About 3 weeks ago I took a leap that I’ve been flirting with for quite some time.  I bought a carrier agnostic phone, the OnePlus 3.  I’ve been on the Samsung Galaxy S train for about the last 6-7 years.  I got there simply because the Galaxy S always seems to have the best hardware specs available through carriers.  Due to it’s popularity it usually ends up eventually receiving strong support in the custom ROM community.  That said, Samsung’s hardware isn’t open source, it’s always reverse engineered and it takes quite awhile for the custom ROM community to shape around each new phone.  I’ve found it difficult to get the complete experience I desire from my Samsung phones and the ROMs I’ve tried.

I found myself consistently desperate for a better option and the carriers consistently not giving me one.  I want top tier hardware, the latest feature hardware (e.g. NFC, fingerprint reader, ect.)  and a software experience I can create myself.  I don’t want their branded bloatware or their proprietary applications/services that replace stock or vendor agnostic ones. I want to start from vanilla soft-serve and add my own toppings.  I’d always considered the Google Nexus line, except those always run a step down from the top of the hardware food chain, usually around the same price.

So far I’ve found all of that in the 3.  The 3 has the same proc, more RAM (6 Gigs! vs 4), more internal storage though the 3 isn’t expandable, (64 Gig vs 32), the S7 has the edge on display resolution, but the 3 still pulls off full 1080p.  Additionally I was excited to find that the OnePlus 3 comes with an unlockable boot loader much like the Nexus line, and seems to have great ROM support from Cyanogenmod, my personal favorite custom Android ROM.  All of that and for about $230 cheaper than the S7.  OnePlus even allows you to finance with PayPal credit, if your credit is good enough you’ll pay about the same as a phone financed through your carrier.  What about insurance? My phone I bought through my carrier is insured against damage, theft, or loss.  They offer that too.

Shockingly I’m using their stock ROM OxygenOS.  I decided to try it out for a few reasons:

  1. On first boot I checked the system for bloatware and branding, all I found was the default background.  Oxygen has it’s own launcher which I found be responsive and minimalist which I liked, but not as customizable is my go to Nova Launcher. Since I own Nova Launcher Prime I ended up switching to that.
  2. The OS itself seemed very AOSPesque.  It was Android with the basic Google Apps and features and literally nothing else, a blank canvas.  The experience isn’t as customizable as Cyanogenmod, but it’s close.
  3. The OS was based on Marshmallow, and I’ve been through 3 system updates since purchase.  That tells me that OnePlus is committed to staying both current and secure.  We’ll see how long this lasts, but I’m hoping that’s just how they do things.

Another potentially attractive feature that I should mention is the Dual-SIM support.  The phone holds and uses 2 SIM cards allowing you to have multiple carriers/numbers on the same phone.  This is really sweet and I expect it to come in very handy should I start traveling abroad.

It’s a very freeing feeling to separate my phone from my carrier.  I’m really glad I took the plunge.

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