If you are on a tighter budget, or better still, an owner of something like OnePlus 3T or even the OnePlus 3, there really is no need to loosen those purse strings, says Himanshu Juneja. Here's why
OnePlus has remarkably released one 'flagship killer' phone after another. The Chinese startup firm has successfully combined killer specifications with mid-range pricing to keep its nose above the competition. Now, it is ready with its fifth handset -- the OnePlus 5.
Not too surprisingly, there was no OnePlus 4, as Chinese tradition links bad luck to the number.
In any case, the handset following the OnePlus 3/3T had its task cut out quite early, as both were quite brilliant and raised the bar quite high.
As a result, OnePlus 5 comes with bigger expectations, and an increased price tag.
The increased pricing maybe attributed to OnePlus using more premium material and even more powerful innards. But can the handset once again set new records and outperform its predecessors?
We take a closer look to get the answers.
Built and design
Setting the eyes on the metal and glass slab that is the OnePlus 5, one only gets the good vibes.
The unibody handset comes with the dimensions of 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm, and at 153 gms, it is not a concern while handling this piece of hardware. The handset is definitely thin, and with the glass neatly flowing into the edges, the gripping is a non issue.
The back panel further assists with its curved finish.
While looking a the back-panel, one may get strong flashbacks of a certain iPhone 7 Plus. There is the similar looking dual camera bump, and similarly placed flash module. Even the antenna lines seem to be inspired.
The slippery rear has a matte finish, and the antenna lines at the top and bottom do not interfere with the overall scheme.
The absence of waterproofing is sure to leave quite a few aghast, as it is now expected from any self respecting handset to carry this feature as a given.
The curved surface is slippery in nature, and prone to finger print smudging. A case may not be a bad idea here.
The front is pretty much the usual affair.
The pill shaped fingerprint scanner is situated right beneath the screen.
After skipping the IP68 certification, it was reassuring to find a notification light sitting right above the panel.
Moving over to the button placement, the dual nano SIM tray is located at the right side. The right edge also carries the power button.
The left edge has the volume rocker and the alert slider. At the bottom one finds the USB Type C connector, the speaker grille, and the 3.5 mm audio jack.
The handset is pretty sturdy, and gives the feel of a well made hardware when held.
The lack of girth may well mean compromises on the battery cell, but more on that later.
The phone comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel. OnePlus is still sticking with 1080 x 1920p resolution, which may irk some, but the ~401 ppi pixel density is pretty fine.
The Samsung manufactured screen comes with a good contrast ratio, and nicely saturated colours.
The Gorilla Glass 5 panel comes with a factory applied screen protector. Users can choose from either the SRGB, or any of the DCIP3/Default/Custom viewing profiles to adjust the display according to their preference.
The sunlight visibility is about okay, but the panel could have been a bit more bright.
OnePlus has included a reading mode, which brings the display close to paper white looks, and can be triggered according to preset times. A thoughtful inclusion.
The OnePlus 5 is a marquee product and nothing less than Qualcomm's 835 SoC would have been befitting.
The octa core CPU has four cores operating at 2.25 Ghz, while the other cores are clocked at 1.9 Ghz. Adreno 540 GPU, which is a known performer, has been included too.
The Indian market sees releasing of two variants of the OnePlus 5.
The first variant comes with a whopping 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage space, while the second variant carries 6GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space.
It looked pretty much an overkill to have so much of RAM at disposal, but such are the times we live in.
Quite like the beastly spec sheet, this department too is choc-a-bloc.
The 4G handset supports VoLTE, and comes carrying the dual band (a/b/g/n/ac) WiFi, Bluetooth (ver 5.0), NFC, and GPS. The Bluetooth comes with aptX and aptX HD support.
While there is the USB OTG option onboard, FM and wireless charging failed to make the cut. The absence of latter was indeed quite surprising.
It was quite good to see OxygenOS 4.5.0 having Android 7.1.1 Nougat as its underlying base. OnePlus has done well to avoid too much cluttering and tweaking, and the result clearly shows.
Keeping aside the reports of the fudging the benchmark scores, the impressive hardware has not been betrayed with half-hearted software attempts.
There is no app drawer button as such and one flick upwards from anywhere on the screen brings up the apps.
The lack of bloat doesn't mean no pre-installed apps though, and one finds Google's app suite, Kindle app, Amazon and Amazon's Prime video app as well.
While OnePlus' community app was definitely expected, the Paytm app being present and a long press of the home button triggering Paytm's bar code scanner was definitely a surprise inclusion.
Coming over the to OS in general, a swipe to the right leads to 'Shelf', basically a replacement of Google Now page. Users can fiddle around with the weather app, check out the recently used apps, peek into data consumption, and even set reminders.
This feature can be turned off if the user prefers so.
The settings app definitely is where there is tons of action.
OnePlus has provided the handset with swappable navigation buttons, and also the choice to bring up the on screen navigation buttons. The gaming mode disables the capacitive buttons and also keeps the nagging notifications from interrupting.
The trademark Alert slider button's behaviour can be adjusted here for setting the alert preferences.
Users can also define or set the symbols which can be drawn to launch specific actions or apps while the screen is off. There are five different vibration pattern to choose from when the phone rings.
The rolling screenshot option has been included for large screen grabs; screen gestures enrich the user experience.
One can double tap to wake up the screen too. The fingerprint scanner as well as the navigation buttons can be programmed to execute more than one tasks, allowing the user to draw more out of the hardware.
Overall, the feature rich phone seems to be included with only meaningful add-ons.
OnePlus has not really tried to do a whole lot to avoid spoiling the fun, and it seems that the move has paid off.
Top of the line CPU, ample amount of RAM, and a polished OS ensure a really smooth performance. The intensive tasks, HD content included, ran without any issues.
The multitasking was a breeze and there was no instance of stuttering or freezes. The handset got slightly warm only when intensive tasks were being dealt with.
Fingerprint scanner was quick and accurate with the task, rarely missing the trick.
The single speaker is loud and does the job. The placement definitely could have been better, as it is quite easy to muffle the grilles while holding the phone.
Headphones, when connected, sounded good. The inbuilt DAC didn't come across as anything special though.
What we have here, is the first phone from the OnePlus camp to feature a dual lens camera set up.
The primary camera is a 16 MP sensor with a f/1.7 aperture and electronic image stabilisation, while the other is a 20 MP camera, and comes with a more modest sounding f/2.6 aperture.
The latter is supposed to add the lossless zoom advantage.
The missing optical image stabilisation did come across as a shocker. More conviction of the fact that OnePlus 5's spec sheet indeed has been missing some expected features.
OnePlus seems to be aiming for a more feature rich camera department rather than redefining photography.
The bokeh effect can be availed, and the telephoto lens allows for some impressive zooming capabilities, and without losing on image quality. Well, mostly.
These little additions can substantially make a difference when there is the need for it. Any more need for tweaking, and there is the pro mode available for adjusting the ISO, focus, white balance etc. Users can shoot in RAW mode as well as make use of modes like panorama, slow motion and time lapse.
Auto HDR too is at hand to leave an impact.
The captured pics during well lit conditions came up with rich amount of details and colours. The low light images too were not too disappointing, though the presence of grains are definitely evident.
Telephoto lens naturally was more prone to fetch diminished returns even during daytime when ambient light was not enough. There is also the chance one may have to capture a shot multiple times to get the bokeh effect right.
There was some lag observed between the shot taken and pressing of the shutter, so one has to be careful of these instances, particularly with OIS being absent.
The video quality is not one bit bad, though the 4K videos are restricted to 10 minutes a piece only.
The front facing camera is also 16 MP, and grabs some very good results. HDR and EIS are present here as well, and can deliver results if the user prefers more vibrant outcomes.
The OnePlus 5 comes with a 3000 mAh battery pack. Some may compare its lesser capacity compared to the OnePlus 3T, but thankfully it does delivers an entire day's worth of backup on a moderate to heavier usage pattern.
The 20 W dash charger supplied alongside is good enough for a swift charging bout, and allows the users to work on the device without impeding the charging process. This well maybe a critical feature for the heavy users.
The 8 GB RAM version has been priced at Rs 37,999, and the 6 GB RAM variant will cost Rs 32,999.
While the expensive sounding handsets are definitely beasts, pulling in impressive performances vis-a-vis the CPU/GPU drills, there is not the quite magical thing about the latest OnePlus offering.
Its predecessor, OnePlus 3T, has not been bettered as per the expectations in more ways than one.
The battery is fine, but lesser capacity will raise eyebrows. People expect improvements.
The missing QHD/4K display can be ignored, but not the absence of IP68 certification.
Similarly, the dual camera system too is not carrying the full array of features. If there were any doubts about the rushed product here, the occasional sighing of the jelly scrolling effect, and the subsequent revelation of the display actually being upside down proves that there was a time crunch, leading to inadequate testing.
To OnePlus' relief, they have been able to pull it off, but only just.
If in the market for a new phone, the OnePlus 5 is definitely an option.
It again offers a premium built quality handset, loads of features, and at a fraction of what the other major handset makers would have demanded for a similar piece of hardware. But if on a tighter budget, or better still, an owner of something like an OnePlus 3T or even the OnePlus 3, there really is no need to loosen those purse strings.