The best way of putting this new flagship from the four-year-old Chinese startup OnePlus into perspective is to describe it as the Emmanuel Macron of smartphones. It’s young, it’s promising, it’s modestly radical, and it seems to do all that more established products do without any of the corporate baggage – plus a few things none of them does.
OnePlus is an exceptionally lean company, set up to provide a highly customisable, affordable Android phone to a select audience of geeks. Think in terms of a hyper-talented international team of young engineers ranging around Shenzhen – the world’s number one electronics centre – for all the best components and putting them together into phones without needing the overheads of Apple or Samsung.
But the OnePlus 5 is not some cheap and cheeky pastiche suitable for use as a second phone you won’t cry about if you leave it on a plane; it is the real deal, similarly sized to an iPhone 7 Plus but a noticeable 19 per cent lighter. Not only are the finish, feel and functionality world class, but its camera is easily as good as that on the 7 Plus. There is already a cult of OnePlus 5 photos developing online (assisted, it has to be said, by some prodigious marketing brilliance). I can attest that the photos are simply wonderful – even if the twin-lens array sticks out annoyingly, just as on the latest iPhone. The OnePlus 5 processor also gives it a (contested) claim at the time of writing to be the fastest phone on the market.