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OnePlus 5 hands-on review: Meet OnePlus’ new dual-lens flagship

OnePlus 5 hands-on review: OnePlus CEO Carl Pei just stepped off the stage at the launch of his company’s new 2017 flagship handset, the OnePlus 5. We have already got our hands on this slick new hardware to see what it’s all about.

In our eyes, OnePlus had to produce a flagship with a competitive camera system that can tango with the best on the market. The new phone also needed to boast the latest processor tech, slick looking hardware and software, and retain or improve upon the Dash Charging-capable battery longevity of 2016’s OnePlus 3T. All the while being competitively priced against the latest iPhones, Galaxy S8s and Pixels.

No mean feat for a company only a fraction the size of the organisations it’s up against, of course. So how well did it do? Here’s our OnePlus 5 hands-on review.

For all you need to know about the OnePlus 5, including comparisons, guides and more, check out our OnePlus hub.

OnePlus 5 hands-on review: Specs at a glance

Screen size 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080)
Weight 153 grams
OS Android 7.1.1 w/ Oxygen OS 4.5.0
Front camera 16-megapixels w/ f/2.0 aperture
Rear cameras Dual 16/20-megapixels w/ f/1.7/f/2.6 apertures
Processor 2.45GHz/1.9GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Memory 6GB/8GB RAM (LPDDR4X)
Storage 64GB/128GB. Non-expandable
Battery 3300mAh w/ Dash Charge
Extras Gorilla Glass 5, fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 5.0 w/ aptX & aptX HD support, dual SIM

OnePlus 5 hands-on review: Hands-on review

Head-on there’s a distinctive familiarity to the 5’s design. The same 5.5-inch OpticAMOLED display, as found on the likes of the 3 and 3T, sits above the phone’s pill-shaped fingerprint sensor-laden home button. There’s more noticeable rounding along the edges this time around too, not to mention pillowed 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5 protecting the screen that feels great under-finger. 

Read next: OnePlus 5 vs OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3, should I upgrade?

Speaking of which, many will likely take issue with OnePlus’ decision to stick to a Full HD 16:9 panel when the likes of Samsung and LG are pushing the envelope with more exotic smartphone screen aspect ratios and resolutions, in practice, however, whilst the 5 might not have the same pixel density and overall clarity of its rivals it’s still a stunning-looking handset with strong overall brightness, great contrast, punchy colours and broad viewing angles.

OnePlus 5: Perspective front view

The absence of an edge-to-edge screen or even a higher resolution one is primarily the result of a cost-saving exercise but considering what did make it onto the 5, we’re willing to let this one shortcoming slide.

The industrial design is an unquestionable highlight, with a new anodised aluminium unibody that looks and feels lighter, thinner and more refined than anything the company has ever produced. It’s a minimalist’s wet dream with a near-featureless back as OnePlus has curved the antenna breaks over and under the ends of the phone.

OnePlus 5: Perspective side view

Read next: OnePlus 5 vs the best Android phones, who wins?

In profile, the new rear dual camera array is the only thing that protrudes slightly from the otherwise subtly curved forms and the new ‘horizon line’ adds a little drama to the clean shapes employed by the 5. In the hand it also makes it feel wafer thin. That narrow crease is also where you’ll find the phone’s principle hardware controls, including the brand’s signature alert switcher, all of which are narrower than we’ve ever seen them before, but still offer pleasing amounts of tactile feedback when pressed.

OnePlus 5: Alert slider

A single downward-facing loudspeaker is one of the few disappointments on the ‘Plus 5’s exterior, even if initial volume tests produced pretty pleasing results and despite trying to initially hoodwink us, there is a standard headphone jack.

As we were hoping, OnePlus has endowed its newest flagship with the latest and greatest of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but not only that, complemented it with either 6GB or an even more ludicrous-sounding 8GB of (more efficient) DDR4X RAM depending on the storage skew you go for (64GB or 128GB).

In our initial tests, the phone flies as fast as any current flagship would but we suspect that such power right now means more gradual performance degradation, in the long run, making this a smart choice for those who don’t change up their handset every 12-18 months.

OnePlus 5: Handheld front view

That more efficient SoC twinned with the now conservative screen resolution, use of AMOLED tech and refined Oxygen OS Android overlay collectively give the OnePlus 5 up to 20 percent more go time than its predecessor, despite its fractionally smaller 3300mAh battery (which does still offer Dash Charge for “a day’s power in half an hour”).

OnePlus’ reasoning for dropping the cell size was as a means to create a more svelte smartphone but doing so whilst actually improving longevity seems like a rare achievement in the smartphone space, where the size of a component almost always directly correlates with the performance it can output.

Read next: OnePlus 5 best hidden features

Arguably the biggest focus of the new phone isn’t a slick design or better brains but a camera system capable of elevating OnePlus’ snapper profile to meet that of the Galaxy S8, Google Pixel or iPhone 7 Plus. Indeed, the new dual camera array looks and behaves very similarly to the one employed by Apple’s latest 5.5-inch smartphone which might suggest that OnePlus is looking to become the go-to alternative for long-time iPhone users willing to make the jump to Android without giving up one of its best traits.

OnePlus 5: Camera

The clean UI conceals a wealth of features and modes, with a fast shutter that’s able to be tweaked and changed via Pro mode or capture RAW imagery and up to 4K video. We’re yet to see if its reliance on EIS and machine learning help or hinder the final output or whether this is the new defacto phone for snapping portraits of your mates or background defocussed photos of your lunch.

OnePlus 5 hands-on review: Price and availability

OnePlus has confirmed that eager fans will be able to buy the phone in person at one of the various pop-up events taking place all over the world, otherwise, you’ll be able to buy the phone online direct from OnePlus via the company’s website from June 27th or pre-order right now.

The 64GB OnePlus 5 will cost £449 whilst the 128GB model will sell for £499, which is markedly higher than anything we’ve seen from the company before but still undercuts the likes of Apple, Google, Sony, Samsung, HTC and the other big manufacturer’s flagships by some margin.

In the UK, carrier O2 also retains its exclusivity over the ability to sell the latest OnePlus phones, whilst also planning on hosting various ‘SuperFan’ events in addition to OnePlus’s own launch day celebrations. You’ll be able to pick the phone up in both colourways and storage options with one recommended tariff available to those who order in the phone’s first week of availability including unlimited minutes and texts, 30GB of 4G data and access to free O2 Wifi and O2 Priority deals for a £9.99 upfront cost and £51 a month for 24 months.

Those who pre-order on O2 can expect the phone as soon as June 22nd and special in-store events for customers and OnePlus fans are being held so that people can learn about the new flagship and if they wish, take on home on the day. On Thursday 22nd June O2 is holding a OnePlus 5 event at the Birmingham Bullring (Level 1) between 5pm and 8pm. On Friday 23rd June there’s on at the carrier’s 134 Oxford Street store (again between 5pm and 8pm), whilst the Manchester Arndale will play host to O2’s third and final event on Saturday the 24th of June between 10am and 1pm.

Read next: OnePlus 3T 2017 re-review: still one of the best Android phones around?

You can grab the OnePlus 5 exclusively from O2 here in the UK, from £34 per month (or £36 for the Midnight Black version). Pre-order now and you will receive the phone from June 22.

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