Is the OnePlus 5 old wine in a new bottle?
Khalid Anzar takes the phone for a spin.
With its flagship OnePlus 5, launched in India on June 22, smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has shrugged off other Chinese handset makers' strategy of targeting the budget smartphone segment.
The result: A smartphone that is the priciest OnePlus device but the most affordable flagship product.
Though a mixed bag of hits and misses, the OnePlus 5 offers updated technical specifications, improved operating system and a new camera set-up.
But is the smartphone worth all the hype around it?
Design: In terms of design, the OnePlus 5 seems a rather half-baked product, with little that you can call overwhelmingly innovative.
The rear certainly has a stark resemblance to the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.
Aside from that, the back has a dual-camera set-up on top-left, along with dual LED flash, and a microphone sitting in between the camera module and flash.
The OnePlus logo is engraved at the centre and the back looks clean with no regulatory information or model number.
The antenna lines, moved to the extreme top and bottom, are subtler than the previous OnePlus device.
Even as the rear has some noteworthy upgrade from predecessor OnePlus 3T, the front is almost identical.
The front side is dominated by a 5.5-inch screen, with sensors at the top along with the front camera and earpiece, and the fingerprint scanner is embedded under the home key at the bottom-centre.
The power button is placed on the right, next to the ejectable dual-SIM tray, while the volume rocker keys and alert slider sit on the left side of the smartphone.
Display: What the OnePlus 5 offers in terms of size and resolution is hardly different from the OnePlus 3T -- a 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED screen covered with Gorilla Glass 5.
The screen continues to be a full-HD unit with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.
If you have used its predecessor, the OnePlus 5 is sure to give you strong sense of deja vu -- the same look, the same feel, the same performance.
The inclusion of the reading mode, which adapts the screen tone automatically to suit the ambience, is, however, a welcome addition.
And the use of DCI-P3 colour gamut filter certainly adds to the overall screen performance. Both these additions are software-based tweaks.
Hardware: OnePlus devices are known for the best-in-class innards, and the OnePlus 5 seems to take the legacy forward.
The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which has Snapdragon X16 LTE modem to support data speeds of up to 1 Giga-bit per second (Gbps), coupled with an Adreno 540 graphic processing unit (GPU).
The smartphone comes with two storage and RAM variants -- 64 GB/6 GB and 128 GB/8 GB.
Both support dual-lane Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.1 for superior performance.
The OnePlus 5 feels smooth throughout and there is no visible lag anywhere.
The device can easily be called a powerhouse that performs blazing fast, irrespective of the task you put it to.
Software: The OnePlus 5 runs the Android Nougat v7.1.1 operating system, covered under Oxygen OS 4.5.2 out of the box.
The OS feels fluid and swift.
The company has added some new features to the 'Oxygen OS', such as a Google Pixel-like app drawer that can be accessed from any window by swiping up the screen.
The overall look and feel of the OS has improved.
As for the promise of reduced touch latency, however, there does not seem to be much visible change.
Swiping up the screen shows an abnormal lag and one is unsure if that is another addition to the screen feature or a snag.
Camera: Camera is one department where OnePlus seems to have concentrated all its energies for this device.
The OnePlus 5 sports a dual-camera set-up at the rear -- 16-megapixel and 20 MP dual cameras -- and a 16 MP camera at the front.
The 16 MP camera at the rear features a bright aperture of f/1.7 and the 20MP one sports an f/2.6 aperture.
Both use Sony sensors and the result is balanced, if not perfect.
The cameras support the portrait mode, which focuses on the subject and blurs the background, something that we saw in the Apple iPhone 7 Plus as well.
The camera interface is new and much more flexible and feature-rich.
There is an immersive mode that shows additional details in the Pro mode, helping capture better frames.
The on-screen option to go for 2X zoom, the company claims, is loss-less.
The loss-less zoom is achieved by using the 20MP camera and software algorithms.
We, however, did find the loss-less zoom feature of much use, especially while taking landscape photographs.
In the run-up to the actual launch, there was a buzz that the OnePlus 5 would deliver camera performance tuned by online imaging software and photography benchmarking portal DxO.
But the device neither mentions a DxO-optimised camera, nor is the camera benchmarking result available on the DxO Web site.
Battery and dash charge: The OnePlus 5 is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery.
Thanks to a power-efficient processor, a 1080p display and optimised software that does not consume much battery juice, the smartphone runs more than a day on normal use.
Even on heavy use, with several applications open in the background, background data services on, and connectivity set to 4G network, the phone goes on for more than 13 hours without asking for a battery refill.
The amazing battery life is made even better with the Dash Charger function, which replenishes 60 per cent of the battery juice in just 30 minutes.
It takes about one hour to fully charge the battery, but for someone in a rush this is the best charging technology available.
Other features: The fingerprint sensor in the OnePlus 5 has been placed under the ceramic-coated home button and, the company claims, it could unlock the phone in 0.2 seconds.
The home button with fingerprint scanner will soon feature Quick Pay, supported by Paytm for digital payments.
On the connectivity front, the smartphone supports 34 global network bands, so it could be used across the globe.
Also on board are Bluetooth v5.0 and a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip.
Verdict: While the OnePlus 5 is a mixed bag of hits and misses, some might find it 'old wine in a new bottle'.
But considering the price tag -- Rs 32,999 for the base model with a 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, and Rs 37,999 for premium model with 8GB RAM and 128 GB storage -- the smartphone is not a bad deal.
Buy this device if you are looking for top-of-the-line innards and good camera performance.
If you are out to get a feature-rich smartphone with a futuristic design, you might like to check other options.