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OnePlus Open review: A thinner and more affordable flagship foldable

OnePlus has a deal that brings the Open's price down to $1,500 with the trade in of ANY phone.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Samsung was the first manufacturer to make a proper foldable phone, but it’s gotten a bit complacent. Now OnePlus is releasing its first phone with a flexible screen and it’s already giving the Galaxy Z Fold 5 a run for its money. Not only does the Open pack larger displays, both inside and out, it's also thinner and lighter. That is, as long as you don’t count its massive camera module. And with its Open Canvas software, OnePlus is taking a novel approach to multitasking that makes it super fast and easy to switch between apps.

But perhaps the most impressive thing the Open is doing is putting pressure on the price of big fancy foldables. Starting at $1,700, it costs $100 less than the Z Fold 5 and Google’s Pixel Fold – and that’s before you factor in a OnePlus deal that knocks another $200 off with the trade-in of any phone. In a year when we’ve already seen Google release its first foldable phone, the arrival of the OnePlus Open is adding even more excitement to the category.

Displays: Super bright

Similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold line, the OnePlus Open sports two displays: a skinner 6.3-inch exterior screen along with a 7.8-inch flexible panel on the inside. Both panels are slightly bigger than those on the Z Fold 5 while also featuring 120Hz refresh rates. But the thing the OnePlus has really pushed is brightness, which hits around 1,400 nits during normal use, or up to a mind-blowing 2,800 nits in certain situations like when watching HDR content outdoors. And once again, that’s for both displays. However, those numbers are so high, it maxed out my colorimeter, so I can’t fully verify OnePlus’ claims. Regardless, brightness was never an issue.

Design: When every gram matters

OnePlus hasn’t messed around too much with Samsung’s template and stuck with an inward folding design. However, it does feel like the company tried to shave off every extra gram or millimeter. The black model, which features a vegan leather back weighs just 239 grams, just one gram lighter than an iPhone 14 Pro Max. Meanwhile, our emerald dusk review unit sports a glass back and only comes in a touch heavier at 245 grams.

The Open is also surprisingly sleek measuring just 11.7mm thick. That’s even thinner than the Pixel Fold (12.1mm). That is, until you factor in its massive camera module which brings the phone’s true thickness to around 18mm. The Open also has a wider exterior display, which makes typing on it much nicer without a ton of added bulk.

At 11.7mm thick, the OnePlus Open is even thinner than a Google Pixel Fold (12.1mm), just as long as you don't count its huge camera bump.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Of course, some of the biggest areas of concern on a foldable are its hinge and crease. Thankfully, OnePlus has done a pretty good job with both. There is a faint groove that runs down the middle of its main display, but it’s subtle. You only notice it when viewed from acute angles or if you really go looking for it.

The hinge is also surprisingly smooth and, unlike its rivals, there’s a bit of spring-loaded action to it. So, after a certain point it just swings wide open. That’s a nice change coming from the Pixel Fold, which always seems to stop right at 179 degrees, no matter what you do. Another detail I appreciate is that the Open closes flush, so you don’t have to worry about keys or other small objects getting inside. Unfortunately, you only get an IPX4 rating for water resistance, which is far short of the IP68 classification on the Pixel Fold and Z Fold 5.

Performance: Mobile multitasking made easy

The OnePlus Open features a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip that results in very similar performance to that of the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Samsung’s phone does enjoy a roughly five to 10 percent lead in tests like Geekbench 6 due to slightly higher clock speeds. But during everyday use, the advantage is basically imperceptible. But the OnePlus does have 16GB of RAM (versus 12GB on the Z Fold) along with 512GB of base storage –which is double what you get from both Samsung and Google.

OnePlus' Open Canvas software lets you easily multitask with a UI that lets apps slide in and out of view as if they were cards.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

However, my favorite thing about the Open is how it handles multitasking. You can obviously do stuff like having two apps open in split screen. But if you want more, OnePlus’ Open Canvas software makes it possible to open three apps at once, with little tabs that let you move things around with a single tap. It’s like each app is a little card that slides in and out of view as you need them, and it works surprisingly well. It’s so much faster than sliding up and holding to open recent apps, but without adding too much clutter. And as a tweak on Samsung and Google’s taskbars, OnePlus added a dedicated icon for recent files, so it's super easy to drag and drop docs or photos into email or messages.

That said, as someone who loved older versions of Oxygen OS, I feel like the current design of OnePlus’ UI (following the company’s merger with Oppo) looks a bit cheap. Almost every button aside from in the quick settings is some kind of rounded rectangle, and while it’s functional, it’s also kind of boring.

Cameras: A big bump from Hasselblad

The OnePlus Open features three rear cameras including a 48-MP main camera with a large 1/1.43” sensor, a 64-MP telephoto camera and a 48-MP ultra-wide that can also shoot macro photos.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Ever since OnePlus partnered with Hasselblad to upgrade its cameras, the modules on the backs of its phones have gotten bigger and bigger. And while it’s a bit of an eyesore, the Open’s huge camera bump isn’t without reason as it holds a large 1/1.43-inch 64-MP LYTIA T808 main sensor from Sony with a new pixel architecture designed to increase the amount of light it can capture for even better nighttime photos. OnePlus claims it delivers the best image quality on any foldable available today. While I wouldn't go quite that far, its pics are relatively close to what you can capture with a Pixel Fold. Photos are sharp and detailed, the one shortcoming is that OnePlus’ low-light processing isn’t quite as good as Google’s Night Sight. But compared to the Z Fold 5, the Open’s pics often had better dynamic range and less exaggerated sharpening.

You also get a 48-megapixel ultra-wide cam that can also shoot macros, and a 64-MP telephoto with a 3x optical zoom that goes up to a 6x lossless magnification. Once again, while that 3x zoom is every bit a match for the Z Fold 5’s 3x telephoto cam, it's 6x lossless just isn’t quite as sharp as the 5x optical lens on the Pixel Fold. But that’s not a big surprise because there still isn’t a true replacement for high-quality glass.

Battery life: Great longevity but no wireless charging?!

OnePlus has always had somewhat spotty support for wireless charging. Its first phone to have it was the OnePlus 8 Pro in 2020, which was years after its competitors got on board. That support continued on the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro and the OnePlus 10 Pro. But then OnePlus dropped wireless charging for the 10T and the 11, and unfortunately, we don’t get it here on the Open either.

While the Open features speedy 67-watt wired charging, sadly it doesn't support any form of wireless charging.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The lack of wireless charging on any $1,000 phone is pretty disappointing, let alone a brand new flagship foldable. My suspicion is that OnePlus didn’t include it because charging coils would have added one or two millimeters in thickness, which would have detracted from the phone’s design. And if that’s true, that’s a pretty weak justification.

On the bright side, wired charging is significantly faster than its competition at 67 watts. And it's even faster in Europe at 80 watts due to their 240-volt power standard. However, because of OnePlus’ proprietary charging system, you only get those speeds when you use the included brick, so if you switch to a third-party adapter, speeds drop in half to around 30 watts.

Thankfully, the battery life is great. With its exterior display, the Open lasted 25 and a half hours on our video rundown test, which is an hour and a half better than the Z Fold 5. And with its main display, it lasted just over 19 hours, which is also quite respectable.

Pricing: An almost unbelievable discount

The Open's 6.3-inch exterior display doesn't sound like a big increase over the Z Fold 5's 6.2-inch Cover Screen, but that tiny bit of added width makes a big difference in overall usability.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

When it comes to pricing, big foldables like this have always been pretty expensive, though at $1,700, the Open costs $100 less than both the Z Fold 5 and the Pixel Fold. But to sweeten the pot even further, OnePlus has an enticing deal that will knock another $200 off the price with the trade-in of any phone. Typically, there are some limits or restrictions to promos like this, so I had to confirm the details with OnePlus. But the company really does mean any device, regardless of how old it is or what condition it’s in. That means you can finally get rid of the Nokia brick that’s been living in a drawer for the last 10 or 15 years and get some value out of it. And if you do, you’re looking at an effective price of $1,500, which still ain’t cheap, but it's still significantly less than the competition. The caveat is that this discount is only available directly through OnePlus.

Wrap-up

When I first heard OnePlus was making a foldable phone, I wasn’t sure what their goal was. The company hasn’t been in the business of making flagship killers for a while. But with the Open, OnePlus has crammed some rather impressive hardware into a device with a novel approach to multitasking. The Open’s cameras are as good if not slightly better than what you get on a Z Fold 5, and it has bigger screens too. Honestly, there are a lot of things about the Open’s design that I wish we were getting from Samsung, as opposed to the three years of minor refinements we’ve seen following the release of the Z Fold 3.

Along with a cable and OnePlus' proprietary charging brick, the Open also comes with an included case which is a nice bit of added value.
Along with a cable and OnePlus' proprietary charging brick, the Open also comes with an included case which is a nice bit of added value. (Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget)

It’s also important to note that the Open has an alter ego, because depending on where you live, this thing will also be known as the Oppo Find N3. The two phones are essentially the same device just with different branding. That said, the Open will still get four years of Android updates and five years of security patches along with support for all the major US carriers. But unlike Google and Samsung’s offerings, the Open will only be available through online retailers and because OnePlus doesn’t have any local US retail partners, the only way to get the Open serviced is to send it in. That’s a bit of concern as pretty much every foldable phone tends to have an issue with its built-in screen protector bubbling after about a year. So even though OnePlus offers free shipping for repairs under warranty, no one wants to be without their phone for a week or more while it’s in the shop. Still, I’m impressed with what OnePlus is bringing out the gate.