Some smartphone manufactures make a single flagship device each year. Loyal customers will often wait for Google, Samsung, Apple, and others to announce their best and brightest before even thinking about upgrading to anything else. In the case of OnePlus however, flagship launch events are becoming a bi-annual occurrence.
The OnePlus 3T seemed to come out of nowhere when it launched last year, and offered a pretty substantial spec upgrade over the original. This came with a price upgrade as well, though. While the OnePlus 3 launched at just $399, the company asked $40 more for the newer T variant. A lot of users felt betrayed by a sudden upgrade from the phone they had waited eagerly to purchase, but OnePlus saw it as an opportunity to offer the best hardware experience available to the market.
See also: OnePlus 5 vs OnePlus 3T: quick look
This time, it’s not about the speed. Qualcomm still hasn’t released a processor newer than the Snapdragon 835, so there wasn’t much for them to work with. In 2017 it’s all about the screen, though. Join us as we go hands-on with the OnePlus 5T.
The biggest difference on the design front is the screen. It’s essentially the entire reason the company decided to build this revision. It features a 6.01-inch AMOLED screen with a Full HD+ resolution and an 18:9 aspect ratio. The panel looks just as good as the OnePlus 5‘s with nice and punchy colors. It doesn’t have the highest pixel density out there, but the OnePlus 5T’s display will be fine for most people.
It doesn’t have the highest pixel density out there, but the OnePlus 5T’s display is going to be fine for most people.
That aspect ratio adds a new sleekness to the device that helps it compete with other flagship options on the market. One interesting thing about this display is that it’s slightly rounded on the corners. Most probably will only notice it isn’t perfectly angular like the OnePlus 5 if they’re really looking. This is different from phones like the LG V30 and Pixel 2 XL, which have much rounder corners on their displays.
Because the screen is taking up so much room on the front of the phone, OnePlus moved the fingerprint sensor to the back. I personally like rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, but it’s not everyone’s preference. OnePlus says its sensor is the fastest out of any other sensor on the market, and will recognize your print within .2 seconds. We’ll have to spend more time with the device to see if that’s actually the case.
OnePlus has also introduced a new face unlock feature which uses the front-facing camera to recognize you and unlock your device in an instant. This method was extremely fast during our hands-on time, though it didn’t recognize me 100% of the time. OnePlus said this would get better eventually, but we’ll have to spend a little more time with the feature to get a better sense of its capabilities.
Face unlocking was extremely fast during our hands-on time, though it didn’t recognize me 100% of the time.
The only other major design change is the dual-camera setup on the back. The bump that houses those sensors is just a tad more pronounced than the OnePlus 5, but it is noticeable. I asked OnePlus about the change, and the company said expanding the screen-to-body ratio left less room for the camera components, so it had to make the bump slightly larger. This wasn’t an issue for me, but it is there, in case you have a raging hatred of protrusions sticking out of your phone.
Speaking of the camera, some changes have been made here as well. The first lens is the same 16MP sensor from the OnePlus 5, but the secondary telephoto lens has been replaced with a 20MP f/1.7 sensor that uses groups of four pixels to capture more light for better performance in the dark. This change is going to be very controversial.We know many were very fond of the telephoto lens. OnePlus says they made this change because a lot of customers couldn’t tell the difference between optical and software zoom. I don’t buy this argument, but we’ll have to wait for the full review to see how the new sensor stacks up.
One new feature present in the camera is quick shot. While many phones now have the ability to quick-launch the camera app with the double tap of a button, the OnePlus 5T will launch the camera and immediately snap a photo. This is great for those who want to get a picture of something the moment it happens, and really speeds up the whole process from launch to shot.
If you’ve seen a OnePlus 5, the rest of the body essentially looks exactly the same. The headphone jack, speaker grill, and USB Type-C port are all in the same place. The aluminum body feels just as familiar. The biggest update here is really the screen, and for many that’s a worthy upgrade.
The software experience on the OnePlus 5T is same as you would find on the OnePlus 5. It maintains the vanilla Android look and feel while adding nifty features like reading and gaming modes. These modes have also been expanded to change the contrast of the screen to fit what you’re doing, allowing for a better experience tailored to the task at hand.
Out of the box, the 5T runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but OnePlus has promised an update to 8.0 Oreo in Q1 2018, with a beta coming by the end of this year. If you happen to own an older OnePlus device, the company says the 3T and 5 will receive official Oreo builds by the end of this year.
Under the hood, the OnePlus 5T features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, either 6 or 8 GB of RAM, and 64 or 128 GB of storage. The 6/64 GB model will cost $499, while the 8/128GB model will cost $559. Yes, that is $20 more than the price of the OnePlus 5, but we think the updated design is worth it.
What are your thoughts on the OnePlus 5T? Is it a worthy upgrade? Should the company have waited for the OnePlus 6 in order to keep its OnePlus 5 customers happy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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