OnePlus Open Long-term Review: Coming of age for foldable smartphones

OnePlus Open Long-term Review: Coming of age for foldable smartphones

OnePlus Open Long-term Review: Coming of age for foldable smartphones

Pros:
– Very good design, outstanding build quality
– Thickness and weight kept in check, inconspicuous display crease
– Brilliant displays – inner and outer both
– Powerful processing hardware, ample storage
– Fluid and intuitive UI that adjusts seamlessly across displays
– Impressive camera performance with a good mix of cameras
– Good battery backup for the category
– Phone speakers are surprisingly good

Cons:
– Expensive
– No in-display fingerprint scanner or wireless charging
– Macro shots look dull

Rating: 4.2/5
Price: Rs 1,39,999

It would be fair to say that 2023 has been a good year for OnePlus; way better than 2022 for sure. It started with the OnePlus 11 – a mighty impressive smartphone that ticked a lot of boxes and raised the bar for their non-Pro phones. Their final release of the year has been the most ambitious till date and also their most expensive across categories. Foldable phones are still far from being mass-market products. The use case is also fairly limited.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Design
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

On top of that there have been valid concerns about their size (thickness in particular), weight, durability and of course the screen crease that is hard to ignore. Samsung, with each iteration of the Fold, has been addressing those issues to a point. OnePlus aims to do one better with its debutant in the category. Can the OnePlus Open hit it out of the park straight away? Let’s find out in this long-term review.

OnePlus Open Design: Smart design, outstanding build, and yet the lightest in the segment
A lot of the aforementioned concerns have been addressed right here thanks to some smart design elements. Though foldable phones haven’t yet reached a point where they can be as slim (when folded) as regular premium smartphones, the Open is arguably the slimmest foldable phone around, measuring 11.7 mm in thickness when folded and just 5.8 mm when open. That makes it more than 1.5 mm slimmer than its closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 when folded.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Hinge and edge
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The weight is kept in check too, and the Fold is the lightest ‘full size foldable’ phone around, weighing under 240 grams. Now, anything over 200 grams is considered heavy for smartphones in this age. But under a quarter of a kilo is perfectly acceptable for full-size foldable phones at the current stage of their evolution. And as the company cheekily puts it, the OnePlus Open is a gram lighter than the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. The phone is IPx4-rated moisture resistant too.

The designers have made some smart choices with the materials used, ranging from aluminium to titanium alloy to surgical-grade stainless steel to keep the overall weight down without compromising on the sturdiness of the device. In fact, the build quality is outstanding. It feels super sturdy when closed and equally reassuring when open despite its slimness. Be it the single spine flexion hinge or the aluminium edges, they all feel solid. The brushed metal finish combined with the eco-leather back looks elegant.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Buttons
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The weight distribution is great, and the phone doesn’t feel too heavy in hand. A power button that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner, a volume rocker, a USB-C port and a few microphones and speakers are located around various edges. Oh, and the trademark alert slider is present too. The buttons are generally easy to reach irrespective of whether the phone is open or closed. An in-display fingerprint scanner would have been good to have, but hard to access with the phone open.

OnePlus Open Display: Impressive outer display overshadowed by the one on the inside
Like all foldable phones, the OnePlus Open has two displays – the outer when the phone is folded and the inner when open, and both are very impressive. The outer display measures 6.31-inch with a resolution of 2484 x 1116 pixels. When opened, you get a larger 7.82-inch display with a resolution of 2440 x 2268 pixels. Both are LTPO3 Fluid AMOLED displays with support for 10-bit colour, 120 Hz variable refresh rate and flaunt a peak theoretical brightness of 2800 nits.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Phone shut
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Both displays are Widevine L1 certified with support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, where that high brightness is put to good use. The outer display is scratch-resistant and comes equipped with a Ceramic Guard, which OnePlus claims is 20 per cent more impact-resistant than the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The inner display does not have any real scratch resistance barring a pre-applied screen protector that one must not remove on their own. Having scratch-resistant glass on a foldable display is a puzzle yet to be cracked.

The displays are great and I will come to that in a bit. Before that, a quick word on the display crease. It is probably the most inconspicuous we have come across till date. It hasn’t been ironed out (pun intended) but is barely visible only from certain angles. More importantly, it does not hinder any operation on this device. We have been using this device for over a month and a half, and opening and closing the screen hundreds of times has had no effect on the part of the display under the crease.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Display
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Coming back to the display quality, both the screens are top-notch, but the larger display tends to overshadow the outer because of its grandeur. The picture looks great in both Natural as well as Vivid mode, depending on how you like it. If you like the picture on the softer side and more soothing on the eyes, opt for the former. If you like it more vibrant, set it to the latter. In both cases, move the colour temperature slider a little to the warmer side for best results and better colour accuracy. Watching videos, checking photos or playing games on the large screen is an absolute treat.

OnePlus Open Performance: As fast as it gets for now
OnePlus has stuck with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC available at the time of launch, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; same as on the OnePlus 11 5G. You get just one variant of this phone with 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM and 512 GB UFS 4.0 storage. Absolutely no complaints here as things are blazing fast, and the scores are as high as they need to be. As usual, we ran a few synthetic benchmarks to gauge its performance.

The scores were consistent with what one expects from a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and even better than the OnePlus 11 in most cases. In Geekbench 5, the 11 scored 1079 and 4077 in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively, while the Open managed to score 1571 and 4497 in the respective tests, which is a significant jump courtesy of nine months of refinements and Android updates. The PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark score was closer yet better with the two phones scoring 10355 and 10921 respectively.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Alert slider
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

To test the gaming capabilities, we ran the Wild Life and Wild Life Extreme benchmarks from the 3DMark suite, and both phones were too powerful for the former and maxed it out. In the Wild Life Extreme benchmark, the OnePlus 11 managed to score 3623 with 21.7 average FPS, while the Open scored 3673 with 22 average FPS, which is fairly even. Given the muscle power, the OnePlus Open managed to run every game we threw at it smoothly without a stutter even at the highest settings.

This phone has multiple speakers along the edges of the phone and collectively they produce a fairly loud and immersive sound output (supposedly Dolby Atmos enhanced) that is quite impressive for phone speakers; or shall we call them tablet speakers? That adds to the overall experience when streaming content or playing games. The call quality and reception were perfectly fine during the course of our testing. This 5G-ready phone is Bluetooth 5.3 compliant and has tri-band WiFi with support for a/b/g/n/ac/6e/7 standards.

OnePlus Open Battery performance: Good battery life, decently fast charging
The battery capacity of the Open has been pegged at 4805 mAh. During our test runs, it comfortably managed to last over a day of moderate use despite generous indulgence of the inner display several times throughout the day. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your usage. Extensive use of the inner display for watching videos or long gaming sessions will drain the battery faster. But then, OnePlus phones have always been quick to charge.

The Open may not be as fast as some of the company’s other flagship phones like the OnePlus 11 or 10T, but it is fairly brisk and superfast by Apple or Google standards. It supports 67W charging, and the bundled 80W SuperVOOC charger takes the battery from 1 per cent to 100 per cent in about 45 minutes; perfectly acceptable. I also tried charging it using an older 65W OnePlus charger, and it only takes 5 extra minutes to get the job done; so perfectly usable if you have one around. The OnePlus Open does not support wireless charging.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Bottom edge
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

OS and user interface: OxygenOS gets smarter
The OnePlus Open runs Android 13 with OxygenOS 13.2. Yes, it will receive an Android 14 update soon and a few more major OS and security updates over the years. No more rants about OxygenOS anymore; we were done with that a while ago. It may not be back in its old glory, and it is very much ColorOS now, but it is perfectly usable and remains free of ads and excess bloatware, which is great. The UI is smooth, lag-free and fairly easy to comprehend even for a novice.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review User inferface
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Even better, it adapts brilliantly to the two screens. On the outer screen, it is pretty much what you get on most OnePlus phones. But when you shift to the inner screen, it is a lot similar to what you get on OnePlus tablets. The transition is seamless and there is no new learning curve. The UI smartly adjusts to the larger display and makes good use of the extra-screen real estate. It facilitates multitasking with split-screen, floating apps and drag and drop options to share files.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review UI 2
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

It shows you shortcuts for recently opened apps and also has a dedicated shortcut for apps drawer that doesn’t take up the whole screen if you don’t want it to. A lot of credit has to go to the software for making the Open a highly versatile device that aids productivity rather than being just another phone with a larger display. Oh, and it lets you get creative by folding the screen halfway (90 degrees) and making use of some apps like the camera. I believe there’s a lot of mileage in this idea and more apps will make use of it going ahead.

OnePlus Open Camera performance: Impressive mix of cameras ably covers most bases
While cameras have become an integral part of flagship phones, in fact, the defining factor for many, a foldable phone could have probably gotten away going a little light in the photography department. But OnePlus didn’t want to take that route. The company has simply packed the camera department here even more than the OnePlus 11. There are a total of five cameras on the phone – 3 at the back and one at the top of each screen, and no, there are no filler modules here.

Let’s start with the front cameras. You get a 32MP camera at the top of the outer screen and a 20MP unit at the top right on the inner display when you open the phone. OnePlus has opted for ultra-wide modules in both cases and they do a more than decent job with selfies and video calls with a broader-than-usual field of vision (FOV). Both can record videos in 4K resolution at 30 fps, something most OnePlus phones cannot do with their selfie cameras.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Cameras
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Moving on to the rear cameras, inside a big circular island, you can spot three cameras. The 48MP primary camera gets a new Sony LYTIA-T808 CMOS sensor along with optical image stabilisation (OIS). Next up you have an OmniVision OV64B 64MP periscope telephoto camera with OIS that provides 3X optical zoom and 6X hybrid near-lossless zoom. It can also be used to click some high-quality portrait shots with a handful of Hasselblad tricks.

Lastly, there’s a 48MP ultra-wide camera with Sony’s IMX581 sensor, 114-degrees FOV and autofocus that can double up as a macro camera too. All the cameras can record videos in up to 4K resolution at 30 or 60 fps with support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Super slo-mo Full HD videos can be captured at up to 480 fps. You get OIS and EIS support to compensate for shaky hands. Captured 4K footage looks sharp and stabilised. You get a handful of video modes to play with.

As with all OnePlus flagship phones in recent times, the Open benefits from Hasselblad’s colour tuning as well as their expertise in portrait photography. The primary camera clicks some excellent shots with very good detail and impressive dynamic range. Colours look lively and are as close to natural as we have come across in OnePlus phones. The main camera does a good job in low-light photography too capturing a good amount of detail with minimal noise. The colours are fairly accurate in low light too.

When the light drops further, the Night Mode kicks in automatically. The Night mode here is excellent as it makes things just a tad brighter to capture more detail without making the image overly bright. The low light captures are highly impressive as you can see in the camera samples album below. The ultra-wide camera does a more than decent job in low light but the images tend to look softer in comparison to the ones captured using the main camera.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Back design
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

In well-lit conditions, the colour reproduction and dynamic range are comparable to that of the main camera, and the images have a good amount of detail. Even better, the edge distortion is almost a non-issue here. As I mentioned earlier, the ultra-wide camera has autofocus and lets you capture macro shots. When you get closer to a subject, the phone automatically switches to macro mode; something that can be disabled.

The macro shots are average at best. While they do manage to capture a decent amount of detail, the colours look dull even in good light. The captured images are still better than most ‘dedicated’ 2MP and 5MP macro cameras that you get on several phones. Last but by no means the least, the new telephoto camera is a great addition and captures some excellent 3X zoomed shots. The 6X hybrid zoom does a surprisingly good job too. The captured images have ample detail and sharpness and it’s hard to tell there’s a bit of digital zoom involved unless you pixel peep.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Open backside
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The performance in low light is a couple of notches lower though. The telephoto camera can be used to capture some top-notch portrait shots. You get 1x, 2x and 3x zoom options that mimic Hasselblad cameras with XCD 30 mm, 65 mm and 90 mm lenses. The portrait shots here are quite impressive with excellent foreground and background separation, especially with human subjects. It works reasonably well with animals too as well as other subjects like flowers. All in all, the rear cameras on the OnePlus Open do an impressive job and cover most key bases.

Click here for unedited camera samples.

Final words: A significant step in the evolution of foldable smartphones
The OnePlus Open can be purchased for Rs 1,39,999 in India with a one-year warranty. I hear a few sighs but that’s the price you will have to pay for arguably the finest foldable smartphones around at the moment. Having said that, while it is powerful, feature-packed and fun, a full-size foldable phone is still not a device for all. It is better suited for those with deep pockets looking for a flagship phone and a tablet rolled into one.

OnePlus Open Long-term Review Design2
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

If we talk about just the foldable phones category, the OnePlus Open does successfully address a lot of concerns in the segment. It is slimmer and lighter than its peers without compromising on the build quality and the display crease is barely visible. These are significant steps in the evolution of foldable smartphones. In addition to that, it has powerful processing hardware, ample storage, outstanding displays and excellent cameras making the OnePlus Open a compelling choice if you have the need and the budget for it..