So, What is ONEPLUS 5? Should You Buy it? Is it worth it?
Not as cheap as previous models, but still great value.
Dash Charge is great.
Dual cameras work well.
Design is starting to feel generic.
Still no expandable memory.
Dash charging is a closed standard.
5.5-inch 1080p screen
6 or 8GB RAM
64 or 128GB storage
Review Price: £449.00 ($500)
WHAT IS THE ONEPLUS 5?
With the OnePlus 3, the Chinese ‘start-up’ finally made a phone that was nearly perfect. There’s no OnePlus 4 this year, but instead the OnePlus 5 takes things up another level with a seriously packed spec sheet – and a higher price.
The headline feature here is an interesting dual-camera setup on the back, but in typical OnePlus fashion there’s a serious amount of power and the option of a frankly ridiculous 8GB of RAM.
For £449/$479, the OnePlus 5 is a fantastic deal, but the higher price necessitates a more critical look at some of its shortcomings. There are a few missing features and some odd omissions, but this is still one of the best tech bargains.
ONEPLUS 5 – DESIGN:
The OnePlus 5 is a really good-looking phone, but it’s not the most original. The back reminds me of an slightly curvier matte-black iPhone 7 Plus, right down to the camera arrangement, the blended antenna lines and even the flash. The front is pretty much the same as those of the outgoing OnePlus 3 and 3T, which is no bad thing, but in a world of the Essential Phone and LG G6 it feels a bit old-fashioned.
Both versions of the phone are identical otherwise, from the Snapdragon 835 chipsets they share to their sealed, 3,300mAh batteries. (Yes, that’s just a hair smaller than the battery we got in the 3T.) For better or worse, though, OnePlus still prefers giving its phones two nanoSIM slots instead of a spot for a SIM and a microSD card. While this flexibility (and support for loads of GSM and LTE bands) make OnePlus 5 an excellent travel device, you’re better off getting the more expensive mode if you can afford it.
ONEPLUS 5 – SCREEN:
OnePlus has stepped up the game in the vast majority of areas this year, but on paper at least the screen feels very much the same. It’s still a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, which is still 1080p as opposed to the more common quad-HD resolution.
The OnePlus 3 (and 3T) suffered from a few annoying screen issues, including poor calibration and laggy scrolling, but the OnePlus 5 sorts these out. So that’s a bonus straight away.
ONEPLUS 5 – PERFORMANCE:
I’m not entirely convinced it needs all the power it has, and I’d love to see Android app devs actually try and put some of the power to good use, but people love specs and OnePlus is certainly giving them that.
The Snapdragon 835 runs the show, and it’s a very good SoC. Along with being speedy, it’s efficient and each phone that’s powered by it does get better battery life. There’s the Adreno 540 GPU, which can comfortably handle any 3D game on Google Play, and there’s super-fast UFS 2.1 storage that helps load times. You can choose between a 64GB and 128GB model, but pick wisely as there’s no expandable storage.
Don’t get me wrong: Other flagship phones look and feel better, and pack so many exciting-sounding features that I’m surprised their marketing teams can keep up. Few other phones to date have felt this smooth, and hardly any have been able to offer up this level of performance. This, in short, is wild stuff for $540.
The biggest change here is obvious: there are now two lenses instead of one. They’re laid out on the back just like those on the iPhone 7 Plus, slightly raised from the body, and they even function in a similar way to the cameras on Apple’s flagship.
All the hype from OnePlus in the run-up to this launch has surrounded the camera. The tagline ‘Dual Camera. Clearer Photos’ is plastered across the box, plus all of the marketing materials, but does it really improve on an already great camera in the OnePlus 3T?
One is your regular sensor, which here is a Sony IMX 398 sensor with 16 megapixels and an f/1.7 lens. Next to it sits the telephoto lens, for 2x zoom, which is 20-megapixel with a much narrower f/2.6 aperture. It’s certainly an interesting setup, and I much prefer a dual-camera arrangement like this over Huawei’s monochrome and RGB pairing.
There’s so much packed into this camera, and while some bits aren’t great, there’s a lot to like.
Other camera features:
“Pro mode” gives more manual control for photographing and OnePlus included new tools like a histogram for adjusting ISO levels and white balance, and a leveler.
Camera still has time-lapse, slow-motion and panoramic shooting.
The camera does not have optical image stabilization, but it does have electronic image stabilization for video only.
On top of the 2x telephoto zoom, you can digitally zoom up to 8x.
Comfortable but not waterproof:
Though the 5 is still wider than my petite hands prefer and its bezels aren’t as sexily thin as the S8 and LG G6, its softer edges make it more comfortable to hold than last November’s 3T predecessor. I also dig the smaller and flatter camera footprint.
The Bottom Line: The OnePlus 5 is outstanding, especially for the price; no other phone gives you the same bang for the buck.
Is it perfect? No. But building a phone like this is always an exercise in compromise, and the balance that OnePlus struck among form, functionality and price is incredible. Whether this means OnePlus becomes a household name remains to be seen. For now though, it’s, clear that anyone looking for a high-powered smartphone should have the OnePlus 5 on her shortlist.
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