It isn’t often that I get a phone to review, but when one rolls down the line it is always a pleasure. I love the fact that we all walk around with tiny computers in our pocket, love the fact that I can play all the games I grew up with whenever I want, and I guess having a camera is nice. My previous forays into this field were in the Doogee range, one of the up and comers in the market, while this time I got a OnePlus 5 to try out, and it is on a whole different level.
The Chinese smartphone business is filled with all kinds of models, but most of them are relegated to the country, with few breaking out to the west. The OnePlus range is an exception, they have made a real name for themselves with their smart designs, high end specs and affordable prices. I used to have a OnePlus way back, a few phones ago at this point, but the quality was far higher than I expected, and it seems they have only gotten better over time. I missed out on the 3 and 3P, so my comparisons are going to be purely theoretical there, but I can compare it to the latest iPhone, which I have gotten to tool around with in the past, and it is very favorable.
In terms of specs we are looking at the cream of the graphical crop, so if that is a primary concern for you, this is a fine option. The display is 1080p, and crystal clear, but it is lagging behind a bit on the highest end competition, my day to day phone, an old Nexus 6, has double the resolution for example, and that is a far from cutting edge build. The CPU is spooled up nicely, and the OnePlus is using two different ones, a slower one for normal use and a faster one for more demanding tasks. It saves on battery life, and you’ll find that the vast majority of the better builds on the market have gone for this solution. Size wise we are looking at 5.5″ on the diagonal, putting it closer to the Phablet form factor than the phone, but it is still feels manageable in the hand, my aforementioned Nexus 6 is a 5.9″ build, so this smaller handset actually feels very comfortable in my hand.
So let’s dig into the review proper, see what OnePlus got right with this one, and a few areas that could do with improvement for their next build.
OnePlus 5 Smartphone Design and Build Quality
OnePlus are relative newcomers to the scene, releasing their first build in 2014, in that time they have released 5 further builds, with the OnePlus 5 being the most recent. That turnaround it common in China, it’s where most of the parts designed by the other big phone companies are manufactured after all, and while that means the in house R&D is a bit lacking, the price point of the builds tends to be far lower than equivalent models from other firms. The issue I find with most Chinese builds is the quality of the warranty, being so small allows most of them to get away with things that big companies simply do not. OnePlus is big enough now to offer a comprehensive warranty on all of their builds, so not only are we getting the benefits of a western firm, but we also get those sweet prices indicative of the Chinese firms.
So let’s have a look at the build, ignoring the specs for a moment or two. A phone these days is more than a mini computer, it is also an accessory. I would hardly call myself a fashionista, but I would be lying if I said that the color palette on my phone wasn’t bought to match my desktop. What we have here is a finely designed piece, it comes in three colors, Midnight Black, Slate Grey and Soft Gold, though that last one is limited so good luck finding it. They come in gloss or matte finishes, and I am very taken with the matte finish. It’s a look that crops up every now and then, and I think it looks great. The screen real estate is impressive, a full 5.5″. It is not a bezel-less build, which seems to be the “it” thing being pushed, but there is very little wasted space. I don’t get the Bezel-less push, I mean, it requires extra software integrations to get it to work right and you end up cleaning your phone far more often, no need. Overall they did well, the design is both functional and stylish.
The OnePlus range uses their own version of Android, called OxygenOS, and the current version is 4.5.10, which is based on Android 7.1.1. It does the job, and you get native access to the Android store, but I would still recommend you flash in a new one when you get the time. I like customizing everything, and tweaking the settings of the hardware to get the most performance out of them, especially when I run more demanding games on my handset.
The quality of the hardware is far beyond what one would expect. We have the dual CPU chipset that is popular these days, a low power draw CPU and a higher power draw CPU. It’s to maximize battery life, with the lower end CPU spooled to 1.9GHz, and the high end one clocked at 2.45GHz. Those numbers mean less these days than they used to, but they are still a good at a glance benchmark for quality. The GPU is the most impressive thing to my mind, an Adreno 540, their top of the line GPU in that range. Won’t be for long, considering the turnaround time of these, but for now if you are looking to run Gamecube games on the go there are few out there that can match that. You’ll not get much time on battery running full burn for long, about three hours or so, but in idle it’ll go way past the day, so with standard use you’ll get a little over a day. There is a nice fast charging function, OPPO, the parent company of OnePlus, integrated their Dash Charge tech, which will get you about a day of normal use on a thirty-minute charge, no not too bad.
The phone comes in two different memory variants, and I advise you go for the higher end one, the 128GB flash and 8GB RAM, rather than the 64/6 build. 6GB of RAM is just not enough these days, and there is not card slot, something I miss on the Nexus 6 I can tell you, so erring on the side of caution is best. No RAM on mobile devices impresses me in terms of clock speed, with few breaking the 1k mark, but this one uses the LPDDR4X RAM, which has a lower power draw.
The Camera function of smartphones is not something I concern myself with on a day to day basis, but I get that for most it is the key thing. And companies have been sticking better and better cameras in their builds for a long time now. OnePlus were criticized for the camera on the OnePlus 3 et al., with it being blown out of the water by pretty much every other build in that price point. They have addressed those issues well here, with a dual camera set up, a stabilized 16MP Sony Exmor IMX398 for more conventional shooting and a high end 20MP Sony Exmor IMX350 with a telephoto lens, able to add a depth of field effect to images. The pictures I have taken with it are lovely, and all you shutter bugs out there would be well served by it. The front mounted camera is 16MP, so great for video calls and selfies. The listed 1.6X optical zoom is a bit of an exaggeration, and independent tests show only a 1.33X optical zoom. It also supports 4k video recordings, but due to the 1080p screen you are going to need to view them on another device if you want the full image clarity.
Now, there are a few issues with the build, the scrolling effect is my biggest pet peeve. There is a jelly effect that comes with the screen type used. It looks a little funky, and OnePlus claims that this is a feature, but I am not sold on it. Doesn’t take too long to get used to, but it is something I feel you need to know going in. There is also the fact that OnePlus’ released numbers regarding the benchmarks are a bit misleading, they OC’d the hardware to get them, leading to temperatures of around 50 Celsius. It’s still a beast, but not that big a beast.
Overall this phone has nearly everything you could want. Hardcore hardware, an excellent aesthetic design, cameras that are on par with, or better than, the latest iPhone and a battery life that will last you well over a day. In this day and age there is little else we can ask for.
OnePlus 5 Smartphone Smart Phone Pricing and Warranty
Now we get to the price, and in a quirk of fate, the OnePlus 5 is in the same ball park as the iPhone 7. One of the side effects of being a big name I’m afraid, so we are looking at $687.99 depending on the retailer. I have found it on sale, 35% off, so right now you can get the phone for $453.99, which is a bargain. Considering the specs of the build it would be impossible to find a comparable model in that price point.
The warranty is as impressive as I expected. We are looking at a full year of coverage, limited coverage, but still. That covers any faults that occur through normal use of the phone as well as factory problems. I tend to lean on the argument that any fault that happens within the first year of purchase should count as factory faults. I mean, if you use it as it is intended then it should not break, right? You may have to press the point, but you should be fine. You get 15 days from receipt of purchase to send it back for a replacement free of charge as well. They have an in house repair shop on hand to help with any damages not covered by the warranty.
The base price is a bit steep for me to be honest. One of the benefits of going with a Chinese firm is usually the price, but OnePlus have grown beyond that it seems, they are one of the big players, and that means you get the high price, but also the high end customer support. They could do better there, but right now it is well worth it. The discounted price point I found makes it so. If I were in the market for a new phone right now, this is the one I would get.
OnePlus 5 Smartphone Smart Phone Conclusion
So, we have a build that looks great, offering options in that regard, comes with the highest of high end specs, and a damn fine camera. The screen could be a higher res, but that is hardly a deal breaker. The price in general is not ideal, but right now it is the best on the market, from a dollar:quality ratio. The warranty is far from amazing, holding onto their origins a bit there, but it is better than the vast majority of Chinese warranties. Overall a great piece of kit.
As stated, where I in the market for a new phone right now, or anytime over the next 20 days or so, then the OnePlus 5 would be the one I would go with.
Current OnePlus 5 Discounts & Coupons
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