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.
Sony WH-1000XM2 hands-on: A new experience
Old tracks feel new when you listen on these headphones
Using the Sony WH-1000XM2 is an experience I didn’t know I needed until I put them on. I felt a sort of transformation in myself and in the kind of headphones I look for.
Disclaimer checklist before we proceed:
- I’m not an audio expert.
- This isn’t a full review.
- I’m just sharing the experience — which is really something else.
It was love both at first sight and sound. The Sony WH-1000XM2 is a sleek stunner, especially this particular unit we’re testing. It’s black all over with only the Sony logo and left and right ear indicators as the parts that are colored.
The power button and noise cancellation/ambient button, as well as the 3.5mm port, all have labels, too. Although I did wish there was some sort of highlight, a little colored part around these buttons and the port so they’re easier to find would’ve been great.
That aside, it looks great, but of course you want to know more about how it performs, right?
I’m actually wearing the headphones as I write this. Not because I want to listen to music, but because it helps a lot in drowning out the background noise. It’s great for when you want to focus and don’t have immediate access to a quiet room.
You don’t have to remove the headphones to turn off noise cancellation. You can either put your right hand over the right ear to allow ambient noise or press the noise cancellation/ambient button on the left side.
However, to truly appreciate what this baby can do, I strongly suggest listening to some pretty darn good tracks.
Familiar songs transform
I’m the type who enjoys an hour or two just sitting or lying down somewhere, quietly listening and really absorbing songs. If you’re like me, you will absolutely love the Sony WH-1000XM2.
That’s exactly what I did one night after I got these headphones. (And a few more nights, if I’m being completely honest.) It felt like experiencing the songs again for the first time. These headphones had me feeling so fly, I actually turned into a white guy. See photo below:
Suddenly, older tracks like “Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)” by Incubus — which I have listened to countless times before — felt new again.
I turned up Craig David’s “7 Days” and my sexy meter suddenly went off the charts. So much so that I felt like I could ask anyone out and they would say yes! I did that. Didn’t go well, but that’s a story for another time.
Old tracks feel new
I wanted to know what more it could do to certain songs. I remembered listening to some that had the feel of the sound traveling from left to right, vice versa, and then just all around your head.
I crowdsourced on Facebook and Twitter for songs of this nature and my friends did not disappoint. I didn’t expect to get classic, old-school rock suggestions but those dominated the suggestions.
Tracks like “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Come Together” by The Beatles, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen straight up took me home. These are songs I often listened to as a child who had absolutely no clue what these people were singing about.
“Stairway to Heaven,” with the acoustic guitar intro starting off from your left ear and then just an echo of it from your right just before the mellotron flute comes in will touch you in ways you didn’t realize you could be touched.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was a strong recommendation by several friends. Apparently, it’s one of the best songs to listen to when you’re testing whatever audio device, so always have this on your phone. It didn’t disappoint. The song, listened to with the Sony WH-1000XM2, feels as powerful as ever.
When it gets to the “Galileo” part, that’s when it gets really interesting. Close your eyes and you’ll feel as if you’re surrounded by the band as they play the entire thing in all its glory.
If you decide to give these headphones a spin, I put the recommended songs in a playlist. It’s mostly rock and roll tracks but I put a few handpicked anime songs there if you’re into that.
You should also try this “Love is in the air” playlist, specially since it’s the love month and all.
Other bells and whistles
I forgot to mention that I felt all of that while listening via Bluetooth. The sound quality is insanely crispy — imagine if I had used the cable that came with it. My mind might have been blown in an instant.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 also comes with a carrying case. It neatly fits the headphones inside, as well as the cable.
The headphones also have non-visible controls on the right ear panel. Great idea, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Often times when I was trying to skip to the next track, I would wonder why the music stopped playing. Turns out, it paused instead of skipping.
The controls and gestures might take a while to get used to but during my test, I never really gravitated towards using them. I would mostly adjust the volume or skip a track on my phone or laptop.
Video editing, podcasts, video games
I switched back to my normal self once I started using the headphones for work.
The ear-opening, near-mind-boggling experience listening to music translates well to other tasks. I could clearly hear any unnatural sound from what I was editing which made applying changes easier for me.
I also played NBA 2K18 and Shadow of the Colossus with these headphones on. It was funny hearing the players’ voices better while on the court. Shadow of the Colossus is a pretty quiet game but has great scoring as it changes moods from when you’re just wandering to when you’re trying to take down a colossus. With the headphones on, you really feel the intensity of the battle and it helps get you on your toes and immerse you in what you’re playing.
If I had my way, I would keep the Sony WH-1000XM2 all to myself. As someone who works with video and audio a lot, and someone who enjoys sitting back and just absorbing good music, this is the exact pair of headphones I would want.
They sound great, look amazing, and battery power lasted long! I only had to charge once in about a week. That’s considering I used the headphones a lot for both work and play.
As far as wireless, noise-canceling headphones are concerned, the Sony WH-1000XM2 set the bar high for me.
Treblab X2 Hands-On: Give in-ear headphones a chance
For people done with wires getting magically tangled
In-ear headphones aren’t exactly stylish and there’s always this fear that you’ll easily lose either one. I used the Treblab X2 for roughly three weeks and this is how it went.
Before we proceed, I need to get a few things out of the way. This is by no means an expert review; I’m nowhere near an audio expert; I’m just like a lot of you — a casual listener who enjoys a good tune or two. With that said, let’s go.
When Apple’s AirPods were first announced, it wasn’t received warmly. Two small in-ear headphones sticking out your ear is not exactly a good look. It also didn’t look secure and appeared like one might fall off at any given moment.
These concerns remain true today, even for other in-ear headphones. I did a quick poll on Instagram stories to ask people if they dig the look of the Treblab X2. It was a landslide victory for the no votes.
While taking photos for this article, our Creative Director Chay even said, “It looks like there are tiny hammers sticking out of your ear.”
I have to admit, in the beginning, I shared this opinion. Not anymore.
The Treblab X2’s hammer-like design actually helps in keeping the headphones inside your ear. It’s something our Lifestyle Editor Isa isn’t too fond off, but it doesn’t bother me.
I had these on while doing some light basketball shooting drills for a little over an hour and not once did it feel like they were going to fall off. Those drills involve a lot of running and jumping, but even then, the Treblab X2 stayed firmly in place.
It also has an IPX4 rating which means it can withstand body sweat and even a little rain.
I did get weird looks from some people as I made my way to the basketball court. It went on as I was going through the drills. It may take a while before people are used to seeing in-ear headphones out and about.
Inside the box are, of course, the two in-ear headphones. Each one has two buttons and are labeled L and R at the bottom tip so you know which one goes where.
It also comes with a charging dock that doubles as a carrying case. The dock can provide one full charge for each earbud. There’s a carrying strap for the dock so it’s easier to grab.
You’ll also find three sizes of silicone eartips, three sizes of expandable foam eartips, and three sizes of X-Drop ear-fins so you can find the one that works best for you.
Pairing is a breeze. Turn on the right earbud first. When you turn the left one on, it should immediately connect to the right earbud.
Press and hold the power button for about four to five seconds. If you have them on, you should hear a voice prompt say “pairing.” Otherwise, there is an LED light indicator that should blink red and blue to indicate the device is ready for pairing.
The Treblab X2 is made of beryllium — it’s the same material used in other high-end sound devices. How exactly does it perform?
In a word: Fantastic.
I’ve had a rough go with previous wireless headphones. The previous two or three I used didn’t quite live up to their billing and would quickly disconnect from the device even if I’m about 10 or 15 feet away. That’s not the case with the Treblab X2.
It can be paired with two devices and has a range of 38 feet or roughly around 11.5 meters. Once turned on, it pairs to your preferred device right away. There were moments when I would wonder why no sound was coming from my phone. I didn’t realize they quickly connected to the Treblab, but that’s just me being stupid.
The pairing and quick connection is key for me since I’ve used Bluetooth headphones wherein the connection didn’t feel seamless. It’s a little detail that users should not have to worry about and Treblab does it well.
How about sound quality?
As mentioned earlier, I am by no means an audio expert. However, I do deal with audio a lot. I have been in the business of video production for roughly five to six years now (yikes, I’m old), so it’s imperative I always have a good pair of headphones with me to make sure audio is good for publishing.
It produces a clear and loud enough sound that I can maintain focus despite editing in a noisy environment. But it’s not too loud that it would hurt my ears.
The bass doesn’t come at you with full force. Using the Treblab X2 feels more like watching a low-key gig at a bar than being in a jam-packed coliseum concert.
Its passive noise cancellation is great for when you still want to hear what’s going on around you despite having the headphones on. That’s perfect since I also use them while walking to and from work.
I still need to hear if there’s anything coming my way despite “Sugar We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy blasting in my ear.
In case you were wondering, I like listening to upbeat tracks while walking so I can keep my pace up. Here’s my playlist if you want to give a try.
Its battery is supposed to last for up to 10 hours. During my test, it actually felt like it lasted longer. I’ve gone two days without charging and I usually use it for roughly six hours per day.
I don’t recommend having it on for longer than four hours. Make sure you let your ears breathe after two or three hours of use. That goes for any in-ear headphones.
Will I use it even after completing this hands-on review? The answer is yes. It does everything I need it to do and accompanies me while playing ball or walking home.
The Treblab X2 performs probably better than you would expect from any wireless in-ear headphones. The look might put some people off, but if you’re after headphones you can use while working out, this is a solid option.
If, like me, you’re fed up with wires magically getting tangled inside your pocket, I would give the Treblab X2 a chance.
GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison
Is the GoPro HERO 6 worth the upgrade?
It’s been a while since GoPro introduced a new HERO camera, and Kevin from the GadgetMatch team took the company’s latest offering to his travels.
The HERO 6 Black has the same exterior design as its predecessor the HERO 5 Black, but brings some improvements on the inside, including stabilization and higher frame rates.
In this video, we try to answer questions you might have: Should you upgrade to the HERO 6? Or should you buy the now more affordable HERO 5 Black?
GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison
Which is the action camera for you?
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