OnePlus 5

THE PRICE KEEPS CREEP­ING UP, BUT ONEPLUS STILL UN­DER­CUTS RI­VALS TO PRO­DUCE THE BEST VALUE HIGH END PHONE

PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS - Jonathan Bray

O nePlus has demon­strated over the past few years that it has a keen eye for what con­sumers want from a smart­phone – a fast, no-frills de­vice for a rea­son­able cost – and de­spite a big rise in price com­pared to the OnePlus 3T, the OnePlus 5 de­liv­ers once again.

The com­pany builds ev­ery­thing around Qual­comm’s new 2.45GHz/1.9GHz Snap­dragon 835 chip and sup­ple­ments it with a gen­er­ous dol­lop of “more e‰cient” LPDDR4x RAM. If you choose the 128GB model you’ll get 8GB of RAM; the 64GB model in­cludes 6GB. Just note there’s no mi­croSD slot for stor­age ex­pan­sion.

You also forgo the long, tall screen of the Sam­sung Galaxy S8 and LG G6; in­stead, OnePlus sticks with its em­i­nently sen­si­ble 1080p, 5.5in AMOLED panel and has fo­cused in­stead on im­prov­ing the cam­era. In­deed, OnePlus has ev­i­dently spent all its R&D yuan this year on the new dual-lens rear cam­era, which has also been repo­si­tioned to the top-left cor­ner of the rear panel.

As be­fore, the fin­ish is high qual­ity and prac­ti­cal. This is the slimmest OnePlus yet, at 7.3mm, and it feels lovely. It’s not glass, so doesn’t look as slinky as the Sony Xpe­ria XZ Pre­mium (see p56), but the an­odised alu­minium uni­body (avail­able in Mid­night Black and Slate Grey colours), cou­pled with the new curves and cres­cent-shaped an­tenna strips at the top and bot­tom, makes for a very smart look in­deed. The fact that it’s alu­minium means it should also re­sist break­age bet­ter than its ri­vals.

Noth­ing else has changed about the de­sign. The OnePlus 5 con­tin­ues with the three-po­si­tion do-not-dis­turb switch on the left side, which I and so many other OnePlus fans love. That sits just above the vol­ume rocker, while the power but­ton is di­rectly op­po­site on the right-hand edge of the hand­set; ev­ery­thing else sits on the bot­tom edge. The 3.5mm head­phone jack is re­tained, as is the USB-C port and the sin­gle speaker grille, while the fin­ger­print reader is, as ever, on the front – but now it’s cov­ered in tough ce­ramic and will un­lock your phone in a quoted 0.2 sec­onds.

And boy this phone un­locks fast. You only have to touch the sen­sor with your thumb or in­dex fin­ger and you’re into the home­screen. It em­phat­i­cally adds to the feel­ing that you’re us­ing one of the fastest smart­phones avail­able.

SPLASH OF COLOUR

As with last year, the dis­play is a 5.5in AMOLED unit and the res­o­lu­tion re­mains res­o­lutely Full HD. You might think that OnePlus would have left things as is, but there are a few changes afoot here. The main one is that OnePlus gives users a choice of colour pro­files – De­fault, sRGB, DCI P3 and Cus­tom – fol­low­ing crit­i­cism of the OnePlus 3’s some­what lurid De­fault colour pro­file.

I think most users will end up stick­ing with the De­fault set­tings. In this mode, on­screen colours are bright and vi­brant and don’t look nearly as candy-coloured as last year’s OnePlus 3. Yes, the colours are still bright and a touch over the top, but they’re no longer down­right hor­rid.

That’s just as well be­cause the sRGB mode isn’t as good as it should be. It cov­ers only 89.8% of the sRGB colour space and red tones look dull. My colour ac­cu­racy mea­sure­ments re­flect that im­pres­sion pre­cisely. Over­all, the av­er­age Delta E in sRGB mode isn’t bad, hit­ting 1.76, but it strug­gles with red tones.

The Sam­sung Galaxy S8’s dis­play is bet­ter –and goes brighter than the OnePlus 5 in au­to­matic bright­ness mode – but again the OnePlus 5 is no slouch. Its peak bright­ness fig­ure reaches 419cd/ m2 and a po­lar­is­ing fil­ter ap­plied be­tween the glass and AMOLED panel means it’s read­able in most con­di­tions.

Thank­fully, that po­lar­is­ing layer has been ar­ranged so if you’re wear­ing po­lar­is­ing sun­glasses it doesn’t black out when you’re hold­ing it ver­ti­cally or hor­i­zon­tally, un­like the HTC U11, where the po­lar­is­ing fil­ter blacks out your view en­tirely when you hold the phone in land­scape ori­en­ta­tion.

BUCK­ETS OF SPEED

One of the main rea­sons be­hind OnePlus’ con­tin­u­ing suc­cess has been its abil­ity to in­clude the lat­est flag­ship Qual­comm chipset while keep­ing a lid on the price, and that con­tin­ues with the OnePlus 5. The octa-core Snap­dragon 835 cou­pled with 6GB of RAM in our sam­ple pro­duced stonk­ing bench­mark re­sults.

As the graphs op­po­site show, the OnePlus 5 matches the Sam­sung S8 and the HTC U11 across the board in Geek­bench. Graph­ics per­for­mance is sim­i­larly strong: the OnePlus 5 is fast enough that it will han­dle any­thing the Google Play Store can throw at it and then some.

Per­haps a more sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor, though, is the

speed of the OnePlus 5’s in­te­grated flash stor­age, which dic­tates how fast apps launch and large files load. Just like the Sam­sung Galaxy S8, the OnePlus 5 uses two-lane UFS 2.1 flash and it’s su­per quick. In raw num­bers, it de­liv­ers se­quen­tial read and write speeds of 731MB/sec and 213MB/sec, which is far faster than the OnePlus 3T (420MB/sec and 168MB/sec) and around the same as the S8 (763MB/ sec and 180MB/sec).

The fi­nal as­pect of per­for­mance, but pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant one, is bat­tery life. In our test, where we set the screen to a bright­ness of 170cd/ m2, en­gage Flight mode and en­sure no back­ground tasks are tak­ing place, the OnePlus 5 lasted an in­cred­i­ble 20hrs 40mins. That’s more than twice as long as the Sony XZ Pre­mium in the same test and bet­ter still than the ex­cel­lent Sam­sung Galaxy S8 Plus.

When the phone does run dry, it charges in­cred­i­bly quickly if you use the boxed Dash Charge 3 charger. I plugged it in at 0% and in 12 min­utes it had reached 21%; af­ter 39 min­utes it had charged to 75%. If you need to give your phone a quick boost be­fore you go home, the OnePlus 5 will oblige. So far, so good, but the OnePlus 5’s big­gest main new fea­ture is its new du­al­lens rear cam­era. The spec­i­fi­ca­tions look suit­ably strong, with one 16-megapixel f/1.7 main cam­era and an­other, dim­mer, 20-megapixel f/2.6 tele­photo cam­era com­plet­ing the duo. There’s phasede­tect aut­o­fo­cus, so it should lock onto your sub­ject su­per­fast, but you don’t get op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion.

As with the iPhone 7 Plus, the reg­u­lar cam­era is your main shooter, with the 20-megapixel cam­era ožer­ing a 2x zoom for when you need to get closer to your sub­ject and, again like the iPhone 7 Plus, they can work to­gether to pro­duce por­trait pho­tos with a blurry bokeh ežect in the back­ground. I found this fea­ture worked well, so long as I was care­ful to shoot my sub­ject against a back­ground a good dis­tance away.

The OnePlus 5 also fea­tures im­proved HDR al­go­rithms, but this is con­sid­er­ably less suc­cess­ful. Not only is the ežect sub­tle to the point of be­ing • nigh-on in­vis­i­ble, it’s also prone • to dou­ble­vi­sion ežects. If your hands, or your sub­ject, move even a lit­tle you’ll see fring­ing around the edges of ob­jects in your pho­to­graphs. I’d go so far as to rec­om­mend you don’t use HDR at all; it’s no match for • the Google Pixel’s stu­pen­dous HDR+ mode, which rarely pro­duces such arte­facts.

Oth­er­wise, the OnePlus 5 pro­duces de­cent-look­ing pho­to­graphs that are well ex­posed and rea­son­ably crisp. Close in­spec­tion re­veals a touch more un­nat­u­ral pro­cess­ing than the equiv­a­lent Google Pixel shot, while in low light the OnePlus’ shots ex­hibit a grainier, over­sharp­ened look, but the re­sults are still strong.

What’s per­haps most im­pres­sive about the OnePlus 5’s cam­era is the Pro mode, which al­lows you to man­u­ally ad­just fo­cus, ISO sen­si­tiv­ity, shut­ter speed and white bal­ance and hand­ily dis­plays a live his­togram and lev­el­ling gauge on­screen. You can also shoot in RAW.

As for the front-fac­ing cam­era, that’s an im­pres­sive 16-megapixel snap­per with an aper­ture of f/2. Surely more than de­tailed enough for pouty In­sta­gram self­ies.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers al­ways seem to add an ex­tra fea­ture or two via soft­ware, whether or not they’re needed, and that’s very

much the case this year with the OnePlus 5. As usual, the phone runs the firm’s own Oxy­gen launcher, this time on top of An­droid • 7.

The most in­ter­est­ing fea­ture is Read­ing mode, which is sim­i­lar to Ap­ple’s True Tone. This uses an am­bi­ent light sen­sor to tune the white bal­ance of the screen to match that of the sur­round­ing light, which is great news for peo­ple (like me) who use their smart­phones to read ebooks late at night.

Else­where, the app drawer is now semi­trans­par­ent, which has the ad­van­tage that it feel less sep­a­rate from the rest of the UI than pre­vi­ously.

One fi­nal change is that OnePlus has changed the phone’s vibration com­po­nent so that it de­liv­ers a stronger, shorter buzz. This is a sub­tle im­prove­ment, but a wel­come one none­the­less.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

There are plenty of peo­ple look­ing to knock the OnePlus 5, prin­ci­pally due to the price rise. And, yes, it’s dis­ap­point­ing the OnePlus is now more of a mid-range than a bud­get hand­set. How­ever, if there’s a bet­ter phone for un­der $800 then I haven’t seen it.

The OnePlus 5 is beau­ti­fully de­signed; it’s fast and bat­tery life is fan­tas­tic. The cam­era isn’t a match for the very best smart­phones but it still takes crack­ing pho­to­graphs most of the time. The dis­play is spot on, with OnePlus es­chew­ing un­nec­es­sary pix­els and in­stead pro­vid­ing per­fectly sharp im­ages with ex­cel­lent colour ren­di­tion and low power con­sump­tion. You only need to look at the $900 - $1,000 phones from Sony and HTC to ap­pre­ci­ate that the OnePlus 5 ožers amaz­ing value for money. Noth­ing can touch it at this price.

“The OnePlus 5 con­tin­ues with the three-po­si­tion do-not-dis­turb switch on the left side that I and so many OnePlus fans love”

The big­gest up­grade, com­pared to the OnePlus 3T, is the new dual-lens cam­era

With a Dash Charge 3 charger in the box, the OnePlus 5 hits 75% in 39 min­utes

You can buy the OnePlus 5 in Mid­night Black or Slate Grey

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