Global OnePlus One Vs. Chinese OnePlus One: unboxing, first impression and comparison

Global OnePlus One Vs. Chinese OnePlus One: unboxing, first impression and comparison

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

We compare the global OnePlus One running CM11s to the Chinese OnePlus One with ColorOS in our unboxing and first impressions review.

After unboxing the Chinese version of the OnePlus One last week I was pretty excited today when I received my international Sandstone black version of the phone. This phone is the official global version of the 2014 flagship killer from start-up OnePlus, which I bought out of my own pocket after being sent an invitation from a reader.

Buying my OnePlus One through the official channels was easy enough (once I had the invitation), but it isn’t without its issues. I plan to write-up my experience buying the OnePlus One with an invite compared to buying from a Chinese reseller soon so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Global OnePlus One vs Chinese OnePlus One – Unboxing

To say I was excited to unbox the Sandstone OnePlus One would be a bit of an exaggeration. I had already had hands on time with it at the launch, and just last week received the Chinese version of the phone so I knew exactly what to expect (I also have the amazing Vivo Xshot on test at the moment too which really casts a shadow of the OPO). Still I was giddy enough to smash my DSLR while unboxing the global OnePlus One and comparing it to the Chinese model….

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

Unboxing the global OnePlus One is similar but not exactly the same as unboxing the Chinese OnePlus One. The first difference is that the Chinese version of the OPO comes in a large box which holds the main phone container, and charger. The global version ships in a DHL shipping bag with the phone in a smaller cardboard box and the charger floating about separately.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

The packaging is the same between both phone except the Global version has English details and is indicated as a “Global Version”, and has Qualcomm and Cyanogen branding on the rear.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb reviewInside the box things are mostly the same except the Chinese phone comes with a small instruction and warranty manual where as the Global OnePlus One does not.

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Design

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

Design of both the phones are the same in regards to finish options and physical dimensions. The difference between the phones from the exterior are only the printing and branding on the rear of the devices and the in this case the finish of the Style Swap cover.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

The Sandstone Global version of the OnePlus One has branding for Cyanogen and FCC markings, plus the CE mark is in a different position. The global version of the phone also has the website printed on the rear and the message “Designed by OnePlus Assembled in China”. The Chinese version of the OnePlus gets Chinese labeling along with TD-LTE markings.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

Both the global and Chinese version of the OnePlus One will be available in Baby Skin White or Sandstone Black. The white has a soft pistachio nut finish and designates the phone as a 16GB model, while the black phone has a rough sandstone like finish. The finish isn’t as rough as I remember it at launch and feels more rubbery (it could just be me). Black also means that this is a 64GB version of the OPO.

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Display

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

We had heard news that some OnePlus One had yellow displays and we can confirm the same for our global model. Compared to the Chinese version of the OnePlus the Global model running CM11s shows whites with a yellow tint, where as the Chinese model has whiter whites.

oneplus one yellow tint

The yellow tint showed up still after updating to the latest version of CM11s also, so at the time of writing it has not been fixed.

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Operating System and features

The major differences between the two version of the OnePlus One (bar the LTE frequencies see here) is the OS of each. The Global version ships with CyanogenMod 11s based on Android 4.4.2 Kitkat while the Chinese version of the phone ships with Oppo’s ColorOS based on Android 4.3.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

It’s up to debate which is the better OS. While CyanogenMod looks better, is based on a newer version of Android and has a much nicer gallery and camera application, it does lack many of the features of ColorOS.

ColorOS is more customisable, has more gesture controls and shortcuts, and in the camera gets the amazing Picture Plus options (similar to HD Photo on the Oppo Find 7 and 7a).

oneplus one cm11s screenshots
CyanogenMod 11s OnePlus One Global

One major benefit of CM11s on the global version of the OnePlus One is that it has Google Play services and many of the more popular Google apps installed. All you need to do is log in and away you go. The Chinese OPO will need you to root, and install Google services yourself.

oneplus one coloros screenshots
ColorOS Chinese OnePlus One

Functionally I prefer ColorOS, but for speed and UI design CM11S is my favourite. Let’s hope in the future the Cyanogen team can add more ColorOS features to the ROM.

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Performance

Both versions of the OPO have the same Snapdragon 801 chipset, and 3GB RAM. Each and every component is the same so the only difference between the two phones in terms of performance can be in the OS.

oneplus one global vs oneplus one Chinese antutu x
The CM11S version of the OnePlus One scores slightly higher in Antutu X.

This is when CyanogenMod 11s should really come in to its own. It is a lighter OS with less bloat and should perform better than the Oppo rom. Antutu benchmarks say this isn’t really the case as the global OPO managed to get 37,253 points on Antutu X while the ColorOs Chinese model scored 37,218.

In use though the Global version does feel much snappier, but this is all to do with animation speeds for the most part as installing Nova launcher gives a similar fast feel.

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Video hands on

Below are two videos the first is the the unboxing of the Sandstone Global OnePlus One with comparison to the Chinese OnePlus one, while the second video is the unboxing and hands on of the Chinese OnePlus One.

64GB OnePlus One (Global) unboxing vs 16GB OnePlus One (China)

Watch the Chinese OnePlus One Unboxing and hands on

Global OnePlus One vs. Chinese OnePlus One – Conclusion

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

It’s really a tricky choice between the Chinese and Global OnePlus One. As it stands the Global model has cost more than the Chinese version (due to tax, but more on that in another feature), it has fewer features in the OS and does not perform any better. The Chinese version of the phone has more features, can be bought anywhere without invitation and has a whiter display. Another issue of the Chinese OnePlus One for customers in North America is lack of LTE and 3G support, European customers don’t have this problem though.

oneplus one sandstone 64gb review

In an ideal world the two phones should be a mixture of all the good to create one amazing phone, as it stands both devices have their pros and cons, and it seems many of them come down to the OS. Either ColorOS needs to get more streamlined a better UI and Google services, or Cyanogen need to add more than a few missing features.

In the coming weeks I will be posting my experiences with buying the two OnePlus One phones, full reviews on both devices plus we will be launching a completion where you can win a OnePlus One of your own! Keep posted to GizChina for more OnePlus one news and reviews!

Thanks again to Chinese reseller Lenteen for supplying our OnePlus One. Visit their sites:

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  • Sere83

    Sweet for the comparisons, nice one. Be interested to know if Color OS seems more laggy than cyanogen as i’ve used it on the 7a and seemed a bit laggy compared to stock android on my nexus 5. Does the color OS version gets OTA updates?

    • Not really laggy, but not as snappy as CM11s. Funny you mention OTA updates for the Chinese version running ColorOS, just got an update now and installing, so yes it does 😀

      • Sere83

        Yeah I suspected cyanogen would feel smoother. OTA is the way forward. Know you had issues with your 7a but my sister husband got one and I have to say I was blown away by the build and display quality and the speakers were incredible too. Oppo certainly know how to build phones. My only issue with the one plus apart from their ludicrous invite selling strategy in europe is the size. Just seems a bit too big to me and the top and bottom bezels are pretty hefty. Can’t really imagine running a phone though with anything other than stock, miui or cyanogen, they just seem to make the experience much smoother and enjoyable than manufacturer skins

  • vjuricic

    If yellowish color is production and not glue problem than whiter is my color. If different than I would choose natural color. Actually please tell me what is nicer whitish or yellowish?

  • RobertNL

    I own als Chinese version a little over a week now and i love it.
    Did flash it after a few days as Color OS was not my preference.

    Battery life, speed and the screen are great.
    Ended up paying +-360 dollar, fairly close to the EU retail price.

  • Adam Irvine

    So… Just wondering after all that info up above Andi, would you recommend buying one from China instead of playing OnePlus’s silly games all the time and waiting..?

    Also, anyone know where I might actually genuinely be able to get a 64gb model from?

    And one more question… just to clarify, if I were to get the Chinese version and flash it with CM11s, would that then have the google apps or would I need to further root the device to get them all on..? (I’d want to stay away from root for my Banking app…)

    Top stuff Andi! 🙂

    • RobertNL

      Flashing CM is easy and it comes with all Google apps.
      Got my 16gb model from Aliexpress, think i did see some 64gb models there too.

    • jaded pause

      I have flashed it with CM 11.0, it will google store and all google apps. GeekBuying have 64gb white oneplus one in stock. You can come and have a look. The quantity is limited.

    • Here is a how to guide for flashing CM11S on the Chinese OnePlus One. Yes, Google apps are all installed so it is a really easy task:

  • barrymossel

    LOL @ Pistachio finish

  • xxxxxx

    Great article. Where did you buy the chinese version?

  • Varun

    Thanks for the comparison Andi! Where did you buy the international version from?

    • I got an invitation and bought it through the OnePlus Store

  • Jose Rodriguez

    Thank you for an excellent review. So my guess is that for us in North America is to wait until they release the international version without invitation. Also if anyone can recommend a decent phone bellow 300 US. with support for LTE and decent battery life. Please post or just email me. Thanks.

  • PaulBV

    Thanks Andi for the comparison! Looking forward for a more complex one after you have thoroughly tested both phones…I mean both OS 🙂

  • hed190

    Andi, if we buy a Chinese OPO, and install the cyanogen 11 the LTE works around the world? even in the US?

    • Melsyoo

      No, it won’t change the LTE bands.

      • hed190

        but the cpu is the same… there is some way to unlock the missing frequencies?

        • Melsyoo

          I’m like 99% sure, that there isn’t any way, but I’d google it if I were you, maybe there is a way.

    • That sort of worked with the OPPO Find 7 but if I were you I wouldn’t bet my money on it working with the OPO.

  • hed190

    where i can buy a 64GB OPO? the diference between the two phones is the OS right?

  • hed190

    On Spemall i have to pay customs here, and the phone gets expensive…other solution?

    • Nick

      if you have to pay customs then no matter from which company you buy from internet you will end up paying customs. It depends on your country’s policy. The only option is to go to that country and buy it otherwise what mobile phone you order from internet will end up in payment for customs..

  • Christopher Roberts

    Nice and Detailed review. which would you rather have as your everyday phone, the OPO or the vivo xplay 3s

  • dibble

    Hi Andi, I’m an owner of a Chinese OPO and I think you might have neglected to mention one very important point. Even if you do buy a Chinese OPO and flash it over to CM11s you will not be able to use wcdma 3g without flashing a different modem! I had to switch out the modem in order to be able to use china unicom right here in China. See :

    • Yep this is true of the Oppo Find 7 in China also, but in Europe you just need to insert your SIm and add the correct APN and it will work. I am testing with Orange and it is fine.

      • Mark Lambe

        Have you heard of any issues with 3UK? I bought a chinese OPO and it came pre-flashed with CM11s. My 3G signal is shocking. It jumps all over the place while my old phone is rock steady. Most of the time I get no signal at all!

        I have also tried an EE sim and O2 sim and can only get a 2G connection with these!!

        Any idea what’s wrong???

        • I was using 3UK and it was ok for me, but I have heard some OP Forum members coplaining for poor call quality. With some providers you might need to add the APN for 3G to work.

          • Mark Lambe

            Had no problems with call quality….. when I’ve had network to actually make a call!

            When I actually get network it tends to be all over the place like this:

            I’d be tempted to reflash the phone to see if that works. The seller has offered a refund though so I’m scared of bricking it!!

            Just checked all of the APN settings for 3 and they are fine.

            Also OTA updates don’t work for CM11s. Is this common?


        • Sefyu Rozay

          Hi Mark Lambe did you fix your oneplus one networ issu because i’ve the same problem

  • shipxz

    Does the Chinese version supports fdd LTE band 3 and 7?

  • Hashim T Abubacker

    Is there a white chinese OPO of 64GB version??

    • White is 16GB Black is 64GB

    • Laurens W

      Yes it is. I have ordered one from Italy. It definetly runs with CM11S, but has the packaging and look of the chinese model.

      • Marc Teixidó San José

        from wich store had you ordered it?

        • Laurens W

          I have ordered it from – After payment it was delivered within 4 days. In some forums I have read that lenteen oder tradingshenzhen should be good as well.

  • G. Andrew M. Blackburn

    Hey can you confirm whether flashing the international CM11s on the Chinese version of the OPO enables LTE bands 4 and 17? There has been a lot of talk that the phones have identical hardware and the radios on the Chinese version are simply disabled due to the software

  • pa5t1s

    Got my invitation today for the Global OPO 64 🙂 Ordered and waiting for delivery…

    • Gautham

      Could u possibly send me an invite when u got one please? [email protected] is my mail id

      • pa5t1s

        Whenever I get another batch of invites, I’ll remind about you 😉

  • Luqman

    Does the Chinese version works well in Australia?

  • mbk

    1. In Chinese version google play is there?
    2. Can we flash cyanogen mod 11s in Chinese version?
    3. If yes, OTA update will come after flashing cyanogen mod 11s?
    4. Root needed for chinese version?
    5. If yes, how to root?

    • zahin have to root it to have google apps
      3. no
      4.yes vRoot

  • Azi

    Nice and detail reviwed .. since i am not getting invite i am thinking to buy chines version

  • Synergi

    Just wondering, would an international OnePlus One work in China if I have a SIM card provided by a Chinese service provider?