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OnePlus 5 Review Roundup: What Critics Love and Hate

Starting at $479, the OnePlus 5 offers a premium Android experience and top-notch specs for much less than flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S8. But is it for you?

Available in slate gray or midnight black, the OnePlus 5 sports a colorful, 5.5-inch HD screen; a fast Snapdragon 835 processor; and your choice of 6GB or 8GB of RAM. Like the iPhone 7, the OnePlus 5 sports dual cameras on the back. Though the OnePlus 5's visible bezels aren't on trend with 2017, reviewers generally have positive things to say about this device..Here's what critics are saying.

Tom's Guide

"If you just want a solid phone at an attractive price, the OnePlus 5 has everything you need." — Sam Rutherford, Tom's Guide

Tom's Guide's Sam Rutherford tested the OnePlus 5 and found it to be a reliable smartphone for its price tag. Performance-wise, Rutherford said the OnePlus can compete with premium phones, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Additionally, Rutherford was impressed with the OnePlus 5's RAM configurations (6GB and 8GB) that "not only puts most similarly priced laptops to shame, but also helps with battery efficiency.” However, he noted that the OnePlus 5 falls short in certain areas compared to the Galaxy S8, including the sound quality and the dual cameras' optical zoom.

The Good

“The OP5's color range is where it really excels: It covered 220 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which is higher than both the Galaxy S8's (183 percent) and Pixel XL's (191 percent).”

“On the Tom's Guide Battery Test (continuous web surfing over T-Mobile 4G LTE), the OnePlus 5 lasted a truly impressive 13 hours and 6 minutes. That's good enough to land the OnePlus 5 inside the top three on our list of the longest-lasting phones on the market. In comparison, the Galaxy S8+ lasted 11:04:39, and the Pixel XL lasted 11:11.”

The Bad

“Even though I like the addition of a 2x optical zoom, the OP5's secondary 20-MP camera still needs a fair bit of improvement. The 5's picture didn't look any better than what I got from the S8 when using its 2x digital zoom.”

“Really, the OnePlus 5's biggest issue is that you won't be able to use it on CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint.”

“The one design aspect that I think could have used a bit more attention is the OnePlus 5's lone bottom-mounted speaker. “It just doesn't sound as rich or detailed as the dual-speaker setups you get on other phones.”

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Ars Technica

“Enter the OnePlus 5, which continues the company's tradition of offering an all-business, high-end smartphone for a great price.” — Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo took the OnePlus 5 for a spin and called it the “best sub-$500 phone you can buy.” With unique features such as the dash charging (duplicates heat-generating power management circuitry in the power brick) and “Gaming Do Not Disturb Mode,” the OnePlus 5 proves to be a midrange smartphone in a league of its own. Amadeo was pleased with the OnePlus 5's speedy performance and called it a benchmark champ. Although the OnePlus 5 has above-average specs, Amadeo found the optical zoom and rear cameras left much to be desired.

The Good

“The metal body is a big improvement over the delicate glass bodies Samsung and HTC are using.”

“Software sticks to Google's Material Design, while adding new features. It's familiar, useable, and fits in with the third-party app ecosystem.”

The Bad

“A 3- to 4-month wait time for major OS updates, no promise of receiving a security update every month, and unknown update support.”

“Lots of Android phones borrow parts of Apple's design, but this one crosses over into "embarrassing knockoff" territory, especially when smartphone design has improved so much in 2017.”

CNET

“The OnePlus 5 is outstanding, especially for the price; no other phone gives you the same bang for the buck.” — Lynn La, CNET

Lynn La from CNET said the OnePlus 5 is a high-performing smartphone that costs hundreds of dollars less than other Android flagships. For the price, La was surprised by the OnePlus 5's “superb dual-camera” and long-lasting battery. Compared with other phones on the market, La pointed out that the OnePlus 5 takes excellent low-light photos. However, La believes the OnePlus 5 loses its edge over premium Androids with its lack of water resistance and 1080p screen.

The Good

“The display, which is now fortified with Gorilla Glass 5 to make it tougher, is vibrant and sharp.”

“Unlike other phones that have two cameras for wide-angle or monochrome purposes, the phone has a standard 16-megapixel shooter and a secondary 20-megapixel telephoto lens. This enables it to take "bokeh" images that have a shallow depth of field and blurred backgrounds (as if you took the photo with a DSLR camera).”

The Bad

“The OnePlus 5 will come in two storage capacity variants (both have no expandable storage), and you'll need to buy direct and unlocked since it's not available through major carriers.”

“It doesn't have super-slim bezels or the water-resistant body that so many top-tier phones do. And its price, while still hundreds less than its top-tier competitors, inches closer to them than [in] years past due to its more expensive features. As a result, the phone isn't quite the deal it once was.”

PC Mag

“The OnePlus 5 is an attractive unlocked phone with fast performance, solid camera capabilities, and excellent battery life, but it's not as strong a value as previous models.” Anjay Kumar — PCMag

PC Mag's Ajay Kumar agrees with other reviewers that the OnePlus 5 is a great value, especially in terms of speed and battery life. Other impressive features Kumar found include the OnePlus 5's ability to record 4K video at 30 frames per second and 1080p video at 60 fps.  However, he noted that there's a bit more “shake” in handheld footage compared with video taken with the Galaxy S8. The OnePlus can also shoot pictures in RAW format, and offers manual camera controls. Kumar also noted that the OnePlus 5 runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat and has OxygenOS, which adds features such as a custom widget screen for your apps, contacts and more.

The Good

“It should go without saying that real-world performance is incredibly smooth. Whether it's multitasking, [running] demanding games like Modern Combat and GTA: San Andreas, or [handling] twenty open tabs in Chrome, nothing causes the OnePlus 5 to skip a beat.”

“Other connectivity protocols supported are NFC, so you can use Android Pay, dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), and Bluetooth 5.0, which pairs with multiple speakers or headphones and improves range, speed, and quality.”

The Bad

“[The OnePlus 5] doesn't support gigabit LTE.”

“The display is a 5.5-inch 1,920-by-1,080 AMOLED panel covered in a protective layer of Gorilla Glass 5 that curves to meet the edges. This is the same resolution as the previous model, which is a bit disappointing considering the $400 [ZTE] Axon 7 has a Quad HD panel.”

The Verge

“If you're not too fussed about the camera, it's one of the better choices I can recommend out there.” — Vlad Savov, The Verge

The Verge's Vlad Savov was a bit more critical of the OnePlus 5, going as far to write, “The OnePlus 5 is good when it needed to be great.” Savov was disappointed with the OnePlus 5's “failed” dual-camera setup and overall design. He also questioned whether this new phone could maintain OnePlus' reputation of “market-breaking low prices” with its increased price compared to previous models. On a positive note, Savov said the OnePlus 5's responsiveness and speed are more than good enough for people who need a no-frills smartphone.

The Good

“The OnePlus 5 has one killer new feature I haven't seen before: its Reading Mode. This can be enabled per app or via a quick toggle. It desaturates the screen and adjusts the sharpness and brightness to your environment, so it essentially emulates a Kindle (which in itself tries to emulate real paper).”

“The theme of speed with the OnePlus 5 is extended by the Dash Charge charger in the box. Dash Charge is OnePlus' proprietary fast-charging system that debuted with the OnePlus 3 last year, and it wows: I clocked the OnePlus 5 going from a 9 percent charge to 74 percent in the exact half hour it took me to have breakfast one day.”

The Bad

“It now looks like a OnePlus 3 that's put on an iPhone 7 Plus costume.”

“On paper and in OnePlus' marketing materials, this dual camera is the OnePlus 5's big differentiator. In reality, it's a major letdown. The main camera lacks optical image stabilization (OIS) and produces soft images as a result.”

Image Credits: Keith Agnello/Tom's Guide