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.
Reviewers have prematurely revealed what we should expect for the OnePlus 5T in terms of specifications and consumer garnishes when the product launches from November 16.
Chinese sources as well as the German branch of ZDNet have brought into view the review kit. It includes a backpack, branded clothing, the phone and some accessories.
The OnePlus 5T is slated to be revealed on November 16th, but we now know the full specs of the upcoming device thanks to a leak from ZDNET’s German site. The reviewer uploaded some unboxing images from their reviewer’s guide a bit early, including publishing the specs cheat sheet that comes with these devices. Here’s a peek at it.
More to the German publication: the reviewer’s guide — which helps editorialists judge various features promised by the company — makes mention of a lot of the specs which you can see above. Disappointingly, we only see USB 2.0 spec, but the Type-C port does support USB audio. More listening options come in the form of a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD.
On setup, users are advised that there is a proprietary face unlock procedure they can configure. It’s likely that this is not the stock Android implementation as that has been deprecated. That said, a fingerprint sensor is retained, but it has moved from the front as on previous OnePlus phones to the back.
Camera-wise, the lead sensor of the rear-facing dual-camera system is carried over from the OnePlus 5: the 16-megapixel Sony IMX398. The secondary sensor, though, while having the same 20-megapixel resolution as its predecessor is not the same: the IMX350 has been replaced by the IMX376K. And instead of different focal lengths, both cameras have the same 27.22mm focal length with identical f/1.7 apertures.
ZDNet.de‘s Kai Schmerer has a comparison shot of the rear sides of both OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T. There is a noticeable increase in the protrusion of the camera module in the latter model.
It seems that OnePlus may have flagged down its zoom photography efforts — the zoom lens aperture of f/2.6 should’ve been the sign that light was going to be an issue — and is going for “lossless” digital zoom instead. Furthermore, we speculate that the ‘K’ in the specialized IMX376K sensor’s name refers to the grayscale meaning of the CMYK colorfill acronym. It’s likely that OnePlus has taken the route of Huawei, dedicating one color sensing camera and another camera for brightness and detail data capture.
More details can be found at the archived source link.
While OnePlus may have lost control of their phone, they have yet to launch a message to wrap around the 5T. It’s that message that we’ll be watching closely as well as the ancillary details not covered by this unboxing.
OnePlus 5T (left) vs OnePlus 5 (right)
Some interesting comparison shots from the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T were also released, which seems to indicate that the camera bump around the OnePlus 5T protrudes just a little bit more than the one included on the OnePlus 5. You can see what I mean in the image below.
OnePlus 5T (top) has more of a slightly more raised camera hump
Now that the specs are out there, what do you think of this refresh of the OnePlus 5? It’s included a headphone jack and the 18:9 aspect ratio that Samsung has made popular and seems to refine the design a bit. Overall I think it’s an interesting refresh, but we’ll have to wait until November 16th to find out more about OnePlus’ camera improvements.
Galaxy S8 (left), Xiaomi Mi Mix (center), OnePlus 5T (right)
Sales begin on November 21 in the following countries:
It has been a little over a month since the OnePlus 3 reportedly received Android Oreo through a closed beta program, but now the update is ready to be tested for the OnePlus 3 and 3T for those in the Open Beta program.
As a general overview, Android Oreo introduces visually-different Quick Settings and Settings areas, Picture in Picture mode, and auto-fill, along with many more features and enhancements. Make sure to check out our Android Oreo review to see what is new with the update, and while things might not look very different when compared to Nougat, there are more than enough tweaks and changes that help move the needle.
Going back to the OnePlus 3 and 3T’s Open Beta program, Android Oreo is available for both devices as a 1.4 GB download at the links below. You will need to flash the update, though the instructions to do so are very straightforward.
Because this is the Open Beta program, there are several known issues that will presumably be ironed out by the time the final version lands. For example, unlocking the phones with your fingerprint might be slower than usual, the shortcut to access Google Photos is unavailable, NFC and Bluetooth are somewhat unstable, and the performance and compatibility of third-party apps are not up to snuff.
As exciting as the news might be, it arrives with a somewhat somber context. Keep in mind that, according to OnePlus, Android Oreo will be the last major Android update for the OnePlus 3 and 3T. Likely because of that, the Open Beta program for the two phones will end after Android Oreo exits beta and makes its way to more users.
Security patches will be released “for the foreseeable future,” but with today’s news, we’re that much closer to the end of the road for the OnePlus 3 and 3T.
The OnePlus 5 may have come out, but that doesn’t mean the company has forgotten about the 3 and 3T. Earlier today, the two phones were updated to Oxygen OS 4.5.0, introducing a pile of new features like “lift up display,” Gaming Do Not Disturb, low priority notifications, and OnePlus‘ Slate font. Most of the changes in this release were already available on the OnePlus 5, but it’s great to see them trickle down onto older hardware.
The OTA update is hitting devices now, and it’s 197MB in size. If you root or have a need to download the full image, it’s closer to 1.5GB. As always, if you don’t see the update on your device just yet (it isan incremental roll-out), you can use a VPN set to Germany to trigger the download early, at which point you can then disable the VPN and download at full speed.
Most of the headlining changes in v4.5.0 were already present on the newer OnePlus 5. So if they sound familiar, that would be why. Thankfully the… questionable boot animation from the recent betas
did not make its way into this build.
All of these new changes in Oxygen OS also live in different places, but we’ve updated our own device and documented where all the most interesting bits live, in case you don’t have time to go digging around in Settings yourself.
Lift up display
“Lift up display” is poorly named, but descriptive. Just like the lift to wake on Pixel devices and the OnePlus 5, it allows your OnePlus3/3T to turn on the display and show a bit of black and white notification content when you grab it. All it requires is that the Ambient display just above it in Settings -> Display be enabled. And, of course, for you to lift your phone up while the screen is off.
Gaming Do Not Disturb
Gaming Do Not Disturb will come in handy for a lot of people, probably even outside of games. The feature allows you to block notifications and lock capacitive buttons while specific applications are open so that you don’t accidentally exit them when you don’t mean to. So if you get into a particularly intense gaming session, you won’t have to worry about accidentally exiting the app as you flail in frustration.
You can access Gaming Do Not Disturb in Settings-> Advanced -> Gaming Do Not Disturb, and from there it can be enabled or disabled for individual applications. You can customize the setting to block notifications (outside calls and alarms) and disable hardware buttons as you prefer. To exit Gaming Do Not Disturb mode, you’ll need to open the ongoing notification it creates and tap that to disable.
Low-priority notifications & others
Low-priority notifications are what you’d expect. They don’t trigger sounds, don’t peek, and don’t set the LED to cycle. They also won’t appear on the lock screen or overall status bar. So it’s a perfect setting for apps you might want to manually check notifications from, without being bothered by as they come in. The low priority notification option appears with all the other per-app notification options under each app in Settings -> Notifications.
The phone app UI has also been changed a bit, with a slightly tweaked tab layout. There are also a handful of other minor changes, like a “Shot on OnePlus” watermark for photos, a redesigned photo editor in the Gallery app, a new Dash Charge animation, scheduled night mode, and a “secure box” for the File Manager.
OnePlus‘ Slate font was originally introduced in an update to the OnePlus 5 at the beginning of this month. It might not be to everyone’s style, but it’s an inoffensive font compared to some that manufacturers include in ROMs.
The partial changelog published by OnePlus includes:
Added lift up display
Added Gaming Do Not Disturb
Added low priority notification
Added network speed in status bar
Added scheduled night mode
Added OnePlus Slate font
Redesigned Dash Charge animation
System stability and battery improvements
Added Shot on OnePlus wallpaper
Redesigned calling UI
Camera / Gallery
Added Shot on OnePlus watermark
Redesigned photo editor in Gallery
Added secure box
It would appear that the BlueBorne vulnerability has even been patched. At first, we thought the device was still vulnerable since Oxygen OS 4.5.0 is still running the August security patches. But according to the BlueBorne Vulnerability Scanner by Armis, it has been patched for the vulnerability. I’m not entirely sure what detection method the application uses to determine that. But if it’s correct, that means OnePlus 3 and 3T users are just a bit more secure now.
Although the logs don’t mention it, and the security patch level would imply otherwise, the BlueBorne Vulnerability Scanner by Armis claims that the device has, in fact, been patched. We’ve updated the article to reflect that information.
Downloads have been posted, so if you haven’t gotten the OTA, or you prefer to flash manually, you can.
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.