Oneplus 5 – Is this the best Android smartphone of 2017? [First Impressions]

The much awaited smartphone is finally here. The amount of hype that OnePlus manages to create is monumental. Ever since Oneplus one was released, there was no looking back and the company just kept moving forward. In spite of their stumbles and fumbles with devices like Oneplus 2 and Oneplus x, Oneplus “Never Settled”. Oneplus 3 and 3T were huge success for them and now we have the Oneplus 5. I have briefly played with the Oneplus 5 and here is my initial impression.

Does it look like the iPhone?

Well, let us first address the elephant in the room. The design of the Oneplus 5 is nothing innovative. It is a plain, simple and safe design. But does it look like an iPhone? From a certain angle, it looks like an iPhone. But in reality, the iPhone 7 Plus and Oneplus 5 looks and feels totally different. iPhone 7 Plus has a solid heavy weight and rounded edges. But Oneplus 5 feels light and the edges are not just rounded, but curved. To me, personally, both the Oneplus 5 and iPhone 7 plus are not identical. The location of the camera and the color choice is similar, but there ends the similarity.

How is the build quality?

The OnePlus 5 is made of high quality aluminium. The phone is only 7.5 mm thin, yet it has a solid build quality. The sand blasted finish feels premium and the matte black color adds to its aesthetics. OnePlus 5 feels sleek, slender and sturdy. It may not be a head turner or a fashion statement, but it is built for performance and that is clearly evident. The best designed Oneplus device award still goes to the Oneplus 3/3T.

Does it have the 3.5 mm audio jack?

There were rumors suggesting that the OnePlus 5 would do away with 3.5 mm audio jack. But rumors are rumors. It has the 3.5 mm audio jack at the bottom next the the USB-C port and the mono speaker grill. The top is plain. On one side you would find the power and volume buttons and the other side the ringer switch along with the dual SIM card slot. It does not have a hybrid SIM slot, so no expansion of memory.

Is it water proof?

No, it does not have any sort of certified water or dust ingress protection. This is a major point of worry. Considering the fact that the Oneplus 5 is no more a cheap device, OnePlus should have added IP rating to protect the phone from dust and water.

How is the display?

The display is a 5.5 inch AMOLED panel with full HD resolution. While the other flagship devices have moved on to QHD, it is sad to see Oneplus 5 still stuck with full HD, quoting battery and performance reasons. The 2.5D curved display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and OnePlus has included a screen-protector along with the mobile. With what I have in hand, I can say that the display looks bright and the color levels are excellent. Images are sharp and the text is crisp. It has reading mode, to help ease the strain on eyes while reading. Overall, I would say that the OnePlus  is a hairline improvement over Oneplus 3T display and nothing more.

How is the performance?

The mobile is powered by the latest and the greatest Snapdragon 835. It comes in 2 variants: 6 GB RAM with 64 GB memory or 8 GB RAM with 128 GB RAM. Honestly, I don’t find any performance difference between the 6 GB and the 8 GB variants yet. Still I would recommend the 8 GB variant because of its storage capacity. The mobile is super fast, blazing fast and insanely fast. Opening any native or installed app is ridiculously instantaneous. Installing apps is fast, switching between apps is crazy fast. Without any doubt, this mobile can match (or even surpass) the flagship phones from any Android phone maker.

Is there any difference between the 6 GB and the 8 GB variant?

Physically, there is no difference between these two variants. The performance is also very similar. On the 8 GB RAM variant, you get 128 GB of storage. Multitasking is supposed to be good on the 8 GB variant, but the 6 GB variant also performs equally good. In a real world scenario, you would not find any difference in their performance, unless you are running some synthetic benchmarks. Just because of the storage, I would go for the 8 GB. I wish they had a 6 GB RAM with 128 GB variant.

What are the other hardware highlights of the mobile?

OnePlus 5 does not have FM radio. It does not have IR Port. It has a super fast fingerprint sensor on the front and is made of ceramic. It supports Bluetooth 5.0 for connecting 2 devices at the same time.

How does the dual camera setup work?

The mobile has 16 MP sensor with f/1.7 along with a 20 MP sensor of f/2.6. The camera does not have any Optical image stabilization, which is a huge negative point. The 20 MP camera is a tele focus lens and it with 2X lossless optical zoom. It also aids in clicking portrait shots with background blur. I have used many dual lens camera systems and honestly, I don’t have faith in this concept. Huawei P9 is by far the best mobile with dual lens implementation. Having said that, the Oneplus 5 dual camera setup is not bad either. The background blur works well, most of the time. It is quite intelligent to blur the background according to the distance and give a natural depth of focus.

Overall, the image quality is good. Under low light conditions, the images do have a bit of noise. But I love the dynamic range on this mobile. I don’t have faith in DXOmark either, but I must say that this is a very good camera. But compared to the likes of LG G6 or Samsung S8 Plus, the Oneplus 5 camera is a bit weak, when it comes to low light. If you are not comparing, you have an awesome camera mobile in your hand, while shooting with the Oneplus 5.

Is the camera app user friendly?

The camera app is a rip-off from the iPhone camera app. Just like any of the Chinese mobiles like Vivo and Oppo, Oneplus has blindly copied the UI from iPhone. There are mobiles like Huawei, Asus and Nubia which have feature packed Camera app. But Oneplus Camera app, stands no where close to them. It is very basic and throws in a manual mode and is very boring to use. But yes, it is very user friendly to use, if you are not looking for some quirky features.

Which version of Android is on the Oneplus 5?

Oxygen OS is my least favorite skin of Android. It is good in a way that it has stock android feel to it, but it has always been buggy. My unit, which I was playing around, just crashed and rebooted twice, without any reason. Oneplus 5 runs on Android 7.1.1 with Oxygen OS on top. Oxygen OS has a few features like customizing accent colors of the UI, reading mode, gestures, etc… But in general, it is a very conservative OS and I would suggest you to flash some custom ROM like Hydrogen or Lineage on your Oneplus 5, from day 1. Oneplus does not void warranty for rooted or custom ROM mobiles.

How long does the battery last?

Well, the mobile is powered by a 3300 mAh battery. It has a super fast and resource friendly processor and a Full HD display. It lasts for a day of normal usage. But I have not spent enough time with it to give a final verdict. It has that super cool and ultra fast Dash charge, which was called as Vooc charging with Oppo mobiles. But this technology gives the mobile a battery boost of upto 60% in 30 minutes.

Is it worth the price tag?

Cheap Oneplus mobiles are no more. With every iteration, Oneplus has been increasing the price of their mobiles. The 6GB variant is priced at Rs 32999. The top end variant with 8 GB RAM is priced at Rs 37999 and even at that price, this mobile is worth it. You are guaranteed the best Android mobile with a great camera, latest hardware and blazing performance. I definitely would recommend the Oneplus 5, but I would also wait for a final review of the mobile from Gadgetdetail.

Why should you not buy it?

If you are very particular about quad HD display, water proof mobiles, stereo speakers or an unique design, then you can stay away from Oneplus 5. Again, it does not look like iPhone, but the design is not unique. Otherwise, I don’t see any other reason, why you must not buy the mobile.

Why should you buy it?

If you are looking to buy a flagship mobile with the latest hardware that is future proof for the next 2 or 3 years, then the Oneplus 5 is for you. If you are looking for a no-nonsense Android Experience, then the Oneplus 5 would satisfy you. If you want the best Camera for under Rs 40k, then Oneplus 5 would be the best choice. I have personally gone through the service experience for my Oneplus One, and I must say that they have an excellent service model in place.

The Oneplus 5 may not be a mobile from the future. But it is a very practical and sensible mobile for your present. This is my first impression of the mobile after playing with it for a few hours. But then do watch out for our detailed review of the Oneplus 5.


A Technology evangelist, Giridhar reviews gadgets and mobile applications. He is also a passionate photographer and a user experience designer by profession.

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