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My OnePlus 5 Smartphone

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Update 2017-10-14: OnePlus spyware

I've got a new smartphone. It's a OnePlus 5 32GB.

My must-have requirements were:

My nice-to-have requirements were:

The OnePlus 5 is almost a perfect match. Its dimensions are a little bit bigger and it does not feature Qi charging. The price tag of 500€ is tough but lucky me, I only had to pay a fraction because it is a device my company owns. I probably would not have paid that much money for a smartphone.

My Thoughts After Using it for Two Weeks

You might have followed my tweets on the OnePlus 5. Here are my most important findings so far.

First of all, the device is slippery. I won't use it without its neat wood-like case that adds better grip to the back-side.

The LED is way too small. In comparison to my old Nexus 5, the LED notification is hardly noticeable. Same holds for the vibration alarm. My Nexus 5 was put to vibrate-only most of the time. I noticed its vibrations and its LED reliably. Not so with the OnePlus 5. Now, I have to think about using a not that crazy and not so loud sound instead. Too bad for my peers I will have to annoy in the future.

I'd say that it is a disadvantage that it does not come with a micro USB port. It has the newer USB-C type connector which makes my set of cables and chargers useless. I bought myself some cheap adaptors to fix this.

@OnePlus 5 #DashCharge: in 30mins 23%→77%
I am impressed. :-O
No more over-night charging?https://t.co/WQZ1Cdr3aY (article from 2015)

— Karl Voit (@n0v0id) September 2, 2017

On the plus side, having an USB-C connector does offer some advantages as well. The so called dash charger of the phone is an amazing thing. Recharging is unbelievable fast.

The battery lasts for at least one and a half days with my current usage pattern. I hope that even in a few years, the battery will last for a day.

Many reviews mention the built-in camera. Yes, it is really impressive. No noticeable shutter lag, nice portrait mode with its cool bokeh effect, lossless 2× zoom, really easy to use software.

Despite my concerns against the wrong advertisement of fingerprint readers as a security enhancement, I actually started to use the fingerprint reader to unlock the screen. Remember: It's a nice convenience feature, not a security win. The sensor is ultra fast and I can unlock the device reliably in any angle of my registered fingers. Even upside down.

The display is huge and has a nice resolution. The launcher of OxygenOS allows for much more icons to be placed on the desktops.

The night mode lets me read in the evening without hurting my eyes. I could not find out why I should use the reading mode that "simulates" an eBook reader display since the night mode seems to do the trick.

The OxygenOS is almost a clean Android 7 with some few add-ons that really make sense to me. It will get Android O so that the current OxygenOS 4.5.10 (Android 7.1.1) will be updated probably end of this year or Q1 of 2018.

In order to get a black background, I have to install an app on my @OnePlus 5. We've lost functionality on the way :-( https://t.co/ydB31qF1Ev

— Karl Voit (@n0v0id) September 2, 2017

I very much appreciate the three-stage hardware alert slider although I can not configure it the way I want it to. The options here are very limited so that I use it only to go to full silent mode and back. I'd definitely love to see more options to switch sound/vibration/visual profiles with it.

The speakers are placed at the bottom like my Nexus 5. In comparison to it, the OnePlus 5 speakers are really, really loud. I mean it. I can listen to talks, TV shows, music in a large room even with some background noise without issues. Amazing engineering here as well.

I can confirm: #Signal is able to use registered phone number of SIM2 & data from SIM1. Even with disabled SIM2. Thanks @whispersystems

— Karl Voit (@n0v0id) September 2, 2017

This is my first dual-SIM experience. I'm glad that I don't have to carry around a second smartphone. However, the software support for dual-SIM is very poor. For example I can only choose between "select the SIM number 1 or 2 to use on every call" and "ask me every time which SIM to use for this call/message". I was hoping for a more clever solution where the phone recognizes the previously used SIM for this contact which is then re-used when I call or text somebody again. I can go on with several examples. Some things might be solve-able via third party apps I have yet to find. Those things should really be handled in the default software setup.

The OnePlus 5 storage capacity can not be extended by using an SD card. On my Nexus 5, I had only 16 Gigabytes with a real-world capacity of only one Gigabyte left for daily usage. The 64 Gigabytes of the OnePlus 5 with approximately fifty Gigabytes of real world capacity left for my daily useage are a big win.

Too bad that I found out that the @OnePlus 5 I ordered has a rather high #SAR value of ~1.5 (compared to ~0.5 of N5) https://t.co/xtSlsvMEjK

— Karl Voit (@n0v0id) August 31, 2017

Unfortunately, I had to find out that the OnePlus 5 has a bad SAR value of 1.39 W/kg (ear) and 1.48 W/kg (body). It is still clearly below the maximum permissible value of 2.0 W/kg. However, my Nexus 5 and most other current smartphones are below 0.5 W/kg. Not a show-stopper but I'd like to use a phone with a better SAR value instead.

Overall, I am quite happy with my OnePlus 5 with a few drawbacks mentioned above.

OnePlus Spyware (and Its Removal)

After an analysis proved that OnePlus has added spyware on the devices, I needed to remove this software.

I activated the developer mode (Settings -> About Phone -> Software Info and tap on build number many times) and activated the USB Debugging in the developer settings.

The command line tool adb is installed on Debian-based distributions with apt install adb and helps on removing the spyware:

  1. Check USB connected phone via adb devices
  2. Make a backup of the two spyware apps:
    • adb pull /system/priv-app/OPDeviceManager/OPDeviceManager.apk .
    • adb pull /system/priv-app/OPDeviceManagerProvider/OPDeviceManagerProvider.apk .
  3. Open adb shell and un-install the two apps:
    • pm uninstall -k --user 0 net.oneplus.odm
    • pm uninstall -k --user 0 net.oneplus.odm.provider

The procedure might need to be re-applied after each OTA update.

Windows users do need to install Android device drivers and adb beforehand.

OnePlus has proven that they do not respect the privacy of their customers. This is going to be my last OnePlus smartphone I guess.

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