Another day. Another foldable. Yes, 2023 has heralded the arrival of foldable smartphones into mainstream lingo. People on the metro, talkative coffee drinkers on the table next to me, friends, and many others just can’t stop gushing over the foldable (in this case the OnePlus Open) in my hand/on the table. They may not buy one just yet, because the cost has to be factored in, but most of them do see themselves wanting to buy one sooner rather than later. The potential for foldables is huge.
There was Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 earlier in the year, and now the OnePlus Open, along with a bunch of other foldable smartphones released recently. I’ve been using the OnePlus Open for over two weeks now and I’m mighty impressed. Foldables have arrived and how. The OnePlus Open isn’t perfect (it wobbles when kept on a flat surface) but it’s extremely good. So much so that I’ve completely forgotten about the Galaxy Z Fold 5. While Samsung is on its fifth generation of Galaxy Fold phones, OnePlus is on its first.
The OnePlus Open retails in a single 16GB of RAM + 512GB of storage variant and two colours, Emerald Dusk and Voyager Black, for a sky-high price of Rs 1,39,999. That’s a lot to put down for a smartphone.
What is the OnePlus Open?
The OnePlus Open comes with a 6.31-inch cover display. It’s a Dual 2K OLED display (with a 2484x1116 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 2,800 nits). When unfolded, the OnePlus Open features a 7.82-inch display (with a 2440x2268 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 2,800 nits). OnePlus has worked on minimising the appearance of the crease and it shows.
The OnePlus Open is just 5.8mm thin when unfolded and weighs 239 grams. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. As mentioned above, you get 16GB of LPDDR5x RAM and 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage.
There’s a triple-camera set up on the back panel. There’s the 48MP primary camera (Sony LYT-T808), a 64MP OmniVision telephoto camera (with 3x optical zome) and a 48MP ultra-wide angle lens (Sony IMX581). On the front is a 20MP primary front camera and a 32MP secondary front camera.
The smartphone packs a 4,805mAh battery and has support for 67W SuperVOOC charging. There’s an 80W SuperVOOC adapter in the box. The smartphone runs on OxygenOS 13.2 (based on Android 13).
Regarding connectivity, there’s support for 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C port, an alert slider and more.
The best hardware in a foldable
One of the most impressive aspects of the OnePlus Open (especially if you’ve used a foldable smartphone in the past) is its hinge. When open, it is completely flat. The hinge is rated for 1,000,000 folds, which is insane. The crease is there, but barely visible. The only downside is that the smartphone doesn’t “lock” into angles as easily as the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
The OnePlus Open comes in as a thinner smartphone than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and is light enough not to weigh you down. At times, it feels like a normal clamshell smartphone, and that’s as big a compliment as a foldable can get.
Even with its first iteration of a foldable smartphone, OnePlus has come in swinging, and how. It is an incredible design, and there’s not much to fault here.
With booklike foldables, you aim to use the external screen for most of your day. You want to crank open the screen when you want to multitask, watch some of the India vs Australia T20I match, or just play games. The external screen should feel like something we’re all used to, and that’s just what OnePlus has achieved.
Where can one fault OnePlus in the hardware department, you ask? Well, the OnePlus Open comes in with just an IPX4 rating, whereas the Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers an IPX8 water resistance rating.
When the phone is closed and kept on the table, it constantly wobbles and that’s my grouse with this smartphone. There’s a ginormous camera bump on the back. The camera bump is justified (we’ll get into that later) but it isn’t entirely worth it.
The king of folding smartphone displays
Thanks to a wider 20:9 aspect ratio on the outer display, I can get a lot of my daily tasks done without having to unfold this smartphone. Along with the 2,800 nits of peak brightness on both displays, I never have to worry about legibility whether I’m indoors or outdoors.
Both displays on the OnePlus Open are gorgeous. They get bright (like I’ve already mentioned), and have rich and vivid colours along with sharp text. Scrolling is buttery smooth (thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate). The inner display comes with an anti-reflective layer (that helps in hiding the crease) that helps when unfolded outdoors in bright sunlight.
It’s a treat to watch sports, movies, YouTube videos and more on the inner display. I’ve just loved unfolding it at a cafe (to everyone’s surprise) and consuming content on a larger canvas.
With the bigger display, seeing spreadsheets, making notes, and charting (for the stock market) is so much easier.
Does it perform without any hiccups?
Yes, the OnePlus Open isn’t perfect. OxygenOS, as good as it is, misses out on a couple of crucial areas. Multitasking is the best I’ve seen in any foldable, but for some reason, I can’t open three apps the way I want to. Let me explain. I can’t have two apps in a top-bottom split and one on the side. This means you can’t interact with all three apps simultaneously. If you do swipe with four fingers, you can collapse the apps and view them all on the screen together. At that point, you can interact with all of them simultaneously. In short, it’s possible but annoying, and on a smaller canvas.
The OnePlus Open runs on OxygenOS 13.2 and the company is promising four years of OS upgrades along with five years of security updates. That’s a welcome improvement from OnePlus’ previous policy. OxygenOS 13.2 is buttery smooth for the most part and the OS has a very little learning curve. It’s clean and has its own set of enhancements. Plus the alert slider is there which helps quickly silence the smartphone.
Here are some of the other downsides of the OnePlus Open:
- It’s one step behind Samsung’s four-app multitasking implementation.
- The OnePlus Open is rated for IPX4 rating whereas the Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes with an IPX* rating.
- There is no wireless charging. This isn’t a dealbreaker, by any means, but still a negative.
- Fast charging only works with OnePlus’ proprietary charger.
- No DisplayPort over USB-C support.
The first foldable to have flagship-level cameras
There’s the massive round camera module on the back that OnePlus has outfitted. It makes the phone wobble on a flat surface but it isn’t without reason. The OnePlus Open has one of the best camera setups ever on a foldable smartphone to date. OnePlus is continuing its partnership with Hasselblad and it is slowly paying dividends. I’m not going to go into what each sensor comprises off, but let me just tell you about the goodness of the cameras.
There’s the 48MP main sensor from Sony. There’s a 48MP ultrawide, and a 64MP telephoto camera (with 3x optical zoom). There’s a 20MP selfie camera when using the inner display, and a 32MP selfie camera on the front (cover screen).
The cameras are simply outstanding for a foldable smartphone. They constantly outdo what Samsung and others have brought to the table. The colour science is on point when shooting with the main sensor. The main sensor shines in good lighting conditions and delivers great dynamic range. Sometimes it gets washed out/burnt out, like if you’re shooting straight at the sun, but otherwise, it performs admirably well.
Sometimes the OnePlus Open cameras saturate the photos and do a less-than-acceptable job with skin tones, but for the most part, it gets it correct.
Largely though, the colours are good, the sharpness is there and OnePlus has preserved the details. The secondary lenses support the main sensor well and the addition of the periscope zoom lens is the icing on the cake. With good zoom at 3x and 6x, we’re all happy campers.
Night-time photos aren’t the best in the business, and neither are portrait shots. But the OnePlus Open isn’t far behind the competition and that’s saying a lot. The OnePlus Open shoots a lot like the OnePlus 11 and improves in certain areas. I found myself using the OnePlus Open’s cameras far more than many of the other smartphones I was carrying around.
I wouldn’t shoot videos with the OnePlus Open. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers a much more stable output.
Does the OnePlus Open last a full day on a single charge?
The simple answer is yes. With a mixed usage pattern, I routinely went to bed with at least 15 per cent of the battery left. That’s stellar. The OnePlus Open comes with a 4,805mAh battery. Along with the efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, this is a winner.
I used both the outer display and inner display for large portions of the day, and if I didn’t game at all, I could easily last a day and a half before I had to plug in the smartphone to juice it up.
Using the OnePlus charging brick (provided in the box), the smartphone charged from zero to 100 percent in just 50 minutes. There’s no wireless charging though.
A first attempt that is worthy of your hard-earned money
For a first attempt, OnePlus has done a fantastic job with both the hardware and software. The OnePlus Open is by far the best foldable smartphone available in India. It may be because it costs less than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and it may also be because it has flagship-level cameras. It may also be because the larger canvas is a welcome sight to the eyes.
OnePlus has found the right combination of hardware and delivered a product that will be talked about for many months going forward. It’s lightweight and feels natural in the hand when closed. It’s got high-quality screens to boot and a camera one can rely on. You’ve got good performance and excellent thermal management. The battery life is more than reliable.
It’s a tough phone to recommend, as are all foldable smartphones. Some say Google’s software is better on the Pixel Fold (but it isn’t available in India) and Samsung’s network of accessories is greater (true, but also more expensive). Then there is the much cheaper foldable smartphone from Tecno, but nothing to write home about there.
One has high hopes for OxygenOS 14 (but, for now, it looks messy). Still, OnePlus has gotten much right and I’ve had more fun reviewing this smartphone than I had in the recent past.
The OnePlus Open gets a lot right but isn’t perfect and that’s just how I end my review of every foldable smartphone I’ve reviewed. There are some areas of improvement I can see for the company. OnePlus, for its part, has made Samsung and others sit up and take notice. No one can rest on their design anymore. No one can just evolve. Right now, the game of foldable smartphones is to see who takes the next giant leap.
Until then, my pick in the world of foldable smartphones would be the OnePlus Open, even though it is mighty expensive.