OnePlus was a company that hit the world about four years ago, and since then has built a unique reputation for itself. It was a “Chinese start-up” that built phones that were quite close to the perfection of the high-end Apple and Samsung flagships, but at prices about half those. The phones, thus, flew off of the shelves.
This year’s OnePlus 5 takes things up another level. It is the priciest OnePlus phone yet, and even though there is debate around the price tag, the phone certainly stuns. It comes with a spec sheet only seen in flagships twice that price tag, and a look that almost makes it look like an iPhone 7 sibling.
All the razzmatazz aside, the headline of the phone is the dual camera set up on the back. Then, in the typical OnePlus style, the phone is packed with power. And it has a variant that carries 8 GB of RAM, which is just a ridiculous amount of RAM, more than what most laptops have!
The phone’s immediate predecessor is OnePlus 3T, which hit the markets late last year. The company chose not to release a OnePlus 4, given the Chinese consider the number 4 to be inauspicious.
Compared to the predecessor, the OnePlus 5 is a change in the direction for the company, with design changes, and of course changed in the specs. Also, with OnePlus 5, the company is going for more premium material for the phone.
If there is one thing that OnePlus does well, it is excelling at selling enduring hardware. From the latest processor, to a fast charging battery and a phone with a solid build, OnePlus 5 seems to have pretty much all. The phone does not have the fancies of super-slim bezels or a water-resistant body, but for what it offers, we doubt you will find yourself particularly disappointed.
OnePlus 5, following the legacy the brand has built so far, does not try to reinvent the wheel; it simply tries to bring to you a wheel you are going to love. Even though the brand does not have the same clout as the big names, it has managed to garner a loyal following based solely on such attempts and achievements.
With the OnePlus 5, the parent brand has stepped up the game in all areas, except maybe one – the screen. The screen seems almost the same, at least on paper. The display is still 5.5 inch Optic AMOLED panel, which is still 1080p as opposed to the more common quad-HD resolution. The good thing though, it has taken care of the screen issues, including poor calibration and laggy scrolling that the OnePlus 3 and 3T suffered from.
Despite only being 1080p, the display is quite good, and you would hardly find a reason to complain. The display might not be quite as crisp as the Samsung Galaxy S8, but the pixel density works out to 401 pixels per inch. This gives you enough detailing to nitpick all your pictures, and read the smallest of texts. The brightness on the phone is also sufficient, and will not leave you complaining even in bright daylight.
A basic no-nonsense display does not, however, mean that there is nothing to boast of. OnePlus added an sRGB color mode to the OnePlus 3 via software updates; the team added support for the DCI-P3 color gamut, a move Apple embraced in its most recent iPhones. Even though most everyday users would not be found tweaking with these setting, for someone who is a display junkie, this is a nice addition.
Also, you might some mild color distortion if you look at the screen from a very oblique angle, but truth be told, that is not so much a problem for you as for the person trying to get a peek at your screen from the seat next to yours.
The OnePlus 5 is a really good looking phone, but it’s beauty can in no way, by attributed to OnePlus. Apple gets all the credit for that, as OnePlus in it’s true “emulatory” avatar has lifted the design lock, stock and back from the world’s foremost device manufacturer.
The back of the phone is an obvious reminder of the iPhone 7 Plus, right down to the camera arrangement, the blended antenna lines and even the flash. The front of the phone is pretty much the same as that of the two predecessors, OnePlus 3 and 3T. None of that is a bad thing, but in a world where the likes of Essential are bringing all kind of design innovation to the table, this might cast a dark shadow on OnePlus – for it’s obvious miserliness in hiring it’s own designers.
Will the owners of OnePlus’ newest flagship care for the plagiarism? No. The OnePlus 5 looks absolutely stunning, and the owners might actual revel in all those conversations they’re going to have with bystanders who point out the similarities – since the owners have the biggest of trump cards for the argument – the difference in prices between the Master and the Understudy.
So, all of this talk of unoriginally might be acceptable, since OnePlus has managed to make the phone incredibly comfortable to hold. The phone has a sleek anodized aluminum body. The curved back of the phone fits perfectly in your palm, while the 3D Gorilla Glass 5 on the front also curves slightly. The multitude of curves also makes the phone slim and easy to use.
The phone is bigger than the 5.8 inch Galaxy S8, but smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, with the same screen size as itself. It is not overwhelmingly big, and one can reach around the phone with comfort.
However, what might be bothersome to some is that the first OnePlus device that came to the market was unmistakeably distinct in terms of the design choices the company made. Now the OnePlus design seems to be maturing in a way such that it is starting to feel a little generic.
The phone feels better built than most other devices in its price range. At 153 grams, this the thinnest flagship the startup has ever made. The phone is sturdy, and has neat edges. It comes wth a headphone jack and a USB-C charging point, on the bottom, along with a microphone and a mono speaker. It also has a dual nano-SIM tray on the side. The phone also retains the handy textured notification slider that lets you quickly jump between notification levels like Priority and Do Not Disturb.
The capacitive keys are on either side of the fingerprint-sensing home button, and act as the Back and Recent buttons. You can swap their order though, or just use other keys on the screen. It is this kind of flexibility that keeps OnePlus fans coming back to the device.
The phone comes in two colour variants: the 64 GB model has 6 GB RAM and comes in Slate Grey colour, while the 128 GB/8 GB RAM version takes the Midnight Black approach to livery.
The lack of water-resistance on the phone is a slight disappointment, though it’s not a deal breaker.
As I mentioned earlier, the phone comes with 5.5 inch AMOLED dsplay, with1920x1080 resolution. Under the hood, it runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform, and Adreno 540 graphics processor helps you gasp at the brilliant graphics and views.
The former is the latest Qualcomm SoC in the market, and its power doesn’t even really need to be talked about. The latter, can comfortably handle any 3D game on Google Play.
The phone has two RAM options, a 6 GB RAM, and an 8 GB RAM.
The 8 GB RAM option is quite an overkill, since it is double that of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the same as a £2000 MacBook Pro. It is also more than most everyday laptops. So, do you need to spring for the top-of-the-line variant this time around? Probably not!
The OnePlus 5 also has two options for internal storage – 64 and 128 GB. The phone does not have a microSD slot, so why you buy is all you’ll ever have on the OnePlus 5. So save money on the RAM and plug it into the internal memory!
The battery on the phone is also an interesting lot, since the OnePlus 3T had upgraded to 3,400 mAh, and the 5 brings a little lower 3,300 mAh unit; it is a small compromise though, in the interest of the thinner design, and in reality, the difference is pretty much only on paper, and not something that you’ll notice as such. Also, the Dash Charge on the phone, of course, is pretty amazing. It takes only 30 minutes to get a 60% charge, and roughly an hour and 20 minutes to go from empty to full!
The two versions of the phone are identical, except for the RAM and the internal storage options. The phone performs better than most costlier flagships, and has more raw power than anyone can ever need in a device. Apps open quickly, of course, and all scrolling is smooth. Games are also quite quick. Moving through the interface is nice and fluid. The touch response has also considerably improved from the previous OnePlus phones. With that amount of RAM on board, the phone will feel snappy and responsive, no matter how much you have got going on on it.
The phone has all the traditional sensors, Fingerprint, Hall, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient light, Electronic compass, and Sensor hub. For the audio, it has Bottom-facing speaker, and 3 microphones with noise cancellation. It supports AANC, and Dirac HD Sound.
Moving past the basics, the phone offers a few other standout features, including one of the fastest front-facing fingerprint scanners. However, what it does not have is expandable storage or wireless charging, and the phone isn’t water and dust resistant. Another thing one could perhaps complain about is the Wi-Fi module, which OnePlus said that they have upgraded, but its downright poor and loses connection at times. When it comes to connectivity, though, the Bluetooth 5.0 is a nice touch. It improves connection strength over distances, but unlike on the Galaxy S8 there doesn’t seem to be a way to split connection over two wireless devices.
The phone, all in all, is an absolute package. You would hardly find yourself about anything major, and you get to boost of the most RAM in a phone, ever!
The phone runs on Oxygen OS, on top of Android 7.1 Nougat.
Oxygen OS is one of the best Android skins out there, and the version on the OnePlus 5 comes with a few more customizations baked into it, than you’d find with “pure Google Android”.
The OS had first hit the market when the company’s relationship with the ill-fated Cyanogen went south. Back then it was promising, yet raw. Since then, it has certainly come a long way.
The OS makes some add-ins that you would quite like: swipe-up navigation drawer, long-pressing icons for extra shortcuts, fantastic notifications. Some of the features worth highlighting are the ability to customize accent colors, switch between a light or dark theme, and enable on-screen navigation keys.
The phone also has a truck load of gestures – to open the camera, turn on the flash, or open up any application of your choice and other useful gestures like double tap to wake.
The Settings tab is quite good – loaded with a lot of features that both expand Android’s usefulness and make it feel more personal, but all of this is hidden under the surface.
A new one is a reading mode that turns the entire screen to grayscale, which, combined with a blue light filter. It gives you an experience quite similar to that on an e-reader. There is also a Do Not Disturb mode specifically for gaming, which automatically blocks notifications from rolling in when you’re playing. There is also a secure box, to store sensitive files and apps from the eyes of others. Most of the changes that the OS brings are quite subtle. By the way, some cool ones allow you to customize how the phone vibrates more specifically, and set the night mode to automatically activate with the sunset.
OnePlus has taken the software approach of ‘less is more’, and it seems to be working quite well. The apps that are pre-installed are designed within Google’s Material Design guidelines, and there is barely any bloatware.
I’d put it this way – OnePlus has tinkered with the stock Android only where it needed to, where the tinkering enhanced the experience, and not just for the sake of tinkering.
Hype has surrounded the OnePlus 5 camera from the day of the announcement. The biggest change on the camera is obvious: there are two sensors instead of one. They’re on the back, just like those on the iPhone 7 Plus, slightly raised from the body. They even function the way that the cameras on Apple’s flagship do.
The device sports two cameras: 16 megapixel Sony IMX 398 sensor, with 1.12 μm, ƒ/1.7 aperture, EIS, dual LED flash, and 20 megapixel Sony IMX 350 sensor, with 1.0 μm, ƒ/2.6 aperture.
Opinion on dual camera, however, has been varied. While some find the concept incredibly good, other quite see the utility of them in our daily lives. This camera set up, however, is different from what Huawei offers; the monochrome and RGB pairing.
Most of the time you’ll find yourself using the 16 megapixel primary camera, which stacks up well against devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S8. The pictures on this one might feel a little darker, and more saturated than the ones from the camera on S8, but the higher resolution on this one means that it gets details that others might miss at times. The camera is quick to focus. The f/1.7 aperture means that shots taken in dim conditions come out brighter than expected.
The 20 megapixel telephoto camera, for me, is definitely a nice addition. Colour saturation and detail on this one is quite good too. Switching between the two takes a single tap, while a sideways slide brings the zoom level as high as 8x.
Both day time and night light pictures on the camera set up come out quite good. You might, however, struggle with glare if is it really sunny. The auto-HDR mode does help, levelling out the exposure and contrast without making it too obvious.
OnePlus claimed that the autofocus on the camera is 40% faster than on the OnePlus 3T. The autofocus is indeed incredibly fast most of the time. However, it struggles sometimes in macro situations and when using the telephoto camera.
There is also a new Portrait Mode, blurs the background and leaves the subject in sharp detail. This works very well but can take a few attempts so that the picture doesn’t look edited. The cameras also support 4k video.
The lack of optical image stabilization does become apparent pushing the telephoto lens, as it can become hard to hold steady and avoid a blurry and noisy shot. The EIS (electronic image stabilization) used instead does do a good job most of the time, but it sometimes lacks consistency.
The phone also has a 16-megapixel front-facing camera, which is very good and gets you a lot of detail. There is also a front-facing flash that comes from the screen and the auto-HDR mode extends to the front too.
OnePlus 5 should definitely feel like a good device when it comes to entertainment.
The first thing to notice is that, unlike on some recent devices such as the HTC U11, Moto Z or even the iPhone 7, you’ll be able to use your regular headphones/earbuds. The audio quality on the phone is crisp, but it is not the most remarkable.
The speaker situation on the phone also hasn’t changed much. It still carries a single grille drilled into the phone’s bottom edge. This time though, it is a little louder that the speaker in 3T, at full volume.
In the sound department, the speaker is certainly above average, but not the best you’ll ever hear. The speaker is also pretty easy to muffle with your hand, when using the phone in landscape. As always, for the best audio quality, you would want to turn to the headphones.
By the way, OnePlus did bring three microphones to the phone for improved audio recording. The difference with that is starkly noticeable.
Video quality on the device is quite good. Though, it won’t be as good as that on the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 or HTC U11, since the device doesn’t afford as high a resolution as these do. The super-bright AMOLED panel that the device does sport though, makes watching videos quite enjoyable. Also, while some other flagship devices are opting for a more widescreen feel, the device has kept the 4:3 ratio that most of us are familiar with so far. The phablet also does not include a lot of bloatware when it comes to the video watching.
There is one thing that is strange on the device though – there isn’t the correct DRM on this phone to allow streaming of Netflix, Google Play Movies or Amazon Prime in HD resolution. What this does is it caps you at standard definition and forces you to manually switch from 480p on YouTube. This was the same case with OnePlus 3, too. This might not be annoying for most people, it certainly will be for those who are conscious of the media features on their devices.
Thanks to the impressive power of the Adreno 540 graphics processor, gaming on the device should be a lot of fun. The device doesn’t come with any games though, so you’ll have to do some downloading there. Even graphic intensive games come off quite well on the device. And the processing power of the device only adds to the gaming experience.