OnePlus 5 Review – The Android Phone (Remaining) Windows Phone Users Should Switch To

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Two words are all that’s needed to most accurately describe the OnePlus 5: iPhone fast. If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to have an iPhone running Android, look no further. I’ve been so, so impressed with this phone. Although performance is the reason to buy an OP5, there’s a lot more to it, mostly great.

Hardware

It doesn’t feel like an iPhone. And I don’t actually think it looks like one either. It feels premium and Midnight Black sexy. The fit-and-finish is something I admire every time I take out the phone. Heck, I actually sometimes take it out just to admire it. It’s pretty manageable in one-handed use most of the time, especially if you’ve got bigger hands than me (most likely) and/or use the on-screen navbar.1 The one misstep is that it’s incredibly slippery in the hand. So much so, I actually purchased phone insurance for the first time (as well as a couple of dBrand skins). Another niggle is with the hardware buttons on the sides of the phone. The phone is beautifully thin but I think there’s room for them to have been slightly bigger for a more assured press.

In a contest between less pixels and more battery, in an unusual (but welcome) move for a flagship device, the latter was prioritised. Although the screen packs less pixels than other flagships, it doesn’t matter because it’s still a beautiful display. Battery life has been better for it, consistently and comfortably lasting an entire day. Win-win. Dash charging is legit too. Especially appreciate how the phone remains cool when I’m using it while it’s being charged.

Making it 3/3 is a camera that by default takes beautiful pictures. I don’t know whether it’s better/worse than the competition, but I do know you won’t be disappointed by it. It’s really fast too. For the second lens, I’d have a preferred a wide-angle because of my shooting preference. Maybe in the future phones will ship with more than two lenses to cater for every situation. Or maybe interchangeable lenses become a thing. Finally, Portrait mode is cool but a little finicky; I expect it to continue being optimised with software updates.

My biggest gripe with the hardware is the mono speaker and, more specifically, its placement on the bottom of the phone; watching a video in landscape requires you to carefully grip the phone to avoid blocking the speaker grills. Not a showstopper but highly inconvenient. Especially crappy because the display’s size and quality make me want to watch video on this.

A few minor points:

* The fingerprint sensor is lightning quick but I’m not particularly fond of its pill-shaped design. I think it looks ugly (and is actually one of the reasons I was always put off by the Galaxy design pre-S8); as far as geometric shapes go, I much prefer a circle. But I realise that would exacerbate claims that the phone is an iPhone copy.

* Most days I switch between “Silent”, “Do not disturb” and “Ring” modes. The Alert Slider thoughtfully ensures I don’t need to turn on the phone’s display to do so – one of those little things that make a big difference to each day. An issue I have though is in “Do not disturb” mode I can’t set it to stay silent when a phone call comes through. The workaround is to either only allow (favourite) contacts to get through or repeat callers (i.e. presumably urgent calls). Neither option is great.

* Changing phone profiles during the average day is common. The Alert Slider acknowledges this. But taking pictures is even more common. And so I wish there was a dedicated camera button to help speed things up and make taking pictures more satisfying by enabling a more tactile experience. This is probably the feature I miss the most about Windows Phones.

Software

I know stock Android is all the rage within tech circles. That and being on a budget is why I went with the Nexus 5X when I decided to switch to Android in early 2016. Coming from Windows Phone where the experience was delightful even on the low-end, I went into this with high expectations. This was a Google phone. Yes, it didn’t pack as much power as its 6P sibling, but Android was several iterations old. And so I still expected it to fly. And, to be fair, it did some of the time. But not all the time. Less so at the end of every day. Less less so with time. The other disappointment was while the most visible/important layer of Android is unquestionably good, the admittedly less important but not unimportant middle layer of polish was absent when you dig deep. Although I consider the gap to have reduced, significantly in many areas and bettered in some even, Android as experienced on the 5X for me still trailed iOS in the overall design and performance stakes. What I really didn’t expect was OnePlus’ OxygenOS to address this. But it has. No doubt helped by 8GB of RAM. OxygenOS is understated in the best possible way. It’s uninterested in adding more bloat to Android, instead focused on carefully applying a considerate layer of polish to the experience.2 The OnePlus 5 has actually changed my opinion of Android. Buttery smooth. Finally. My next phone will need to run OxygenOS.

Maybe more than performance, an even better reason to buy the OnePlus 5 is its price. I know a £500 phone is not cheap, but for almost £200 less than a Galaxy S8, after ~1 week of use, for me it’s a no-brainer. If you do, you won’t regret it. But don’t be mislead, even if the OnePlus 5 cost the same as a Galaxy S8, I’d still go with it because of its superior performance and OxygenOS.3 I’ve been seriously productive because of these two factors; multitasking is a breeze with no sign of stutter regardless of what I throw its way. But your priorities may be different.4 If they’re not, then the OnePlus 5 is highly recommended. Especially if you’re on a Windows Phone and don’t want an iPhone.

1. I didn’t because you get more screen estate with the capacitive buttons and it’s more predictable as they’re always there, unlike the software buttons whose visibility may vary depending on what you’re doing. 

2. A beautiful dark theme that’s carefully applied everywhere (and not just selectively like in other Android skins) is my favourite addition. It gives the phone a similar overall look and feel to the one that pulled me towards the Zune and later Windows Phone. 

3. Although I can’t ever see OnePlus hitting price-parity with established high-end flagships in the future (especially as their prices increase), I won’t be surprised if it gets a little more expensive with each iteration. Considering what you get in return though, I won’t complain, because as a OnePlus fan (and not customer) I’m more interested in seeing them succeed than saving myself a few pounds. In the meanwhile, I’ll savour this relative bargain. 

4. Such as wireless charging, minimal bezels, expandable storage and water resistance. For me, it’s actually a simple and clear choice. Performance is essential. The rest are luxuries. 

I originally wrote this at: http://mtrostyle.net/blog/oneplus5_review.

Bardi

Comments (16)

16 responses to “OnePlus 5 Review – The Android Phone (Remaining) Windows Phone Users Should Switch To”

  1. Nic

    Good review. I'd add that the vibration is weak. Most times I'll miss notifications when in vibrate mode (thankfully having it synced to my Fitbit means that I'm not missing calls/sms). And I really dislike the slider for that, and that there is no true silent option. It's probably the biggest miss on the phone for me.


    A dedicated camera button would be nice, but nobody does that, and the double-click on the power into the camera is a good enough feature 99.9% of the time. I think that an optical zoom would be the next best step. I tend to see a lot of graininess when using the digital zoom.


    Like you I found it overly slippery, and started with their bumper case, which was not much better, and really offered no protection, so I've moved to an Otterbox case, which provides me with a lot more confidence (especially when out on the motorbike and the phone is sitting in a RAM mount on the bars).


    Battery life has been extremely pleasant, with moderate use I get two days out of the phone, and even heavy use I still don't need to do any kind of top up charge during the day. A little more information around the Dash standard, and whether or not standard USB-C cables provide the support for the fast charging capabilities would be good to know, but there's a bit of a dearth of information out there around that.


    The fingerprint reader is ridiculously convenient. I have never been a fan of them, but with this phone it's just like pressing the button to bring the screen up, it's that fast. I was trying to explain it to my wife, and had to show her the phone locked, and then unlocked, even then it's hard to fathom that the phone was locked in the first place. Outstanding stuff!


    I've been using Android since the Nexus One came out, and have to say that the OP5 is the best handset I've gotten to use. It's fast, I mean blazing, compared to everything else I've used (coming up from a Moto X Pure as my last device). The screen looks great, brightness is really good, battery lasts longer than anything since a Nokia candy bar, camera is decent (in particular good light). For its price, I'm not sure that you can go wrong.

  2. Paul O'Flaherty

    Thanks for sharing. I'm a Windows Phone hold-out and was planning on keeping my Lumia until prized from my cold dead hand... but as the Lumia spends most of the time cold and dead (not sure if battery, phone or OS problem) I guess it is time to face facts and move on.

    For me, switching to iOS vs Android is choosing the lesser of two evils. WP was/is far from perfect, but (when it worked) I found it pleasant to use and flexible enough for my needs.

    My wife moved back to an iPhone a while ago, mostly due to wanting some coupon-app (which then proceeded to crash immediately on opening for months until finally updated) but the experience has been underwhelming and as her tech support I'm p1ssed off trying to get iTunes to recognize her audio books are not songs and to stop randomly shuffling them and losing the position. I did try downloading an audio book app but couldn't get it to 'see' her book files and despite the app being highly rated, the instructions were for a different version of (desktop) iTunes and didn't work. Might just resort to an Audible subscription and re-buy the books to avoid the mess that is iTunes.

    I have an Android tablet so the kids can watch cartoons on long journeys, but for anything other than watching shows I find it slow and laggy (more so than the cheap Windows 2-in-1 I bought for only slight more, but which comes with keyboard, USB ports, mini HDMI, SD card slot, etc).  

    Perhaps it is just about what I'm used to using but I just find Android and iOS unpleasant to use - I guess I need to treat them as just tools for opening apps and ignore any aesthetics.

    Android may be my choice as it has a back button and accessible file system. But an iPhone is at least likely to hold its value a little better and be supported for longer (though the updates may make it effectively unusable, as with my last iPhone, an iPhone 4). 

    I may give this phone a try based on your recommendation. One area of concern I don't think you addressed is a commitment to provide OS updates. For $500 I'd like something that will be kept up to date with new features for a few years at least.

  3. ben55124

    OP3 was my android bridge from WP. Good choice on OP5. I'm sure I can get at least another year from my OP3. Software updates for their current model tend to be every 2-3 months. Not google phone level, but better than anything you would get from an android with carrier ties. Watch OP5 forums if you are interested in latest updates. You often need to VPN to Germany / Canada to get releases asap.

  4. Supatra

    They say that they are committed to providing frequent updates, but then Motorola have said that and I didn't see Nougat on that device when I finally shut it down a couple of weeks ago, so who knows.


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  5. Natasha112

    i have a dumb question. When you switch to OnePlus 5, how to move content from the old phone to OP5?

    • Nic

      In reply to Natasha112:

      Contacts and photos should move over on their own (cloud ftw), as for other stuff there are a couple of options. You can connect up a USB cable, and backup things to a computer (great for music), or use something like Titanium backup to backup your apps, and their data to either a computer, or a cloud service like Dropbox. Most app data is cloud based, so you shouldn't need to worry about it, but there may be a few. I think Titanium might need root access, so check out something like Helium or Ultimate Backup as another option.

  6. Jules Wombat

    Does it have a Live Tiles centric Home Page ? No.

    Then no Thanks. I will stick with my lovely Lumia 650 Thanks.

  7. jlv632

    I'll keep my Lumia 950. Really don't have an interest in making a Google account... If I did One Plus don't want to "Think Global" and post to Australia so yeah... God... maybe Apple if my Lumia dies tomorrow...

    • OwenM

      In reply to jlv632:

      I held that belief and held on to my Windows Phone for a long time. Eventually I purchased a cheap Android handset so i'd have access to Google Maps for an overseas holiday. It was like a whole new world opened up for me and I've never looked back.


      The Google services are amazing. They're really trying to win the hearts and minds of consumers. It's also sad because it's everything Microsoft could and should be, but isn't.

    • GarethB

      In reply to jlv632:

      Oneplus have already announced they'll be shipping to AU - intended for this month.

      https://forums.oneplus.net/threads/oneplus-is-coming-to-australia.589297/

  8. Natasha112

    If you recently switched to OnePlus and have trouble moving data from old phone to OP5, then you can check out this post to get all data transferred.

  9. nortonsupport

    how to transfer data from system to other in iphone 6s




  10. Nic

    Dedicated camera button would be nice, but double click the power, then click volume up or down and it takes the shot. It's quick enough for the vast majority of uses.

  11. jpwalters

    I agree with this article to a large degree. I switched to a 5T from the 950XL just before Christmas. I still miss it. I completely overlooked the fact that my Ford Sync nicely integrated with Windows Phone before I switched. I used to be able to respond to text messages through the voice navigation, and it tied into Cortana nicely. Android and iOS don't have that tight integration. I guess to many this is a moot point since the Microsoft/Ford relationship dissolved a while ago. But in my defense, people are more apt to keep their cars for 5-10 years than their phone.


    Also considering Microsoft is now selling phones with it's launcher (Samsung) and apps, they really could have done a better job flushing out some tools to migrate Contacts, SMS, and photos over to the Android ecosystem. Microsoft's own APP crashed at the very notion of 17,000 SMS messages. I was able to download a 3rd party APP that was able to move them, but it wasn't perfect.


    Even with the new Apps, Outlook still lacks a dark theme. I was able to turn on dark theme for the OS, and several Apps. I'm mostly settled into the new phone.

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