I refuse to switch to an iPhone or Galaxy because of this phone
And yes, I am fully aware that the newer OnePlus 5T exists, but there is a special reason why I still go to the older OnePlus 5.
Wear after 8 months
First, the look of the phone. After nearly 8 months of use, the OnePlus 5 that I have has a scratch on the screen. The screen is not cracked, but the scratch is noticeable. I use the phone without a screen protector, so that’s not unexpected (if you can, I recommend ordering a tempered glass screen protector for about $20 from OnePlus itself) and I do not mean it as a criticism, but more of a reminder to my own self to get a screen protector next time.
I do carry the OnePlus 5 with a case on most of the time, but I also sometime go a week or so without a case because I really feel that a case steals away the great in-hand feel of the phone and its elegant body. The curved back and thin body make it probably the most ergonomic big phone I have ever used. The back of the phone is made of metal and is very slippery, but it has also withstood the test of time very well and is not scratched despite my not too careful handling of the phone.
As to the case, I have the Sandstone one that is grippy and has a funky texture that I like. I would understand if you don’t like this peculiar case, though, and I have grown a bit frustrated that there is nowhere near as much variety when it comes to cases for OnePlus as there is for iPhones and Galaxies. I would love a quality leather case, but I cannot find one. I would love a water-proof, rugged case, but there is not such one either.
Why I still love it
There are three main reasons that keep me faithful to the OnePlus 5 in times when there are many newer phones around.
First and foremost, the OnePlus 5 is the fastest phone that I have ever used. Yes, I do realize there are phones with faster system chips available and sure, I have used many of them, but I guess it is the software that really makes the biggest difference, and the software on the OnePlus 5 is clean and optimized for speed more than on others.
I say speed, but what I really mean is a combination of experiences that contribute to this feeling: the speed of loading an app is obviously an important factor, but so is the speed of typing on the on-screen keyboard, the speed of fingerprint scanning, the fluidity of little shortcuts and gestures like the double press of the recents key to switch between apps or the double press of the power key to open the camera. It really is about all these little things working well and then you take the combination of them, and I’ve found the OnePlus to excel in all these areas.
Another key part of the speed equation is the presence of dedicated navigation buttons. On the OnePlus 5, you can choose between using the navigation buttons below the screen or have on-screen navigation keys. I opt to still use the dedicated buttons below the display because I find them to be a big convenience over the often hard-to-hit on-screen keys. I’ve spoken with a few co-workers of mine who share the same frustration with on-screen navigation buttons, and a few of them have actually returned otherwise excellent new phones after using them for a while because of their frustration with on-screen button navigation. And while I would not mind the larger screen of the OnePlus 5T, it is the lack of dedicated off-screen buttons that is stopping me from considering to buy one.
The second reason why I love the OnePlus 5 is battery life. Battery life is extremely important, especially when you are on the go, and the OnePlus 5 has proven to be an excellent battery performer. Not only does the battery last through even the longest workdays, you have Dash Charge on board, so you can plug your phone mid-day for 15 minutes or so, and get a huge battery boost for a short time. Many people might be wondering whether fast charging does not damage the battery, but my experience so far has shown that it does not.
Last but not least, having a lot of on-board storage is absolutely liberating from a long-term perspective. I have been using a 128GB OnePlus 5 model and more than half storage was already used up afterby just 6 months. While it seems like you may never use that much storage, it all eventually piles up and more on-board storage is definitely one of my recommendations for a happy phone life.
Of course, the OnePlus 5 is not a perfect phone. In fact, it’s far from it. Owning a phone, especially when you see new ones every day, is about accepting the compromises that you have to make.
The biggest compromise with the OnePlus 5 has got to be the camera. It can certainly take some very good shots in favorable conditions, but it can also take blurry shots, have soft detail, have less than ideal colors and a few other issues. When compared against the best cameras out there like the one on the Pixel 2 XL, the Galaxy S9 and the iPhones, it is not in the same league.
The other disappointing quality of it is the loudspeaker. OnePlus has already improved the loudspeaker sound output in the OnePlus 5T and we hope for further improvements, but sound coming out of the loudspeaker on the OP5 sounds very thin and does not impress.
Next up, screen brightness. Yes, the OnePlus 5 has an ambient light sensor just like every other modern phone, but for some strange reason it does not seem to work all that well. After using it for months, the automatic screen brightness is commonly way too low. And even after I manually set the brightness higher, the screen would still just go dimmer after a few minutes. You only notice this after using the phone for a while and it’s not in the specs, but it is a very real issue to me.
Picking a phone could turn into an agonizing choice given how sometimes the differences between devices are not that big, at least when you look at the specs and features. And since no one phone is perfect, you need to pick your priorities. For me, even without me fully realizing this, speed of use combined with great battery life was actually the biggest priority. And while I will keep on switching phones almost every week, I still think that the OnePlus 5 will stick.
What is your daily driver and why have you chosen it over all the other phones out there? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section.