I was there in the second row at the Google Pixel 8 launch event. The keynote was about to begin, and while other journalists pulled out their laptops and started typing, I pulled out this OnePlus openedthe new folding phone from the Chinese company that produces good Android devices in the mid-price segment.
Typically, during busy live events like this, I have my laptop in front of me taking notes and tweeting while Slack monitors chats with my team members in the background. But with the OnePlus Open and its nifty multitasking features, I was able to see three apps at once on the large 7.82-inch screen – Slack and Chrome sat next to each other and I placed an X at the bottom. I was able to post a stream of tweets (Xs?) Easily save photos while switching to other apps to reply to my colleagues in Slack and get URLs from Chrome.
To me, OnePlus always plays third fiddle to Samsung and Google in the broader Android ecosystem, at least in the US. Both Samsung and Google also make very good foldable devices. But with the Open, OnePlus convincingly proves that it’s a book-sized foldable device you can buy – as long as you can stomach spending $1,700 on a smartphone.
Open book test
Samsung is on the fifth generation of its Galaxy Fold phones and while it has further refined the experience with each iteration, it has largely stuck with the same size and shape. This year, companies like Google and OnePlus are coming out with fresher designs that, in my opinion, offer a better folding phone experience.
The OnePlus Open has a 6.31-inch front screen that looks practically normal. It’s not uncomfortably narrow like the front screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 and it’s not short and wide like the outside of the Google Pixel Fold. Combined with the surprisingly slim body, which is 11.7 millimeters thick when folded, the Open feels more like a normal phone than a clunky device. For reference, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 8.25mm, the Pixel Fold is 12.1mm, and the Fold5 is 13.4mm. At just 239 grams, the Open is also one of the lightest foldable phones in its class. (The Fold5 weighs 253 grams and the Pixel Fold weighs 283 grams.)
During the first few days of using the phone, I often forgot that I could crack it open and use the much larger internal display. That’s not a bad thing – in reality, with book-like foldables, you’ll be using the outside screen most of the time, switching to the larger display when you want to multitask, play a game, or watch a video. An external screen that feels like the screen of a regular phone is exactly what we want.
The only hardware issue I have is the massive camera module on the back. My hands are large and my index finger is often over the bump. This doesn’t feel good and I keep smearing the camera glass. If you have smaller paws, this may not be a big problem. At least the whole thing looks beautiful, especially in the Emerald Dusk color.
OnePlus achieved the Open’s impressive design with a unique blend of metals such as titanium and cobalt-molybdenum alloys. The company says it uses far fewer parts in its “Flexion” hinge mechanism, which is proven to withstand a million folds, much more than the 200,000 times claimed by Samsung and Google. OnePlus also says that the Ceramic Guard glass on the front of the phone is 20 percent harder than the Gorilla Glass Victus on the Pixel Fold.
I haven’t gotten out my hammer and tongs to test these claims, and it’s hard to say how this OnePlus will perform over time. But overall, the shape of the front screen coupled with the thinness and lighter weight of the phone makes it remarkably comfortable to use, almost like a regular phone. The hinge is very responsive and is the Open’s main display does have one of the least noticeable creases in the foldable world. It’s a shame that the device’s waterproof rating is limited to IPX4 – although it can withstand the rain, its counterparts can also withstand submersion in water. (It’s also worth remembering that Samsung has an extensive repair network in the US, so repairing a OnePlus Open may not be possible as simply.)
When you first pick up the OnePlus Open, it feels like a company no expense spared in its construction. It feels luxurious, and OnePlus has even brought back the multi-position alarm slider on the side of the phone, allowing you to switch between mute, vibrate, and ring with one comfortable motion.