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OnePlus 5 review: Hands-on with OnePlus’ new flagship

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OnePlus 5 review Hands-on, OnePlus 5 Spesification – So, the OnePlus 5 is finally official and it would appear, as with most other smartphone launches that take place these days, that the company has revealed nothing we didn’t know already. Not that you shouldn’t be excited by this launch; far from it.

OnePlus has demonstrated over the past few years that it has a keen eye for what consumers want from a smartphone (ie a fast phone without the bells and whistles at a more reasonable price than the flagship competition) and the OnePlus 5 doubles down on that.

As expected, the OnePlus 5 builds everything around the latest silicon from Qualcomm – a 2.45GHz/1.8GHz Snapdragon 835 chip – and it supplements that with a generous dollop of RAM and storage. This phone has a huge 6GB or 8GB of “more efficient” LPDDR4x RAM while storage options start at 64GB and rise to 128GB, although disappointingly there’s still no microSD card slot for storage expansion.

What you don’t get with the OnePlus 5 is the long-tall screen of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6; instead, the Chinese manufacturer is sticking with its eminently sensible 1080p 5.5in AMOLED panel (which is fine as long as you don’t plan on using your phone to play VR games all the time) and improving the camera.

And that’s where OnePlus has spent all of its R&D yuan this year: on a new dual-lens rear camera, which it has also repositioned from the centre at the rear to the top left corner of the rear panel.

OnePlus 5 review: Specs, price and release date

Display 5.5in, 1,920 x 1,080 AMOLED display, tuned to DCI P3 colour gamut
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.45GHz quad-core & 1.8GHz quad-core)
RAM 6/8GB
Storage 64/128GB
Dimensions 7.25mm slim
Rear camera Dual-lens 20MP/16MP camera f/2.6 / f/1.7
Battery capacity 3,300mAh, with Dash Charge for “a full day’s charge in half an hour”
Release date Pre-orders from 20th June, 2017
Price: £449 (64GB) / £499 (128GB)

OnePlus 5 review: Key features, design and first impressions

I’ve become used to the symmetrical design of previous OnePlus handsets, so this change of look is quite a wrench. It looks much less like a OnePlus phone now, and more like something Huawei or Honor might produce, except that the camera module isn’t flush with the back of the phone.

As usual, though, the finish is high quality and sensibly practical but this is the slimmest OnePlus yet at 7.25mm and it feels jolly lovely. It’s not glass, so doesn’t look quite as slinky as the S8 or even the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, but the anodised aluminium unibody design (available in Midnight Black and Slate Grey colours), coupled with the new look 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 resist breakage a little better than its flagship rivals as well.

Nothing else has changed about the physical design, though. The OnePlus 5 continues with the three position do-not-disturb switch on the left side that 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 and everything else sits on the bottom edge. The 3.5mm headphone jack is retained, as is the USB Type-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 claimed 0.2 seconds.

It’s slightly concerning that the battery capacity hasn’t been given a boost, but with the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 835 chip – both the HTC U11 and Sony Xperia XZ have performed well in our battery testing recently with lower capacity batteries – that shouldn’t prove to be too much of an issue, especially as OnePlus’ Dash Charging tech is claimed to be able to deliver a day’s worth of use from only 30-minutes plugged into the mains.

OnePlus 5 review: Dual-lens camera

The OnePlus 5’s biggest main new feature, though is that new dual-lens camera. The specifications look pretty decent, with one 16-megapixel f/1.7 main camera and another, dimmer, 20-megapixel f/2.6 telephoto camera. There’s phase detect autofocus, too, so it should lock onto your subject super fast.

Both of these, as you’d expect, employ Sony sensors and both work in tandem to produce sharper pictures, creamy-bokeh portrait pics as well as straight individual shots, both in wide-angle and telephoto “zoom”.

The OnePlus 5 also features improved HDR algorithms; we can’t comment on how good this is just yet, but rest assured we’ll be coming back to this review with updates very soon.

There’s also improved camera software with a useful-looking “pro” mode and the ability to save out photos as RAW files. And, as for the front-facing camera, that’s an impressive 16-megapixel snapper with an aperture of f/2, so it’s plenty detailed for your pouty Instagram selfies.

OnePlus 5 review: Software and other features

Manufacturers always seem to add an extra feature or two on the software side of things, 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 and that’s on top of Android 7.

The most exciting feature is a colour-tone matching technology that works a bit like Apple’s TrueTone. 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 semi-transparent, which makes it fell less separate from the rest of the UI, according to OnePlus, and there’s now a choice of different colour profiles for the display so if you don’t like the way it looks out of the box, you can change the look. Previously, you could enable an sRGB colour profile, but the setting was hidden in the developer options.

One final change is that OnePlus has changed the phone’s vibration component so that it delivers a stronger, yet shorter buzz.

OnePlus 5 review: Early verdict

We already have our review sample, so keep checking back for results of benchmarks and camera tests throughout the rest of the week. Given the internal componentry, however, I can’t see myself being overly disappointed with the OnePlus 5’s hardware. It looks like it’s a perfectly competent smartphone wrapped up in a very nicely designed chassis.

As with all OnePlus handsets, however, the OnePlus 5’s success all rests on perceived value, and with the price rising yet again to £450 its position as the best value phone on the market is under threat. And with rivals particularly from Honor and Huawei producing excellent smartphones for £500 and below it remains to be seen if OnePlus 5 can regain the OnePlus 3T’s crown.

We’ll deliver our final verdict once we’ve completed our testing. Until then, keep checking back for more details.

Quite a few of what we can convey in this article, OnePlus 5 review: Hands-on with OnePlus’ new flagship, hopefully this article useful.

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