In another bout of controversy, it looks like OnePlus’ recently revealed OnePlus 5 doesn’t actually include the assumed 2x optical zoom, a feature that puts the popular ‘never settle’ Android device’s camera in-line with the iPhone 7 Plus’ shooter, as well as Asus’ recently released ZenFone Zoom 3 (which actually features 2.3x optical zoom).
Its understandable why there’s been significant confusion surrounding this issue given even the OnePlus 5’s reviewer guide uses ambiguous language to describe the feature.
A Reddit user that goes by the handle ‘kumu_bandara‘ analyzed the EXIF data of an image shot with the OnePlus 5 that was shot at 1.33x zoom, showing data that indicates the zoom measures in at just 1.33x. The EXIF data also revealed that the OnePlus 5’s digital zoom is only capable of 1.5x optical zoom by default. These claims were later confirmed by a number of other Reddit posters.
For those who are unaware, EXIF data is a standard file format used for images.
Optical and digital zoom are two very distinct things, with the camera’s internal glass creating optical, and software performing the leg-work for digital zoom. OnePlus also says that the OnePlus 5 does not use digital zoom.
On Twitter OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei, explained that the OnePlus 5’s optical zoom actually measures in at 1.6x, with the remaining 0.4x reserved for the device’s ‘multi-frame SmartCapture software’ in order to achieve 2x lossless zoom. It still, however, remains unclear exactly what ‘lossless zoom’ really is.
OnePlus has also been criticized for for cheating traditional benchmark systems with the OnePlus 5 in an effort to hit higher scores.
Given that the OnePlus 5 is one of the best Android devices around, especially when taking price into consideration, it’s strange that the company is using somewhat shady marketing tactics to promote the smartphone.
Update 06/26/2017: Updated with a statement from OnePlus regarding the controversy as well as clarification from the company surrounding how the phone’s 2X zoom works.