It’s the time of the year again when OnePlus shows other smartphone manufacturers how to make an excellent flagship device and offer it at a considerably lower price than everyone else. The OnePlus 5 demonstrates that the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, which has been around from 2013, listens to its customers and acknowledges the feedback it receives from them.
|Apple||Apple iPhone 7 Plus 32 GB Unlocked, Rose Gold (Certified Refurbished)||Buy on Amazon|$333.98(Price as of 05/18/2019 17:49 ET)|
|Oneplus||OnePlus 5 A5000 - Black - 8GB RAM + 128 GB - 5.5 inch - International Version||Buy on Amazon|$353.75(Price as of 05/18/2019 17:49 ET)|
With its air of exclusivity, premium features, and stylish design, OnePlus has always presented itself as a smartphone brand for savvy consumers who want the same level of quality and the same hassle-free user experience as iPhone users enjoy, but without the eye-rolling prices of Apple devices.
Starting from $479, compared to $769 for the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 seems to have what it takes to become the next go-to choice for all budget-minded Android flagship devotees. The real question is whether the attractive price tag doesn’t come with a few nasty surprises.
Even before it was officially released, the OnePlus 5 had become a meme because it looks like a clone of the iPhone 7 Plus. This is especially apparent when you place the two smartphones side-by-side and look at them from behind.
Both smartphones have the same oval camera module with two sensors and a LED flash in the upper-left corner. Where the iPhone has the iconic bitten apple, the OnePlus has its much less iconic glyph representing the number one.
The same story continues even from the other side, with the front-facing camera being located on the left side of the speaker. The only major aesthetic difference is the shape of the home button with an embedded fingerprint reader: the iPhone 7 Plus has a round button, while the OnePlus 5 has an oval button.
The good news is that OnePlus has also copied Apple’s signature build quality and used the same premium materials, making the OnePlus 5 easily the most well-made smartphone the company has ever made. One feature that will be instantly familiar to iPhone users and foreign to the Android crowd is the inclusion of a dedicated switch for the silent mode. Let’s face it, audio management on Android is still a mess even in 2017. Having a hardware switch that ensures that your smartphone won’t make a beep when you’re attending a meeting or are in the middle of a lecture can be a real life-saver.
The OnePlus 5 also has a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which Apple no longer uses. What it doesn’t have is any real protection against the ingress of water or dust. Yes, the smartphone will survive a few drops of water just fine, but don’t even think about using it outside when it rains without a special case. The iPhone 7, on the other hand, is IP67-certified, which means that it can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.
Neither device comes with a microSD card slot, so you’re always stuck with the amount of internal storage space you select when buying the smartphone.
Winner: Like it or not, the 3.5 mm headphone connector is on its way to retirement. Sooner or later, we won’t think twice about buying a new smartphone that doesn’t have one. There are many people out there who wouldn’t miss it already, but virtually everyone can appreciate water- and dust-resistance, which is why the iPhone 7 Plus take the cake.
Surprisingly, OnePlus has decided against upgrading the display to the QHD resolution, even though the OnePlus 5 is the most expensive smartphone the company has ever produced. As it is, the OnePlus 5 comes with the same Full HD 5.5-inch OLED display as its predecessor. Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protects the display and gives the smartphone those sexy rounded display edges that we’ve come to associate with flagship devices.
The iPhone 7 also has a 5.5-inch display with the Full HD resolution, but it utilizes the IPS display technology. The glass that covers the display is ion-strengthened and has a layer of oleophobic coating to keep fingerprints away.
Both displays exhibit all the usual characteristics of high-end smartphone displays: fantastic color reproduction, excellent sharpness, stellar viewing angles, perfect responsiveness, and high resistance to scratching. The iPhone 7 also supports 3D touch, a feature that’s very easy to live without.
Winner: Tie. We have no doubts that one display could be found to be objectively better than the other when put to rigorous testing, but we doubt that it would make any difference to consumers, who don’t have high-precision scientific measuring instruments in place of eyes.
What you’ll find inside the OnePlus 5 is nothing slower than the Snapdragon 835 chipset, the latest and greatest chipset from Qualcomm. It features the Adreno 540 GPU, and OnePlus has decided to use the chipset to its maximum potential by giving it either 6 or 8 GB of RAM to fill with data as it pleases. This is the first time we’ve seen 8 GB of RAM in a smartphone, and, while we understand the decision to include so much RAM in terms of marketing, we’re convinced that its impact on performance is non-existent. Even 4 GB should be more than enough for most users.
The iPhone 7 Plus comes with Apple’s A10 Fusion chipset, the PowerVR Series7XT Plus GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. In AnTuTu, a popular smartphone benchmarking app, the Snapdragon 835 scores about 2 percent better than the A10 Fusion chipset. In another benchmarking app, called Geekbench 4, the A10 Fusion scores significantly better in single-core scenarios and a slightly worse in multi-core scenarios. Finally, the Snapdragon 835 beats the A10 by up to 40 percent in 3DMark, a graphics benchmarking app.
In reality, both smartphones perform flawlessly. That annoying stutter that plagues so many Android smartphones and tablets is gone, and the OnePlus 5 is as smooth as Android smartphone get. Despite the lower 3DMark score, the iPhone 7 Plus seems to run games just as well as the OnePlus 5.
Where the OnePlus 5 decisively overshadows the iPhone 7 Plus is battery life. The OnePlus comes with a 3300 mAh non-removable battery that can power the smartphone for the entire day with the auto-brightness feature turned on. The iPhone has a 2900 mAh non-removable battery that usually gets to single digits around the dinner time. Fast charging is supported by both smartphones, with the OnePlus 5 featuring the brand-new Dash Charge technology, which promises up to 60 percent of battery charge in 35 minutes.
Winner: The OnePlus 5 is the winner. As the first smartphone with 8 GB of RAM, it outshines the iPhone 7 Plus in several benchmarks, although the real-world performance difference is negligible.
Dual-camera systems have become standard in high-end smartphones. Most manufacturers either use the combination of one color sensor and one monochrome sensor to improve low light performance, or they use two color sensors to capture 3D pictures. OnePlus is trying something new.
They’ve paired one 16 MP color sensor with f/1.7 and 24 mm focal length with another color sensor, which has 20 MP, f/2.6, and 36 mm focal length. You can switch between the two sensors with a press of a button. This results in an instant, 1.6x optical zoom. Besides this, the rear camera can also record 4K footage at 30 frames per second or Full HD footage at up to 60 frames per second. Regardless of whether the camera takes pictures or records video, the image quality is always excellent.
The 12 MP rear camera of the iPhone 7 Plus isn’t as wide, it starts at 28 mm, but its optical zoom goes up to 56 mm. Just like the dual-camera of the OnePlus 5, it can also record 4K footage at 30 frames per second or slow-motion video at lower resolutions.
The iPhone 7 Plus is one of only a few smartphones on the market that can compete with the OnePlus 5, even beating it in a few cases. However, among those certainly isn’t the performance of the front-facing camera. The OnePlus 5 has a 16 MP, f/2.0 camera with wide, 20 mm focal length. The iPhone 7 Plus only has a 7 MP front-facing camera with f/2.2 and a much narrower 32 mm focal length.
Winner: OnePlus has given us an excellent dual-lens camera that outperforms nearly every other smartphone on the market and does so while costing much less.
The OnePlus 5 comes with the Android 7.1.1 Nougat with OxygenOS on top. OxygenOS is the company’s user interface, which strives to be clean, accessible, and free of bloatware. Indeed, the only non-stock app included on the smartphone is the OnePlus Community app, which makes it easy to stay up to date on the latest news, events, and community happenings.
The iPhone 7 Plus comes with the iOS 10. Compared to Android, iOS has its pros and cons. The system is arguably easier to use than Android, it’s better optimized, app crashes are quite rare, and some may find it more visually pleasing. The most significant downside is Apple’s centralized approach, which doesn’t leave almost any room for customization.
Beyond these core differences, both smartphones come with a voice-controlled personal assistant, the iPhone 7 Plus has Siri and the OnePlus 5 has Google Assistant, and they can do just about anything you might want a modern, flagship smartphone to do.
Winner: Tie. Both operating systems are mature and capable of doing everything we want a modern smartphone to do and more.
Considering that the Apple iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769 and the OnePlus 5 is available from $479, it’s impossible to deny just how appealing the new Android flagship from OnePlus is. Based on our comparison, it has scored one extra victory over the iPhone 7 Plus, but we’re aware that a direct comparison like this doesn’t tell the full story. Behind each of these two smartphones is a completely different philosophy, and each company likely has in mind an entirely different target market.
Those who aren’t heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem will do themselves a favor if they at least consider the OnePlus 5 as a viable alternative for an aging iPhone. It offers the same, if not greater, value than the iPhone 7 Plus but at a much more inviting price. But buying it and expecting the same user experience as one gets with iOS is a recipe for disaster. Android is still an operating system for people who care about operating systems, even though it has come a long way since the first version.