The OnePlus 5 has just arrived to the usual flagship announcement fanfare. As anticipated, the handset is packed full of cutting edge hardware but has managed to retain a more modest price tag than most other high-end smartphones, starting at just $479 up to $539 for the larger memory option. The “flagship killer”, as the brand was once touted, has certainly earned its fans and a reputation over the years, so let’s see how this year’s handsets stacks up against some of the best models on the market right now.

On the spec table below, I’ve included the new HTC U11, Samsung’s Galaxy S8, the LG G6, and the Huawei P10 Plus, but we’ll be sure to keep in mind other strong releases this year and last year’s best too. Especially as value for money is one of OnePlus’ unique selling points, and many of last year’s flagships can now be bought at a similar price bracket.

The OnePlus 5 joins the growing list of handsets packing in Qualcomm's latest 10nm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform

Kicking off with the processing package, the OnePlus 5 joins the growing list of handsets packing in Qualcomm’s latest 10nm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform. Currently, only the Galaxy S8, HTC U11, Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, and the Xiaomi Mi 6 have been announced with the same chip, but global availability of the latter two is more limited. Boasting an energy efficient octa-core Kryo 280 CPU and 25 percent faster Adreno 540 GPU, these phones offer up extra performance and battery life over last year’s flagships.

This immediately sticks the OnePlus 5 right up there with the market leaders in terms of performance and connectivity features, and boasts an advantage over the admittedly snappy LG G6 and last year’s best flagships, including the Google Pixel and models that can now be picked up at cheaper prices, such as the Galaxy S7, HTC 10, etc.

 OnePlus 5HTC U11Galaxy S8 / S8 PlusLG G6Huawei P10 Plus
1080p AMOLED
5.8-inch / 6.2-inch
5.5-inch QHD LCD
SoCSnapdragon 835Snapdragon 835Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895Snapdragon 821Kirin 960
CPU4x 2.45 GHz Kryo 280 +
4x 1.7 GHz Kryo 280
4x 2.45 GHz Kryo 280 +
4x 1.7 GHz Kryo 280
4x 2.4 GHz Kryo 280 +
4x 1.7 GHz Kryo 280 or
4x 2.4 GHz Samsung M2 +
4x 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53
2x 2.35 GHz Kryo +
2x 1.6 GHz Kryo
4x 2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 +
4x 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53
GPUAdreno 540Adreno 540Adreno 540 or Mali-G71 MP20Adreno 530Mali-G71 MP8
RAM6 / 8 GB4 / 6 GB4 GB4 GB4 / 6 GB
Storage64 / 128 GB64 / 128 GB64 GB32 / 64 GB64 / 128GB

The same cutting edge specifications can’t be said for the OnePlus 5’s display though, which sticks with the same 1080p resolution as the company’s previous models. At 5.5-inches, the most discerning eyes will probably have preferred a Quad HD (2560×1440) resolution, but 1080p is by no means a poor choice if it helps to save on power consumption and most importantly price.

The same cutting edge specifications can't be said for the OnePlus 5's display, however

The use of an AMOLED panel will certainly lend to some vibrant colors, and Gorilla Glass 5 offers up some additional protection from scratches and breaks. However, if you’re after future proofed HDR capable displays and a slightly sharper resolution, the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 hold an advantage here.

As for memory, the OnePlus 5 is aiming to separate itself from the competition with the inclusion of a minimum 6 GB RAM and 64 GB UFS flash, up to a whopping 8 GB RAM with the 128 GB flash storage option. The OnePlus 5 isn’t the first phone to feature such a huge pool of RAM – that title belongs to the ZenFone AR – and we are sceptical that this much RAM has any meaningful improvement on device performance whatsoever.

The OnePlus 5 aims to stand out from the competition with a whopping 8 GB RAM with 128 GB of storage

But we can’t argue too much with some potential future-proofing here, and the large, fast UFS storage options are exactly what we have come to expect from a top tier device. However, the lack of a microSD card slot might disappoint those who own very large media libraries that they like to port around.

 OnePlus 5HTC U11Galaxy S8 / S8 PlusLG G6Huawei P10 Plus
Cameras16 MP + 20 MP f/1.7 rear with EIS
16 MP f/2.0 front with EIS
12 MP f/1.7 rear with OIS
16 MP front
12 MP f/1.7 rear with OIS
8 MP f/1.7 front
Dual 13 MP f/2.4 & f/1.8 rear with OIS
5 MP f/2.2 front
Dual 12 & 20 MP f/1.8 rear with OIS and PDAF
8 MP front
Battery3,300 mAh3,000 mAh3,000 / 3,500 mAh3,300 mAh3,750 mAh
Fast chargeDash ChargeQuick Charge 3.0YesQuick Charge 3.0Super Charge
IP ratingNoIP67IP68IP68No
3.5 mm audioYesNoYesYesYes
ExtrasUSB Type-C, Hi Res Audio, 2x Optical ZoomUSB Type-C, Boomsound Hi-Fi, HTC Connect, Hi Res audio, AI assistantsUSB Type-C, Bixby, Facial Recognition, Wireless Charging, Samsung Pay, HDR displayUSB Type-C, Wireless Charging, HDR Display, Hi Res audioUSB Type-C, Hi Res audio
OSAndroid 7.1Android 7.1Android 7.0Android 7.0Android 7.0

In terms of camera capabilities, this is an area that the OnePlus 5 is aiming to really compete with the market leaders. The handsets offers up a 16- and 20-megapixel dual-camera combination for improved low light performance, along with 2x optical zoom capabilities that have so far only been seen inside the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and the new OPPO R11. Of course, we won’t comment on actual quality before we can do a side-by-side shootout. Although it’s going to be interesting to see how the top performing larger pixel sensors, such as those in the Pixel, U11, and Galaxy S8, stack up against this dual sensor technology. But the paper specifications and our hands-on experience seem quite promising.

The front-facing camera looks equally as promising, with an improved 16-megapixel IMX371 sensor that goes above any beyond the options you’ll find including in many other flagship phones. Along with the HTC U11, selfie enthusiasts will almost certainly appreciate the additional resolution provided by these phones, as opposed to the 5- and 8-megapixel options offered by many other flagship OEMs.

Dash Charge has proven to be one of the faster and cooler charging solutions around

Dash Charge, aka OPPO’s VOOC fast charging, makes a return, which is paired up with a large 3,300 mAh to keep the handset juiced up all day. Fast charging and large cell sizes are common in this form factor, but Dash Charge has proven to be one of the faster and cooler charging solutions around. However, the use of a proprietary connector might make finding a replacement a pain and third party accessory support, such as power banks, will be more limited than more universally adopted standards like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge.

The OnePlus 5 also includes NFC, aptX HD Bluetooth audio streaming, a USB Type-C connector while retaining the 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, all of which we have come to expect from top-tier devices. Other more expensive models do include some additional extra features though, such as more advanced mobile payment options, wireless charging, modular accessories, etc.

The HTC U11, Galaxy S8, and LG G6 all include an IP rating for water and dust resistance, but the OnePlus 5 does not. Neither do many other top-tier models from last year, but it’s becoming an increasingly popular feature this year. Similarly, the OnePlus 5 arrives sans-wireless charging capabilities, with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 being the only two flagships offering this feature out of the box. However, many customers may be willing to forgo these extras to save dome dollar.

The HTC U11, Galaxy S8, and LG G6 all include an IP rating for water and dust resistance, but the OnePlus 5 does not

I’m not sure how much anyone of you are bothered about proprietary virtual assistants, as this is something that only HTC and Samsung seem to be dabbling with at the moment. OnePlus isn’t making any fuss about this, and the increasingly widespread Google Assistant remains the most feature rich anyway. Instead the company is preferring to talk up some new features baked into OxygenOS, including a new Reading mode, Auto Night Mode, and Off-screen Gestures.

Wrapping up

Overall the OnePlus 5 continues the company’s tradition of focusing on nailing core flagship specifications and retailing for a notably smaller sum than the competition. The OnePlus 5 does come with a drawbacks of its own, namely no external memory card slot, the lack of an IP rating, and a 1080p rather than QHD display. But these are trade-offs that many will surely be willing to make to obtain cutting edge smartphone performance at a lower price point.

What do you make of the OnePlus 5, does its hardware stack up well against the best Android handsets on the market right now?

Check out our other OnePlus 5 coverage:

Read comments