In just over a year, we’ve seen three OnePlus smartphones-- the OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5. Because the number 4 is considered unlucky in China, there is no OnePlus 4. OnePlus skipped over entirely and went straight to 5. It’s the most powerful OnePlus device yet and gives many flagships like the Galaxy S8 a run for its money in terms of performance.
There are two models to choose from: the $479 variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, and the $539 variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. There is no microSD card slot for expandable storage so you’d want to make sure you select the model that has plenty of internal storage for all of your needs. On paper, the 8GB of RAM will blow your socks off. It’s twice as much RAM as the Galaxy S8 and the same amount of RAM that’s in my MacBook. My recommendation would be to buy the 8GB model for the 128GB internal storage and not so much for the RAM and performance game. The two models perform very similarly in the performance department. I’ve been reviewing OnePlus smartphones since OnePlus One and I can say that I’ve never had a problem with their performance. The OnePlus 5 is no exception. They have always been on the bleeding edge in responsiveness.
With the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, the OnePlus is one of the fastest smartphones on the market, aided by its near stock Android 7.1 OS. OnePlus’s OxygenOS is running on top of Nougat but you wouldn’t really notice that upon first impressions. You’ll see a shelf one swipe right from the home screen. It can be turned on or off. But basically, it’s just a panel that you can add widgets to and view recent apps and info. Once again, it can be disabled and removed if you do not like it. In addition, there are some gestures built into the launcher. There are gestures built into the entire operating system such as a double tap to wake, flip to mute, three fingers screenshot, and various drawing gestures to open apps of your choice. You can also customize the alert slider, the notifications and status bar. You can’t customize stock Android Nougat to the same degree so this phone will be great for those of you who love to tweak and fine tune your device.
The software appears to be well optimized too as I was able to get through a full day of moderate to heavy usage on a single charge. The 3300mAh battery is a good size given the dimensions of the phone. Dash charging can be used to charge the phone up to 60 percent in only 30 minutes and roughly an hour and 20 minutes from empty to full. It’s pretty impressive.
The performance and software continue to define OnePlus’ devices as evident by the OnePlus 5. The power and software are tucked inside a rather boring shell of the smartphone though. So the trend, so far, amongst these smartphone giants is to manufacture smartphones with razor-thin bezels. The OnePlus 5 didn’t exactly get that memo. They thought about it but it was just too expensive for them to accomplish this time around. As a result, we have two relatively thick top and bottom chins that are pretty standard on a lot of smartphones still.
The display itself is a 5.5-inch AMOLED display. But once again, it only features a 1080p resolution; a resolution that gets the job done but it just doesn’t impress. It doesn’t dazzle. Below the display are three capacitive touch navigation buttons. The home button doubles as a fingerprint scanner that is one of the fastest I have ever tested.
If we flip the phone over, we’ll start to see how the OnePlus 5 differs from the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T. It greatly resembles the iPhone 7 Plus with the Matte Black metal unibody build construction and antenna lines tucked away to the top and bottom of the phone. You’ll also see the dual camera sensors in the upper left hand corner, once again, similar to the iPhone 7 Plus; one sensor acts as a photo sensor while the other acts as a main shooter. The main shooter is a 16-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 aperture while the other is a 20-megapixel f/2.6 aperture sensor. And unfortunately, Optical Image Stabilization is missing. So in the settings, you can switch between the two sensors, depending on your environment and how close or far away your subject is. It’s pretty much the same layout as an iPhone 7 Plus.
OnePlus also has portrait mode that will artificially blur the background of a subject to create a milky depth of field image. This particular feature works pretty well when your subject is a human being. But for inanimate objects, it can fail to select which points to keep in focus and which points to blur. Still, it’s a very nice feature to have.
Overall, I was able to capture nice images that were well exposed in most scenarios. The OnePlus 5 has great dynamic range. The images I captured appeared to be natural in color and saturation. They didn’t appear to be overly saturated or fake, which some people might like; others, not so much. My biggest con with the cameras is the lack of Optical Image Stabilization.
The 16-megapixel front-facing camera sensor can capture more detail and unlike a front-facing sensor to capture. It works well for apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
I do like the physical alert slider on the left hand side of the phone. It’s nice to see it carried over from previous OnePlus devices. I also like the 3.5mm headphone jack and how well the phone feels in the hand. It’s really slippery but it feels really good, thanks in par to the tapered edges and premium build materials like glass and aluminum.
So the OnePlus 5 continues to impress in the core areas that make for a great smartphone and does so when factoring in the price. For $479 and $539, respectively, I think the OnePlus 5 can absolutely be worth it for some of you. If you like stock Android, you like to customize your phone and tweak every little thing, install third party launchers and app icons and widgets, you will love the flexibility and agility of the OnePlus 5. But for those of you on the fence about the OnePlus 5, you might want to wait and just see how the market unfolds. The maxed out variant is approaching the price of a flagship device from the likes of Samsung, LG, and Apple. You can spend a couple hundred dollars more on a device that has more bells and whistles: stereo speakers, waterproofing, microSD card slot for expandable storage, and/or an edge-to-edge QHD display. At the very least, it’s worth looking at the current promos offered by your carrier to see if there are any deals you can take advantage of. It’s also worth noting that the OnePlus 5 is only available on GSM carriers like T-Mobile or AT&T.