OnePlus 5 – The Flagship Killer is Back, or Is It?
Ever since the beginning of mobile phones, there has always been a flagship. It could be a brick of a phone or a tiny slim piece of a sculpture that looks like a piece of paper stacked on top of one another. But there are flagships. We may not know it as such back in the day, but they are meant to represent the best of the brand. A sort of statement that that device is the best that they can come up with to win the market over. It is the best of the best offerings they have in their device line up. With the highest of quality though, comes cost. Obviously being the best that the manufacturer can offer it comes out as the most expensive device that they have in their stables. Most of the time as well, their prices (these days) are north of MYR3,000.
Most of the time though these devices do not actually cost that much to manufacture. Even if you consider shipping options, taxes, and tariffs the total cost may not even reach four thirds the asking price. So in plenty of cases, certain small manufacturers have always tried to best these flagships with flagships of their own with much lower asking price. The problem with the lower asking price is the phrase “you get what you pay for”. There are always a few missing features that may not be deal breakers, but they could be the reason why the device costs half that of a proper up-market branded flagship.
Then came OnePlus the brand that aims to change all that. Their goal, at the time at least was to eradicate the world of overpriced flagships. They were supposed to be the voice of reason. Their first device, the One was a testament to that mission and philosophy. It was uncompromising in terms of performance. It offered the best of the markets and none of those drawbacks from half priced “flagships” but yet it costed about the same as most mid-range devices at the time. So the moniker of ‘Flagship Killer’ at that time for the iconic OnePlus One was very much a fitting name. It was a unique device in every way. Even the materials used was strange at the time but was very much a welcome change.
Fast forward to 2017 though the name OnePlus has been drowned by the very giants it planned to take down. The OnePlus 3T was not a bad device mind you, but it did not have the appeal of the OnePlus One. Neither did it have the sort of price tag that the OnePlus One carried. It is still very much lower priced compared to the other flagships though. But it did not look like it was any different from the other flagships. It certainly does not feel like it was the ‘Flagship killer’ that it was meant to be. But there is a new kid on the block though; and it comes in black – the OnePlus 5.
Supposedly OnePlus have worked on this device for three years now. The result, if you have not actually seen the device just yet should be breathtaking. If OnePlus have actually worked on this device for the past three quiet years the device should have that distinctive look about it right? It should look mind-blowing. Except that it is not; and that is the beginning of a problem for one of the fastest growing industry in the world – variety, or rather a lack of it. That is a topic for a different day though, this article focuses on the OnePlus 5 and its launch.
So, the OnePlus 5 then; a new ‘Flagship Killer’ or is it just another ‘so near, yet so far’ device that the 3T became?
If you go to the OnePlus 5 website right now, here. The first thing that grabs your attention is the full page feature of the OnePlus 5’s dual camera. It has a pair of 16-Megapixel f/1.6 and 20-Megapixel f/2.6 cameras at the back that will take photos with shallow depth-of-field effect with ease. In Theory also the photos should come out phenomenal due to the 20-megapixel detail level. it also does not matter if you have butterfingers (not severe ones obviously) as they do have Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) on their 16-Megapixel sensor. It is 4K capable and can record 720p videos at up to 120fps. Technically you can do a slow-mo fighting scene with the device, but it also depends if you mind the lower resolution or not. The front facer is a 16-Megapixel of a thing with f/2.0 aperture for clear selfies. You can do videos through the front camera at 1080p as well so nothing missing there.
Then you scroll further down to find the design being described as “slim, with stamina”, “refined”, and “sleek”. if we had to describe for ourselves how the device looks, we would say that it looks like a lovechild of Apple and Android. The shape is very reminiscent of HTC’s of old. The bold, rounded ends that bends into an angled bezel on the front of the device. But at the same time it has that very familiar lines that you can find on not just a modern Apple device, but some of the old ones too. At 7.25mm the OnePlus 5 is currently the thinnest of any flagships that the Chinese based manufacturer have produced. Battery life though was improved by 20% apparently (from the 3T). It also comes in two colours now – Midnight Black, and Slate Grey.
Now, for the rest of the specs. It does pack a flagship type Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core processors that is clocked at 2.45GHz; the latest and greatest of the highly popular System on a Chip (SoC) manufacturer. That over-the-top Octa-core SoC is also paired with more than enough 6GB of RAM, or if you like 8GB of RAM and an Adreno 540 GPU. You also either get 64GB of storage or 128GB if you pay more for it.
The device is still charged by a USB Type-C cable like its predecessor, but the difference now is that USB Type-C is becoming more standard. That port Dash Charges the 3,300mAh battery at 5V/4A which, in theory could charge your device to full in just over an hour. It is supposed to be cooler too.
This new age OnePlus also features three microphones, just short of HTC’s revolutionary U Ultra. Its speakers packs new Dirac HD Sound and Dirac Power Sound too for ultra strong volume and better quality sounds. On top of that you still get the usual 3.5mm headphone jack, fingerprint sensor, and the regular array of proximity, light, gyroscope, accelerometer sensors. It does come with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 though meaning it will have more stable Bluetooth connections with any other Bluetooth device. That Bluetooth 5.0 also effectively makes the OnePlus 5 one of the most advanced device in the market.
To wrap the whole package up there is the beautifully crafted 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top of a 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display that packs a Full HD 1080p resolution. Wait a minute, what is Optic AMOLED? Technically an Optic AMOLED is just a Super AMOLED technology you see from the iconic Korean manufacturer, Samsung. The difference here is that OnePlus have fiddles with the colour contrasts and temperatures to create a display that they claim to reproduce even more vivid and true-to-live colours. Taking advantage of all the super sophisticated spec is an Android 7.0 Nougat based Oxygen OS.
The OnePlus 5 has launched globally two days ago. Problem is we do not know when, or whether or not the device will arrive in Malaysia officially. Prices? The basic 6GB/64GB version goes at US$479 (MYR2,054*) while the over the top 8GB/128GB goes for US$539 (MYR2,312*). It does seem a little expensive at first. By the time it gets into the Malaysian market too prices might go higher with import taxes and what not. Think about this though, the prices are still lower than a big brand flagship. In fact, even with our estimations the OnePlus 5 will still cost nearly MYR1,000 less than its major brand competitors.
The big question now is that whether this is a true ‘Flagship Killer’ like its first predecessors. For starters, its asking price has not been increased by that much actually. It is still a fraction of what the big brands offer you. It does have all the right specs for to be a flagship with state-of-the-art processor, and over-the-top RAM offerings. But there is that very conventional, very familiar looking body that does not make it any more special than any other flagships. The design though is just a minor drawback of the device though. We do think that this is still a very compelling device despite the design. At the price point as well, there is nothing better packaged that this OnePlus 5. So, is it the new ‘Flagship Killer’? Yes, it definitely is; despite the overly familiar design.
*based on approximate conversion rate of US$1=MYR4.29