OnePlus changed the way people thought of mid-priced phones. It was the first phone company that allowed you to enjoy hardware found on expensive phones at a mid-range price. Clearly, that worked really well for OnePlus which has now released its latest phone, the OnePlus 5. And although the OnePlus 5 features top-end hardware, it’s pricing has also pushed up north. Lets find out if the phone is still worth it.
Packaging & Design
The OnePlus 5 comes packaged in a nice little red and white box that will be familiar to previous OnePlus owners. It’s a very well put together package that shows the effort the OnePlus team has gone to and immediately gives off an impression of a premium product. Besides the quickstart and warrant guide, the package has the SIM tray removal tool, the DASH charger and a quality USB Type-C cable.
The OnePlus 5 looks like the iPhone. A lot like the iPhone. But that’s not really shocking as we’ve seen Apple products copied by many other manufacturers. I received the midnight black version for review which looks quite nice with it’s black bezels and a very dark metallic back finish. Bezels above and below the screen are noticeable but slightly smaller than the ones found on the HTC U11.
As far as button placement is concerned, the power button and the SIM card tray sit on the right while the volume rocker and the notification switch are on the left. I really like the notification switch that lets you switch between normal, priority and silent modes without powering up the screen. I was an iPhone user for over 5 years and miss that silent switch on other Android phones so it’s definitely something I appreciate. At the bottom you can find the USB Type-C port with a 3.5mm and a speaker grill.
One particular aspect of the design that I didn’t like is the noticeable and slightly rough edge of the display. On phones such as the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S8 or even the Sony Xperia XZ1, the screen molds into the body in a very smooth finish but on the OnePlus, you can clearly feel the screen sitting above the frame. I don’t know if that also makes the OnePlus 5’s screen easier to crack but I would recommend using it with a case.
Hardware and Software
Like most of its previous products, OnePlus 5 continues using top specs. It’s equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor and comes in two configurations- 6GB RAM with 64GB storage or 8GB RAM with 128GB storage. I received the 128GB version for review which is the one I recommend anyone looking for then to go for.
Coming to the display, the OnePlus 5 has a 5.5-inch screen with Full HD resolution which is lower than most high-end phones that feature a 2K resolution. The display is AMOLED is technology which means that it’s battery friendly and offers better black levels however, there is a noticeable yellow tint when you’re not looking at the screen head on. Just below the screen sits the fingerprint sensor which is extremely fast- I’d compare it to the one found on Huawei phones which are the fastest I’ve tested.
This is the first time I’ve used an OnePlus and there are a couple of things that I really like about the OS and the lack of bloat. This really allows you to have an extremely fluid user experience and everything from web pages to switching apps is about as smooth as you would get out of Android. This also allows OnePlus to keep its phones updated to the latest versions of Android. I received a couple of updates during my ten days of testing, and rumors are that a beta version of Oreo, which is the next version of Android, will be hitting this phone by end of this month. This makes the OnePlus a very attractive device for users looking to be on the latest version of Android.
The second thing that I really liked about the OnePlus is the Shelf screen it offers on the left of the homepage. The shelf allows you to put widgets of your commonly used apps on it, taking the full width of the screen. This allows for a really nice “feed” from the apps installed on your phone and is somewhat similar to what Apple does in iOS. You can put widgets from everything like the Google app to your calendar and contacts.
Camera & Battery Life
With the OnePlus 5, the company jumps on the dual camera bandwagon. We’ve already seen phones from the likes of LG and Huawei offering dual camera support on the Android platform. Recently Nokia and Samsung also joined this club. OnePlus takes a similar approach to dual cameras like the iPhone or the recently introduced Galaxy Note 8 where the secondary camera is set up at 2X zoom level and also allows creating background blur. The following are some shots taken from the camera of the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 5 is equipped with a 3,300mAh battery which might sound a bit low for a phone with a 5.5-inch screen. However, OnePlus’ decision to use FullHD resolution instead of 2K has paid off with battery life. I was easily getting a day and then some with standard use. I can assume that if you’re not a heavy user, you should be able to get almost two days from a full charge.
Apart from the decent charge, the OnePlus 5 also supports super quick charging when used with the bundled Dash charger. A quick 15 minute charge will get fill up the battery by 30%. Leave it charging for an hour and you can almost get a full charge. That’s quite impressive considering it’s a 3,300 mAh battery. I do wish that the phone supported wireless charging as there’s an increasing trend towards that.
There is no denying that the OnePlus 5 is a pretty good phone. But where it will face difficulties is with it’s higher pricing model. Unlike previous OnePlus phones which were available for around AED 1500, the OnePlus 5 starts at AED 1799. There are now a number of competitors in this space from the likes of Huawei. The most notable one is the new Nokia 8 that sells for AED 1699 and has similar specs with (arguably) a better screen and a more premium finish. I will say that the software on Nokia could use some more tweaking and OnePlus 5 is ahead on that aspect.
On the other hand, if you opt for the 8GB/128GB version for AED 2099, that puts the OnePlus 5 in close range of the Samsung Galaxy S8 which might have a lesser amount of RAM and storage space but has a better design and features such as the Infinity Display, Always-On screen, Wireless Charging and a Dual Pixel camera which takes incredibly good pictures. This makes it difficult for me to recommend the OnePlus 5 to the general user- even though I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it. However, if you’re more on an enthusiast or a fan of previous OnePlus phones, the OnePlus 5 will definitely please you.