The OnePlus 5 is a 4G LTE smartphone that runs on Android 7.1 Nougat out of its box. It comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, 1080x1920 resolution, and 401ppi index. It is equipped with an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM/64GB onboard memory or 8GB of RAM/128GB onboard memory, and the Adreno 540 GPU. A microSD card slot is available for memory expansion. For photos, the device has a dual camera setup on the back with a 16-megapixel sensor and a 20-megapixel secondary shooter. In front, another 16-megapixel camera can be found. The OnePlus 5 comes with a 3,300 mAh non-removable battery, a fingerprint scanner, and NFC. Its colors ranges from Midnight Black and Slate Gray.
These days, when it's time to upgrade your existing smartphone, it's really hard to get away from the Apple, Samsung, LG, and HTC offerings that are on offer in that particular year. Simply put, there's just a lot going for these polished brands of smartphone, but that isn't to say that there aren't other appealing options out there as well.
A good example of this would be the OnePlus line of smartphones. This line of phones, which comes from the Chinese manufacturer of the same name, has proven to become one of the industry's little-known darlings. Each version of the OnePlus has become increasingly better than the last. Now that we're on the fifth iteration of the phone; the OnePlus 5, what advantages are there to owning this device that comes from such a small company? Read on to find out.
Before we get started on the OnePlus 5 review, it's important to note that there are in fact two versions of the OnePlus 5. There's a more premium model that goes for $540 and has 8 GB of Ram and 128 GB of storage and there is a slightly cheaper version that has 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, which goes for $480. For the purposes of this review, the 8 GB version will be the model that's covered. The lower performance variation of this phone looks slightly different; it has a gray coloration compared to the jet black of the 8 GB variation.
The OnePlus line is known for its inexpensive pricing, especially compared to the flagship smartphones, but the OnePlus 5 is a little more expensive than previous models, even the lower-powered version.
RAM: 8 GB
Camera: 16 MP and 20 MP with Telephoto Lens
Battery: 3,300 mAh
Storage: 128 GB
Chipset: Snapdragon 835
When it comes to performance, the robust hardware of the OnePlus 5 virtually ensures that the Android smartphone will run snappily and with a good amount of speed. Despite this understanding, this really is a great phone to try out because its whip-fast performance might just surprise those that have written Android phones off.
At first, some might be taken aback by the fact that the OnePlus 5 has a full 8 GB of RAM; the flagship brands have nowhere near the level of onboard RAM that this phone boasts. In fact, one of the industry favorites, the Samsung Galaxy S8, only has 4 GB in its curvaceous body. Fortunately, this RAM is well-used; a user can open several demanding apps simultaneously and expect the phone to run smoothly. In fact, most users will be able to switch between apps with no delay at all.
Despite its ability to run several powerful apps at a time, the OnePlus 5 seems to barely pack in any bloatware. This means that this Android device somewhat feels similar to what's on offer in the Google Pixel line of devices. That being said, like other OnePlus models, this phone does run the proprietary OxygenOS variant of Android, but overall, this OnePlus operating system version of Android runs smoothly and responsively and feels almost like the base-level Android OS.
Both versions of this phone run the Snapdragon 835 processor, which is a smaller and leaner version of Qualcomm's previous chipsets. It's designed to process computations quickly and has the ability to draw about 25 percent less power than previous Snapdragon processors.
While this version of the OnePlus 5 doesn't pack in a miniaturized 4K display, its 5.5-inch AMOLED panel is nonetheless fairly impressive. While it admittedly doesn't pack in trendy features like Samsung's curved edges, it does definitely provide some stable 1080p performance that will make viewing videos, looking at pictures, and gaming a satisfying experience.
This version of the OnePlus has the somewhat traditional 16:9 aspect ratio that has since been abandoned by flagship companies like LG and Samsung. This isn't a bad thing; in fact, phones with a 16:9 aspect ratio still provide a widescreen-friendly visual display that's still amazing for watching things like Netflix or recorded home movies.
As previously mentioned, it doesn't curve at the edges like the S8 but the display does have a slight bit of a roundness to it that feels good in the hand. Additionally, this smartphone display also has a fairly rich pixel density; you can expect about 401 pixels per square inch of display real estate. In most cases, this pixel density is good enough to capture many of the details that are picked up by the impressive shooter on the OnePlus 5.
Color-wise, the OnePlus 5 has a very impressive color palette. This is because it has support for the DCI-P3, which is a color rich color space that is very friendly to the digital video files that are created in the film industry. This means that when watching videos on the OnePlus 5, users will definitely see all of the rich hues on the video files that were intended by the director.
For durability's sake, the OnePlus 5's glass faceplate is provided by Corning's Gorilla Glass 5. This provides a good level of overall durability, but don't expect it to be as impact-resistant as some of the sportier phones that are currently on the market. In fact, a protective faceplate is recommended so that the phone doesn't accumulate excess damage like cracks and nicks on the smooth screen.
When it comes to sound, the OnePlus 5 really has some great audio quality. While it doesn't have the stereo speaker setup of some of the more audio-tuned phones, its single speaker setup provides some great sounds, even at higher volumes. This speaker is actually positioned along the bottom edge of the phone; in fact, the speaker is so small that most users might not even notice its positioning at the base of the device.
While playing music from the device, users will definitely notice much of the nuance that can be present in some songs, but there might be a little bit of fidelity loss when the volume is pumped up to higher levels. That being said, smartphone music listening isn't always a top-notch experience, so the high quality of this single speaker phone is very impressive.
As might be expected, headphones are typically the best option for just about any smartphone when it comes to sound quality, which is why listening via headphone jacks is a fairly straightforward experience on the OnePlus 5. The placement of this jack isn't bad either; it's actually positioned opposite of the speaker grille, and both features surround the USB Type-C outlet in the middle of the bottom edge of the phone.
For those that have a tendency to record a lot of audio and need a higher level of quality, the OnePlus 5 may be a good choice because it has three microphones inside its very thin body. This is perfect for those that like to record meetings, run Skype calls from their phones, or simply like to record video with top-notch audio quality.
One of the reasons that many people buy smartphones is to have a camera that is accessible right from the pocket. These days, many of the flagship smartphone brands are making some fairly impressive shooters for the casual photographer and the OnePlus is no slouch in this department either. Anyone that's been following smartphone news knows that Apple's latest iPhone, the LG G6, and the Lenovo Phab 2 all have forgone the use of a single camera setup in favor of dual shooters.
When a dual camera design is included in a new smartphone, the device starts to move past some of the physical limits that are being experienced on smartphone cameras. This technology allows for wider angle shots, adds an increased dynamic range, and also provides better depth analysis. One thing is for sure: dual cameras are changing the game, so don't expect them to go anywhere.
The OnePlus 5 has two individual shooters:
20 MP with Telephoto Lens
When used in conjunction, these cameras have a snappy focus and sport a f/1.7 aperture, which can really add some light to pictures that have been taken in darker environments. While it is noticeable that the pictures taken with this camera do tend to be a little darker than some of the other flagship offerings, despite the darkness the OnePlus 5 can produce some amazingly high-res images that will seem to pop visually.
Typically, most users will be shooting the majority of their pics using the 16-megapixel shooter, but when a better zoom performance is needed, users can then switch to the 20-megapixel telephoto camera in order to get some amazing close-ups. Many of the other smartphone offerings available today have a much lower megapixel count, which means that owners of the OnePlus 5 can expect some excellent images out of the device due to the more robust sensor.
Another very impressive feature of the camera array on the OnePlus 5 is the way that this camera takes pictures in soft-background portrait mode. This feature was popularized by the iPhone 7, but with the beefier sensors of the OnePlus 5, the primary subject will seemingly jump out from the blurred backgrounds that this mode produces.
Outside of the darker image output, in low light situations, the edges of the produced images might appear somewhat on the softer side. This is a barely noticeable issue, but if a user is looking for images with a professional level of edging and a higher level of visual fidelity, Then they may be limited to taking pictures in brighter environments when using this model of phone.
How the Battery Performs
There was a time when the iPhone 7's 1,960 mAh would have seemed very amazing, but these days, many Android smartphones work with capacities that span well over 3,000 mAh. The OnePlus 5, for example, has a 3,300 mAh battery that is actually a little smaller than the previous OnePlus 3T. Despite this, the battery in this phone is designed to last even longer than the one packed into last year's model.
How can this be the case? Well, as mentioned, the OnePlus 5 packs in a Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm. This particular processor is designed to be as efficient as possible with the power that it's supplied with. This results in a product that actually lasts 20 percent longer than the previous OnePlus 3T. In fact, users can watch video on this smartphone for about 15 hours without it dying, which is a very impressive feat for a modern mobile device.
In day-to-day use, the OnePlus 5 can last more than a day and a half of everyday mixed usage. The life can even be extended a bit by engaging the battery saver, though battery-draining features like the flash will be sacrificed. When it's time to juice up, the OnePlus 5 has the ability to use fast charging via its Dash Charger. In most cases, this type of technology will keep the phone over half life for a nearly unlimited amount of time because it can simply charge for 15 minutes and almost get a full battery.
Most people aren't fans of the fact that many modern smartphone companies with the exception of Google itself, love to package in useless bloatware with their devices. Fortunately, the OnePlus 5 seems to be trying to eschew this tradition by including very useful add-ins that can work for just about any type of user.
To start, the phone runs on the latest version of OnePlus's OxygenOS Android-based operating system. This OS runs with Android Nougat and features some neat extra features that really can improve the user experience.
In previous versions of the OnePlus, users could customize your app experience by enabling a feature that let them draw on the home screen in order to open up different apps. This feature is still present in the OnePlus 5, and with the massive amounts of RAM in the phone, apps seem to open even faster when using this software option.
Many users have experienced situations where they've wanted to check the local weather but didn't want to navigate to a specific weather app. While this can be annoying, the OnePlus 5 has a unique solution that allows users to check the weather quickly. Simply use the "shelf" feature on the left of the home screen. When this feature is accessed, users can quickly check the local weather or even leave themselves a quick memo or reminder for the day.
One of the most innovative software features of the OnePlus 5 is the "Do Not Disturb" mode that can be used while gaming. For those that like to sit down and play games that require concentration, this mode can be very useful to make the game playing experience feel more seamless. This DND mode lets users customize the gaming experience so that they won't get notifications while in the midst of battle, which could break immersion.
Most of the software features of the OnePlus 5 feel "baked in," which means that they don't weigh down the overall experience; users will never feel like they have to work to avoid some unneeded app like what happens on some Samsung Galaxy phones. Overall, the software experience on the OnePlus 5 feels like an experience that the larger flagship companies should make some attempt to emulate because of how smooth it feels.
No phone has ever been designed that is perfect. It's why it's so exciting when new versions of our favorite phones come out; we hope that the manufacturer has shored up any weaknesses of the previous iterations. As might be expected, the OnePlus 5 does have one or two issues that make it imperfects. The biggest one is the fact that OnePlus didn't design this phone to be water resistant.
At this stage of the game, even Apple, a company that rejected the concept of water resistance for years, has gotten on board and added some water resistance to their phones, so it's unfortunate that this phone isn't able to take a dip. That being said, it can definitely be understood that OnePlus was trying to cut costs a bit on this very impressive phone, so maybe this feature will make it into the OnePlus 6.
Speaking of cutting costs, this is also the most expensive phone that OnePlus has ever released. Even the pared down version is much more expensive than last year's 3T. While this phone is still very inexpensive when compared to the big boys, those that are expecting a $300-ish price tag might be in for a bit of a shock.
Additionally, while the OnePlus 5 has some nice looking curves, those looking for a phone with a bombshell aesthetic design might be disappointed. This is not an unattractive phone, but at the same time, its design does come off as a little bit generic-looking, especially when compared to more aesthetically elegant phones like the iPhone 7S and the Samsung Galaxy S8. Couple this with the fact that it only comes in black and its limitations become clear.
Wrapping It Up
The OnePlus 5 is one of the phones of 2017 that deserves a lot of attention. It has an excellent shooter, a great screen, and it has some of the best performance of the year thanks to a lot of RAM and a whip-fast processor. All of this is very impressive, especially considering that it comes from such a small manufacturer. In any situation, for those users looking for a very high performance phone that doesn't have the price tag of the major flagship brands, the OnePlus is definitely worth the consideration.
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