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OnePlus Two

The OnePlus 2 is probably the most hotly-anticipated smartphone you’ve never heard of. An Android-powered phone from Chinese company OnePlus, it’s meant to take on high-end phones like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 at a fraction of the price ($329 starting, unlocked). OnePlus has built a small but fervent fanbase thanks to clever marketing techniques, like only selling new phones to shoppers who get an invite from other fans or through online contests.

The OnePlus 2 will be available for order in the U.S. on August 11. I received my review unit Monday, and while it’s too early for a full-blown hands-on, I wanted to quickly highlight one feature that blew me away immediately: The phone’s back cover.

That’s right, the back cover.

Almost every other modern smartphone has a back cover that might as well be made out of soap bar. It took me only weeks of going caseless with my iPhone 6 to see it slip from my clumsy hands and find its way to the New York City pavement, leaving me with a $100 repair bill and a ruined Tuesday evening. Accordingly, lots of smartphone cases on the market — especially the thinner ones — are less about offering protection from impacts and more about adding some actual grip so you don’t drop your $700 device in the first place.

But the OnePlus 2’s back cover — I’m talking about the “Sandstone Black” option — feels something like a smooth sandpaper that’s grippy but also comfortable. I would have absolutely no qualms about going case-commando with this phone. It’s that good.

So, other handset makers, China’s OnePlus just put you on notice. Enough with the super-sleek stuff. Make some grippy phones, please.

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