The OnePlus 5T is the ‘T’ successor to the excellent OnePlus 5 from earlier this year. While the handset sports largely the same specifications as the 5, OnePlus have made some key design improvements and added some noteworthy new features.
With the 5 no longer available, the 5T is the only choice for many consumers with a budget of $500. If you have already purchased the OnePlus 5T, you have surely made a wise decision. And if you are on the fence about the device, you should pull the trigger because you are not going to find a better device than it in this price range. And after you have purchased the device, make sure to go through our list of the best tips and tricks for the OnePlus 5T to make the most out of the handset.
#20 Lift up to View Notifications
With face unlock on the OnePlus 5T being so fast, it can be a bit difficult to view your unread notifications from the lock screen on the handset. To make things easier, OnePlus includes a handy Lift up Display option on the 5T. As the name suggests, as soon as you pick up your 5T, its display would wake up in a low-power monochrome mode and subtly display your unread notifications.
You can jump into the app showing an unread notification directly from this mode by double tapping on its notification.
#19 Customize the Notification LED
Despite minimal top and bottom bezels, OnePlus has still managed to include a notification LED on the 5T. If you are someone who is fond of the notification LED, you will be glad to know that you can further customize them from Settings -> LED notification settings. The customization options are pretty limited though and if you want even greater control, try using a third-party app like Light Flow.
#18 Tweak the Display
The 6-inch Full HD+ display on the OnePlus 5T might not be as densely packed with pixels as the Galaxy S8 but it is still a beautiful display nonetheless. To allow users to tweak the display to their liking, OnePlus also offers an option in OxygenOS on the 5T to change its color calibration to DCI-P3, sRGB, Adaptive mode and custom color.
You can tweak the color calibration on your OnePlus 5T from Settings -> Display -> Color calibration.
#17 Watch Videos in Full Screen
Unlike the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 5T comes with an 18:9 FHD+ 6-inch AMOLED display at the front. The new aspect ratio means that 16:9 content like videos will show up with black bars on the left and right edges. You can, however, zoom into videos to view them in full screen by double-tapping on it. In YouTube though, you will have to pinch-to-zoom to make sure the video occupies the full screen.
#16 Customise the Alert Slider
The Alert Slider on the OnePlus 5T and previous OnePlus phones remains one of my favorite features on OnePlus phones. The slider can be used to quickly toggle the phone to Do Not Disturb, Silent or Normal mode. However, if you want, you can customise the slider’s functionality according to your liking.
#15 Display More Content On-Screen
Another Nougat feature that is also present on the OnePlus 5T. You can take full advantage of the OnePlus 5T’s 18:9 aspect ratio display by displaying more content on it. This can be done by adjusting the display density. A lower screen density will lead to more content being displayed on the screen of your OnePlus 5 and vice versa. This is different from adjusting the font size on the handset since it also scales the UI elements appropriately.
You can tweak the display density on the OnePlus 5 by going to Settings -> Display -> Display Density and moving the slider around according to your preference.
#14 Reading Mode
Similar to the OnePlus 5, there is also a reading mode on the OnePlus 5T. Meant to be used when you are reading articles, the feature will turn the 5T’s display into grayscale, tweak the brightness and contrast levels and adjusts the color temperature to help reduce eyestrain — similar to what Amazon’s Kindle does.
By default, Reading Mode is automatically enabled for Amazon’s Kindle Android app. You can, however, add more apps to this list if you use your phone for reading a lot of articles or books. This can be done from Settings -> Display -> Reading Mode. From here, tap the Add apps for Reading Mode option and select the apps for which you’d like Reading Mode to be automatically enabled. If you want, you can also enable Reading Mode manually from here.
#13 USB OTG Support
Did you know that the OnePlus 5T supports USB OTG? This means that you can easily connect pen drives, external hard disks and other USB devices to it. Just make sure to enable the feature first from Settings -> Advanced -> OTG Storage.
#12 Switch Bluetooth Audio Codec
While the OnePlus 5T comes with a headphone jack, it also offers excellent Bluetooth streaming support with support for aptX HD and SBC. Depending on the codec supported by your Bluetooth headphones, you can select the appropriate streaming codec from Settings -> Advanced -> Bluetooth Audio Codec.
#11 Dark Theme and Accent Color
Want to further enjoy the 5.9-inch AMOLED display of the OnePlus 5T? Switch to the dark theme. That way, the OLED display of the 5T would be really able to show off its insane contrast ratio and vividness. Additionally, you can also change the system accent color according to your liking for that perfect combination. You can find the relevant theme related settings on your OnePlus 5T under Settings -> Display -> Theme or Accent color.
#10 Switch Between Open Apps
More of a Nougat tip than just the 5T but nonetheless still a handy one. You can quickly switch between the last two used apps by double tapping the Recent apps button. For example, if you are using Chrome and Twitter, you can jump between them by simply double pressing the Recent apps button.
#9 Parallel Apps
Want to run two instances of a messaging app like Messenger on your OnePlus 5T? Or two copies of WhatsApp for the two SIM cards that you are using with the phone? You can do that easily using the Parallel Apps feature on your OnePlus 5T. Simply head over to Settings -> Apps -> Parallel Apps where a list of apps compatible with the Parallel Apps functionality would be shown. Enable the toggle for the app for which you want two copies of after which a second icon of the same app would show up in the app drawer of your 5T.
#8 Quickly Take a Screenshot
Find it too tedious to take a screenshot on the OnePlus 5T by pressing the Volume down + Power button? There is a handy gesture included in the device that makes the process easier. Simply do a quick three-finger swipe down gesture on the screen to take a screenshot. The gesture is disabled by default so enable it by going to Settings -> Gesture and enabling the Three-finger screenshot option.
Want to quickly mute an incoming call or an alarm on your OnePlus 5T? Flip the phone. You can also double tap the display to wake the device or draw an ‘O’ when the display is off to launch the camera. These gestures are customizable as well so you can set them to launch an app of your choice as well.
All gesture related options on the OnePlus 5T are located under Settings -> Gestures. You can also enable the gesture to expand the notifications shade by swiping down on the fingerprint scanner from here.
#6 OnePlus Slate Font
Apart from Roboto, the OnePlus 5T also comes with another system font called OnePlus Slate. Developed by OnePlus themselves, the font does seem to be slightly easier to read and it also helps in refreshing the UI. To change system fonts on your OnePlus 5T, head over to Settings -> Font.
#5 App Locker
The rear located fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 5T can be used to unlock locked apps as well besides just unlocking the device. For this, OnePlus has built a native app locking functionality in OxygenOS on the 5T. Before you jump over to lock apps, make sure that you have the fingerprint scanner already set up on our 5T. Then head over to Settings -> Security & fingerprint -> App Locker. Enter the pattern/PIN for verification purposes and proceed to select the apps that you’d like to protect. Now, whenever you open any such selected app, you will first have to verify your identity using the fingerprint scanner.
#4 Pro Camera Mode
Want to get the most out of the primary 16MP f1/.7 shooter of the OnePlus 5T? Use the Pro mode in the camera app. This will allow you to tweak and play around with the various camera aspects like the ISO levels, shutter speed, white balance and more. To access the Pro mode on the Camera app of the OnePlus 5T, tap the 3-dot vertical button on the top-left corner of the display and select the Pro mode option.
However, if you are taking a picture of a poorly lit scene or in low-light, stick to Auto mode as the camera app would then make use of the secondary 20MP sensor and use Pixel binning to capture significantly better photos.
#3 Use the Dash Charger
Dash Charging is one of the key features of the OnePlus 5T. While plenty of Android devices come with fast charging, Dash Charging is in a league of its own. The technology does not suffer from any kind of cons of other fast charging techs out there like the device heating up or the charging speed is slowed down when the device is being used. Charging the OnePlus 5T using the supplied Dash Charger for only 30 minutes will provide the device with a 5o percent increase in battery capacity. If you use any other charger and USB cable apart from the one supplied by OnePlus, you will not be able to enjoy the benefits of Dash Charging.
Dash Charge is easily one of the most underrated features of the OnePlus 5T and once you get used to it, there’s no going back.
#2 Face Unlock
Apart from a fingerprint scanner, the OnePlus 5T also comes with face unlock which makes use of the 16MP selfie shooter at the front. Before you dismiss this feature as being useless, I will highly recommend you to give it a try. OnePlus’ implementation is blazing fast and once you start using Face Unlock on your 5T, there is no going back. You will end up completely forgetting that the handset even features a fingerprint scanner.
#1 Join the Beta Program
OnePlus is usually pretty quick to roll out updates to its devices for fixing major bugs and adding new features. However, if you want to live on the cutting edge, you can join the OxygenOS beta program from the company so that you receive upcoming beta releases of OxygenOS on your device. While the beta releases might contain a few bugs, they also usually contain plenty of new features which can take a few months to make their way to the stable build of the OS.
After unveiling the OnePlus 5 earlier this year, OnePlus unveiled its ‘T’ successor last week: the OnePlus 5T. Similar to the OnePlus 5 in many aspects, the 5T does come with its own fair share of improvements that make it the smartphone to buy in $500.
Considering how much value for money the OnePlus 5T packs, the handset will likely end up surpassing the popularity of its predecessor and possibly even the OnePlus 3/3T. If you plan on buying the OnePlus 5T but have some questions surrounding it, check out our FAQ below.
Q) What are the full specifications of the OnePlus 5?
A) The full specs of the OnePlus 5T are as follows:
A) Yes, the OnePlus 5T does feature a headphone jack. The company took a dig at Apple for not including a 3.5mm jack on the iPhone 7 during its presentation and that’s about it. The sound output from the handset, when connected to headphones, is also very good.
A) Sadly, no. The handset lacks any kind of IP certification that has become commonplace in all flagships launched so far this year. However, OnePlus says that the handset can withstand some spills. Since liquid damage is not covered under warranty though, you should avoid putting the company’s claims to test here.
Q) Is the battery of the handset removable?
A) No, since the OnePlus 5 features a unibody aluminium build, the battery and the back cover are not removable.
Q) What kind of SIM card slot does the phone have? Can one use two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time?
A) The OnePlus 5T features two nanoSIM card slots. It does not feature a microSD card slot.
Q) Is the display on the OnePlus 5T protected by Gorilla Glass?
A) The 6-inch FHD+ Optic AMOLED display on the OnePlus 5T is protected by a 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5.
Q) Can you lock apps using the fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 5T?
A) Yes, you can. The feature is now built into OxygenOS as well and does not require one to download third-party apps.
Q) How many different variants of the OnePlus 5T are there?
A) The OnePlus 5T is available in two different variants with varying amount of RAM and storage. The base variant comes with 6GB RAM/64GB storage and is priced at $499, while the 8GB RAM/128GB variant is priced at $559. The handset is only available in one color for now.
Q) Are there any other differences between the two variants of the device?
A) There are no other differences between the two variants of the OnePlus 5T.
Q) What are the key areas where the OnePlus 5 improves over the OnePlus 5?
A) Compared to the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 5T features a 6.01-inch FHD+ 18:9 Optic AMOLED display. The switch to an 18:9 display at the front and the reduced top and bottom bezels give the device a modern look similar to that of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. The dual-camera setup at the rear of the device has also been tweaked. The 5T uses a 20MP f/1.7 secondary shooter instead of a telephoto lens which is solely used in low-light scenarios. OnePlus uses pixel binning to further improve the overall image quality as well.
Finally, the OnePlus 5Tcomes with face unlock which is missing from the OnePlus 5.
Q) Where is the fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 5T located? Is it touch based?
A) The fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 5 is integrated into the ceramic home button at the front, and yes, it is touch based. Similar to the sensor found on the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 5T’s fingerprint sensor unlocks the handset in less than 0.2 seconds.
A) Yes, the OnePlus 5T also features Face Unlock which can unlock the handset in just 0.4 seconds. Since it only relies on the front camera, it is not really secure and can be easily fooled. On the plus side, it is extremely convenient as one can unlock their 5T by simply looking at it.
Q) Can you record slow-motion and 4K videos on the OnePlus 5T?
A) Yes, the OnePlus 5Tcan record videos in slow-motion (720p@120fps) as well as in 4K at 30fps.
Q) Which version of Android does the handset run on?
A) Android 7.1 Nougat. It also runs on a newer version of OxygenOS when compared to the OnePlus 5 with some new features thrown in.
Q) When will the OnePlus 5T get the Android 8.0 Oreo update?
A) A beta build of Oreo for the OnePlus 5T should be available by the end of this year, with the final stable build scheduled to roll out in Q1 2018.
Q) Does the OnePlus 5T support LTE and VoLTe networks? Will a Reliance Jio SIM work on the phone?
A) Yes, it does support LTE and VoLTE out of the box. Unlike many other phones, the handset will also work with a Reliance Jio SIM out of the box.
A) Yes, like the OnePlus 3/5, the OnePlus 5T also supports Dash Charging which can charge the handset from 0-50% in just 30 minutes.
Q) How much free storage space does the OnePlus 5T has out of the box?
A) The 64GB OnePlus 5T comes 50GB of free storage space.
Q) Can you uninstall or disable pre-installed apps on the handset?
A) Yes, you can uninstall or disable some pre-installed apps on the OnePlus 5T, though the handset does not come with many pre-installed apps to begin with.
Q) Are the capacitive keys on the OnePlus 5T backlit?
A) Unlike the OnePlus 5 and previous OnePlus handsets, the 5Tdoes not feature capacitive navigation keys.
Q) What contents do you get inside the retail box of the OnePlus 5T?
A) You get the phone, Dash Charger, a USB-C cable, SIM ejector tool, a case and some regulatory papers. No screen guard or earphones are bundled with the phone.
Q) Does the handset support USB OTG?
A) Yes, the OnePlus 5T supports USB On-The-Go. This allows you to directly connect pen drives, external hard disks and more using an adapter to the device.
Q) When does the OnePlus 5T go on sale in India and where?
A) The OnePlus 5T will be available for purchase for Amazon Prime remembers from November 21 at 4:30PM, with regular sales scheduled to start from November 27. You can buy the OnePlus 5Tfrom here. As a launch day offer, HDFC credit and debit card holders will get an instant discount of Rs 1,500 when they purchase the 5T.
The 64GB+6GB RAM variant of the device is priced at Rs 32,999, while the 128GB/8GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 37,999.
It’s somewhat galling to think that in order to get the best of the basics in an Android phone these days that the most popular option to turn to is a OnePlus 5. Where one of these phones used to start at $300 or $350, it now starts at $479.
But, if you decide to go bonkers on memory and get a OnePlus 5 with 8GB of RAM for $539, the company will treat you to not only a free pair of its Bullets V2 earbuds (a $19.99 value), but also discounted priority shipping — which could get you going anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks quicker. To most US customers, it’s a 6-day difference and a $22 discount to $6.99.
Value additions are generally good, all things considered. Whether you’d rather have them or not for the cost of a fast food meal is up to you.
OnePlus 5 sales are moving along quite a bit — in spite of the reported troubles that the company has had to chase after — though capturing the version with 8GB of RAM at $539 has proven to be somewhat of a tough task.
Well, the company has notified US tech press that that variant of OnePlus 5, painted Midnight Black and which also comes with 128GB of storage, “is now available for immediate dispatch for a limited time.”
Of course, we were sent the email at 3am Eastern. But good news: at 6pm Eastern same day, that souped up device is still immediately available.
“Limited time” could mean hours. It could mean days. But now’s a great time to make a decision on whether or not you’ll want a OnePlus 5.
For a long time, OEMs have relied on pushing out OTA updates to bring new features of some pre-installed applications to their users. This allowed for those applications to continue receiving new features and bug fixes while still maintaining their system application status. However, a lot of them simply do not need to be installed as a system application so we’ve been seeing a trend of these OEM applications being uploaded to the Play Store. Today, OnePlus has announced they are bringing four of their in-house applications to to Google Play so they can push out updates faster to their users.
We won’t see a time in which OEMs will push all of their 1st-party applications to the Play Store, but it certainly makes sense for a lot of them. Using this new OnePlus announcement as an example, there just isn’t a reason for them to limit updates for the Weather or Gallery applications to OTA updates. This results in it taking the company longer to get bug fixes and new features out to their users and that can be a big deal if someone has been putting up with an annoying bug within the application.
The company is calling these Individual Application Updates and it is being made available for owners of the OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T and the OnePlus 5. This new transition includes the OnePlus Launcher, OnePlus Community, Weather and their Gallery applications. So not only should we see these applications updated faster, but the company should also be able to push out more updates than we’re used to.
Some users have already reported seeing multiple OnePlus apps suddenly update through the Play Store, but now we have an official list with the full roster. We’re told that the Launcher will be the first of these that receives the next update from the Play Store. They said this should happen later this week and it comes with the following changes. . .
Optimized home screen folder icon, with a preview of the first four icons in the folder.
Redesigned style to mark folders that have already been opened.
Double finger touch support, allowing you to hold an item while sliding on the home screen.
Apple’s 2017 iPhones will inevitably influence the top end of the smartphone market. Here’s how it looks at the moment, with a number of key launches expected soon.
Smartphones are the focus of most people’s digital lives these days, and are likely to remain so until computing becomes truly ‘ambient’ — probably involving some seamless combination of wearables (particularly augmented reality [AR] goggles), IoT devices, cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI).
Following the launch of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, it’s a good time to take stock of the current state of the smartphone market by examining the vital statistics of leading vendors’ flagship handsets.
Apple‘s new iPhones, and Samsung‘s Galaxy S8/S8+ and Galaxy Note 8, show the general direction in which top-end smartphones are heading: powerful, attractive (and expensive) handsets whose user experiences increasingly leverage AI and AR, integrated with an ecosystem of add-on devices and services in various sectors including gaming, AR and VR, smart home, healthcare, shopping and office productivity.
Following last year’s well-publicised Galaxy Note 7 debacle and strong fourth-quarter performance from Apple, Samsung briefly ceded first place to its main rival in the Q4 2016 smartphone market. However, the Korean company swiftly returned to the number-one spot in 2017 (see chart). Apple‘s new iPhones face stiff competition from Samsung, Huawei and other top-five vendors, and from several manufacturers in the ‘Others’ category — including Google, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus and Sony — that also offer premium smartphones.
“Despite some key launches in the second quarter from some well-known players, all eyes will be on the ultra-high-end flagships set to arrive this fall,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, when the Q2 2017 figures were released at the beginning of August. “With devices like the iPhone 8, Pixel 2, Note 8, and V30 in the pipeline, the competition will be fierce come September. We expect all the key players to promote their latest and greatest flagships with an assortment of deals, bundles, and trade-in offers across a variety of channels in most key markets,” he added.
Here’s how the flagship smartphone market looks following Apple‘s 2017 iPhone launch, presented as far as possible in graphical form. (Note: we’ll update this article as new handsets from Google, Huawei, LG and any other leading vendors are released.)
Screen size & Pixel density
Screen size — measured in inches across the diagonal — is a smartphone’s defining design characteristic, and the range on offer from leading vendors is now very wide. BlackBerry‘s 4.5-inch keyboard-equipped KEYone is the smallest, while Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 currently leads the field at 6.3 inches, with 16 out of the 25 handsets covered here falling between 5.5 and 6 inches. Display technologies are split between IPS LCD (Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei, HTC, LG [G6], Sony) and various species of OLED (Apple [iPhone X], Google, HP, Huawei [Mate 9 Pro], LG [V30], Motorola, OnePlus and Samsung).
Recent developments in smartphone displays include curved minimal-bezel screens with on-screen home buttons, 18:9 aspect ratio, Gorilla Glass 5 screen protection and — in the HTC U Ultra — a small secondary screen for notifications and other useful information (an idea recently dropped by LG when updating the V20 to the V30). Samsung‘s Note 8 is the only handset covered here that offers a stylus (the S-Pen). Apple‘s 2017 iPhones add True Tone technology (first seen in the 2016 9.7-inch iPad Pro) that automatically adjusts colour temperature and intensity to the ambient light, while the iPhone X made more space for the screen by removing the home button (and Touch ID) altogether.
The other key statistic here is pixel density, measured as pixels per inch (ppi), which factors in the display resolution. The graph below shows that Samsung (Galaxy S8) and LG (G6) lead the mainstream field with pixel densities of 567 and 564ppi respectively. The outlier is Sony‘s 5.5-inch Xperia XZ Premium, which offers a maximum 4K resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 for a massive 807ppi. This looks extremely impressive, but note that, for much of the time, the Xperia XZ Premium works at 1,080p resolution to save battery life, resulting in a much more mundane 403.5ppi.
Not everyone is comfortable with a large-screen handset, but if you want a leading-edge device, that’s increasingly what you’re being offered. If you’re happy with a large screen (>5.5in.) and also want high pixel density (>500ppi), you should be looking at Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8+, LG‘s V30 or, if you’re happy to run Windows 10 Mobile, the HP Elite x3. If your hands are on the small side, the 5.3-inch Nokia 8 offers a good combination of moderate screen size and high resolution (550ppi).
Screen-to-body ratio & Thickness
Another key smartphone design metric is the screen-to-body ratio, which measures how much of a handset’s fascia is occupied by screen compared to non-display elements like bezels, camera lenses and control buttons.
If low screen/body ratios are ‘old-fashioned’, then Apple’s 2016 iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were showing their age at 65.5 percent and 67.5 percent respectively — and their 8 and 8 Plus successors have done nothing to change that. Apart from BlackBerry‘s KEYone, only four other handsets have sub-70 percent ratios: Google Pixel, HTC U Ultra, Nokia 8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The 4.5-inch KEYone is an outlier at 55.9 percent because, of course, it has a hardware keyboard, which decreases the screen-to-body ratio (and also increases the thickness compared to touchscreen-only handsets — see below).
At the other end of the scale, Samsung‘s Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 handsets, with their curved Infinity Display screens and on-screen home buttons, lead the field with screen/body ratios of 83-84 percent. LG‘s V30 and Apple‘s new iPhone X are the only other flagship handsets with screen/body ratios over 80 percent.
Smartphone vendors often make much of the slimness of their handsets, and it’s clear from the chart below that Huawei is particularly keen on this design feature. Conversely, Samsung and Google (and BlackBerry) deliver notably thicker handsets:
Motorola‘s modular Moto Z2 Force, at 6.1mm with no Mods fitted, is the thinnest handset here. There are trade-offs though: the camera lens housing protrudes from the rear, and the device’s body is too thin to accommodate a 3.5mm headset jack. With the increasing use of glass on both the front and back of premium handsets (to accommodate wireless charging), most people immediately put their expensive and shiny new handset in a protective case, which renders the quest for extreme slimness somewhat pointless.
Volume & Weight
As you’d expect, there’s a clear relationship between a smartphone’s physical volume and its weight, although the variation around the trendline is interesting.
For example, the handsets that are thick for their screen/body ratio — notably the HTC-designed Google Pixel and Pixel XL, HTC U Ultra and U11 — are also relatively light for their volume, suggesting that there’s plenty of room for components inside the case. Another handset that’s below the weight/volume trendline is Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 — evidence, perhaps, of design changes following the Note 7 debacle (especially as the Note 8 also packs a smaller-capacity 3,300mAh battery than its ill-fated predecessor, which ran on a 3500mAh unit). Conversely, it’s noteworthy how Apple‘s iPhone 8 Plus is particularly heavy (at 202g) for its volume, that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are slightly bulkier and heavier than their predecessors, and that the 5.8-inch iPhone X is considerably lighter and more compact than Samsung’s 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8.
Dust and water resistance
Another key smartphone design factor is resistance to the ingress of foreign matter, as commonly indicated by a two-digit IP rating: the first number describes dust resistance on a 1-6 scale, while the second describes water resistance on a 1-8 scale. The highest rating among the flagship handsets covered here is IP68, where ‘6’ indicates that the device is ‘dust tight’ and ‘8’ signifies that it can withstand immersion in water (usually at least 30 minutes to depth of at least 1m).
An IP rating of 5 for dust means the device is merely ‘dust protected’, while 7 for water means it can withstand immersion in up to 1m for 30 minutes, 4 means it can resist ‘splashing water’ and 3 means it can handle ‘spraying water’, both of the latter for at least 10 minutes.
IP ratings are not available for the BlackBerry KEYone, Huawei (and Honor) handsets, HTC U Ultra, Motorola Moto Z2 Force (although it does claim a ‘water repellent nano-coating’) and OnePlus 5. However, two of the flagship smartphones — the LG V30 and HP Elite X3 — also boast a military-grade MIL-STD 810G ruggedness certification.
Somewhat surprisingly, Apple‘s 2017 iPhones did not bump up their IP ratings from IP67 to IP68, to match Samsung‘s Galaxy S8/8+/Note 8. Looking ahead, it will be surprising if Google‘s second-generation Pixel handsets don’t move beyond IP53.
Chipsets, CPU & GPU performance
A flagship smartphone should do its job — launching, running and switching between apps, and displaying on-screen content — quickly and smoothly, without any delays or glitches that would mar the user experience. It shouldn’t become uncomfortably hot in operation either — or, of course, burst into flames.
Chipsets from four main vendors power the handsets covered here:
Apple‘s 4-core A10 Fusion (iPhone 7/7 plus) and 6-core AI- and AR-optimised A11 Bionic(iPhone 8/8Plus/X)
Samsung‘s 8-core Exynos 8995 in the Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 (worldwide versions)
Qualcomm’s mid-range 8-core Snapdragon 625 (BlackBerry KEYone); 4-core 820 (HP Elite x3) and 821 (Google Pixel/XL, HTC U Ultra, LG G6); and top-end 8-core 835 (HTC U11, LG V30, Moto Z2 Force, OnePlus 5, Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 [US/China versions], Sony Xperia XZ Premium)
HiSilicon’s Kirin 960 in the Huawei and Honor handsets.
Here’s how these platforms shape up in terms of processor and graphics performance, as measured by the Primate Labs’ multi-core Geekbench 4 (Gb4) and Futuremark’s 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited (ISU) benchmarks respectively:
The top-performing chipset — on these measures at any rate — is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, with Gb4 and ISU scores of up to 6500 and 40000 respectively. Note that the Exynos 8995 versions of the Samsung S8 and S8+ deliver better CPU results but weaker GPU performance (benchmarks are currently only available for the Exynos 8995 version of the Galaxy Note 8).
Apple‘s A10 Fusion-powered iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were strong performers, with scores of around 5400 (Gb4) and 37000 (ISU), and the new A11 Bionic-powered iPhones are sure to see a significant speed bump when benchmarks appear (here’s a leaked report). At the 2017 launch, Apple claimed that the A11 Bionic’s two performance CPU cores are 25 percent faster than the A10, while its four high-efficiency cores are 70 percent faster. Apple‘s 2nd-generation performance controller is reportedly 70 percent faster for multithreaded workloads, while the A11’s GPU is 30 percent faster and delivers A10-level performance at half the power, according to Apple.
Also prominent are the Kirin 960-powered handsets from Huawei and Honor, which cluster around the 6000 (Gb4)/27000 (ISU) mark. Again, we expect to see a performance boost when the AI-optimised Kirin 970 chipset becomes available in the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro in October.
The remaining Snapdragon 821-powered smartphones on this chart — notably Google‘s Pixel and Pixel XL — are well behind the 2017 curve, and will certainly be updated with the 835 chipset in due course. Very much in last place in this company is BlackBerry‘s KEYone, which is powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range 8-core Snapdragon 625 SoC.
RAM & Storage
When it comes to memory, the clear leader of the pack is the OnePlus 5, which is currently unique in offering 8GB or 6GB of RAM. Next come seven flagship handsets with a maximum of 6GB, all of which bar the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 also have a 4GB variant. The most common RAM complement is 4GB, which is the only choice with 11 handsets and the maximum for BlackBerry‘s KEYone (which also comes with 3GB).
Apple has always fitted less RAM in its iPhones than the Android competition, and that hasn’t changed with its 2017 handsets: the iPhone X and 8 Plus have 3GB (like the iPhone 7 Plus), while the iPhone 8 has 2GB (like the iPhone 7).
As far as internal storage is concerned, Apple‘s 2017 iPhones stand out with their maximum complement of 256GB — a feature that betrays the company’s disdain for external storage expansion via a MicroSD card slot. Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 also offers a maximum of 256GB (in some territories), but has a MicroSD card slot too, making it the top choice for the data-hungry.
Google‘s Pixel handsets and the OnePlus 5 also lack MicroSD expansion and, like the previous-generation iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, provide up to 128GB rather than 256GB of internal storage.
The most common maximum internal storage complement is 128GB, which is offered by 13 of the 25 handsets covered here.
Cameras have become a key battleground for smartphone makers, and several approaches are currently on view among the flagship population. Although it wasn’t the first to do so, Apple kick-started a trend last year by offering dual rear cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus: a primary 12-megapixel (MP) camera with an f/1.8 wide-angle lens and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a secondary camera with an f/2.8 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom but no OIS.
As well as adding telephoto capability, Apple‘s dual-camera system allowed depth information to be calculated, enabling features like bokeh — sharp foreground and blurred background — to be supported on portrait shots that were previously the province of expensive digital SLR cameras with high-end optics.
Apple‘s 2017 dual-camera phones, the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, remain at 12MP but the sensors are bigger, faster and deliver better low-light performance, according to Apple. The iPhone 8 Plus has the same basic lens specs as the 7 Plus (f/1.8 wa + OIS, f/2.8 tele), while the iPhone X has an f/2.4 aperture on the telephoto lens and implements OIS on both cameras. Apple also takes advantage of A11 Bionic chip’s machine-learning optimisation and custom ISP to deliver a (beta) Portrait Mode feature called Portrait Lighting: here, depth sensing and facial mapping are combined to deliver real-time analysis of the light on a subject’s face and provide alternative lighting schemes — either pre- or post-capture.
For dual-camera handsets, the top bar is the wide angle or colour camera, while the bottom bar is the telephoto or black-and-white camera.
Huawei‘s Leica-branded camera system pairs 12MP RGB and 20MP monochrome sensors with 27mm f/2.2 lenses (f/1.8 in the P10 Plus), supporting OIS on the primary colour camera. As well as enabling true monochrome shooting and adding detail to blended RGB/mono shots, the 20MP secondary camera supplies depth information for bokeh-style images. The Honor 8 Pro has a similar (non-Leica-branded) system, but the secondary mono camera is 12MP rather than 20MP and there’s no support for OIS.
LG uses two 13MP sensors on the G6, one coupled with an f/1.8 autofocus lens with OIS and the other with an f/2.4 wide-angle lens lacking both OIS and autofocus. The LG V30 takes a similar approach, but uses a 16MP primary sensor with an f/1.6 lens (with AF and OIS) and a 13MP secondary sensor with an f/1.9 lens (no AF or OIS).
Both Motorola and Nokia take the Huawei approach, with colour and monochrome cameras: the Nokia 8’s Zeiss-branded system supports OIS on the colour camera, but the Moto Z2 Force does not offer OIS on either.
OnePlus and Samsung (Galaxy Note 8) go for the wide-angle/telephoto dual camera design, OnePlus with 16MP (wa) and 20MP (tele) cameras and electronic image stabilisation (EIS) rather than OIS, and Samsung with two 12MP cameras, both with OIS. Samsung also introduces a couple of neat dual-camera features: Live Focus lets you adjust the bokeh effect pre- and post-capture, while Dual Capture simultaneously captures photos from both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras.
Single rear cameras are an increasing rarity among the flagship population, but are headed (in resolution terms) by Sony and HP, with 19MP and 16MP units in the Xperia XZ Premium and Elite x3 respectively.
The fashion for ‘selfies’ and authentication via face recognition means that front-facing cameras, once something of an afterthought with a nod to video calls, have seen significant recent evolution.
Samsung, for example, offers both face recognition and iris scanning on its Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 handsets, as well as a capable 8MP camera, while the Nokia 8’s Dual Capture feature lets you take pictures with the front and rear camera simultaneously (a.k.a. ‘Bothies’). Even more recently Apple more than matched Samsung’s functionality with the front-facing TrueDepth camera system and Face ID on the new iPhone X:
Apple’s True Depth camera system occupies a notch at the top of the iPhone X’s OLED screen.
To analyse your physiognomy, the flood illuminator detects your face, the infrared camera takes an IR image, and the dot projector places than 30,000 IR dots on your face. These data are fed into a neural network (in the A11 Bionic chip) to create a mathematical model of your face, which is then checked against the stored model on the handset — all in real time. The True Depth camera also enables Portrait Mode selfies with Portrait Lighting, and animated emoji called ‘Animoji’.
Here are the front camera megapixel counts for the 25 handsets under consideration, 12 of which are 8MP units:
Video capture is becoming an increasingly important smartphone camera feature — witness the fact that all bar one of the handsets covered here can record 4k (2160p) video with at least a frame rate of 30fps. The exception is BlackBerry‘s KEYone, which doesn’t support 4k video capture at any frame rate. Apple‘s new iPhones just upped the ante by supporting 4k video at 60fps, which will doubtless kick off another round of feature catch-up.
Slow-motion video is another popular feature, and Sony‘s Xperia XZ Premium leads the field here, supporting HD (720p) video capture at a startling ‘super-slo-mo’ 960fps. The current ‘standard’ for slo-mo video is 720p at 240fps, although Apple has again pushed the boundary by supporting full HD (1080p) video at 240fps in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X.
As resolutions and frame rates rise, image stabilisation — either optical or electronic — will become ever more important. It’s noticeably absent from Motorola‘s Moto Z2 Force, for example.
As flagship smartphones pack in faster processors, more memory, larger and higher-resolution screens, and ever more functions, so the toll on the handset’s battery increases. There are multiple trade-offs here: no smartphone user wants to have to recharge during a typical day’s usage, but manufacturers cannot simply fit ever higher-capacity batteries into designs that need to be as lightweight and elegant as possible in order to keep buyers interested. Get it wrong and a vendor can have a Galaxy Note 7-style debacle on its hands.
The state of the art in smartphone batteries is currently around 4,000mAh, while 14 of the 22 handsets charted here have battery capacities between 3,000 and 4,000mAh. Apple has not divulged the battery specs for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, and we’re awaiting the teardown analyses that will supply them.
A bigger battery obviously means longer battery life, as the chart below clearly shows. But given that design and safety constraints preclude the shoehorning of big batteries into tight-fitting cases, manufacturers also need to make it as convenient as possible for users — especially ‘power’ users who subject their devices to heavy workloads — to recharge their handsets.
Following LG‘s decision to drop the removable battery when updating the V20 to the V30, this feature is now absent from all of the top-end smartphones covered here. Fast charging is supported on all but the now-outdated iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, while wireless charging is available on Apple‘s new iPhones (8, 8 Plus and X), HP‘s Elite x3, the LG G6 and V30, and Samsung‘s Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8.
High-end smartphones are never going to be cheap, but Apple‘s newly launched iPhone X has broken new ground — the combination of Apple‘s historically high margins and a significant amount of new technology have seen to that. The entry-level 64GB iPhone X configuration costs $999, and if you must have the top-end 256GB model, be prepared to part with a princely $1,149 (and the same figure in UK pounds).
That’s a record for a mainstream flagship handset, although you can spend even sillier money on specialist secure/luxury devices like Sirin Labs’ Solarin if you really want to (although, as it turned out, few did).
Here are the list prices in US dollars for most of the premium handsets covered in this feature:
Notes: the LG V30 prices are converted from Korean won; the Nokia 8 price is converted from euros. The following handsets are not officially available in the US: Honor 8 Pro, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. Where available, prices for entry-level and top-end configurations are shown.
Recent launches from Samsung and Apple have highlighted the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and augmented reality in high-end smartphones, with the underlying chipsets and developer resources evolving appropriately. At least for now, the smartphone will remain the portable hub for your digital life, and the flow of new devices will continue apace.
We aim to keep this roundup updated as new products, specification details and benchmarks appear. The next big launches expected are Google‘s second-generation Pixel handsets, Huawei‘s Mate 10 and 10 Pro, and LG‘s G7. Check back for updated information on these and other devices.
All of that drama aside, both the OnePlus 3 and 3T received a new beta update to OxygenOS yesterday. The update is a big one and does things like tweak the design of the lift up display UI, adjusts the default color screen calibration, speeds up loading of images in the Gallery app, adds a new alarm calendar feature to the clock, and more. I don’t know that there is anything major, but it should fix bugs and stabilize a whole bunch of stuff.
The full changelog can be found below.
Added Shot on OnePlus watermark
You can toggle the Shot on OnePlus watermark and add your name to all pictures taken in the main camera settings
Redesigned lift up display UI
Now supports displaying battery percentage
Now supports hiding of notification content from apps locked by App locker
There is now a toggle that allows you to block notifications from apps that are in the App lock list
Improved stability of Parallel apps
Adjusted color display of default screen calibration
It now tends more towards sRGB calibration
Added E-warranty card
You can now find a version of your warranty card in “About phone > E-Warranty card”
Updated Android security patch level to August
Added quick index bar in contacts UI
The contacts page/app now have an alphabetical bar on the right side for easy moving to certain groups of names
Improved experience of switching incoming calls
Improvements to suggested merges functionality
Loading speed of images improved
Improved location accuracy
Improved the experience of searching cities
New feature “Alarm calendar”
Can be used to set an irregular alarm schedule, once you set the time, you can activate this feature by hitting the 3 dot menu button to the right of “repeat”
Immediately following the update, you might not be able to turn on the flashlight. Please reboot the device and normal functionality will be restored.