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A first hands on with the OnePlus 5: A clear title contender

With an ever-increasing price tag, OnePlus has launched the fourth iteration of its self-styled flagship killer - the OnePlus 5. We had the chance to test the 128GB internal memory and 8GB RAM version of the OnePlus 5, which shows that OnePlus clearly has left little to desire in terms of specs. The software side of the OnePlus 5 leaves some questions open, as we encountered some issues, though this could be down to the fact that our review device wasn't running the final software. 

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OnePlus 5 release date and price

The 64GB internal memory and 6GB RAM version of the OnePlus 5 will cost $479, while the 128GB internal memory and 8GB RAM version will cost $539. The price jump between the two different memory variants is surprisingly low, especially when compared to other manufacturers. The OnePlus 5 will be available in two colors: Midnight Black and Slate Gray. The 128GB version is only available in Midnight Black and the 64GB version only in Slate Gray.

So how do you pre-order the OnePlus 5? OnePlus gave out the code "Clearer Photos" during its keynote presentation, which will let you pre-order the OnePlus 5 on the oneplus.net website.

If you are in New York, you can get your hands on the OnePlus 5 in the pop-up store from 7:00 PM on June 20, 2017. It will be available elsewhere on June 21, 2017 in the pop-up stores in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Helsinki and Copenhagen. The OnePlus 5 will be available for everyone on June 27, 2017. 

OnePlus 5 global prices

Country 64GB version 128GB version
US $479 $539
UK  £449  £499
India ₹32,999 ₹37,999 

OnePlus 5 design and build quality

When you see photos of the OnePlus 5, it looks extremely similar to iPhone 7. But the moment you hold the OnePlus 5 in your hand, you can feel the difference. The OnePlus 5 feels significantly more ergonomic as the back and the edges are more curved than the iPhone 7. The OnePlus 5 also lacks the massive camera bulge that the iPhone 7 Plus has, but the device still has a slight wobble when it rests flat on a surface thanks to its slightly curved back. 

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The back of the OnePlus 5 with its slight curve  / © AndroidPIT

The display is made of Gorilla Glass 5, which is meant to protect it from scratches and potential dropping. The soft aluminium frame, on the other hand, will likely show signs of age relatively quickly. Our review device came with a protective case, which did a great job protecting the aluminium surface as well as the 2.5D edges of the display. 

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The design similarities between the OnePlus 5 and the iPhone 7 Plus / © AndroidPIT

During its production run, OnePlus tested a portion of its OnePlus 5 devices for water resistance. In this process, phones were submerged in a water bath for 20 seconds. Although there is no IP certification for this, the OnePlus 5 should be well protected against penetrating water for a short period of time. 

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The flatter camera bump of the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 5 display

The Full-HD display continues to rely on an AMOLED panel. The color brilliance is increased by sRGB or DCI-P3 profiles. OnePlus enhances the display settings with additional features such an Auto Night Mode and a Reading Mode.

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The Oxygen skin is quite similar to stock Android / © AndroidPIT

While other smartphone manufacturers already offer significantly higher resolutions, OnePlus still relies on relatively simple display technology. Instead, they opted to optimize the software-side of display. As mentioned above, a Reading Mode has been integrated, which uses gray-scale mapping (this switches the display to black and white), filters out blue light and adjusts the sharpness and brightness of the display with the help of an ambient sensor. We've noticed that the minimum display brightness of the Huawei Mate 9 or the Xiaomi Mi 6 was noticeably lower than that of the OnePlus 5.

The display of the OnePlus 5 has excellent automatic brightness control. It works quickly and gives the impression that the display always has the same brightness; Whether in dark interior spaces or in the sunny outdoors.

OnePlus 5 special features

The OnePlus 2 already had a slider to mute the smartphone and the OnePlus 5 continues with this trend. It's an unusual feature to see on Android smartphones, and is more than just a nod to Apple. The Alert Slider lets you set your phone to Silent, Do Not Disturb, and Ring. You can also individually customize the settings as well.

The OnePlus 5 has room for two nano SIM cards and apparently supports all available LTE (4G) frequency bands. If you are Verizon or Sprint customer, your going to have a little bit of an issue as it seems the OnePlus 5 does not support CDMA. The OnePlus 5 will also be shipped carrier-unlocked, so you won't be bound to any one carrier. 

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The Alert Slider has three settings on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT
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The OnePlus 5 has space for two nano SIM cards / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 5 software

The OnePlus 5 currently runs on Oxygen OS 4.5.0 which is based in Android 7.1.1. When we were testing the device, it seemed like the Software wasn't 100% final, so I would like to hold back my final verdict. I encountered several bugs, which caused unreliable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, battery performance issues due to ongoing background services as well as multiple other issues which were difficult to consistently reproduce. 

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The OnePlus 5 running on Oxygen OS 4.5.0, which is based in Android 7.1.1. / © AndroidPIT

When the final software version is released, Oxygen will be one of the most beautiful and thought-out Android flavors on the market. There is a dark mode that wraps the menus in a white-on-black theme. There is a Do not disturb mode for gaming where you can turn off notifications from certain apps (never be disturbed again by annoying pop-up notifications), There is a locker for apps and files, and the familiar Gestures - which you can use to open apps from a locked or deactivated screen. Another useful feature is the ability to natively take full page screenshots. More features can also be expected to roll out with the next updates.

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The Google Assistant is waiting for your command on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

As with previous OnePlus devices, unlocking the Bootloader (rooting) and installing Custom ROMs will not void the warranty. For more information on this topic, head to the OnePlus warranty page

The software interface comes across as quite pure and feels relatively faithful to Google. The OnePlus Launcher is in large extent quite similar to the Pixel Launcher and the Google Assistant is also ready out of the box. The pre-installed apps are limited to Google Apps and a OnePlus Community app.

OnePlus 5 performance

Performance and camera quality were the development focus of the OnePlus engineers. As a result, the OnePlus 5 is one of the fastest smartphones on the market. Both synthetic benchmarks and real-world performance show that OnePlus really did its homework. 

Since the firmware - at the time of this review - seemed like it wasn't ready and it was called 4.4.21-perf +, I wouldn't take the current benchmark results too seriously. However, it can be said that thanks to the 8GB LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 memory, all load times are shorter than on most other smartphones.

In combination with the new Wi-Fi and LTE antennas in the Snapdragon chip set, the data transmission speed is the fastest you can get in any currently available smartphone. In practice, I was able to download a 50MB app within three seconds via Wi-Fi (5GHz) and install and run in another four seconds. For everything else, there is still Bluetooth 5.0.

Benchmarks: OnePlus 5 vs Galaxy S8

  3D Mark Sling Shot Extrme ES 3.1 3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0 Geek Bench Single Core Geek Bench Multi Core PC Mark Work 2.0 PC Mark Storage
OnePlus 5 3341 4337 39419 1944 6666 6545 5044
Samsung Galaxy S8 3174 3217 27330 1983 6402 6135 4644

The huge memory makes sure that once started, apps can stay almost permanently in the RAM. This means that they do not have to be reloaded when they are called up again. In theory, this should reduce the power consumption, as it's very rare that an app has to be loaded a second time. It must be said though, that we didn't see the promised energy-saving effect in our tests yet. On the other hand, we did notice the performance improvement, especially when we were multitasking with multiple apps.   

We mentioned above that we had issues with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which were difficult to replicate. The errors tended to occur in connection with a Speedport Smart Router (from the German Telekom), and with the Huawei Watch 2 running Android Wear 2. 

OnePlus 5 audio

OnePlus didn't jump on the stereo train, so the OnePlus 5 only has mono-sound from a single loudspeaker at the bottom of the phone. The call quality is assisted by noise suppression, which helps you understand conversations even in noisy environments. The OnePlus 5 also retains its headphone jack, which is something the rumors ahead of the launch had speculated would be dropped. The OnePlus 5 delivers good sound thanks to the equalizer and Dirac HD. If you opt for Bluetooth headphones, you'll be pleased to know that your music and calls will sound equally good thanks to aptX HD.

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The call quality on the OnePlus 5 is good thanks to the noise suppression / © AndroidPIT
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The headphone jack has survived on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 5 camera

The second development focus of the OnePlus 5 was the cameras. The new model has a dual camera as its main camera. One of them has 20MP, while the other shoots with 16MP. This allows for a real 2x zoom, and some interesting depth of field effects in the focus mode. 

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Using the manual focus mode on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

Technically speaking, the rear camera is a Sony IMX 398 with 16MP, 1.12 μm pixels, f / 1.7 aperture and electronic image stabilization, and a Sony IMX 350 with 20MP with 1.0 μm and f / 2.6 aperture. The rear camera also has a two-color LED flash, but no laser focus. Instead of the laser focus, the camera uses a manual focus and/or phase detection.  

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The pro mode allows you to shoot in RAW on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

Photos can also be saved in RAW format, however this slows down the saving process noticeably. Videos can be recorded in 4k 30 fps, 1080p 60 or 30 fps as well as in 720p 30 fps. You can take Slow Motion videos in 720p with 120 fps, as well as Time lapse videos in HD or Full-HD. In our test, the electronic stabilization only worked up to 1080p with 30 fps. The Google Pixel manages to do considerably better here. 

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A double camera and lossless zoom on the OnePlus 5  / © AndroidPIT

For selfie fans, the front facing camera is a Sony IMX 371 with 16MP, 1.0 μm with a  f / 2.0 aperture. The front facing camera also has the Qualcomm electronic stabilization and can shoot videos in 1080p and 30 fps. For reasons that may be, you can now also take time lapse videos with the front facing camera, though I haven't found an appropriate use for that yet. The videos are encoded in h.264; for the Audio OnePlus uses AAC at 96 kbit/s, and everything ends up in a MP4 container. 

The default camera app of the OnePlus 5 is is simple and easy to understand. When you open it (which can also be done through a double tap of the power button), you end up in the automatic mode. If you then press the shutter button or half the volume rocker, an image is shot. This feature shoots photos lightning fast and almost always works on the first try. 

If you're using basic photo mode, you can tap the 1x button to switch the zoom level to 2x. In doing so, you switch from one lens to the other. A bonus: the gained zoom is lossless. 

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The bokeh on the OnePlus 5 isn't great / © AndroidPIT

Many phones have a bokeh filter in their so-called portrait modes, and the OnePlus 5 isn't an exception here. The OnePlus 5 tries to directly compete with the Huawei P10 / Plus and the iPhone 7 with its portrait mode but unfortunately, it's not better than its competition. As you can see in the photo above, portrait mode seems to have problems with the edges of objects with a similar color palette. The bokeh effect also leaves much to be desired. 

We will postpone our final test and comparison with competitors of the OnePlus 5 until OnePlus delivers its first major software patch. Filters are often adjusted and post-processing of images is reworked. We wanted to ensure that all smartphone photos are taken under the same conditions.

Until we do a detailed test of the camera, you can watch the following video from the The Verge. In it, OnePlus' CEO Carl Pei and Image Director Simon Liu explain the development of the OnePlus 5 camera (skip to 4:30).

OnePlus 5 battery

As already mentioned in the performance section, I would like to hold back from forming a final verdict here. Some wakelocks in the background caused an increased battery consumption in stand-by. On a different day of testing, the display somehow managed to switch itself on and burnt through the battery power. 

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The battery power curve drops relatively quickly on the OnePlus 5 / © AndroidPIT

What I can say is that Dash Charge is amazing. Unfortunately, the fast-charging technology is as proprietary as a technology can be. Both the oversized Dash Charger and the thick red cable are not interchangeable with products from other manufacturers, unless you want to forgo the Dash Charging effect. 

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The Dash Charger for the OnePlus 5 is quick - but irreplaceable  / © AndroidPIT

In a separate test that we undertook, Dash Charging was by far the quickest of all charging technologies. Half an hour of charging was enough to bring the OnePlus 5 up to 60% of its battery. The charging speed did slow down noticeably when it hit the last 20% but no other phone could match the charging speed. 

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OnePlus' quick charging technology is the best / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 5 technical specifications

Dimensions: 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
Weight: 153 g
Battery size: 3300 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Front camera: 16 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 7.1.1 - Nougat
User interface: Oxygen OS
RAM: 6 GB
8 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB
128 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.45 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0

Early Verdict

The OnePlus 5 has the potential to be legendary. It looks great, is fast, takes good pictures and could have a good battery. Unfortunately, the test device we received was optimized for performance to the detriment of the battery as it let background services run for so long that the battery was dead by midday. We expect patches to solve this issue and improve our everyday impressions. If it can plug the right leaks, the OnePlus 5 will be the smartphone of the year. 

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