If you haven’t already heard, OnePlus handsets are now available in South Africa. They will be sold through Cernotech and FNB, and thus not available on any of the major networks. I received a handset this week and I’m going to do a quick first impressions post on what stood out for me.

I’m all about packaging. I love minimal packaging, and also the effort that goes into it because it shows you how much the brand cares about the “little things” to make their product stand out from the rest. With OnePlus, I love the red and white box, the neat cutouts, the paperwork slotted inside it, a thank you post card from the OnePlus co-founder featuring his favourite photo from the handset, a plug, and a red charging cable. Well, that’s a first – and nobody will make off with your cable by “accident”. One of the things I don’t miss about working in a office, ha.

It’s very much like the new Nokias because they both run stock/vanilla Android. It’s all very basic, no bloatware (yay) and less complicated. I do love that, however, I miss little things like not being able to put the percentage on the battery icon so I can constantly see it. App drawer has all the basics like Google Suite, and the OnePlus Community app. 

This may or may not matter to some but I love customisation on all my tech/gadgets because I’m the fussiest person I know. You can customise the icons to be round, square, or OnePlus style. And the Settings menu has a “Buttons” option. Here you can choose to swap the ordering of the buttons (back/recents) or enable the on-screen buttons, otherwise the default is outside the screen – to the left and right of the home button. It may not be obvious that they are navigation buttons but I figured it out when I didn’t see software buttons. Additionally, there are system gestures and ‘screen off’ gestures like double tap to wake, drawing alphabets for certain functions. 

The OnePlus 5 is f-ing fast! It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, with 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. You can have loads of apps running and switch between them and it’s instantaneous. Camera is snappy too! Only the 128GB version will be available in South Africa – that’s good news. I think that’s the sweet spot for phone storage. Also, the screen is amazing!

Since this is a first impressions post, I haven’t tested it extensively but I like what I’ve seen so far. The main dual cameras are 16MP+20MP and has Portrait Mode. It takes photos with a bokeh effect/background blurring, which has to be a standard feature on any new phone now. Even the FNB phone has it. However, it’s not available on the front-camera. The pro/manual mode shows an on-screen histogram and has RAW image support. The main camera shoots in 4K (30fps). The selfie-cam is 16MP and and shoots 1080p videos.

File Manager is really useful and gives you a quick snapshot of everything on the phone. It’s neatly categorised and at a glance you can see how many pics, audio, docs, APKs, favourites, downloads, etc you have. You can go into them and delete stuff from camera roll, etc. 

The OnePlus 5 is dual-SIM and is available through cernotech.net/oneplus for R11 999 on prepaid. It is also available through FNB Connect at R599 pm x24 months. As we know, some operators (cough) don’t carry dual-SIM handsets, and should they carry OnePlus devices in future, it will be single-SIM variants.