The OnePlus 5: Still A Flagship Killer?

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Our love for flagship devices will never end. Adding to the list of flagship devices we’ve reviewed, today we’ll be looking at the OnePlus 5. The OnePlus 5 was officially launched in June 2017. The issue was that since there’s no authorized distributor for Sri Lanka, very few stores had the device in Sri Lanka. We managed to get one for review to see if it still holds the title of being a flagship killer.

The Packaging

You lift the lid off the box, you will find your OnePlus 5 seated snugly in its compartment. You will need to take the phone out to access the inner compartment that is under the phone tray. In the inner compartment, you will find a SIM ejector tool, a quick start guide, a Charger and a USB Type-C cable.

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The Packaging and Contents of the OnePlus 5

You also get a small card with an image on it that was supposedly shot by a OnePlus 5. We haven’t seen any other phone manufacturer do this and we thought it was pretty cool. Now that the packaging is out, it was time to get to what we really wanted to see.

Hands-on with a Killer, a flagship killer

At first glance, it’s quite easy to mistake the OnePlus 5 for its predecessor, the OnePlus 3. Both devices are more or less the same size and if it wasn’t for the bezels on the OnePlus 3, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two phones. Holding the OnePlus 5 in your hand certainly, does make an impression as the device looks extremely sleek.
Making sure things are as good as they look is a 5.5” Full HD Optic AMOLED display that is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. This means that the display on the OnePlus 5 can withstand minor bumps and scratches from things such as your keys or sand particles that may otherwise scrape the screen.

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The front of the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

The front of the OnePlus 5 is completely free of any and all branding. Located at the top of the display is the ambient light sensor, the notification LED and the front camera. Moving towards the lower end of the device, you will find the fingerprint sensor which also acts as the home button. We’ll talk about the fingerprint sensor later on, but let’s just say it’s blazingly fast.

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The faster fingerprint scanner? Possibly, yes.
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

At the bottom of the OnePlus 5, you will find the speaker, Type-C connector for charging and data transfer and also a 3.5mm audio jack. This means that you don’t need to have converters of any sort. Just plug in your favourite pair of earphones, and you’re good to go.

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The bottom of the OnePlus 2
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

Turning the phone over is how one can truly differentiate between the OnePlus 5 and its previous editions. Located at the top left corner are dual 16MP cameras protected by glass to prevent scratches. Next, to the camera, you will find the microphone (for rear camera recording) along with a LED that acts as a flash or a torch.

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The back of the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

You also see the OnePlus logo etched towards the middle of the phone. the entire back is vaguely reminiscent of an iPhone 7 which made us wonder if OnePlus is copying Apple. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The Hardware – The best of the best?

What good is a flagship if it only talks the talk and can’t walk the walk, right? Well, powering the OnePlus 5 is Qualcomm’s latest flagship Snapdragon 835 chipset with an Octa-core processor. The cores are set up in a 4*2 manner much like most flagship smartphones. Simply put, you have one set of cores to handle all the heavy duty stuff, and another set of cores to handle all your routine tasks such as your everyday needs.

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The power of Snapdragon
Image credits: TechnoBuffalo

To make sure that you have all the resources you need to launch all your apps, the OnePlus 5 has two variants. One has 6GB of RAM and the other has 8GB RAM. When you take into consideration that most PCs nowadays come with either 4 or 8GB of RAM, it really makes you stop and think. If you’re a heavy gamer on the go, the Adreno 540 graphics chip ensures your games will be smooth and pretty. We tried Need for Speed and the new Asphalt along with a touch of N.O.V.A and a few others and the overall impression was that the OnePlus 5 is indeed a true player.

OnePlus 5With regard to the display, Colors are more vibrant and everything just looks so much better. That’s the power of AMOLED for you. In addition, it’s also big on saving battery. For example, if your wallpaper is black, the pixels in the corresponding areas of the wallpaper will actually turn off, thus saving battery for you to last the entire day. At maximum brightness, the screen looks really good and we wish that OnePlus had bumped up the screen resolution to a 2K screen, but alas, it was not to be.

In terms of storage, you’re looking at either 64GB of storage with 6GB of RAM or 128GB of storage with the variant with 8GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there is no slot for expandable storage. You can, however, keep your files on the cloud but it would have been nice if OnePlus added a MicroSD slot as well.

In terms of connectivity, you get WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC as well. The latter can be used for payments at your local store if they have it. You can also use NFC to “beam” or send content such as images and audio files to other devices with NFC by simply tapping the two devices together. There’s no FM radio included but if you have a Spotify account or a Google Play Music account, then you can use those to stream your music on the go. You can also make use of the Dirac HD sound codec to make sure you hear them the way they were meant to be heard.

The Software – A breath of new life

Giving life to the OnePlus 5 is OxygenOS 4.5.10. If you haven’t used a OnePlus device before, OxygenOS is essentially vanilla (stock) Android with few added tweaks. It gives you the same experience as a Google Nexus or Pixel device would. The first thing you notice about the interface is that it is extremely smooth. From swiping up for the app drawer to swiping down for notifications, to opening apps, minimizing apps and switching between apps, everything is butter smooth and lag free.Since the OnePlus 5’ OxygenOS is based on Android 7.1 Nougat, you also have some cool features such as split screen apps and also enhanced battery optimization.

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The Launcher on the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

In terms of customizability, it begins from the launcher itself. Previous OnePlus users will instantly recognize the shelf feature. The shelf is accessible by swiping left. It offers a number of functionalities such as a quick notes widget, favorite contacts and apps and also a weather app that can be expanded to show more details when selected. If you don’t like the shelf, it can easily be disabled. If you don’t like the icons on the launcher, those too can be changed by installing a third party icon pack and you can even change individual icons as well.

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The Shelf and advanced features of the OnePlus Launcher
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

Delving further into customizability, you can change elements such as the order of quick settings tiles, and even the order of the hardware keys. For that extra touch, you can even change the accent of the interface from a range of included colors. This essentially changes the colors of the icons in the Settings section and also changes accents for things like messages etc. It’s not exactly in your face where everything changes, but they are subtle changes that are quite appealing.

The Camera – Two Lenses, One capture

Now this was something we were eagerly awaiting to get our hands on. As we said earlier, the OnePlus 5 sports a dual camera setup. The primary lens is a 16MP camera with an aperture of f/1.7. This means photos can be taken without being too exposed. The second lens acts as a telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.6. Both these lenses are combined to offer you the ability to zoom into your subject while retaining the original quality. Granted, it’s nowhere as close to what a DSLR camera can do, but it’s pretty good at what it does.

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The dual camera layout on the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

In addition, the camera on the OnePlus 5 also supports a Portrait mode. This again makes use of both lenses e So you can place your subject in the foreground of the image and then blur out the background, adding a bokeh effect. Given below are two examples of the camera on the OnePlus 5.

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Captured without the Telephoto Lens
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha
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Captured with the Telephoto Lens
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

In addition, the OnePlus 5 also features a number of other camera modes such as hyperlapse, panorama, slow-mo and a pro mode. When in pro mode, you have access to a spirit level and full manual controls of the camera. This allows you to control settings such as shutter speed, exposure and ISO levels, focus distance etc.

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The various modes of the camera on the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

The rear camera on the OnePlus 5 is also able to shoot videos in a variety of flavors. You can take your pick from 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 30/60fps, and 720p at 30/120fps, videos are extremely clear and quite detailed as well. Playback was a pleasure due to the AMOLED display and we had a lot of fun with the slow-mo mode at 120FPS.

The front camera of the OnePlus 5  packs a 16MP lens with an aperture of f/2.0. The front camera too is quite clear when taking photos. In the event that the surroundings are dark, you can actually set the camera to use a flash. This is where the screen flashes white for a moment before the image is captured to add the effect of a flash. It works out pretty well.

Benchmarks – Putting the Pedal to the metal

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. We used a number of apps to benchmark the OnePlus 5 against some of the other flagships in the market. Without further ado, here’s how the OnePlus 5 compared against its competitors.

Antutu 6.2.7

Antutu is currently our most favorite benchmark to run because it stresses almost all elements of a smartphone and then compares it against other devices. A full test takes around 5 minutes and you’re given a detailed look at the end.

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A snapshot of Antutu running

Racking up a score of 179,208 puts the OnePlus 5 squarely ahead of almost all flagship devices currently released. It outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and also beats the Apple iPhone 7. It also trades blows with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as they both share the same chipset (the Exynos chip is pretty much equal as well).

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Antutu scores *woot woot*Captured without the Telephoto Lens
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

3D Mark

3D Mark is usually used to benchmark Desktop graphics cards.So we thought why not run it on a phone as well? The test takes around 3-4 minutes where it first renders an entire scene and then plays it back with an FPS counter and a comparison chart at the end. Given below are the results.

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3D Mark making its mark

AndroBench

This is a benchmark used to check the storage of a smartphone. It measures random and sequential read and write speeds. So the higher the number, the faster your device can read and write media. We compared the OnePlus5 against a OnePlus Two for comparison and the results are given below.

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AndroBench results are in

Battery Life

This is another key factor when it comes to smartphones. The OnePlus 5 comes with a non-removeable 3300mAh battery that supports Dash Charging. Compared to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge protocol, Dash Charge (known as VOOC and licensed from Oppo) delivers a cooler charging environment so you can still play your favorite games or watch a few episodes of a TV show and not worry about your phone battery overheating.

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The Dash charger provided with the OnePlus 5
Image Credits: Kaushalya Prabuddha

Whilst Qualcomm uses higher voltages to charge batteries, Dash Charge or VOOC delivers a higher amperage, thus resulting in a cooler environment. The only drawback being that you will have to use a OnePlus certified charger to make use of Dash Charging.

In terms of charging, OnePlus notes that the Oneplus 5 can go from 0-60% charge in a little under 35 minutes. We tried our own experiment and found that the OnePlus 5 went from 15% to 25% in a little under two minutes and a full charge took around 45 minutes.

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The OnePlus 5 does seem to have good battery life

Battery usage too was quite satisfactory with us achieving around 6 hours of screen on time with a total of 15% battery remaining. Overall, with Dash Charging and a screen on time like this, you have more than enough juice to get through the day.

And that wraps it up with the OnePlus 5

Overall, the OnePlus 5 does have all the earmarks of a flagship of 2017. It offers robust performance and killer specs. It also has a matching price to boot. Then again, for around the LKR 75,000 price range, you’re highly unlikely to find a phone with these specifications. A Samsung Galaxy S8 retails for around the LKR 90,000 range and the Galaxy Note 8 is higher still. Even the iPhone 7 is around LKR 100,000.
The only issue is warranty and aftersales service. Since there is no authorized distributor or reseller in Sri Lanka, any place you purchase it from will manually have to get down any spare parts. This could mean that you have to wait extended periods of time in case any repairs are needed. You can choose to send it to OnePlus directly, but then you would have to pay for shipping etc.

In conclusion though, putting all these aside, the OnePlus 5 is indeed a good buy for that price. While a higher resolution screen would have been the icing on the cake, this cake is good enough to eat. While the OnePlus 5 does seem to be a flagship killer, it does so at a rather steep price than what we’re accustomed to with OnePlus such as the original OnePlus One.

Do you use a OnePlus 5? What are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment below.

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