronic shop there has some sort of repairing center. The only bit of advise, ask around and find a guy who you think knows his stuff and has the requisite parts. I found a shop called Dhruv collection (Shop # 33), 022 23512215 where the owner had a good knowledge of OnePlus models and did the replacement himself. I got the battery replaced in 5 minutes flat but had to wait ~30 minutes to charge and check it to my satisfaction.