There is no doubt that OnePlus had a great year in 2016. The 3 and 3T smartphones, at different stages last year, redefined the “flagship killer" smartphone. Top-notch specs, good build quality and a competitive price combined well to create a user experience that matched most Android flagship phones at the time. Considering the stumbles OnePlus had in 2015, with phone launches as well as on the Oxygen OS software front, it was indeed a brave turnaround. But as we reach the half-way stage in 2017, it is time for the successor of the OnePlus 3, exactly 12 months later.

The thing is, OnePlus could go either way with the OnePlus 5 (the company is skipping the number 4, because it is believed that the 4 is considered inauspicious—though that hasn’t stopped rivals Xiaomi from launching multiple Mi and Redmi phones with the number 4 in the name). OnePlus could completely rock the boat, go back to the drawing board, and launch a phone that is nothing like the predecessors. Alternatively, they could follow the path the likes of Apple have trodden over the past year, and intuitively make an excellent product even better without too many changes. However, we feel the reality would lie somewhere between these two points.

First things first, OnePlus will not move away from the core that made the likes of the 3 and the 3T so popular—the powerful specifications. Expect the latest Qualcomm processors (the pre-listing on Amazon.in confirms that it will be powered by Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 835 chip), lots of RAM, lots of storage and a camera that could potentially match more expensive phones. Interesting to note that the OnePlus 3 set the benchmark of 6GB RAM in phones last year, and it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect the OnePlus 5 to perhaps again set the benchmark with one killer feature or specification. Though it is hard to imagine what that could be.

After the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T, there was considerable chatter from consumers on various online platforms, which suggested that a 1080p Full HD screen isn’t enough for a phone that considers itself to be a flagship killer. However, a 4K screen has its own problems—it’ll cost more, it’ll drain the battery more and that’ll mean OnePlus could have to fit an even larger battery which will hurt its ambitions of making an even slimmer smartphone.

If the OnePlus 5 must go into battle with the very best smartphones such as the HTC U 11 and the LG G6, for instance, it’ll have to be seriously up the game in terms of camera performance. It seems that a dual-camera setup is the way to go, something that multiple phone launches over the past few months have now proven. What we have heard so far is that OnePlus has tied up with software company DxO, better known for the DxOMark camera benchmarking tool, to make the 5’s camera even better. We don’t know much more at this point about the tie-up, but it is hard to imagine what the partnership could lead to. Could it be something like what Huawei did in partnership with optics company Leica, for the P9 smartphone? Whatever it is, the camera performance will have to be top notch and anything less will be a big step back.

It will remain a challenge for OnePlus to keep the pricing on the same level as the OnePlus 3T (Rs29,999). Priced any higher, the price advantage it might hold against the flagships will slightly erode, to say the least. And it is at that point when the “value proposition" tag will get ripped off, and the OnePlus 5 will deal with a whole new set of “flagship smartphone" scanning.

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