What comes after the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T? Surprise, it’s the OnePlus 5!
Yes OnePlus is skipping the number four due to the phenomenon of tetraphobia in its home country. But the name isn’t important when you consider the OnePlus 5 is the company’s most ambitious and most expensive smartphone to date.
So what are the biggest changes and – more importantly – is the OnePlus 5 still a smartphone bargain? Let’s take a look…
Display – Subtle Changes
Like the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T (and in fact like every previous generation of OnePlus), the OnePlus 5 sports a 5.5-inch LCD display with 1080p native resolution:
- OnePlus 5 – OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – 5.5-inch, Optic AMOLED panel, 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi pixel density), Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – 5.5-inch, Optic AMOLED panel, 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi), Corning Gorilla Glass 4
But look closely and you will spot a difference. The OnePlus 5 screen is slightly stronger as it supports Gorilla Glass 5 (which is better at resisting cracks from drops) and there are also minor upgrades to the screen brightness, even if this won’t compete with top OLED panels like those found in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.
Does the 1080p resolution matter? Not in my opinion. The 401ppi display is still nearly 5x more dense than a 50-inch Ultra HD 4K television and even the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus default to 1080p by default – so you’ll survive.
Design & Size – Eerily Familiar
Like the display, there’s also not a great deal of difference in the size and weight of the OnePlus 5 compared to its immediate predecessors:
- OnePlus 5 – 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm (6.07 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches) and 153 g (5.40 oz)
- OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm (6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches) and 158 g (5.57 oz)
Despite this, the look has changed a fair bit. The OnePlus 5 does still sport a metal unibody providing decent grip, but the edges and corners are more rounded to make it nicer to hold while the antenna lines are repositioned to be less visible.
Unlike an increasing number of phones, a physical home button under the display but at the back you’ll now find a dual rear camera which has shifted to the side making it look like an iPhone 7 Plus.
OnePlus 5 colour options are limited at present with just Midnight Black and Slate Gray compared to the OnePlus 3T which also came in Gunmetal and Soft Gold, but expect this choice to expand in time.
Camera – Dual Camera Conversion
With the relatively subtle changes to the OnePlus 5 display and design, it is up to the camera to provide the biggest upgrade from the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3:
- OnePlus 5 – Rear: 16 MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.12 µm, EIS (gyro) and 20 MP, f/2.6, 1.0 µm 2x optical zoom, no OIS and dual-LED flash. Front: 16 MP, f/2.0, EIS (gyro), 1.0 µm pixel size, 1080p
- OnePlus 3T – Rear: 16 MP, f/2.0, OIS, LED flash. Front: 16 MP, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size, 1080p
- OnePlus 3 – Rear: 16 MP, f/2.0, OIS, LED flash. Front: 8 MP, f/2.0, 1/3.2″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, 1080p
Yes that’s a lot specifications. The upshot however is the OnePlus 5 can deliver 2x optical zoom (via a slight cheat) and combine both its rear camera to deliver a Portrait Mode (think heavy background bokeh to mimic the effect of a DSLR) similar to the iPhone 7 Plus.
Aside from party tricks, OnePlus claims the OnePlus 5’s increased aperture means it can capture 34% more light than the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3 (which share the same single rear camera) for better low light shots. It can also focus up to 40% faster.
Meanwhile the OnePlus 5 has the same core specifications for its front camera as the OnePlus 3T, though the latter only delivered this upgrade seven months ago to address the fairly unremarkable front camera in the OnePlus 3.
Performance – Blowing The Competition Away
While the dual camera will grab the headlines, for many the real appeal of the OnePlus 5 will be its incredible performance:
- OnePlus 5 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: Octa-core Kyro CPU, Adreno 540 GPU, 6GB or 8GB RAM
- OnePlus 3 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset: Quad-core Kryo CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 6GB RAM
- OnePlus 3T – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821: Quad-core Kyro CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 6GB RAM
Yes just like Samsung’s (US Edition) Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, the OnePlus 5 packs a top of the range Qualcomm 835 chipset. The 835 only delivers 10% greater CPU performance and 21% greater GPU performance than the 820, but it is also up to 25% more efficient.
But what really catches the eye is the option of a massive 8GB of RAM (128GB version only) in combination with Oxygen OS, which is the company’s wonderfully clean and streamlined take on stock Android.
The result is a smartphone which feels considerably faster than Samsung’s new Galaxies and LG’s G6 with only Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL holding their own. Given the price difference between the OnePlus 5 and such premium rivals (more later) this is a big selling point.
Battery Life & Charging – One Step Back, One Step Forward
Rather surprisingly the OnePlus 5 actually features a smaller battery than the OnePlus 3T:
- OnePlus 5 – 3300 mAh
- OnePlus 3T – 3400 mAh
- OnePlus 3 – 3000 mAh
Is this a disaster? Potentially not. The good news is OnePlus claims efficiencies in both hardware and software mean in practice the OnePlus 5 will actually last 20% longer than the OnePlus 3T – but that will depend on how you are using the phone (gaming vs reading emails, for example).
Personally I think it’s an opportunity missed not fitting a bigger battery to really stun the competition.
You also won’t find wireless charging. But Dash Charge is carried over from its predecessors and is still the fastest smartphone charging system around, especially while using your phone at the same time. It’s just a shame you will need the company’s specific Dash Charger plugs and cables to achieve this.
Storage & Price – A Significant Increase
What made OnePlus famous is its combination of top line features and incredibly aggressive pricing. This isn’t quite so clear cut now the OnePlus 5 has had a significant price rise – particular in the UK and Europe:
- OnePlus 5 – 64GB / 6GB ($479/€499/£449) and 128GB / 8GB ($539/€550/£499)
- OnePlus 3T – 64GB / 6GB ($439/€439/£399) and 128GB / 6GB ($479/€479/£439)
- OnePlus 3 – 64GB / 6GB ($399/€399/£329)
At $479 the entry level OnePlus 5 is a notable increase on the OnePlus 3 in particular, and the 128GB / 8GB RAM model for another $60 is the better deal in my opinion.
Of course $539 remains a lot to ask for a smartphone and it certainly takes the OnePlus range outside the almost impulse-buy territory of the original OnePlus One ($299). But what works in the phone’s favour are the price increases by rivals.
The Galaxy S8 ($750) increased $100 on the Galaxy S7 and both the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 are expected to cost over $1,000. At these price points the OnePlus 5 is still a relative bargain, but if the company increases the price again next year it could prove problematic.
The OnePlus 5 is a solid, if not spectacular, upgrade on the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3. For my money there’s not enough reason to upgrade from the former but it will provide value for owners of the latter.
I’m not fully convinced the dual camera gimmickry in the OnePlus 5 does enough to justify the price increase and I’d have liked to see a larger battery, but this remains a premium phone sold well below the price of the company’s most famous rivals.
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