OnePlus, since the birth of the OnePlus One, has traditionally made overpowered devices at undercutting prices. The OnePlus One started at just $299. It’s initial mission was to design a “Flagship Killer” which outpoured and undercut the flagships of the day. The original OnePlus One had a staggering 3GB of RAM on it’s Snapdragon 801 chip, which was a huge leap forward in 2014. The OnePlus 5 follows this tradition, with up to a ridiculous 8GB of RAM on it’s screaming fast Snapdragon 835 processor. Though it’s a little more expensive than it’s predecessors, it’s still the continuation of OnePlus’ original mission.
Since OnePlus seems to be terrible at keeping secrets, we saw the design far far ahead of schedule. The OnePlus 5 bears a jarring resemblance to the iPhone 7 Plus, with the same antenna lines, overall shape, and dual camera setup. Though it is similar to the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 is a great looking phone, so the OnePlus 5 looks good too. The OnePlus 5 is also the thinnest phone that OnePlus has ever made, though I’d rather it be a bit thicker for a larger battery. A feature unique to both the iPhone 7 and the OnePlus 5 is the silence switch. While most other Android phones have done away with it, OnePlus has kept it. I find it insanely useful, as I can quickly change the ring/silent without looking.
The design is fairly conventional. It has a normal screen-to-body ratio, and it doesn’t try to be the future concerning design. It takes a regular approach to a smartphone, which saves money on design. Though it’s not that futuristic regarding design, it’s still on the bleeding edge in performance, and that’s the most important part. Overall, it’s a good looking phone, and it feels good in the hand. It comes in Midnight Black and Slate Gray, and I personally favour the Midnight Black.
The OnePlue 5 packs an impressive set of features for its price. As standard, there’s an ultrafast fingerprint scanner at the bottom, doubling as a home button, flanked by two touch-sensitive capacitive buttons. A standout feature of the OnePlus 5, carried over from the OnePlus 3T is Dash Charge. Since the battery on the OnePlus 5 is a relatively large 3300mAh, Dash charge allows it to charge from 0-75% in just half an hour. That’s an impressive feat, and it’d be immensely useful for situations like coffee shops. As with any Android smartphone, the OnePlus 5 has it’s array of connectivity options.
Hardware – Power
The OnePlus 5 is the fastest Android phone on the market right now. It has a Snapdragon 835 processor with up to a whopping 8GB of LP-DDR4 RAM, which is the same amount of RAM as my MacBook Pro. Those specs alone ensure that the OnePlus 5 will stay at the top of it’s game for many years to come. There’s also a 6GB/64GB (RAM/ROM) version, but if you’re buying a super powerful phone, you might as well get the top one.
While all of the internals in the OnePlus 5 are already very powerful, OnePlus decided to give it a little boost in benchmarks, to artificially increase the scores it gets. It’s a little dishonest, but the real speeds are so good there’s no reason to discredit the phone on that. The take away point here is, the OnePlus 5 is the fastest Android phone out there, so you don’t need to worry in the slightest about power.
Hardware – Camera
The biggest new feature of the OnePlus 5 is obviously the camera. In fact, the first ever official public unveiling of the design of the phone stressed “Dual Cameras. Clearer Pictures”. Instead of one simply being a telephoto lens, it has taken the iPhone 7 Plus of attempting to create a DOF (depth-of-field) effect on portrait shots. A reason why you never see blurred backgrounds on shots taken on phones is because of the fact that the small cameras (and therefore, apertures) are unable to make that effect. With the help of these dual cameras, and OnePlus’s own algorithms, OnePlus hopes to change that. While OnePlus doesn’t have the research or manpower equivalent to that of Apple, it’s algorithms still do a very good job, though they aren’t as polished as Apple’s.
Interestingly, the sensor on the 2x telephoto lens has a higher megapixel count (20MP) than the normal sensor (16MP). What the telephoto lens lacks is the aperture. The normal lens has an impressively low F-stop at just 1.7, vs 2.6 for the telephoto. The front facing camera is also impressive, at 16MP and F-2.0 aperture, but the main killers here are the dual rear cameras. Overall, pictures taken with the OnePlus 5 look great, even in low light conditions. Video is fairly stock standard here, nothing too fancy. It can take 4K video at 30fps, and 1080p video at 60fps. I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I’m going to hold off on buying a phone until I can get 4k video at 60fps, though that could prove to be a long time.
The OnePlus 5 has a large screen, at 5.5 inches. While that used to sound absolutely huge, it’s dwarfed by the Xiaomi Mi Mix (6.4 inches!). It’s still a respectable screen, but it’s still not as sharp as many Android screens are, at only Full HD (1920×1080) resolution. Although it isn’t bad at all, if you’re planning to use your phone with a VR headset, a higher resolution display is a must. The display itself is beautiful, and it displays colours with accuracy and vibrancy. Like the iPhone 7, it can display the DCI P3 color gamut, which is a welcome addition. Viewing angles are great, and overall, the screen feels right at home on a flagship device.
Like all of OnePluses previous phones, the OnePlus 5 runs a custom ROM over stock Android. OnePlus has designed its own custom ROM called Oxygen OS, and it’s fast and fluid. While Xiaomi likes to fill the OS with as much uniqueness as possible, OnePlus has kept Android stock, and all modifications made by OnePlus have all followed Material Design Rules. With Oxygen OS, you get a “draw” with all of your oft-used apps, among other useful things. Compared to stock Android, it’s definitely an upgrade. If you don’t like the modifications, it’s okay, as most of them are unobtrusive and can be turned off, and all of them follow googles own design principles.
Although the OnePlus 5 takes after the iPhone 7 Plus in design, what it doesn’t copy is the headphone jack, or rather, the lack of one. The OnePlus 5 retains the “legacy” headphone jack, so you can keep listening to the music you love through good old-fashioned wired headphones. OnePlus sells its own set of “bullets”, but personally I haven’t tried them, so I can’t comment on their sound.
The OnePlus 5, on paper, has pretty weak battery statistics. For its body size and power, it has only a 3300mAh non-removable battery. It’s also a downgrade from the OnePlus 3T, which had a 3400mAh battery. Even so, real world battery life is impressive, and it easily got me through a full day. This all-day battery life for me was good, but since it is a non-removable battery, battery life will make the phone lose it’s stamina over time. Against the likes of the Xiaomi Mi Mix and the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, and their 4000 mAh+ batteries, the OnePlus 5 can’t compete, but compared to most phones, the iPhone in particular, it’s respectable. In fact, it seems to do better in battery tests than it’s predecessor, the OnePlus 3T, even though it had a bigger battery.
The OnePlus 5 is the most expensive phone OnePlus has ever made. Even in its base configuration, it’s a full $40 more expensive than the OnePlus 3T, which was $40 more than the OnePlus 3. That’s a shame, but as OnePlus matures as a company, they ought to increase their prices a little. However, if you’re shelling out the cash for the OnePlus 5, I’d recommend that you’d go all the way and get the 8GB/128GB (RAM/ROM) version. For the extra $60, you’re getting another 2GB of LP-DDR4 RAM, and another 64GB of UFS2.1 2-LANE storage. This ensures that you won’t ever run out of storage on your phone, and if you’re a power user, the extra RAM will help. The benefits of the extra 2GB of RAM may not be apparent now, but a year or two down the road, it may make a world of difference. It’s only another $60, and it’s a good amount of kit for that price.
The OnePlus 5 is the best, most expensive phone that OnePlus has ever made. It doesn’t have too many special features, and stick to a conventional design, but what it does, it does well. Its dual camera setup is great, and the performance is second to none. Although it’s creeping into real flagship prices, it’s still a good all around phone at a good price. If you’re looking for the fastest phone out there at any price, this is it.