OnePlus 5 Review: Still A Potent Flagship Alternative

by John Nieves  July 10, 2017

We review the OnePlus 5!

OnePlus’ hasn’t stopped making waves in the industry ever since they introduced their first ever flagship killer, the OnePlus One. Now, 3 years after Pete Lau and Carl Pei founded the company and two years after their first ever device, the company has released their most ambitious flagship killer yet: the OnePlus 5. The new phone may be most expensive that they’ve ever released, but the higher price tag is worth the extra features and specs that you’re getting with the phone. Before we begin, let’s take a look at the specs for both versions of the phone below:

OnePlus 5 specs

  • 2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 540 GPU
  • 64GB/128GB of UFS 2.1 storage
  • 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 16-megapixel f/1.7 Sony IMX398 primary rear camera, 20-megapixel f/2.6 telephoto secondary camera, LED flash
  • 16-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 3300mAh battery, Dash Charge

Design isn’t as distinct as the OnePlus 3T, but it’s still a looker

OnePlus has traded the unique look that’s been the hallmark of its devices since their freshman offering. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case, with the company taking a more conventional approach in terms of overall design. The OnePlus 5 is thinner than the previous iteration, and still has a full metal build. An aggressive taper on the sides make the phone feel much thinner than it’s true 7.25mm thickness.

The antenna bands have now been moved to the top and bottom of the phone which is more aesthetically pleasing to our eyes, with the dual-rear camera tucked in the upper left corner of the phone. Fans of OnePlus’ distinct look may be a little disappointed to see the huge resemblance of the phone to the iPhone 7 Plus or OPPO’s R11.

Honestly that’s really not a huge deal for us, since that’s pretty much the de-facto design for most phones nowadays, but we would have liked it more if OnePlus tried a more distinct look, especially since their phone looks so much like the offering of their sister company.

There are a few things on the OnePlus 5’s design that we like – unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 has a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, though you’re not given a pair of cans when you purchase the phone. Aside from the usual power button and volume rocker, you’re also given a notification slider on the upper left side of the phone that controls, well, your notifications. Being able to silence your phone with a simple flick of a switch (without going through your phone’s screen) is something that other phone manufacturers need to emulate.

For people looking for distinct colors to show off their style with, we’re sorry – the OnePlus 5 only has two color options: Slate Grey and Midnight Black. The former is only available if you get the 6GB/64GB version of the phone, while the latter is available only if you pick up the 8GB/128GB version.

Considering the phone is being advertised as a flagship killer, it’s a little disappointing to learn that the display is a step back in terms of what other flagships are now offering. It’s just a full HD panel, which is a little quaint in a time where QHD panels are the norm for flagships and high-end phones.

With that out of the way, know that the display on the OnePlus 5 looks pretty damn amazing. That full HD panel has excellent color reproduction, saturation, black levels and brightness. It’s one of the best displays we’ve seen on a phone so far, and you really won’t notice that it has a full HD display most of the time.

Know also that our phone wasn’t affected by the infamous jelly-scrolling issue that’s plagued some users’ phones.

Specs that’ll blow your socks off

The OnePlus 5 has truly jaw-dropping hardware inside of it: Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 835 processor and a choice of either 64GB/128GB of storage, and either 6GB/8GB of RAM. Even if you get the less expensive version, the OnePlus 5 feels freaking fast thanks to the hardware inside of it. We reviewed the 8GB/128GB version, and nothing that we did made the phone slow down in any appreciable way. Phones with 8GB of RAM are still pretty rare nowadays, and the OnePlus 5 is one of the more affordable one currently floating in the market today.

As a result of the insane hardware in the OnePlus 5, the phone feels fast – apps loaded and opened quickly, scrolling through the UI was fast and snappy and we didn’t have any kind of problems at all with the phone. It’s the perfect smartphone for gaming too, since most, if not all, Android games work well with it without any issues at all. That ginormous amount of RAM also means that you can have more apps open and running in the background before the phone needs to start closing them. The only thing we don’t like is the lack of expandable storage for the phone.

A small note on benchmarks: OnePlus has again been accused of fudging benchmark scores, though Carl Pei has issued his own explanation why their phone suddenly switches to high gear once it detects a benchmarking application. It’s up to you to decide if OnePlus is being duplicitous or if they’re being genuine.

The OnePlus 5 also has the company’s OxygenOS, based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Despite the death of Cyanogen, OnePlus has done a lot of work with it, and generally OxygenOS gives users a ton of customization options that allow them to make their phone their own. OxygenOS is also not a bloat-ware ridden mess, which we like, a lot.

As for the other stuff – the fingerprint scanner is quick and responsive, and is probably one of the fastest we’ve used in a phone so far. Sound quality out of the single speaker is good, even at high volumes. LTE and wireless performance is top notch, and we found no issues at all with voice and texts sent to and from the phone.

Great camera that’s good enough for everyone

Just like other brands today, OnePlus has switched to a dual-camera setup for their latest flagship. Their setup is a little different though, in the sense that the main camera has a lower resolution than the secondary, zoom camera – 16-megapixels compared to 20-megapixels for the 2x zoom camera. Before we dive into the photo samples, let’s talk a little about the two lenses on the rear-camera setup: the primary shooter is a 16-megapixel deal with an f/1.7 aperture and electronic image stabilization, while the secondary camera has an optical zoom lens set at 1.6x and an aperture of f/2.6. The rest of the 0.4x zoom in the 2x zoom capabilities advertised by OnePlus is handled by their SmartCapture multiframe tech.

Primary camera
Zoom lens
Primary camera
Zoom lens

Image quality is generally good, though we still prefer the output of the stuff from Samsung’s Galaxy S8. Regardless, images from both cameras are sharp and crisp when shot in places that have plenty of light, though exposure for the zoom camera is a little off in some instances. We like how the photos have the right amount of color saturation and isn’t too oversharpened.

In low light the zoom lens is a little lacking because of its aperture setting and lack of image stabilization.

It’s a beast that’ll last you the day

With such hard-hitting hardware, battery endurance is a genuine concern for most people with the OnePlus 5. Thankfully, longevity isn’t something that OnePlus compromised on with the new device – our PCMark battery benchmark pegs the battery life of the OnePlus 5 at more than 8 hours. Actual use supported that score, with the OnePlus 5 having enough juice for a typical work day with a little left over for a nightcap. If you suddenly find yourself running out of juice, the Dash Charger will give your phone around 60% of battery in just 30 minutes from 0%. That’s insanely fast.

Verdict: Still a potent killer

All in all, the OnePlus 5 still retains its reputation as a potent flagship killer. And yes, there will be people who will say that the new phone is quite a bit more than the previous devices in OnePlus’ lineup, but honestly you’ll be hard pressed to find a device that offers more value for your money than the OnePlus 5. There are a few compromises here and there, but on the whole the OnePlus 5 is one of the best phones you can buy if you’re looking for a beastly device and don’t have a lot of cash to drop.

A big shout out to Widget City for letting us borrow the OnePlus 5 for a few days. You can buy it through their store here.

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    Konti lang naman difference nila sa Apple at Samsung. Its not like they price their products aggressively.