You've probably already heard that the OnePlus 2 is supposed to be the hottest phone of the year. OnePlus has probably told you that, too. But some of the grand claims being made for the OnePlus 2 – particularly about its choice of processor – have recently been questioned and give us cause to check the facts. Let's see just how ''hot'' the OnePlus 2 will really be.
The story begins with OnePlus choosing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 for its upcoming phone. The Snapdragon 810, in case you didn't know, is the CPU at the heart of what we've lightheartedly been calling 'Throttlegate'. Throttlegate came about following widespread problems with overheating of the Snapdragon 810 during the past few months, coupled with throttling of the CPU's performance in order to manage the heat.
The ensuing scandal has caused the 810 to be the focal point of every problem experienced by those manufacturers that chose to use it. LG suffered from throttling and performance issues in the G Flex 2, HTC initially had a hot mess on its hands with the One M9 and the Sony Xperia Z3+ continues to crash after running the camera app for a few seconds. This is the CPU OnePlus opted to go with.
Why, you might ask? OnePlus supposedly has a special, revised version of the Snapdragon 810 guaranteed to be ''cooler than ever''. OnePlus made much of v2.1 being an ''improved version of the chipset'' when it announced the controversial CPU as the first of its gradual specs reveals. This led to the conclusion that there was a second, completely revised version of the original 810 v2.0 made especially for the OnePlus 2. But there isn't.
We asked Qualcomm to verify these claims. Yesterday, a spokesman told AndroidPIT that, ''there is only one Snapdragon 810 processor.'' This echoes the claims made by HTC's Jeff Gordon on Twitter, the spark which ignited this latest controversy. So how is OnePlus claiming to have a new 810 that nobody else has? They aren't. If we all got that impression it's because OnePlus is clever at marketing spin.
So where does this idea of a second, re-tooled Snapdragon 810 come from? The whole v2.1 angle. But that doesn't mean what most people think it means. ''Qualcomm consistently works to make enhancements to its products throughout their lifecycle and the Snapdragon 810 processor is no exception," as Qualcomm said in a separate statement, which AndroidPIT received yesterday. "Virtually all OEMs who have announced devices based on the Snapdragon 810 processor are currently using version 2.1 of the accompanying software.''
It's interesting that some OEMs are positioning use of the Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor as a product differentiator vs. v2.0.
The v2.1 update is not a brand new chip that has been specially produced to avoid heat issues, but rather a standard update to an existing chip. An update which virtually all other OEMs already have, including HTC and Sony. Sony confirmed to AndroidPIT today that both the Xperia Z3+ and Z4 Tablet are both running the v2.1 Snapdragon 810. HTC has also demonstrated that the One M9 runs v2.1 as well.
An LG spokesman told us that, ''as far as LG is concerned, there is only one 810. There's nothing clever about telling consumers that one has a better product than the competition. In some cases that's true. But not in this case.'' If this is all true – and there is no reason to doubt it – how did OnePlus hoodwink us so convincingly?
The simple answer? Because we let them. OnePlus took an essentially meaningless term and let us fill it up with significance it simply didn't possess. Well played. But the jig seems to be up now. If the OnePlus 2 has the exact same CPU as the One M9, Xperia Z3+ and G Flex 2, does that mean it will suffer the same overheating and thermal throttling issues that have plagued those earlier devices? We don't know.
To its credit, OnePlus reportedly has an additional heatsink in the OnePlus 2 to help dissipate heat from the processor better than perhaps Sony or LG were able to. But we'll have to wait and see. We can't say what additional improvements OnePlus has made to the 2 that may affect its performance or ability to dissipate heat. We simply want to point out that the Snapdragon 810 in the OnePlus 2 is, for all intents and purposes, no different to the one already out there in other 2015 flagships.
If you're now wondering just what exactly that v2.1 references, it's actually just a software revision. This is how all the other OEMs that have already used the 810 are using the same version now. As Qualcomm put it: ''In addition to continuing software tweaks and optimizations, additional updates include process improvements from the foundry that help improve power and performance that are specific to the manufacturing process node.''
Wait, foundry improvements? Doesn't this make it sound as though there could be manufacturing changes that affect the physical makeup of the chip? Not quite. Qualcomm was quick to point out that process improvements do not justify calling a later 810 a ''different version'' of the chip: ''The software flag that changed from 2.0 to 2.1 simply showed a revision point that reflected this combination of software implementations and process improvement.''
What about those promises of the OnePlus 2's 810 being ''cooler than ever'' though? This is actually lifted straight out of a Qualcomm press release from way back in February. Released in response to the overheating scandal which erupted at the time, that enticing phrase has been sitting there for months just waiting for someone to pick it up and run with it. OnePlus is simply the first company to try using it to distance itself from the bad press the 810 has received thus far.
We're not saying the OnePlus 2 will overheat. We're not saying the Snapdragon 810 in the OnePlus 2 will be any better or worse than it has been in other Android devices this year. We're simply setting the record straight. We reached out to OnePlus for additional comment and the company is sticking to its guns: ''The OnePlus 2 was built to optimize our hardware and software around the improved version of the Snapdragon 810 chip, v2.1''.
With the OnePlus 2 scheduled for a global virtual reality launch at 7:00 PM (PT) on July 27, we'll soon see just how cool the OnePlus 2 really is under pressure.