What is the OnePlus 5?
With the OnePlus 3, the Chinese 'start-up' finally made a _phone_ that was nearly perfect. There's no OnePlus 4 this year, but instead the OnePlus 5 takes things up another level with a seriously packed spec sheet – and a higher price.
The headline feature here is an interesting dual-camera setup on the back, but in typical OnePlus fashion there's a serious amount of power and the option of a frankly ridiculous 8GB of RAM.
For £449/$479, the OnePlus 5 is a fantastic deal, but the higher price necessitates a more critical look at some of its shortcomings. There are a few missing features and some odd omissions, but this is still one of the best tech bargains.
OnePlus 5 – Design
The OnePlus 5 is a really good-looking phone, but it’s not the most original. The back reminds me of an slightly curvier matte-black iPhone 7 Plus, right down to the camera arrangement, the blended antenna lines and even the flash. The front is pretty much the same as those of the outgoing OnePlus 3 and 3T, which is no bad thing, but in a world of the Essential _phone_ and LG G6 it feels a bit old-fashioned.
Old-fashioned is acceptable in this case, though, because OnePlus has managed to make this phone so comfortable to hold and a pleasure to use. The curved back fits perfectly in your palm, while the 3D Gorilla Glass 5 on the front also curves slightly. This multitude of curves make it super-slim, but also easy to fish up from a table.
The OnePlus 5 with its 5.5-inch display is a larger phone than the 5.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S8, but it’s smaller in all dimensions than the same-screen-size iPhone 7 Plus. It doesn’t feel big, although I have become used to this size of phone now, and I can reach all the elements of the screen with one hand.
Related: Best Android phones
Previous OnePlus devices have felt great for their price, which tended to be below £350, but even though the OnePlus starts at £449 it still feels better built than anything else in that price range. Everything is precisely cut, it feels sturdy and there are really neat touches like the alert slider that sits above the volume rocker. I know this has been a OnePlus staple, but I'm appreciating being able to quickly flip the phone into silent mode when it’s still in my pocket more and more.
There’s a headphone jack and Dash Charge-capable USB-C port on the bottom, along with a microphone and mono speaker, plus a dual-Nano SIM tray on the side. I’d have preferred a microSD slot, or a hybrid slot, but at least there’s a decent amount of base storage here.
The OnePlus 5 comes in two colours, though to be honest they look almost exactly the same. The 64GB model has 6GB RAM and comes in ‘Slate Grey’ while the 128GB/8GB RAM version takes the ‘Midnight Black’ hue that was briefly available on the OnePlus 3T. Both colours are deep, dark and matte, and it feels odd to have two options so similar.
The lack of any sort of water-resistance rating is slightly disappointing, but not a deal beaker yet.
OnePlus 5 – Screen
OnePlus has stepped up the game in the vast majority of areas this year, but on paper at least the screen feels very much the same. It’s still a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, which is still 1080p as opposed to the more common quad-HD resolution.
The OnePlus 3 (and 3T) suffered from a few annoying screen issues, including poor calibration and laggy scrolling, but the OnePlus 5 sorts these out. So that’s a bonus straight away.
The display now covers the wide DCI-P3 colour gamut, like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8, and this is my preferred colour profile. It gives colours more of a punch, without oversaturating, and there’s more variety in the shades. There’s an sRGB mode too that removes a bit of the punch, and a Default mode that feels to me a bit too colourful.
Related: Best budget phones
I would have liked to see a resolution bump, but in all honestly it’s tough to pick out individual pixels unless you get really close. It’s not as sharp as the HTC U11, nor is it as sharp as a 5-inch 1080p device, but colours are nice and because it’s AMOLED there’s that extra depth to blacks that you don’t get with LCD.
Gorilla Glass 5 covers the panel and that should help prevent scratches, but I have still found small hairline scratches appear on the display after a week of use.