OnePlus 5: Has the flagship killer grown up to become the flagship?
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It was towards the end of last year when smartphone company OnePlus dropped a surprise and released an updated version of its flagship phone, the OnePlus 3. They called it the OnePlus 3T, and the phone undoubtedly redefined “flagship killer” phones, and put some of the then Android flagship phones to shame. It is now time for a new smartphone to take up that role. It is called the OnePlus 5, and this seems to be a genuine evolution over the 3T in many ways.
The OnePlus 5 will be available in two variants. The slate gray colour option with 64GB of storage and 6GB RAM has been priced at $479 (around Rs30,900), with the midnight black version (128GB storage/8GB RAM) priced slightly higher at $539 (around Rs34,800). This means that OnePlus phones are growing up, in terms of the pricing as well.
Lot of power, under the hood
This is one of the few phones in India, apart from the Sony Xperia XZ Premium (Rs61,990) and the HTC U 11 (Rs51,990) to get the power from Qualcomm’s very latest Snapdragon 835 processor. And it is not just the raw power from this top-of-the-line silicon that will be available to users because just as the OnePlus 3T, but a combination of other factors as well.
There will be a version with 6GB RAM complementing the Snapdragon 835 chip, and will have 64GB internal storage. This is not only faster than the Snapdragon 821, but is more power efficient too. Additionally, OnePlus 5 will have an even more powerful variant, with 8GB RAM, and will have 128GB internal storage. A lot of flagships are now offering 6GB RAM as a standard specification as well, to enable faster performance and smoother multi-tasking. However, OnePlus 5 will be the first phone with 8GB RAM. The idea is to offer a future-proof specification, because as and when developers add support for the even more RAM on offer, app and game load times and multi-tasking performance will significantly improve further.
That is not all, because the storage is the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.1 format, which supports very fast data read and write speeds. That, in turn, makes performance quicker too. There is also a feature called App Priority, which allows the OnePlus 5 to learn which apps you use most of the time—this way, these apps can be put in a state of readiness when you switch on your phone, as against the lesser-used apps taking up bandwidth at that time.
Two cameras are better than one?
OnePlus makes the switch to the dual cameras in the 5. The primary is a 16-megapixel camera (Sony IMX 398), and a 20-megapixel telephoto camera (Sony IMX 350) works in parallel. This is just the same as the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, where the main one has a wide-angle lens, while the secondary “telephoto” lens is used for additional detailing and to bring in the blur-out “bokeh” effect in photos. While the OnePlus 3T also had a 16-megapixel camera, it was a single lens setup. Also, the biggest under-the-hood change is with the aperture. While the OnePlus 3T has an f2.0 aperture size, the OnePlus 5 has a wider f1.7 aperture (in aperture ratings, the lower number means wider opening)—more light can be captured. This potentially means significantly better low-light photos. But, the pixel size has remained the same.
The camera has 2x optical zoom, and another 8x of digital zoom too. The optical zoom is because of the dual camera setup, something which the 3T did not have the advantage of. What will be interesting to see is how OnePlus has improved image processing algorithms, particularly for HDR photos.
A smaller battery, but offset by improvements
To make the OnePlus 5 slimmer and lighter than the OnePlus 3T, a slight sacrifice has been made on the size of the battery pack. While the 3T packed in a 3,400mAh battery, the 5 instead has a slightly smaller 3,300mAh battery. The smaller capacity will be offset by the fact that the OnePlus 5’s processor will be more power efficient, while there are some tweaks to the Oxygen OS running on Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) which will also potentially consume less power.
The Oxygen OS runs on top of Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), and has seen some tweaks and improvements over the version we have seen thus far in the OnePlus 3 and the 3T. There is a new reading mode, for instance. Then there are expanded screenshots, the app drawer is translucent, and even the vibration motors in the phone are quieter than before.