The OnePlus 5 is probably the next best smartphone after the mighty Samsung Galaxy S8
OnePlus made a name for itself by creating well made and feature packed smartphones that undercut the cost of many of the big Android handsets from the likes of Samsung and HTC.
However, by using the Cyanogen operating system and offering a limited number of units, the Chinese company was not quite ready to knock the big Android players off their prime spots.
But then OnePlus moved over to its OxygenOS, a re-skinned version of Android packed up in a solid flagship chasing handsets like the OnePlus 3T at a mid-rage price, which helped it become the company to watch, alongside the likely suspects of Samsung, Apple, and HTC.
Now the OnePlus 5, which illogically succeeds the OnePlus 3, looks to not just fire a shot across the bow of the current crop of Android flagships but sink them all together.
Let’s get down to brass tacks; the OnePlus 5 is more expensive than its predecessors, costing £449 for the base model which sports 64GB of on board storage and 6GB of RAM, going up to £499 for a 128GB version with a beefy 8GB of RAM. It’s over £100 more expensive than the OnePlus 3T and a good bit more wallet damaging than the £329 OnePlus 3 form early 2016.
But the OnePlus 5 offers an uptick in design, materials and camera that go some way to justifying it’s heavier price tag.
What you won’t get is much in the way of colour choice, with the handset either coming in Slate Grey and Midnight Black; hardly a spectrum of shades.
The OnePlus 5 is to my eyes the best-looking hand set the company has produced, as well as being the thinnest at 7.25mm. It’s light as well, weighing in at 153g, yet doesn’t feel like a gust of wind will send it flying out of your hand.
I found it a very satisfying handset to hold and use thanks to an all-metal unibody construction that tapers at the edges, with a matt finish on the rear and a glossy Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front.
A rear camera array protrudes from the svelte frame meaning the phone doesn’t quite sit flat, and I also noticed some sharp edges on the camera bump; nothing major but ever so slightly out of kilter with the smoothness of the rest of the handset.
Given the position of an excellent fingerprint scanner that doubles as a home button which is flanked by a brace of hidden capacitive buttons, at a rapid glance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the OnePlus 5 as Apple’s iPhone 7. And that’s no bad thing as Cupertino’s latest iPhone is a rather nicely designed and built device; the OnePlus 5 five comes close to matching the quality and looks of the iPhone 7.
But, on the handset I had there was a slight wobble to the power button that belied the fact that the OnePlus 5 is a good bit cheaper than the iPhone 7, and I can’t help but think that the matte anodised aluminium rear doesn’t quite feel as lovely as that of the iPhone or the Pixel XL, my current smartphone.
On the left side of the handset you’ll find a volume rocker and a silent mode switch, which I fount to be a little unnecessarily given how easy it its to switch the OnePlus 5 into ‘do not disturb’ mode through a quick swipe and tap.
On the bottom of the handset there is a USB Type-C connection, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a single speaker. The former two are more than welcome. but the single speaker driver can be easy to block wen holding the handset in portrait mode, which awkwardly muffles the speakers less than punchy sound.
Another niggle is the lack of the water resistance now commonly included in most flagship smartphones. Like the Pixel XL, it will weather a few droplets of rain, but this is not going to be a handset that appreciates a dunk in a pint or toilet bowl.