OnePlus has come a long way from the OnePlus One and its invite-only system. Now on its sixth smartphone release (the OnePlus 4 was skipped, but there’s a OnePlus X and 3T in between), expectations are higher than ever for the OnePlus 5. Here are my thoughts on the new flagship phone.
The look and feel
This newest OnePlus release is said to be the thinnest ever from the smartphone series. It’s a serious-looking device with the right weight to it, making it feel premium from every angle.
The OnePlus 5 comes in midnight black and slate gray. No rose gold or silver for this flagship device — in keeping with the phone’s no-nonsense persona and in line with the company’s promise of offering “devices with premium build quality and high-performance hardware.”
Noticeable is the change in placement of the cameras, which can now be found on the upper-left side of the rear. There is a slight camera bump, but it’s nothing compared to what the OnePlus 3 and 3T had. Personally, I couldn’t care less where the cameras are placed and how they look, so long as they take awesome snaps.
Admittedly, it looks very familiar, but I say you don’t need to deviate from a proven formula. In this case, the design still works as it has with other smartphones. I like how this phone feels in my hands; my tiny, girl hands have become used to holding phones with 5.5-inch Full HD displays — I’ve evolved to technology accordingly.
But seriously, the comfortable grip was made possible by sharpening the edges without overdoing it and hurting my hands in the process. It helps that the matte finish is smooth to the touch without feeling cheap by any measure.
The meat and bones
The OnePlus 5 runs on OxygenOS, which is a lightly skinned take on Android 7.1 Nougat. If you’ve used a OnePlus before — or watched our excellent hands-on video — you already know what you’re getting into. If not, rest assured it has all the basic Android functionality and fluidity, along with a few nifty tricks to lengthen battery life and customize on-screen shortcuts.
The bigger story, however, is its use of a Snapdragon 835 processor, which is the best possible chip you can find on any phone to date. Coupled with up to 8GB of memory and 128GB of integrated storage, you’re looking at the most well-equipped Android device in the market. This is the phone you want if you want to show off to your friends that you have the absolute best.
Its battery is similar to the OnePlus 3T, though software improvements promise 20 percent more efficiency in the use of that 3300mAh capacity. OnePlus’ version of fast charging, Dash Charge, is also back with an even greater promise: a whole day’s worth of power in just 30 minutes of charging time. I have yet to put that to the test during my short time with the phone, but if it’s any better than the previous generation of Dash Charge, I’m already sold on it.
The rear cameras
The pair of main cameras are the real stars of the OnePlus 5 show. Equipped with a 16- and 20-megapixel camera tandem, OnePlus offers a vastly improved photo-taking experiences over past phones. A great feature, and one we’ve been seeing on other smartphones as well, is the built-in portrait mode which results in great-looking photos like this. Notice the natural-looking bokeh mode.
The second lens isn’t just for show; in fact, you get 2X optical zoom and 8X zoom via software for the extra space it consumes.
For more serious shooters, a pro camera mode is available, which allows you to tweak photo settings. Personally, I’m more of a point-and-shoot type of girl, and OnePlus also has something for people in that department; the Smart Capture software supposedly adjusts depending on the scenario. I put that to the test:
The selfie camera
The single 16-megapixel front-facing camera did not disappoint, despite looking inferior to its rear-mounted counterpart at first. Its built-in beauty mode has a simple interface which allows you to toggle the level of beautification you’d want applied to your photo.
I loved the beauty mode on this selfie camera. Other smartphones tend to overdo the beauty blur, and although you end up with no blemishes, you also wind up with no nose. The OnePlus 5 smoothens out your face to varying degrees, but the effect isn’t so intense to leave you looking alien-like or plastic-y.
Auto HDR mode is also available on the front shooter, in case you simply want a prime selfie no matter what. What it does is improve the highlights and shadows even when there’s backlighting from a window or single light source. (Because we all deserve that brightness in our lives — no matter how dark some parts get!)
Marketed as practical phones for those who value money and performance, OnePlus has proven that a power-packed smartphone can come with a reasonable price tag. As a self-proclaimed selfie lover, OnePlus phones weren’t really on my top priority, until now.
With its good track record for quality and adding this new focus on cameras, it seems OnePlus’ new equation for a flagship smartphone is something I am totally on board with.
OnePlus’ company motto is “Never Settle,” and it seems they’re making good on that promise with each and every phone they release.
Pricing and availability is a comprehensive list not worth writing twice, so head on over to our launch story to know the when, where, and how much of the OnePlus 5.