THE ONEPLUS 5 is here and arrives as the firm’s latest (and most expensive) self-styled flagship killer.
The firm claims to have ‘listened to its customers to step up its game against the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8, equipping the phone with both a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C, a ‘market-leading camera setup and, er, 8GB RAM.
We’ve been using the OnePlus 5 for a few weeks now, so read on to see if we think it’s worth the 450 quid price-tag the firm has slapped on it.
The OnePlus 5 is undoubtedly a good-looking, high-end smartphone, but it’s by no means original. With its matte black aluminum unibody chassis and visible antenna bands, the OnePlus is by no means being subtle about the fact that its latest smartphone is a near carbon copy of the iPhone 7 Plus. Still, there’s no denying that the smartphone feels well-built, though, perhaps more so than other smartphones in its price range.
OnePlus’ latest flagship is smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, though, despite packing an identically-sized 5.5in the display. At 154x74x7.3mm, we were able to reach all corners of the display, while the handset’s subtle curves mean the OnePlus 5 sits comfortably in hand. We’re not a huge fan of the sizeable bezels above and below the display, though, which feel somewhat dated when compared to the likes of the Galaxy S8.
Elsewhere on the OnePlus 5, you’ll find a physical home button underneath the display complete with a zippy fingerprint scanner baked-in. You’ll also find a Dash Charge-capable USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and five machined holes for the loudspeaker.
The OnePlus 5 packs a 5.5in AMOLED Full HD display, the same on the OnePlus 3T before it.
While we’re disappointed that OnePlus didn’t upgrade to a QHD resolution, especially considering the handset’s now more expensive price tag, we have few complaints when it comes to what this screen is capable of. The use of AMOLED means that blacks are inky, while colors are really vibrant and saturated in the default calibration.
The display on the OnePlus 5 can be changed to show sRGB or DCI-P3 color standards, the latter being the wider color gamut that you’ll find on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which offers up a more natural, less saturated appearance.
Some early OnePlus 5 adopters have been quick to complain about issues with the handset’s display – including ‘jelly scrolling’ and poor collaboration – but we’ve had no problems here.
Performance and storage
Qualcomm’s 10nm Snapdragon 835 processor sits under the hood of the OnePlus 5, alongside an Adreno 540 GPU and a hefty 8GB RAM (or 6GB in the 64GB model). This souped-up internals isn’t just for show, as the OnePlus 5 is one of the fastest smartphones we’ve tested this year and effortlessly handled any task we threw at it.
The smartphone’s UFS 2.1 storage is just as zippy, which helps when loading games. The model we’re testing packs 128GB storage, which should be enough for most, even when the handset’s lack of microSD slot is considered.
Antutu benchmark scores came in at 173,323, beating out the more expensive Sony Xperia XZ Premium and corroborating our experience. Meanwhile, a Geekbench score of 6269 firmly cements the HTC U11 as one of the most powerful phones around.
However, we’ll advise not to pay too much attention to these aforementioned figures given that XDA-Developers last month accused the smartphone maker of “inappropriately manipulating benchmark scores”.
The software on the OnePlus 5 feels a lot like vanilla Android 7.1 Nougat, with the firm’s custom OxygenOS adding just a handful of subtle tweaks and improvements.
OxygenOS has the same swipe-to-open app drawer as Google’s flagship Pixel smartphone, along with the same notification tray and same Settings screen. There’s no bloatware either, with OnePlus adding only its own Gallery app and OnePlus community portal to the device.
It has added a feature called Shelf, though, which first debuted back on the OnePlus 2 and is a welcome addition that helps to keep your home screens looking clean and uncluttered. Shelf, accessible by swiping right, keeps all your widgets, recently used apps, and other important deets – such as your available storage – in one manageable screen. It’s a decent addition, and we found ourselves using it more than Samsung’s Bixby Home alternative.
OnePlus has also equipped its latest flagship with a tweaked version of Night Mode that now, much like the Night Shift feature found in iOS, kicks in automatically, and lessens the amount of blue light emitted by the display. There’s a dedicated Reading Mode on the OnePlus 5 too, that switches the screen to grayscale.
Dual cameras are nothing new, with the likes of the iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P10 having rocked a twin sensor setup for the past six or so months.
OnePlus’ claims it’s doing its best, though, with its latest smartphone pairing a main 16MP f/1.7 sensor with a 20MP f/2.6 secondary sensor which, the firm claims, together add up to offer the highest raw pixel count of any dual-camera smartphone.
It’s not just all about pixel count, and like the iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 offers 2x digital zoom, while the two sensors can work together to produce portrait photos with a blurry bokeh effect in the background. You’ll also find phase-detect autofocus, but the OnePlus 5 is lacking when it comes to optical image stabilization.
As you’d expect given how it sounds on paper, photos taken with the OnePlus 5 are well detailed, sharp, and offer up natural colors, while the secondary lens proved handy for getting close-up shots without losing too much detail. The secondary lens, thanks to its f/2.6 aperture, is lacking when it comes to low-light performance, but the main 16MP sensor offers up decent, albeit somewhat average, results.
Our favorite feature of the OnePlus 5’s camera is its built-in Pro mode which allows you to manually adjust focus, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, and white balance. There’s also a built-in histogram, along with a toggle to enable RAW directly on the viewfinder
On the front of the OnePlus 5 sits a 16MP camera with f/2 aperture, which proved more than capable for the occasional pub-selfie and use as a makeshift mirror.
OnePlus reckons that the 3,330mAh battery inside the OnePlus 5 will last 20 percent longer than that inside 3T, and we’re not going to argue. We found we easily made it through an entire day with at least 30 percent juice left in the handset, while on days where we used the handset less frequently, we found it’d breeze through into a second afternoon.
OnePlus says you can get a full day’s battery life in just 30 minutes, but we found it took closer to 45 minutes.
The OnePlus 5 is, undoubtedly, the best phone you can buy right now for less than £500.
That’s not to say the OnePlus doesn’t have its flaws. Its camera, billed as the handset’s standout feature, can struggle on occasion – in particular, in low-light, it packs an aging Full HD display as opposed to QHD, and, there’s no denying, this thing looks uncomfortably like an iPhone 7 Plus.
However, for £450, you’re not going to find another smartphone with such impressive performance, nor with a battery life that will make it into a second day with some juice left in the tank. And, although its design is unashamedly Apple-esque, it’s still one of the most premium-looking ‘mid-range phones on the market.