|· Large, bright and clear 1080p display||· No official IP certification|
|· Great battery life||· No wireless charging|
|· Dash charging||· No expandable storage|
|· Useful software features||· No Android Oreo|
|· Very good performance||· Sub-par low light camera performance|
|· Face unlock is fast and reliable|
|· Competitive price|
OnePlus is a company that has built its identity on delivering more than the big guns can and that too at lower prices. Most of the giant multinational corporations had the same idea earlier this year – make phone screens taller instead of increasing their size proportionately and that way you can stretch them without the awkwardness of an overgrown phablet. It took a while for OnePlus to catch up but it just couldn’t afford to not be playing on the same level and that’s why it didn’t hesitate at all to launch the OnePlus 5T just five months after the OnePlus 5.
Very little else about the OnePlus 5T is new, in fact, even its pricing is the same as that of the outgoing OnePlus 5, making this a simple drop-in replacement. In that sense, there shouldn’t be much to say about this phone but still here’s everything you need to know about the new OnePlus 5T.
OnePlus has mostly always made good design decisions, and this continues with the OnePlus 5T. That doesn’t mean it has any distinctive external features. Quite the opposite, in fact: the 5T’s no-nonsense design verges on the bland. Rounded corners and an anodized aluminium unibody chassis that’s available only in Midnight Black as OnePlus calls it, is about as featureless as it gets.
But that’s not a bad thing. The long edges curve gently into the back making this relatively large phone comfortable to hold. OnePlus’s useful Alert Slider is on the left edge; this is a three-position button that switches the phone between Ring, Do not disturb and Silent modes. You can configure the latter two modes in some detail: for example, anyone who tries repeatedly to call can be let through the Do not disturb barrier, as can phone calls from starred contacts and event reminders. The Alert Slider is slightly textured so it’s easy to find when the handset is in a pocket or at night when you’ve forgotten to switch to silent mode before lights out.
While most companies seem to be moving away from the headphone jack in favour of USB Type-C and Bluetooth audio, OnePlus sticks to the basics to give consumers what they actually want and so, there is a headset slot on the bottom edge, next to the USB-C connector and the speaker, which delivers plenty of volume but could do with just a bit more bass and depth. The only downside of this phone’s design is that the back is somewhat slippery. If that’s a concern, or if you just want to protect against potential scratches, there’s a silicone case in the box.
The OnePlus 5 and 5T are virtually identical in size and weight – the older handset comes in at 154.2mm tall by 74.1mm wide by 7.35mm thick and weighs 153g, while the new OnePlus 5T is 156.1mm tall, 75mm wide, 7.3mm thick and weighs 162g. Side by side, they look very similar at first glance.
The new model’s larger screen is the key reason for the size difference. The OnePlus 5’s 5.5-inch 16:9 1080×1920 pixel screen with 401ppi pixel density has been upgraded to a 6.01-inch 18:9 1080×2160 pixel screen with the same 401ppi.
The minimal screen bezels along the long edge have been retained, but the extra screen length has necessitated removing the bottom bezel. So soft buttons appear on-screen, and the fingerprint sensor is now on the back of the phone. As a result, the screen-to-body ratio has increased from 72.9 percent for the OnePlus 5 to 79.6 percent for the OnePlus 5T.
I prefer the fingerprint sensor at the back, as I find them awkward to use below the screen on larger phones, particularly when working one-handed.
There are two versions of the OnePlus 5T, both of which support two SIMs, which sit in a caddy on the right edge of the chassis and run on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC that powered the OnePlus 5. The two RAM/storage configurations are also the same as those found in the earlier device. The ₹32,999 OnePlus 5T has 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while ₹37,999 buys you 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage.
Out of the box, the 128GB storage version has just over 110GB of storage free. Although I’d like a microSD card slot so I can add even more storage, 110GB is enough for all my music, with plenty left for some big games, downloaded videos along with the barrage of apps that one uses regularly. The screen is suited to all these pursuits, and reading mode, which reduces blue light, can be set to automatically kick in when specific apps (mostly for reading magazines and eBooks) are launched.
The OnePlus 5T runs on Android 7.1.1 and its own overlay called OxygenOS, which is now at version 4. Not having the very latest Android version will annoy some people, but OxygenOS is a very competent overlay which is minimally intrusive while adding a lot of neat tweaks and twists.
One feature new to the OnePlus 5T is face unlock, which, uses over 100 identifiers, says OnePlus. It’s fast and unobtrusive every time and you can’t fool it with a photo, either. But you do have to be looking at the phone for it to work and most of us often want to unlock a handset while it’s sitting on a table.
Resorting to fingerprint unlocking is no hassle. Setup is easy, and recognition is fast and accurate. With the rear-mounted sensor, it’s also very convenient and a preference over face unlock for almost all of us (I guess).
There are a couple of fingerprint gestures that can be used without registering a fingerprint for security. You can slide down on the sensor to check notifications, and up to close the notifications panel, while a long press on the sensor takes a photo. For the latter to work you have to be in the camera app where, of course, there’s a giant on-screen button for snapping a photo. It’s not a huge array of gesture support, but there is potential for more to be added in software in due course.
Another new feature for OxygenOS is Parallel Apps, with which you can run completely separate instances of applications such as social apps, to access them with different accounts perhaps separating work and personal accounts on the same device, for example.
There are two rear-facing cameras: a 16MP f/1.7 main camera and a secondary 20MP camera, also with f/1.7 aperture. The primary camera is the same as on the OnePlus 5, but the secondary camera has a wider aperture (the OnePlus 5 had f/2.6) and uses Intelligent Pixel Technology to merge four pixels into one. These changes are designed to improve low-light performance, which does seem to be better than what is experienced with the OnePlus 5.
Video capture credentials are up to scratch: 4K video is captured at 30fps; 1080p at both 60fps and 30fps; and 720p at 30fps. You can also capture 720p slow-motion video at 120fps, and there’s a time-lapse feature. The 16MP f/2.0 front-facing camera is the same as that on the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 5T is powered by a 3,300mAh battery, the same as in the smaller-screened OnePlus 5. You’ll be able to get a day’s life out of it easily enough, but cannot stretch to two days, and don’t expect to do so under normal use. Dash Charge is the saving grace here: using the supplied AC adapter and cable, it’s possible to charge the battery in half an hour for a day’s use.
OnePlus has certainly made its mark in the high-end smartphone market. The top-end OnePlus 5T model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage offers all that most people are likely to need, at considerably lower cost than the market leaders’ flagship handsets. In fact, given the combination of price, specifications, and performance, I’m prepared to say that the OnePlus 5T is the best handset I’ve seen this year.
Still, there’s room for improvement. The absence of the latest version of Android will be an issue for some, although OnePlus could counter that criticism with an early commitment to an Oreo update. I’d still like a microSD card slot on the OnePlus 5T, while an IP rating for dust and water resistance is a notable absence. It would also be great to see support for USB-C headphones as well as having the headset slot, just to add a touch of future proofing.
Overall, the 5T is a healthy addition to the OnePlus family. It takes what all of us already loved about the OnePlus 5 and refines the design and software a bit while maintaining a similar price point. The 6-inch 18:9 display really does make for a richer experience, and for those looking to get a premium Android device on a budget, the 5T may just be the phone to beat, even if its new camera promise doesn’t quite pan out.