Looking at the OnePlus 5, it’s hard to believe that the company that made it is less than four years old. This is a phone that manages to hold its own alongside flagship devices from companies that have enormous pots of money to spend on research, development and design, and a decade or more of experience making smartphones.
Yet OnePlus has managed to make one of the best phones of 2017, and keep the price lower than most of the competition.
OnePlus has always made impressive phones at sub-flagship prices, but with this iteration the Chinese company has learned from previous mistakes, and built on its successes, to create an all-round fantastic phone.
OnePlus 5 price and release date
- Two versions: starts at $479 (£449, around AU$630)
- Coming to US and UK, won't be released in Australia
- In US, works with AT&T and T-Mobile, not Verizon or Sprint
OnePlus 5 specs
Dimensions: 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25mm
OS: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Screen size: 5.5-inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
CPU: Snapdragon 835
RAM: 6GB or 8GB of RAM
Rear camera: 16MP + 20MP dual lens
Front camera: 16MP
The OnePlus 5 costs more than the OnePlus 3T. That’s the hard truth about this new phone, but it’s partly because OnePlus has decided to use more premium materials.
OnePlus has produced two versions of the OnePlus 5, with the base model coming with 64GB of internal storage and 6GB of RAM and costing you $479 (£449, around AU$630).
The higher-end version, with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, is priced at $539 (£499, around AU$710) and that’s the device we’re reviewing here.
Whichever version you buy, it’s a big price jump compared to the OnePlus 3T, which cost $439 (£399, around AU$580) for the 64GB model and $479 (£439, around AU$630) for the 128GB version.
And bear in mind that OnePlus had already increased the price for that phone release – the OnePlus 3, released in June 2016, was only $399 (£329, around AU$450). If you’re looking to upgrade the OnePlus phone you bought this time last year, you’re going to be spending quite a bit more than you may have anticipated on the OnePlus 5.
Those who've watched the launch livestream will be able to buy it immediately online, using a code displayed on the screen. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until June 27 for the full online release.
In the UK, network provider O2 has exclusive rights to stock the OnePlus 5 in store, where it's available on contract. Paying £9.99 upfront and £40 per month for two years will get you the phone, unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of data.
In the US, it's not being sold through carriers, but the unlocked OnePlus 5 works with AT&T, T-Mobile and other smaller MVNO GSM carriers. It won't, however, works with Verizon, Sprint or US Cellular due to its lack of CDMA bands.
- New premium design makes it the best-looking OnePlus phone yet
- Dual-lens camera allows for lossless zoom, like the iPhone 7 Plus
Looking at the spec list for the OnePlus 5, you might think this is a rather limited upgrade, but there a few key features the company is pushing to make this the next phone you’ll want to buy, first and foremost of which is the new camera.
This is now a dual-lens setup that allows you to capture some attractive-looking 'bokeh' shots with artfully blurred backgrounds, as well as boasting a 'lossless' zoom feature, which essentially means that zooming in on subjects will only result in a negligible reduction in image quality.
This feature works in a similar way to the shooter on the iPhone 7 Plus, but here you're getting it on a more affordable phone. The aperture on the main sensor here is also impressively wide, and it means you’ll be able to take some of the best smartphone photos possible right now.
The design of the new phone feels like a big step up for OnePlus. It's still using the same materials as the OnePlus 3T – the body is made of anodized aluminum – but this is the slimmest and most attractive OnePlus phone to date.
OnePlus also wants this to be the most powerful phone on the market – and the good news is it's succeeded, with our testing showing it to have the strongest benchmarking scores of any device on the market at the time of testing.
- Thinnest phone OnePlus has ever made
- There's still a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headsets
- Only available in two colors – dark gray or deep black
The OnePlus 5 is the best-looking device the company has made to date. When you pick this phone up you can tell right away that it’s made with premium-grade materials.
The new handset has a more rounded design than previous iterations, which means it sits comfortably in your palm. It’s also the thinnest phone yet from OnePlus at 7.25mm – almost as thin as the iPhone 7, which is 7.1mm
It feels light in the hand – it weighs 153g to be precise – but not so light that you feel like it may blow away in a forceful gust of wind.
OnePlus is talking up the placement of the antenna bands here. According to a spokesperson the color has been specifically designed to try and hide the antenna bands for an unspoiled full-metal look, and when you do spot them they don't detract from the design of the phone.
On the right-hand edge of the phone sits the power button, with nothing else to interrupt the clean lines. The left edge features the toggle for silent mode, as well as the volume rocker.
The inclusion of the silent switch is an intriguing one. It's something OnePlus has included on every phone since the OnePlus 2, and it's still the only major Android phone player to do so.
Apple is the only other manufacturer that has persisted with the silent switch, but its inclusion on the OnePlus 5 is welcome. It makes it super easy to make the handset cinema, meeting and bedtime ready, and we like that.
There’s only one speaker driver, and that sits at the bottom of the phone, next to the USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack… yes, despite all the rumors OnePlus has decided to retain the legacy headphone technology for the OnePlus 5.
No awkward dongles required here (we're looking at you Apple, HTC and Moto), but Bluetooth is also on board if you fancy going wire-free.
OnePlus is also trying to sell us on what it calls the ‘Horizon Line’, the idea here being that half of the phone is cast in shadow while the other is in light. We're struggling to get on board with this, but it’s also easy to see that this is a beautiful-looking phone that feels elegant in use.
One shortcoming in terms of the design of the OnePlus 5 is that it’s not waterproof. A OnePlus spokesperson confirmed to TechRadar that it would survive a drop of rain if you need to use it outside, but it’s not IP-rated, and won’t survive a dunk like the Samsung Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ or iPhone 7 will.
The OnePlus 5 is only available in two colors, and these are tied to the storage/RAM options. The 64GB/6GB version comes in Slate Gray, while the more expensive 128GB/8GB model comes in Midnight Black.
So if you’re fussy about the color you want then you can’t be fussy about the power and storage you get under the hood, and vice versa.
- 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED screen looks great
- Makes for a display with 401 pixels-per-inch
The big headline display-wise is that OnePlus hasn’t decided to upgrade to a QHD resolution screen for the OnePlus 5 at all. Nope, not a sausage.
That means you get the same 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display from the OnePlus 3T, and it is a little hard not to be disappointed by that considering the increase in price of the handset this year.
Of course, OnePlus needs to cut a couple of corners to keep its price tag competitively below its rivals, and to be fair the screen is one of the very few places where it's decided to make a saving.
The good news is that the screen on the OnePlus 5 still looks beautiful. It’s a shame the company hasn’t opted for a higher resolution, but at 401 pixels per inch it looks great when you’re watching video, and as it’s AMOLED, blacks and other dark tones look great.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 tech is also present to ensure you’re getting a fully protected screen, and to ward off scratches.