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OnePlus Open review: An open-and-shut case for foldables

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 1,599
(inc VAT)

The OnePlus Open offers one of the most easy-to-live-with full-sized foldables yet

Pros

  • Appealing and easy-to-use design
  • Strong cameras
  • Cheaper than rivals

Cons

  • Poor IP rating
  • No wireless charging
  • Still quite expensive

We’re now several years into the full-sized foldable phone experiment, and things are finally getting interesting. Samsung continues to refine its Galaxy Z Fold series, Honor created a genuinely slim foldable in the Honor Magic V2, and Google added a genuinely good camera to the equation with the Pixel Fold.

Now OnePlus has thrown its hat in the ring with its first foldable, the OnePlus Open. Has it managed to learn any lessons from those folding rivals? And if so, are they all the right ones?

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OnePlus Open review: What you need to know

OnePlus is offering an almost compromise-free foldable phone with a refined design and a genuinely good camera system for a bit less money than most of its rivals. The package starts with a pair of bright, sharp 120Hz OLED displays. There’s a 7.82in 2,440 x 2,268 external screen and a 6.31in 2,484 x 1,116 cover display.

The OnePlus Open runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 which, while about to be replaced, remains a speedy flagship chip, and is a match for any of its foldable rivals. That’s backed by a generous 16GB of RAM in the sole model, as well as 512GB of internal storage.

Perhaps the standout feature here is a well-rounded triple camera system built specifically for the foldable, backed up by Hasselblad colour science. This setup includes a 48MP (f/1.7) main camera, a 64MP (f/2.6) 3x telephoto and a 48MP (f/2.2) 114-degree ultrawide. There are a pair of selfie cameras, with a 32MP (f/2.4) cover camera and a 20MP (f/2.2) inner camera.

Away from hardware, OnePlus’s custom Open Cover system promises to make multitasking on that big internal screen a doddle.

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OnePlus Open review: Price and competition

OnePlus is only offering one variant of the OnePlus Open, with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. Even with such a generous allotment, though, the OnePlus Open only costs £1,599.

You may wonder how the word ‘only’ worked its way in there, but you need only look at the wider full-sized foldable scene to understand that the Open provides relatively good value, all things considered. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 costs £1,749, and that’s for the entry-level 256GB model. If you were to match the OnePlus Open spec like-for-like, then the 512GB variant costs £1,849.

It’s a similar situation with the Google Pixel Fold, which costs £1,749 for 256GB and £1,869 for 512GB. The OnePlus Open is certainly expensive, then, but it’s considerably cheaper than the competition.


OnePlus Open review: Design and key features

The OnePlus Open isn’t the thinnest full-sized foldable on the market. It’s undercut by both the Honor Magic V2 and the Huawei Mate X3. Even so, at 11.7mm thick when closed, it beats the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and the Pixel Fold, which are both much bigger concerns here in the West.

Interestingly, the precise weight of the phone depends on which colour and finish you go for. The glass-backed Emerald Dusk model I’m testing weighs 245g, while the Voyager Black model with its vegan leather finish is a tad lighter at 239g. Either way, it’s a little lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and way lighter than the Pixel Fold.

The design language of the OnePlus Open seems to be somewhat divisive, but I like it. While its flat rim leaves it feeling somewhat brick-like when folded up, it also proves reassuringly solid to grip. Similarly, while the huge circular camera module has put some people off with its sheer monstrous size, I found it to be a classy focal point and a handy place to rest your forefinger.

Once unfolded, I noticed two things. One is that the Open doesn’t quite fully live up to its name, leaving the slightest of angles to its two halves. The other is that the crease is extremely minor, and you’ll need to look hard (preferably at an angle) to see it. Good job, OnePlus.

It’s good to see that OnePlus has stuck with its signature alert slider with the Open. Found on the top-right edge (or the left when unfolded), it lets you instantly switch the phone to a silent or vibrate mode.

Less welcome is the provision of a mere IPX4 rating. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 also lacks dust resistance, but they are at least IPX8 water resistant. The OnePlus Open is merely splash-resistant by comparison.

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OnePlus Open review: Display

The OnePlus Open is very well equipped in the display stakes. Both of its screens are bright, colour-accurate OLEDs with 120Hz refresh rates. Both can dip to 1Hz too, courtesy of LTPO technology, which is especially useful in a foldable where energy efficiency is paramount.

The internal display is a gorgeous 7.82in OLED, with a 2,440 x 2,268 resolution and a square-ish aspect ratio. OnePlus quotes a peak brightness of 2,800cd/m² in HDR scenarios. With auto brightness switched off, I recorded it hitting 584cd/m². It’s extremely colour-accurate too: using the Pro colour mode, I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 98.6%, with a total volume of 100.1% and a near-perfect Delta E score of 0.88.

While the internal display gains most of the attention here, it’s the external screen that you’ll be using more. Thankfully, the Open’s cover display is a peach. At 6.3in it’s relatively compact, but it’s also plenty sharp at 2,484 x 1,116. Most importantly, it doesn’t have the weird aspect ratio of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (tall and thin) or the Pixel Fold (short and stubby), so it feels like a normal non-folding phone when you’re using it.

Its output is nice and consistent with the internal display’s too, with a maximum brightness of 580cd/m², an sRGB gamut coverage of 98.5%, a total volume of 100.9%, and an average Delta E score of 1.03.

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OnePlus Open review: Performance and battery life

The OnePlus Open is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. At the time of writing this review, at the tail end of 2023, that’s just about to be superseded by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but it’s still a very capable chip.

It’s also as fast a component as any of its rival foldables can boast, and way faster than the pricey Google Pixel Fold with its underwhelming custom Tensor G2 chip. Not that our benchmark terms quite bear that out.

While the OnePlus Open’s CPU and GPU results are generally quicker than those of the Google Pixel Fold and the Honor Magic Vs, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 seems to score higher. This may well be down to the fact that Samsung uses a higher-clocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in its own foldable.

In practical terms, I can’t fault the OnePlus Open. It ran flawlessly during my time with the phone, including when running high-end games or flitting between multiple open apps – or indeed, when running several apps side by side.

Nor could I fault the OnePlus Open’s stamina. While a 4,805mAh battery comes in a little small compared to a non-foldable flagship, it’s comfortably larger than the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s 4,400mAh cell and is about the same as the Pixel Fold’s 4,821mAh unit. It’s quite a bit smaller than the Honor Magic Vs and its 5,000mAh cell, however.

Interestingly, despite those relative specs, the OnePlus Open performed much better than the Pixel Fold on our looping video stamina test, significantly better than the Honor Magic Vs, and quite a bit worse than the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Samsung’s pioneering foldable work is clearly paying off here.

In terms of anecdotal day-to-day usage, the best I managed was a full day of usage with 6 hours of screen-on time with 35% left in the tank. That’s a strong result, though naturally, that figure will drop drastically if you’re a heavier user of that large internal display. In my own use, I would only open the phone up for occasional couch web browsing, the odd YouTube video, or a round or two of Slay the Spire.

One thing that won’t vary is the OnePlus Open’s excellent charging speeds. Using the bundled 67W wired charger, I was able to get the phone from empty to 52% in just 15 minutes and up to 89% after half an hour. You can expect a full charge in around 40 minutes.

There is a bit of a fly in the ointment here, however. As with the OnePlus 11, OnePlus hasn’t seen fit to include any form of wireless charging. We were baffled by the omission in the company’s 2023 flagship phone, and we’re just as perplexed here in its first foldable.

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OnePlus Open review: Software

The OnePlus Open runs on Android 13 with OxygenOS 13.2 layered on top. It’s not quite the super-slick and distinctive custom interface that it used to be, following a merger with Oppo’s fussy ColorOS.

It’s stable and functional, however, and is packed full of customisation options. More importantly, it contains OnePlus’ foldable optimisation effort called Open Canvas, which works very well indeed.

Using this intuitive UI, which places a little MacOS/Windows 11-like app dock along the bottom when in apps, it’s an absolute breeze to hold and drag apps to either side of the main screen. Indeed, it’s possible to use up to three apps in this way, as well as to have apps floating over others in a draggable window. You can also drag and drop files between these open apps.

OnePlus’s approach to a foldable UI is more complete than Google’s, but less of a power user’s dream than Samsung’s. You don’t get the benefit of the latter’s optional stylus either. Even so, I would argue that OnePlus hits the sweet spot. It’s better integrated and more intuitive than the competition, and as such is more likely to be used as intended.

There isn’t too much in the way of bloatware, either. OnePlus gives you a suite of apps for the usual functions (Clock, Calculator, Games), as well as some extras like an IR blaster app that lets you use the Open to control your TV. Otherwise, you’re getting Netflix, Facebook and a stack of Google apps.

OnePlus is promising four major software updates and five years of security update support. It hadn’t made the switch to Android 14 as of the very end of 2023, so we would hope to see it early in 2024.

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OnePlus Open review: Cameras

Perhaps the biggest benefit of OnePlus’ slow and considered path to the foldable market is the OnePlus Open’s camera system. It’s a bespoke setup that doesn’t suffer from the usual space restrictions, unlike most other foldable phones on the market.

By using Sony’s 48MP LYT-T808 sensor, which stacks the sensor’s components over two layers, OnePlus is able to scoop up way more light than the sensor’s 1/1.43″ size would suggest. The result: genuinely flagship-grade shots in a whole range of lighting conditions.

OnePlus Open review

Pretty much all of the shots I took with this main sensor were bold, detailed, full of contrast, and well-exposed. There was a little more movement blur than I would have liked in indoor-lit scenarios, but that’s hardly unusual. I also like Hasselblad’s colour science, which offers a certain amount of colour pop without feeling distractingly stylised.

Elsewhere, you get a 64MP 3x telephoto camera. True, that falls short of the Pixel Fold’s 5x zoom, but it still captures strong hybrid zoomed shots even at a hybrid 6x, and it’s more impressive than the OnePlus 11 with its 2x telephoto. There’s also a 48MP 114-degree ultrawide which looks very similar to the equivalent OnePlus 11 component.

OnePlus Open review

Both backup sensors capture a similar tone to the main camera, which is always what I look for in a flagship phone. It meant that I never second-guessed which camera to use when composing a shot with the Open.

I can’t say I was quite as impressed with the 32MP selfie camera found on the outside of the phone. Shots taken with this are reasonably well balanced, but also seemed somewhat soft and fuzzy, with a lack of fine detail to the subject’s face – certainly compared to other non-foldable flagship phones.

OnePlus Open review

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OnePlus Open review: Verdict

As full-sized foldable phones go, the OnePlus Open is one of the most pleasingly intuitive and easy to live with yet.

Its design is beautifully balanced, with a highly usable external display and an inner screen with a minimal crease. Meanwhile, the camera system is far from the weak point it often is on foldable phones. In fact, it’s downright good.

The cherry on the cake is OnePlus’ well-executed software, which makes it easy to run apps side by side or in floating windows on that big, beautiful inner screen. All this in a package that costs hundreds less than the competition.

It’s not perfect by any means. The body could still stand to be slimmer and lighter, like the Honor Magic V2, while the Open is missing basic flagship features like wireless charging and a strong IP rating. Even so, the OnePlus Open stands as one of the best foldables around.

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