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Released: Jun, 2017
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  • Display : 5.5 inches, Optic AMOLED
  • Max OS : Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • Storage : 64 GB
  • RAM : 6 GB
  • Body Material : Aluminium
  • Cameras : Rear: 16 MP, Front: 16 MP
  • Dimensions (L, B, W) : 6.07, 2.92, 0.29 in.
  • Connectivity : 4G, VoLTE

OnePlus 5 is a phone that might just take the market for a swirl.

Clearly launched as a direct rival to the likes of fiery new Samsung Galaxy S8, as well as the vaunted duo of the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, the OnePlus 5 carries almost all that each of them do, and yet is priced at a significantly better price-point than all of them.

This is a familiar story. In the four years of its existence, OnePlus has made a unique space for itself in the market – as a mid-range brand that has the potential to be a flagship brand.
Each device from OnePlus has carved it’s niche in the crowded marketplace of budget devices, by providing premium features, at prices that are far less than the competition.

What’s most interesting is that with the latest OnePlus 5, the company is no longer trying on the Emperor’s clothes – it actually does bring specs from the flagships, with an equally good build quality and material finish as they do, and it is not silent about it’s intentions, nor is it masking it’s aspirations.

The specs the phone has to offer are more than powerful. Snapdragon 835 for a processor, with a combination of either 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage or a laptop-rivaling 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Add to that the 52 megapixels of image-taking prowess between its three cameras – all that spells capability, and aspiration, right there.

This year’s OnePlus edition comes with maturation and refinement. It is a phone that is starting to feel divorced from its predecessors, having inherited only the physical switch for alert modes and the Dash Charge rapid-charging technology.

The phone is slimmer than its predecessor, the OnePlus 3T (OnePlus skipped OnePlus 4 because the Chinese believe that number 4 is not auspicious) and has better design choices than its predecessor.

It runs on Oxygen OS, which is really just Android with a few customizations, most of which feel useful. One such modification is the reading mode that automatically filters out blue light and adjusts the screen properties to make the AMOLED display look and feel more like a Kindle screen. There are a handful of more gestures and settings that work as quite useful modifications.

The fingerprint sensor on the bottom is extremely smooth and accurate.

Some may claim that the brand compromised on the resolution on the 5.5-inch screen, which offers 1080p resolution. On the face of it, that sounds like an oversight, with others offering the likes of 2960×1440 pixels. But truth be told, it won’t make a difference – you may be surprised to know that Samsung too, set their Galaxy S8 to run on the same default resolution as the OnePlus 5!

The build is absolutely beautiful and it’s unbelievable to get that finish at the pocket-friendly price that you do. Time will test the material quality and we’d know better in a few months, but out of the box, the materials seem very premium.

Let’s get to the other visual change you’d notice right away – around the back, there’s now a dual-lens setup, starkly similar to the setup on the back of iPhone 7 Plus (they haven’t made the comparison publicly, but you’d have to be absolutely batty not to make the correlation), which functions in a very similar manner too.

A big update to the image processing capabilities now enables autofocus to be 40% faster than on the OnePlus 3T (per OnePlus), and there’s also a new Portrait mode that blurs the background and leaves the subject in sharp detail, which works really well too. The phone also offers a 16 megapixel front facing camera which is more than you should be asking for, for selfies and video calls!

Just to get back to the rear camera for a moment, the high megapixel count ensures very detailed shots that are full of colour and vibrancy, while the wide aperture on the main lens allows for more light to hit the sensor when it’s dark. Or at least that’s how it is supposed to work, on paper.

There’s a blemish though. The camera on this otherwise beautiful phone might come as a disappointment to many.

Much as OnePlus has been harking about the camera upgrade on the OnePlus 5 – and seeing the similarity in the setup to the marque iPhone 7 Plus, one gets his hopes up that the performance would be at par with the Emperor.

Not true.

The photos are not that impressive. Even in great light, photos feature softer edges and less detail than one would expect. The autofocus lightening is not always accurate, and pictures in low light are often noisy. Even though OnePlus can fix a lot of these things in a future software update, it can’t fix everything.

Given that it is usually the camera that separates the good phone from the great phone, OnePlus may just have stepped on a crack with this. Their camera set up is good; it’s not something that is likely to leave you complaining in your everyday pictures. But it is nothing great. And for a company like OnePlus that aspiring to play with the Big Boys, great is what the gold-standard ought to have been.

That aside, the OnePlus 5 is a victory, in many ways.

OnePlus was never really a startup, even though it came into existence only four years ago. It is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics – the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer – that also owns Oppo and Vivo. So, it always had a vast supply chain and manufacturing operations to tap into. That explains the huge jumps OnePlus is making with each release.

There’s another thing that allows OnePlus to be this effective with it’s endeavours – the fact that it offers only one handset, aimed at one audience, at any time, instead of a range of devices. And the OnePlus 5 shows that focus.

Sure, it looks exactly like the iPhone 7 Plus – so much so that if one covers the logo at the back, it’s nigh-near impossible to guess who’s who. Yet, the OnePlus 5 is more than a cheap lookalike or (worse) a wannabe. It actually is a phone that is a manifestation of what all the company can do. It is not a phone that offers any high-failing features, or brings absurd things to you. OnePlus hasn’t tried to reinvent the phone, or spin it a different way. It’s simply brought to you a near-perfect version of the wheel.

It is a phone that brings to you what you need, and does it amazingly well.

More from One Plus
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