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OnePlus 5 Review: Should You Buy It?

OnePlus 5: The Latest by OnePlus

OnePlus 5 Review

Odd right? The last OnePlus phone was the OnePlus 3T. So why not OnePlus 4 now? Well, it's because of tetraphobia. Because of that, many Chinese products avoid the number 4 similar to the OnePlus 5. You can think of the OnePlus 3T as the 4, though, if you want.

OnePlus 5 has undergone a major design makeover with its dual camera coming to the scene.

The OnePlus 5 has the major of its design cues borrowed from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, starting from the camera setup to even the positioning of the microphone beside the lenses. Had the logo on the back of the OnePlus 5 been replaced by an Apple logo, anyone could have mistaken it for a matte black iPhone 7 Plus. The device looks like a hell of a stunner now.

The OnePlus 5 is now powered by the new Snapdragon 835 chipset which is currently available in most of the flagships. What is not however, available nowadays is the massive 8 GB of RAM (no other smartphone packs such high memory) matched by 128 GB of internal storage that comes with the pricier $528 model. With the entry level OnePlus 5, you get 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of internal storage. The storage, however, is not expandable.

All of the camera modules in the OnePlus 5 comes from Sony. The display is a 5.5 inch AMOLED display as before. The battery capacity has gone a bit down at 3,300 mAh, but complemented with OnePlus’s proprietary Dash charge technology, you don't need to worry about the battery to run out all throughout the day. 

Anyhow, before delving deeper -

Let's take a quick look at the specifications of the OnePlus 5

Everything about the device is not so great, especially the lack of a microSD card slot and not making the device waterproof are some. And although cheaper than all of the flagships out there, $550 for the 128 GB model with 8 GB of RAM isn't pocket friendly either.

Going on,

the retail box for the OnePlus 5 is the same as the OnePlus 3T, with a digit 5 stamped on the lid. The two sides of the box sport the new camera tagline. The plastic cradle that holds a the phone remains, and pulling it out reveals the USB Type-C cable along with the Dash charger.

The charger is rated at 5V/4A and it feeds into two sections of the battery at 5V/2A thus minimising heat production without sacrificing charging speed. The magic is done with custom pins, so Dash charging is only possible through OnePlus’ own accessories-even changing the cable won't enable fast charging.

Design and Build of the OnePlus 5

OnePlus 5 Design

The OnePlus 5 feels quite light at hand weighing at 153 gram which is 5 gram lighter than the OnePlus 3T. It has a dimension of 154.2×74.1×7.25 mm. This makes the OnePlus 5 the company's thinnest phone to date by a difference of just 0.1 mm, although you are likely not to notice the difference.

Placing the OnePlus 5 side by side to the iPhone 7 you'd notice that the OnePlus 5 is not exactly a copy of the iPhone 7 Plus. The OnePlus 5 is 3.8 mm narrower, 4 mm shorter and 0.05 mm thinner and 35 gram lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus.

However the similarity of both the phones are pretty outstanding. and it would not be wrong if we call the OnePlus 5 a clone of the iPhone 7 Plus. At least OnePlus could have done with a different slot for the mic. The flashlight LED on the OnePlus 5 is a two-LED setup unlike the iPhone with a four-LED setup.

On the back is a 1+ logo and the OnePlus 5’s back panel is more cleaner than that of the iPhone counterpart without any inscriptions of regulatory information and model numbers.

The aluminium back panel has a smooth matte finish to it which not only makes it slippery in hand, but also makes it a nice fingerprint magnet.
OnePlus 5 Design

The dual camera bump is slightly raised and the phone doesn't rest on the glass. The OnePlus 5 doesn't have sapphire camera lens cover though. Thanks to the bump the device will wobble if you push it deliberately on a flat surface.

While OnePlus has done a pretty good job of hiding the antenna inlays, it is not totally hidden. 

The antenna inlay is faintly visible in the midnight black colored unit and the top antenna strip branches out towards the camera and is a very thin line.

At the front there is the capacitive home non-button with an integrated fingerprint scanner like the OnePlus 3T. The fingerprint sensor is ceramic coated and shall protect the scanner from daily wear and tear. 

On either side of the capacitive home key, there are two more capacitive backlit keys whose functions are customisable according to your usage style. Sure, like before you can also enable the on-screen navbar instead.

Above the display there is the center earpiece, with the ambient light, and proximity sensors to the left. The front facing camera lies midway between the earpiece and the edge and the notification LED is placed further to the left.

A sharp line of metal divides the OnePlus 5 from the front from back and is known by OnePlus as the Horizon Line and it makes the phone actually look thinner and is a nice design accent. 

The controls are nicely worked out into the Horizon Line.
At the right side you get the power button along with the SIM card slot above it which takes two nano-SIMs.

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The volume buttons and the Alert Slider are placed on the left side-all of them are made of metal and have a tight feeling and they are nice and clicky. The three way Alert Slider switches between Ring, Do Not Disturb and Silent modes.
OnePlus 5 Ports

At the bottom you get the USB Type-C port at the centre flanked by two screws which is yet another design eerily similar to Apple.

Unlike the iPhone though you get the 3.5 mm headphone jack to the left of the charging port and the main microphone between the charging port and the headphone jack. The top is clean and contains nothing.

Holding it in hand, the immediate feeling is slippery, courtesy to the aluminum that does this to every phone it is used in. Although you can use the phone with a single hand, using another hand can speed up your tasks is quite a lot.

OnePlus 5 Display

Apart from the OnePlus X, every other device in the brief history of OnePlus has been fitted with 5.5-inch Full HD displays. At the beginning, it was IPS LCDs, but it was the X that first switched to AMOLED and then the OnePlus 3 got Optic AMOLED. The same display is continued in the OnePlus 3T and the OnePlus 5 since then. 

OnePlus 5 Display Review

But considering the category the OnePlus 5 is fighting in, QHD resolution is taken for granted. Frankly speaking while a QHD display would have made the display look awesome drastically, but for most people that isn't much needed. 

Due to the fact that it has fewer pixels to power around, it can thus perform better. Moreover I don't face any problems with Full HD display because it doesn't make that much of a difference and you won't even notice it on a day-to-day basis, and it's almost as sharp under regular use. Hell; even iPhone 7 has an even lower resolution!

There is also the matter of the diamond pixel arrangement where the red and blue dots are half the number of green dots and you can easily spot the fine weave of subpixels if you take a closer look.

Speaking of brightness, the OnePlus 5 is as bright as the Galaxy S8 in manual mode, but the S8 can reach higher brightness levels in auto mode. 

The OnePlus 3T was only marginally brighter than that of the 5’s. The minimum brightness on the OnePlus 5’s display is just 2 bits, which is certain to be easy on you eyes at night. Contrast levels are of course, infinite and the blacks aren't lit up at all as is seen on AMOLED displays.

Sunlight contrast has taken a slight dip than the OnePlus 3 and the 3T. In GSM Arena's sunlight contrast ratio test, the OnePlus 5 came third last with the Galaxy S8 scoring 4.768. 

The OnePlus 3 came second with 4.424, the OnePlus 3T came third with 4.232, the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7 came fourth with 4.124 with the Xiaomi Mi 6 coming second last at 3.767 and the iPhone 7 plus came last with 3.588.

OnePlus 5 Contrast Ratio Test

The OnePlus 5 has three preset colour modes and also has a custom setting with cold-to-warm colour slider. The default mode isn't all that accurate with whites slightly leaning towards the purplish hues and 100% reds were off with an average DeltaE of 6.

The sRGB mode apart from being dull, is much more precise with an average DeltaE of 1.4 and and the whites have a DeltaE of 1.
The wider DCI-P3 colour mode is rendered very accurately in DCI-P3 mode with an average DeltaE of 1.4.

There are a few other settings and tricks in the Display settings menu on the OnePlus 5. There's a Night mode which tunes the display colour temperature to match the ambient light and reduce strain on eyes. 

You can manually enable it and set it to engage between sunrise and sunset, or you can schedule it between specific hours. The strength of the effect can be tweaked too.

The reading mode turns the display into a grayscale display giving it an e-ink like look for improved experience while reading. You can engage it manually or set to be enabled on launching specific apps.

OnePlus 5 Performance

The OnePlus 5, like any other flagship is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset which is an octa core CPU clocked at 2.35 GHz on the powerful cores and 1.9 GHz on the less powerful cores. 

It comes in two models boasting slightly different specs; one with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage and the other with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. 

(Check it out: Exynos 8895 vs Apple A10 Fusion Processor)

The storages are UFS 2.1 and OnePlus has now used LPDDR4X RAM which features improved power efficiency over the usual LPDDR4.
Note: Before running any benchmarks, we want to alert our readers about the fact that OnePlus has been altering the behaviour of its CPU cores by locking the lower powered cores at max frequency along with the higher powered cores when the device detects a benchmark being run. 
This was also the case which was witnessed in the OnePlus 3 and 3T. While OnePlus 5 doesn't get enjoy much of an advantage over its competitor phones, it has certainly undergone a vast improvement.

In the Geekbench 4.1 (single core) test, the OnePlus 5 came second with 1932 points with the Exynos Galaxy S8 coming at the top with 1991 points. The Xiaomi Mi 6 came third with 1929 points, the HTC U11 came fourth with 1919 points. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the Snapdragon Galaxy S8 Plus came fifth with 1935 points and the LG G6 came last with 1767 points.

Also in the Geekbench 4.1 multicore test, the OnePlus 5 remained third in line just below the Xiaomi Mi 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 (Exynos variant).

Of course, the Snapdragon 835 is a pretty awesome chipset and when it is backed by a whopping 6 GB/ 8 GB of RAM, there isn't much of a question as to the huge power, the smartphone will offer.

As for the fingerprint sensor, it is faster than its predecessors and unlocks the phone with out any lag whatsoever.

OnePlus 5 is Very Thin

OnePlus had assured that the OnePlus 5 would have a drastic improvement in its WiFi connectivity. 
While the change isn't really quite much, I did notice that unlike the OnePlus 3T, this phone doesn't lose out its connectivity at the far end of my house.

Still, if you have a huge sprawling house, why don't you try the Google's new innovative WiFi which removes dark spots all over your house?

As for the huge 8 GB RAM, it is actually overkill. 4 GB is sufficient to keep apps in its memory for long enough. But then, the camera app is most beneficiary by this huge RAM.

Anyhow, even though the OnePlus 5 has Bluetooth 5.0, there isn't a way to split connections between two devices as was possible in the Samsung Galaxy S8.

OnePlus 5's Performance in Audio Quality

I will be straight with you. The audio quality has had a serious improvement considering its predecessors- the OnePlus 3 and 3T. The sound was loud and rich and did not break when the volume was cranked up.

However OnePlus has used up a lot of space by its huge bezels in the OnePlus 5. The audio gets blocked quite a bit when I put it on some surface. 

So it would be great if they could have made a front facing speaker. 

When you pop in the headphones, you might notice that the volume drops down a bit, but that won't necessarily bother you as it still is louder than the average phones.

What I liked most, is the fact that the sounds don't get distorted as much as its predecessors; which is for me a huge improvement. Rest assured, the audio in terms of both loudness and quality will not disappoint you.

OnePlus 5 Camera

Kind of all phones nowadays are shifting towards dual cameras and the OnePlus 5 is no exception. In fact, in most of its advertisements and even in its box, OnePlus boasted of the dual camera set up in its latest flagship.

OnePlus 5 Camera Review

But anyhow is it really that good?

Of the two cameras situated at the rear, one has a Sony IMX 398 sensor complemented with 16 MP and an f/1.7 lens. It has got a 1.12 µm pixel size and dual pixel autofocus.

The other camera has the telephoto lens which doubles the zooming capacity of the phone. It has a 20 MP sensor accompanied by a f/2.6 aperture. Its pixel size is 1.0µm.

Another great thing is that the high MP count makes the images rather sharp, rich with details and captures rather vibrant colors. Of course with dual camera set up, the phone captures shots smoothly both in dark and sunny environments.

The auto HDR mode levels out the exposure levels when it is too sunny or the image that you are shooting features a high contrast.

Anyhow, the telephoto lens slightly falters due to being paired up with a lens with very narrow aperture and also having no OIS present. Although the EIS does a pretty amazing job of stabilising images it does seem to take its time when the camera is zoomed to its limits. 

You may also find that the shots captured using the telephoto lens result in greater noise than that captured using the regular camera.

According to OnePlus the phone's autofocus is 40% faster compared to the OnePlus 3T.

The front facing camera is of 16 Mega-pixel, has both flash and Auto-HDR mode.

As for the video capture, OnePlus 5 supports 4K video at 30 fps, FHD videos (1080p) at 60 fps and 30 fps frame rates. The EIS in this regard works fine enough and can smoothen out shakes and bumps when recording videos while moving your hand or running.

Due to its wide dynamic range of audio capture as advertised by OnePlus, it records excellent audio at music concerts or fests.

However, videos taken outside may result in noise from the wind which is a con of the audio capture of the OP5.

Apart from that the telephoto lens perform with excellence during 4K video shoots by the OnePlus 5. However when you stretch it up to 60 fps frame rate in 1080p mode, the results are not that great.

Here are some video samples by the OnePlus 5 which you should see how good the camera is for yourself.

1080p at 30 fps - stabilisation sample (EIS on)

4K at 30 fps

1080p at 60 fps

Now here's some examples of how the telephoto lens performs under different settings.

OnePlus 5 Software and User Interface

OnePlus 5 features the latest Android software i.e., the Nougat 7.1.1 with an overlay of its latest Oxygen OS. The Oxygen OS has a very similar feel to the Stock Android but has increased features and lets you customise it to your heart's content. While I find Samsung Experience the best OS (personal choice) the Oxygen OS is my second choice as a phone OS.

With its navigation drawer being pulled up with a upwards stroke, and excellent notification management system, the Oxygen OS in the OP5 is pretty awesome to say the least.

Also, the phone brags the feature of showing you some extra shortcuts when you long-press icons.

Also, there's the gaming mode which stops all those notifications from popping up on your screen when you are gaming. OnePlus has finally added the Secure Folder option to its OnePlus 5 which allows you to securely store your important files, pictures, videos and even apps according to your choice.

You can also switch between capacitive and on screen keys in the OnePlus 5 phone. You can also customise the accent colors in the device. 

The Shelf feature as usual stays in this phone. If you don't know what Shelf is, well it is kind of a replacement of Google Now page placed at the left most section of your screen. 

It shows you a header image, your contacts, the apps you frequently use and also useful information like the weather. The Shelf can be customised with widgets and can also be disabled or enabled as per your want.

OnePlus 5 Side View

Another new addition is the "Reading Mode" which enables blue light filtering and renders grey scale mapping which makes reading a whole lot easier and strains your eyes much less.

As for the gestures, OnePlus 5 has quite a lot of additions. I am just listing out all the gestures that you can try in your OnePlus 5.

  • double-tap to wake
  • draw "<", ">" to shuffle between the previous and the next track
  • two finger swipe to pause
  • draw O, S, M, W and V to launch assigned apps
  • flip phone to mute
  • three finger swipe down gesture to take screenshots
Missed notifications will show up in your lock screen. The added power of Nougat's 7.1.1 lets you group or even expand the notifications according to your choice.

The app switcher in the OnePlus 5 has undergone change too. It has a kill all feature that lets you shut down all the clutter of on-going apps. You can also close apps by swiping horizontally.

There is also a new "screen pinning" feature which lets you pin the view on your choice of app.

As for its three Alert modes, they are also customisable to a good extent. For the do-not disturb mode, you can even choose whether or not your OnePlus 5 will notify you on certain incoming calls that you select.

OnePlus 5 Battery and Charging Capacity

It may come as a surprise as well as a disappointment to most of you that OnePlus 5's battery is just 3300 mAh (and non-removable), which is 100 mAh lesser than that of its predecessor, the OnePlus 3T.

Well, this was done because the Snapdragon 835 processor is about 25% more power saver compared to the previous processor the Snapdragon 821. 

Also, since the OP5 uses Full HD display, it also results in less power drain as opposed to its other flagship counterparts. Therefore, unless you are an extremely heavy user, you shall not run out of battery life.

But on the off chance that your battery does take a dip, the OnePlus 5's dash charger can charge your battery to 60% from nil in 36 minutes (according to my test).

OnePlus 5 Verdict and Where to Buy it

To be honest, OnePlus 5 has raised the stakes and its price. Although it is not the best value-for-money phone (OnePlus 3T is), the phone is on par with the other flagships and is even better than a lot of them. 

It is surely an extremely worthy phone (Hell! Even I bought it) but if you want to spend a little more money, I say go for the Samsung Galaxy S8.

But, in no circumstances am I discouraging you from buying it. The phone is rather future proof with its huge RAM and has quite an improvement in its camera. All said, it is quite a good choice to buy.

Here's where you can buy the OnePlus 5

Wait!! if you are looking for even more options check out the post on the Best Phones of 2017. If you liked this post make sure to share it among your friends and hit Subscibe (at the top).


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