Whether you're a diehard Android subscriber or merely curious about venturing away from the rest of what everyone else is carrying in their hands, you might be wondering whether to consider the OnePlus 5 as a lofty alternative.
The phone is a worthy competitor against whatever else your mobile carrier might be offering. In addition to boasting the latest specs, an interesting camera and killer display, it also hails some other features you won't typically find on mainstream smartphones.
Better front-facing camera
The front-facing camera has indeed become a priority on flagship smartphones — just look at the HTC U11 and Samsung Galaxy S8's's 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel front-facing cameras. Both companies are in on the idea that the photos you take with the front camera should be just as shareable as the rear ones.
OnePlus also adheres to this motto, and it's cheaper than those mentioned above. Its 16-megapixel camera is a fine choice if selfies are a primary concern. With ample aperture for dim bar shots and electronic image stabilization (EIS), the OnePlus 5's front-facing camera is capable of capturing your face in various environments. You can record high quality 1080p video with it, too, and it offers a beauty mode and a portrait mode for taking real glamour shots. It's also handy to have on you if you're a frequent Snapchat storyteller or an Instagram fiend.
The upside to buying an unlocked smartphone is that you don't have to deal with any additional carrier bloatware. But then, some brands bundle in an app that already exists, and others include extra apps you have to eliminate before you can comfortably use your phone.
The OnePlus 5 has none of that because of the company's commitment to keeping its software clean. The minute you turn it on, you'll see less than two dozen apps already installed, including a Gallery app and a File Manager. You won't get the same perks with this device like you would with a Google-made one — unlimited uploads to Photos, anyone? — but you will be able to lay claim to the entirety of the OnePlus 5's 64GB of storage.
And if you opted for the 128GB version of the flagship, feel free to revel in all that room.
More devices these days are eschewing physical navigation buttons for more screen space, but not everyone is a fan of the shrinking bezel trend. If you like physical buttons, the OnePlus 5 kept its hardware and left it so that it's entirely customizable by the user. You can choose where you like the back button to be placed, for instance, or set up shortcuts for each, like long pressing the home button to launch Google Assistant. There's also an option that shuts off the hardware buttons, though it will knock off a bit of screen space.
If you're afraid of bumping the buttons during a marathon gaming sessions, there are tools included to disable the capacitive area.
It's a little more futureproof
Yes, it's true that the extra RAM you get for dropping the extra $60 on the OnePlus 5 is entirely unnecessary for any app or game you'll be using today. But even if you stick with the default 6GB of RAM offered at the starting price point, you'll see that extra memory go a long way — and for a long while.
You'll also see that memory help with processing graphics and stream live video. As we stated in our review of the device, don't expect your experience to slow down any time soon. It's always great to have room to grow with future software updates and memory-intensive apps.
The Alert Slider
Never underestimate the allure of a quick-flip switch embedded into the chassis of a smartphone. It's an Android user's most coveted feature, likely because so many of us have accidentally interrupted the calm of a yoga class — and a church service — with an inappropriate song lyric set as the ringtone. (Oh, was that just me?)
On the OnePlus 5, you can quickly stifle that embarrassing ringtone from ever revealing itself before the class or sermon even starts. Go even further in the device settings by choosing whether the slider goes into Silent mode or Do Not Disturb mode, the latter of which lets you set up a few favorite contacts in case an emergency should occur during your quiet time.
And one thing it could do better
The latest trend of waterproofing smartphones is, frankly, one of the most welcome feature additions since wireless payments. The earth is 71% water, after all; the smartphones that each of the billions of people on earth carries around are bound to find their way near a body of water within its lifespan. And rather than expect disaster to occur from the melding of these two elements, why not prevent it?
Many manufacturers, including Samsung and LG, have caught on to making their respective flagship devices resistant to liquids — well, unless that liquid is over 5 feet deep. You can bring the Galaxy S8 or LG G6 to a summer splash party without worrying about it getting drowned.
But you can't do that with a OnePlus 5, as its lack of water resistance makes it especially vulnerable to life's most precious element. It's a shame, too, considering all the selfies you could take in the pool with that 16-megapixel front-facing camera.
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