Foldable phones have become somewhat of a hot category. I’ve missed my flip phone, ever since jumping into the smartphone era 10 years ago. I loved that I could simultaneously keep it – and my keys – in a pocket. And that I could just snap it closed to end a phone call, instead of hitting some red icon on my screen. It was simple, minimal and satisfying. And all I did on it was call and text, and it was physically impossible to butt dial anyone on it. So when I heard OnePlus was coming out with a new foldable model, I was super excited to review it. Then I found out that the new OnePlus Open ($1,700) folds outward to a tablet form – instead of in half like my old flip phone.
But I’m open-minded…see what I did there? So I was still eager to try it and see what all the fuss has been about. For two weeks, I’ve had it in my possession. It’s slightly thicker than my regular non-folding smartphone, and then of course unfolds the long way into a square tablet. People make a big deal about the screen creases on foldables – honestly, you don’t see it on this model unless the screen is off and all black. And even then, it’s not a big deal.
This phone has high-end specs – you can see them all if you click the link above. But the takeaway is that it’s fast and responsive, the screen is bright and high in resolution, the color is good, the sound offers really good spatial audio, and the physical buttons are well placed. It even has a three-way slider that lets you completely turn off sound, put it in vibrate-only mode, or turn on the sound. Its protruding Hasselblad camera works wonderfully, too – and looks pretty awesome on the back of the phone. Although it does prevent the phone from laying flat on a surface. And of course, phone calls sound great on it.
I’ve tried just about every one of my apps on the regular front screen, as well as on the tablet-sized display. Reading digital magazines and web pages, looking through photos, using Google Maps, and editing Google Docs files on the bigger screen are all outstanding experiences compared to doing them on a regular screen. But what I cannot seem to comprehend is watching videos on the tablet screen. Because of formatting, the videos hardly appear any bigger than they do on the front screen – they’re surrounded above and below by black bands. And the phone is more difficult to hold when it’s unfolded – it generally requires two hands instead of one if I’m lying in bed and watching. Yes, this is true for YouTube, Pluto TV, YouTube TV, etc. I wish it was smart enough to enlarge and fill the screen – or at least give me the option to. So when I’ve watched NFL highlights and such on it, I don’t even bother opening up the phone. What’s the point?
But I do see the purpose and value of using it for all of the other programs that capitalize on the physical space. It’s so much easier on my eyes for reading. Overall, this is an exciting new product that’s worth exploring if you’re in the market. It works with all three major 5G networks in the U.S., as well as a huge selection of MVNO’s.