With slogans like “Flagship Killer” and “Never Settle,” it’s not exactly surprising that OnePlus flagships are sometimes accused of failing to deliver on the promise. But when you also add questionable marketing campaigns, concerns over benchmark “rigging” and a failure to provide an expected software update for one of its flagship phones, it becomes ever clearer why the company often draws criticism.
Its latest flagship phone, the OnePlus 5, hasn’t even been fully released yet and it’s already on the receiving end of complaints. Some of these are simply from fans wishing for this feature or that, while others are more pertinent troubles, like the aforementioned benchmark hullabaloo. Pete Lau, the OnePlus co-founder and CEO, spoke to The Indian Express recently to discuss the OnePlus 5.
As we noted in our OnePlus 5 review, the new handset lacks water resistance, unlike many competing Android flagships. Lau told The Indian Express that he is “not convinced” that waterproofing is “a big consumer requirement,” and added that it just “ends up making the phone thicker and heavier.” He also said the OnePlus 5 does, in fact, come with water resistance, to a degree, but said the company didn’t want to advertise it.
On this score, I think consumers should avoid the phone if it doesn’t have a feature they want, but I don’t think it’s necessarily an area where OnePlus is at fault. It’s not like waterproofing a device is free and uncomplicated. It affects the whole design of a device and would have increased the manufacturing costs. If a company doesn’t think it’s a big deal, that’s its prerogative, right? The phone does cost hundreds of dollars less than other flagships (you can pre-order the base model for $479).
Commenting on recent concerns that it was “fixing” benchmark results, Lau explained that it was important for a phone to have effective heat dissipation in order to maintain strong CPU performance. “If there is heating the performance of the CPU will not reach the maximum. We only try to tap the full potential of the CPU. We don’t even know how to overclock,” he said.
This seems like a bit of a smokescreen. OnePlus was never accused of overclocking, the XDA article that uncovered the rigging states that. What it is, is manipulating the device so that it provides strong results specifically in certain benchmarking apps, when this isn’t representative of normal device performance.
OnePlus says this “best displays the true performance capabilities of the OnePlus 5,” but others say it’s disingenuous.
On the OnePlus 5’s similarities with the iPhone 7, Lau claimed he’d heard similar comments since the OnePlus One. “But time has proved everything. OnePlus One has become a classic,” he said.
True, it’s hard to make phones completely distinctive given the limitations (they are phones, they all have similar components and purposes), but it’s not impossible. The Nextbit Robin looks unique.
And, sure, people probably did compare the OnePlus One to other phones, but the OnePlus 5 looks more like the world’s most popular phone than the LG G6, Galaxy S8, and HTC U11 do, and it looks more like it than any previous OnePlus phone looked like an iPhone. Whether time will “prove” the OnePlus 5 is a classic or not, the iPhone 7 comparison is still there to be made. I mean, look at them.
Some fans have also complained that the OnePlus 5 features an FHD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display rather than a 2K/QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution display like other 2017 Android flagships. The Indian Express said Lau was “dismissive” of the impact QHD displays have on a 5.5-inch screen, saying it increased power consumption and that “We don’t play around with specs, we just want to give our customers the best experience.”
It has been argued that the difference between Full HD and QHD at a phone held at arm’s length (or more than eight inches from your eyes) is difficult to discern, but QHD displays have implications for VR, where the display is right in front of your eyes. The price/performance trade-off of implementing a QHD screen might not have been worth it for OnePlus and it would consume more power, as Lau rightly suggests. Still, QHD resolutions stand to provide a better experience in VR than an FHD display.
Concerning the device’s price, Lau said that component costs have gone up across the industry, and noted that they were using 8 GB of RAM — more memory than most of the 2017 flagships. He said that “Even the cost of the [OnePlus 5] box has gone up now.”
This I also kind of hard to argue with. The OnePlus 5 is more expensive than its predecessor due to higher component costs and more impressive hardware — that makes sense. It’s still a comparatively low price for what it offers.
That’s what Pete Lau had to say on these matters — does this change any of your thoughts on the OnePlus 5? Let us know in the comments.