OnePlus 5 - Performance and Software

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OnePlus 5 – Performance

The OnePlus 5 could very well be the fastest phone I have ever used, and it certainly has the most drool-worthy spec sheet of any phone out there.
 
I’m not entirely convinced it needs all the power it has, and I’d love to see Android app devs actually try and put some of the power to good use, but people love specs and OnePlus is certainly giving them that.
 
The Snapdragon 835 runs the show, and it’s a very good SoC. Along with being speedy, it’s efficient and each phone that’s powered by it does get better battery life. There’s the Adreno 540 GPU, which can comfortably handle any 3D game on Google Play, and there’s super-fast UFS 2.1 storage that helps load times. You can choose between a 64GB and 128GB model, but pick wisely as there’s no expandable storage.
 
Then there’s probably the biggest point of overkill in this phone: the RAM. My review unit has 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM, which is double that of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the same as a £2000 MacBook Pro. Frankly, it’s complete overkill and 4GB of RAM is more than enough for an Android phone. Apps do stay in memory longer, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s really using all that RAM. It’s a nice spec to boast about, but really you won’t notice it that much.

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OnePlus didn’t state this, but it makes sense for some of that RAM to be dedicated to the camera. Especially with the dual sensors and intensive portrait mode available.
 
Specs are one thing, but actual performance is far more important. And thankfully the OnePlus 5 uses its components effectively. There’s no lag, apps open instantly and the common Android judder – that even rears its annoying head on the Galaxy S8 – is nowhere to be seen.
 
In more synthetic benchmark tests, the OnePlus 5 not surprisingly also impresses. It picked up 6719 in Geekbench’s multi-core test, which puts it at the top of the pile above the Sony Xperia XZ Premium (6492), and the single-core score is about the same as the Samsung Galaxy S8’s at 2000. The iPhone 7 still rules the roost in single-core performance, which is arguably far more important for day-to-day tasks, but Android is slowly getting better.

There has been some concern since the announcement that OnePlus is once again doing something behind the scenes to alter benchmark scores. The scores I got seemed to match up with what I was expecting considering the internals here, and they don’t seem dramatically high. But, really, don’t read too much into benchmarks on phones anyway as they’re very limited and don’t offer a whole lot of useful information.
 
The fingerprint sensor sits below the display and is fast and accurate, unlocking instantly every time I tested it.
 
I’m a little less happy with other parts of the performance. OnePlus says it’s upgraded the Wi-Fi module, but it’s still downright poor and loses connection to my router constantly. I tend to get poor reception in my kitchen anyway, but the OnePlus 5 drops out way before any other device.
 
The downward-facing speaker too is poor; it’s loud, but gets blocked so easily that I have to juggle the phone when I’m watching a video without headphones. Considering there’s a sizeable bezel around the display, I’m slightly disappointed there isn’t some better audio output here.
 
A nice touch is Bluetooth 5.0, which improves connection strength over distances, but unlike on the Galaxy S8 there doesn’t seem to be a way to split connection over two wireless devices.
 
The OnePlus 5 is an absolute winner for speed, then, but I would’ve preferred to see more reliable Wi-Fi and a better speaker rather than that extra RAM.

OnePlus 5 – Software

Some in the TrustedReviews office disagree, but in my eyes Oxygen OS is the best Android skin on any phone, and in some ways it’s even better than the version you get on the Pixel and Pixel XL.
 
It takes all the bits that make those so slick – swipe-up navigation drawer, long-pressing icons for extra shortcuts, fantastic notifications – but adds in extra bits that make it better. I love being able to switch between capacitive and on-screen navigational buttons, while the Night theme and customisable accent colours give some nice variety. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘Shelf’ – the Google Now page replacement – but it can easily be turned off and is certainly less annoying that the Bixby screen.
 
None of those features are new, but that’s not to say the software experience here is the same as on the OnePlus 3 or 3T. A new ‘Reading’ mode filters out blue light and uses grey-scale mapping to make reading easier on your eyes, and this takes the usual blue-light filter mode and turns it up a notch. It’s odd at first, but it does make reading text easier in the dark.
 
A new Gaming mode turns off pestering notifications when you’re in battle and there’s a Secure Folder for hiding away those important documents (or candid snaps). Neither of these are unique, but they’re nice additions.

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‘Less is more’ is the software approach OnePlus has taken, and it works. There’s barely any needless bloatware and the apps that are pre-installed are designed within Google’s Material Design guidelines, so they look and work really nicely. It feels like OnePlus has only tinkered when it needed to, instead of redoing everything for the sake of it.

One strange omission, and I believe this was the case with the OnePlus 3 too, is that there isn’t the correct DRM on this phone to allow streaming of Netflix, Google Play Movies or Amazon Prime in HD resolution. Instead, it caps you at standard definition and forces you to manually switch from 480p on YouTube. It’s strange, and while it might not be annoying for everyone, I know it will be for those who want to use this as a media machine.

My only concern is how long it’ll take for this phone to be updated to Android O, when that’s released later in the year.

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