The Ultimate OnePlus 5 Review

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OnePlus 5

Heralded as a flagship killer since iteration one, here’s the only review you need to read about the new OnePlus 5.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about OnePlus, a recent start-up that’s been disrupting the smartphone industry since day one. With a simple, yet noble goal in mind; OnePlus has been dead-set at bringing high-end phones to lower prices than the rest, without compromising quality and design. Thus, their tag line “Never Settle”.

Introducing OnePlus 5, their latest and greatest smartphone to date. Isn’t she a beauty?

Borrowing heavily from other high-end handsets, there’s no doubt the bar is set high in terms of design while still retaining their distinct brand. OnePlus’ co-founder Carl Pei said it took over 100 iterations to arrive at the sleek appearance of the OnePlus 5. A 5,5″ 401 ppi AMOLED display dominates the front with only the home button turned-finger-print-sensor disrupting the face of the phone. Real phones have curves and the curved edges and bezels of the phone sure give off that sleek premium look, comparable to the iPhone 7. The backside is boldly displaying the 1+ logo and it’s also here the OnePlus 5’s flagship-killer weapon reveals itself…

Behold, the camera(s)

Protruding on the backside is a dual-camera system, indeed familiar from the iPhone 7 Plus. The two cameras collaborate to enhance the photographic experience and as OnePlus themselves put it, give Clearer Photos. Both cameras feature sensors from Sony, enhanced by OnePlus’ team of engineers. One is a wide-angle 16MP f/1.7 aperture lens, in itself a very capable camera on its own. The other, a telephoto 20MP f/2.6 aperture lens, with one of the largest resolutions on a smartphone to date. The wide-angle lets you shoot your every-day subjects, even in challenging low-light conditions, thanks to the large aperture. The telephoto lens gives you a 1.6x optic zoom, enhanced up to 2.0x zoom through something called image stacking by using both cameras’ sensors. This gives you both clearer and sharper photos, even when zoomed in. Anything beyond 2.0x becomes digitally zoomed, something we don’t recommend normally because of pixilation. However, up to 5.0x-something zoomed-in pictures generated by the OnePlus 5 are still usable.

OnePlus 5 Backside
OnePlus 5 Backside

Some of the camera features include the same Portrait Mode found in the iPhone 7 Plus which analyses the foreground and blurs out the background to achieve what’s commonly known as “bokeh”. This feature can be a hit-and-miss experience at first; however, once you get used to what the OnePlus 5 actually sees as foreground, the feature becomes a sure way to up your Instagram game. For those who want to take it a step even further than that OnePlus 5 offers a Pro Mode, allowing you to set everything from shutter speed to ISO and white balance, exposure and so on. You know that dreamy look DSLR cameras can take of rivers and waterfalls? Now you can take those photos too with the phone in your pocket! Just lower the ISO speed and set a slow shutter time and go. Being able to shoot pictures in RAW-format is also welcome to all Photoshop-buffs out there. Other camera modes include panorama, HDR, burst-mode and time-lapse for a full-fledged photographic shooting instrument. Oh, and don’t forget the front-facing camera! Capable in its own right, the 16MP f/2.0 aperture lens and Sony-sensor is ready to capture every moment you feel like taking a selfie or record 1080p video at 30fps. By the way, it’s one of the largest pixel densities on a front-facing camera in a smartphone ever.

OnePlus 5 + Dash Cash Charger
OnePlus 5 + Dash Car Charger
OnePlus 5 + Dash Cash Charger
OnePlus 5 + Dash Car Charger

The phone is also capable of 4K video at 30fps, thanks to all those pixels crammed in on those sensors. You’ll get 120fps slow motion video at 720p, but it would have been nice to get more than 60fps at 1080p. The reason as to why it’s stuck on 60fps is a bit unclear. The phone lacks optic image stabilization so you have to be steady on hand while taking videos. The electronic image stabilization is more than enough when taking stills however.

While the photographic capacity of the dual-camera system sure is impressive, that’s not all there is to digital photography. OnePlus 5 is brandishing the 8-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 10nm chip which handles processing of the image signal at blazing speeds while using machine learning algorithms to optimize each image according to a database of similar subjects. This wouldn’t have been possible without OnePlus 5’s not-in-the-least disappointing spec sheet. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a smartphone with similar specs in this price range. Heck, even hard to find PC’s with these numbers!

The Specs
NETWORK Technology
GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
LAUNCH Announced 2017, June
Status Available. Released 2017, June
BODY Dimensions 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm (6.07 x 2.92 x 0.29 in)
Weight 153 g (5.40 oz)
SIM Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
DISPLAY Type Optic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.5 inches (~73.0% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5
– Oxygen OS
PLATFORM OS Android 7.1.1 (Nougat)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)
GPU Adreno 540
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 64 GB, 6 GB RAM or 128 GB, 8 GB RAM
CAMERA Primary Dual 16 MP, f/1.7, 24mm, EIS (gyro) + 20 MP, f/2.6, 36mm, phase detection autofocus, 1.6x optical zoom, dual-LED flash, check quality
Features 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm @ 16MP & 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.0 µm @ 20MP, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama
Video 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60fps, 720p@30/120fps, check quality
Secondary 16 MP, f/2.0, 20mm, EIS (gyro), 1.0 µm pixel size, 1080p, Auto HDR
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– Dirac HD sound
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
NFC Yes
Radio No
USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
FEATURES Sensors Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
Browser HTML5
Java No
– Fast battery charging (Dash Charge)
– DivX/Xvid/MP4/H.265 player
– MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player
– Document viewer
– Photo/video editor
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery
MISC Colors Midnight Black, Slate Gray
Price About 500 EUR
TESTS Performance Basemark OS II: 4300 / Basemark OS II 2.0: 3601
Basemark X: 38844
Display Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal), 3.914 (sunlight)
Camera Photo / Video
Loudspeaker Voice 69dB / Noise 72dB / Ring 77dB
Audio quality Noise -94.1dB / Crosstalk -94.2dB

User Experience

Putting specs aside for a moment, just to appreciate how optimized the phone look and feel. OnePlus ship their phone with OxygenOS, which is a minimalistic, near-stock Android shell on top of Android Nougat 7.1.1. It’s really fast. Samsung’s Galaxy 8 with similar specs hardly even compares. Rushing through menus, games and HD-movies is a pleasure using this handset. Using the phone with compatible routers, the 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G chipset makes downloading stuff on your phone feel like sitting with an Ethernet cable jacked in.

The haptic feedback engine of the home and navigation buttons feels amazing. The do-not-disturb slider is a step up compared to the iPhone’s, allowing you to go full notifications (Ring), only letting prioritized notifications through (Do Not Disturb) or none at all (Silent). Discreet notifications make a gentle hum of the vibration motor, which is more powerful than before, yet generates less noise than previous models. The smooth surfaces of the phone with its curved edges enhances the overall experience. It feels truly immersive to pick up the 5.5″ screen to your face; still, the phone feels light enough (153 grams) and thin enough (7.52mm) to not feel distractingly large.

OnePlus 5 Front

On the bottom of the phone we find a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s something both Apple and Samsung have ditched, choosing rather to water-proof their phones. OnePlus felt this wasn’t the way to go for the ultimate user-experience, instead offering both Bluetooth 5.0 for rich wireless sound experiences in conjunction with traditional wired offerings. Next to the headphone jack we find a USB-C port, just like with the last models and with OnePlus’ propriety Dash Charge technology. It sure isn’t all talk when they say, “a days’ power in half an hour”. The battery itself is a 3,300 mAh piece that many pointed out shrunk with 100 milliamps since last iteration. However, the outstanding power efficiency of the 10nm Snapdragon™ 835 chip more than makes up for this.

The OnePlus 5 comes in two color variations. The Slate Gray with 6GBs of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, whereas the Midnight Black version is the performance model with 8GBs of RAM and 128GBs of internal storage. Both are equally capable but time will tell if it’s the case as with the iPhone 7 models where the larger storage actually is the faster storage module. With prices starting at USD $479 for the 64GB version and USD $539 for the 128GB, the jump to higher-tier is not that far.

So, what do you guys think of the new smartphone from OnePlus? Leave us a comment and let us know below!

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