If you’ve just released a pretty good product but come up with an improvement just a brief while later, should you release it immediately, or wait for some time to pass? The benefit of going ahead is that you’re able to keep up with competitors who might have released products with new features and capabilities since your launch, and you also get to create a whole new hype cycle. The downside of course is that the backlash from buyers who picked up your earlier merchandise and would feel let down or perhaps betrayed by such rapid forced obsolescence. That is precisely the position OnePlus was in, also out of what the firm has said, it didn’t hesitate at all to launch the OnePlus 5T only five months after the OnePlus 5.

This is a business which has built its identity on delivering more than the big guns can, and that too at lower prices. Samsung and LG both had the same idea earlier this season – make phone screens taller instead of increasing their size proportionately, and that way you can stretch them without the awkwardness of an abysmal phablet. However, Samsung and LG are gigantic multinational corporations that manufacture their own displays. OnePlus simply couldn’t manage to not be playing on the exact same level. That is why the OnePlus 5 is currently on its way out despite being started with much fanfare just five weeks ago.

Very little else about the OnePlus 5T is new – its chip and nearly all of its hardware in addition to software is very much the same. In reality, even its pricing is just like that of the outgoing OnePlus 5, making this a simple drop-in replacement. In that way, there should not be much to say about this phone – but we are putting it through the full review process anyhow, to see how far this company has come in very little time. Here’s everything you want to learn more about the brand new OnePlus 5T.

OnePlus 5T design
As with many things in the tech industry, after it’s apparent that a new feature or specification has everyone talking, virtually every company under sunlight will race to adopt it. It’s interesting when it comes to taller screens, because of the first time in a really long time, there is something visibly different about smartphones right today. It’s easy to sense that there is a tangible reason to upgrade when you find a nearly borderless 18:9 screen on a smartphone for the first time – more so than improved camera quality, software or battery life, this is something physical that you can view in front of you. It’s aesthetically pleasing, and immediately a line is drawn between the old and the new.

OnePlus isn’t the first company to launch such a phone; not by a long shot. Much the same may be said about the Honor 9i (Review), Vivo V7 Plus (Review), and also of course the LG G6 (Review) – no one has managed to emulate Samsung’s curved screens yet.

The display measures 6.01 inches diagonally with a resolution of 1080×2160, also utilizes AMOLED technology. Everything looks sharp, bright, and saturated. There are still black borders around it – thinner at the sides than in the top and bottom – but the result is still immersive.

The body of the OnePlus 5T is made from aluminium, and the company is quick to point out subtle design cues like the sharp crease round the borders of an otherwise curved body. Unlike its predecessors, this model is available only in Midnight Black – and OnePlus is not saying why it decreased choices, or whether we can expect more options or perhaps special editions down the line. It also isn’t certified for any type of weatherproofing.

With regard to the obvious similarity between the OnePlus 5T and sister firm Oppo’s R11s, the company is vehemently denying any sort of partnership or sharing of design resources – however the similarities are there for all the world to see.

Predictably, the fingerprint sensor was transferred to the rear of this phone. The simple fact that this phone is no wider than usual means that the sensor is within easy reach. The camera bump has sleek, angled sides, very similar to those of the iPhone 7 Plus (Review) and iPhone 8 Plus (Review), and we are assured that the finish is more durable than that of the OnePlus 5, which began chipping nearly when we took it out of its box. The top of the phone is bare, while the bottom has a 3.5mm audio socket, USB Type-C interfacespeaker and speaker grille.

The remaining phone has OnePlus’s signature Alert Slider, which lets you flip between three positions – Silent, DND, and Ring. The volume buttons are also on the left, along with the power button is on the right. Over the power button is a menu for just two Nano-SIMS – this phone doesn’t support storage expansion at all, which might frustrate some users.

In terms of physical size, the OnePlus 5T is quite slightly taller, wider and thicker – maybe not enough to be noticeable if you don’t stand the two next to each other, but enough that their instances can’t be shared. The newest model is also a little heavier, at 162g compared to 153g. OnePlus continues to ship a very bulky charger with this phone, and also you get the identical reddish USB Type-C cable as before. No headset is included, and if you would like to use your personal it will need to have a very slim plug to work with any of those official OnePlus instances.

OnePlus 5T specifications and software
Qualcomm has not released a mid-year flagship update, despite persistent rumours of a Snapdragon 836, and so almost nothing about the OnePlus 5T has changed, compared to the OnePlus 5.

This phone supports VoLTE and 4G on both SIMs, but just one at a time, as well as dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD. NFC, GPS, and GLONASS are encouraged, and there’s a wide range of detectors including an electronic compass and gyroscope. The USB Type-C interface works at only USB 2.0 speed. The battery capacity is 3300mAh and OnePlus’s very own Dash Charge benchmark for quick charging will work if you use one of the organization’s own chargers.

The only thing aside from the display that is really new about this phone is the simple fact that its secondary back camera doesn’t have a telephoto lens, but instead a detector that is tuned for low-light photography. The primary camera is exactly the same 16-megapixel unit as on the OnePlus 5, but now it is joined by a 20-megapixel partner with exactly the identical f/1.7 aperture along with 27.22mm focal length. OnePlus worries that this also allows for better portrait shots because the focal lengths fit. It’s frustrating to realize that the optical zoom functionality has been taken away, but it’s possible that the tradeoff will be useful to more people, more frequently.

We’re surprised and a little disappointed that OnePlus could not ship this phone with Android 8.0. As it sounds, you receive Android 7.1.1 in the form of the custom OxygenOS fork, with a beta test period commencing shortly and also a final update to Android 8.0 and a new version of OxygenOS arriving early next year. Since OnePlus states, the experience it delivers is nearly perfectly that of stock Android, but with loads of little improvements throughout. You get a lot more UI customisation options plus overhauled apps such as the Gallery.

Due to the taller display on the OnePlus 5T, you are able to swipe down or up anyplace on the home displays to reveal the notifications shade or program drawer. There are multiple gestures, including shortcuts which you can assign yourself, and you might also choose secondary functions for the onscreen Android navigation buttons. OnePlus is also introducing Parallel Apps to allow you to run two instances of social media services, and also an iPhone migration assistant – neither of which is a unique innovation. Other features include a Game DND style which suppresses notifications, Night Mode, a dim UI motif, and the ability to lock apps of your choice.

Perhaps inevitably, the OnePlus 5T supports facial recognition for a means to unlock itself. Setup works in the exact same way as on the Oppo F5, and while recognition can be quite quick, it simply doesn’t work in low light. OnePlus freely admits that facial recognition isn’t quite as safe as a fingerprint, which means you can’t use it for banking apps or making purchases. You still have the fingerprint sensor, though.

OnePlus 5T performance, cameras, and battery life
We tested that the OnePlus 5T variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and as expected, usage was a breeze. The phone was more than adequately fast as it came to loading programs, playing games, and multitasking. HD videos streamed smoothly and we couldn’t feel any hiccups at all. You may select between the default colour profile, sRGB, DCI-P3, adaptive mode, and a custom color temperature.

Audio is pretty good enough for games, and we would have liked much better, especially considering this phone’s price. There is no headset in the box, though at least there is a standard 3.5mm socket. According to OnePlus, the Type-C ecosystem for headphones isn’t good enough however, and there isn’t enough choice in the market.

We did find ourselves appreciating some of the tweaks which OxygenOS brings to Android, like the ability to wake up the phone with a double-tap and unlock it with our own faces instantly. This is an effective workaround to the absence of a fingerprint sensor on the front, which we did miss when we had the phone lying face up on a desk. On the other hand, the detector on the back is simple enough to reach when the phone is in either hand.

We recorded a stellar score of 179,519 with the AnTuTu benchmark, as well as 1,966 and 6,731 in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme gave us 14,291 points and GFXBench handled 60fps in the T-rex evaluation in addition to an impressive 23fps in the Car Chase test.

The primary rear camera does a good job as long as there’s lots of light. We noticed that colours appeared more and details had been considerably sharper when there was bright sunlight, and everything deteriorated quite a bit on a cloudy day. In favourable conditions, our photos turned out very well, with close-ups faring better than landscapes. The portrait mode produced artificial-looking results roughly half of the time. Regions of the viewfinder flashed on screen for approximately a minute since the phone calculated the foreground and background, and even then there was a slight probability of errors in the blurring. It’s a nice effect, but feels just a little gimmicky at this point. Interestingly, OnePlus has retained the iPhone-style zoom button in its program despite the fact that it merely triggers the conventional digital zoom now.

The secondary rear camera only kicks in when there’s very little light. The phone determines when to use it; there is no user-facing controller. On very rare occasions, we saw the app jump between the 2 cameras when we were trying to line up a shot, and the difference in perspective made it difficult for us to frame what we wanted to catch. However, results were superb. If there was even just a little bit of incident light, we may see the difference made by the f/1.7 lens and technique of combining four pixels into one about the higher-density sensor to increase light sensitivity. We took several samples that were more than usable in very low light, with noise and grain nicely under control.

The front camera is adequate enough in various conditions, and you can safely use it for all your social media needs. OnePlus co-founders Carl Pei and Pete Lau told Gadgets 360 at the launch event that the beautification algorithms on the OnePlus 5T are different for Indian, Chinese, and Caucasian faces, along with the phone uses your SIM card to determine the nationality it ought to employ – certainly an interesting feature that isn’t widely known.

However, video is still smooth and crisp, and the quality ought to be adequate for many people.

Battery life is a bright spot. We were able to use the OnePlus 5T for a complete day, including a few gaming and video streaming and a lot of photography, and we all still had a bit of power left over at night. We were never worried about the battery running out. Our HD video loop test ran for 13 hours, 30 minutes which is quite a bit less compared to OnePlus 5 managed, and that much of a difference can not entirely be explained by the more recent phone’s larger display.

Verdict
Last year, OnePlus altered the 3 with the 3T since there was a fresh chip available. In both cases, the changes would not be major enough for big brands to split their annual cycles, and that only demonstrates the differences between the old and new guards. OnePlus, like most of its Chinese counterparts, does what it takes to attempt to remain at the top.

You get a more modern, more appealing phone at exactly the same price, so of course the 5T is the better pick. For the most part, we agree that the low-light detector is much more useful than a telephoto lens, but we did miss the ability to frame some shots better. In any situation, there is no question of choosing between the two models since OnePlus has replaced the 5 outright and most variants are already out of stock.

Should existing OnePlus 5 owners rush out to purchase the new model? Absolutely not, but a few loyal fans of this brand will do just that. If you have a phone that is at least two years old, the OnePlus 5T certainly has a powerful appeal. We can not say we are thrilled with the upward tendency in this company’s prices, especially since you don’t receive all the advantages of a top-end phone, such as weather-proofing, wireless charging, and also a super-slick design. If you’re looking for the phone with all the biggest wow factor, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 comes in within the exact same price range. If you are not caught up in the 18:9 hype, the Honor 8 Pro still sells for a good bit less, and on the flip side if you can afford to invest more, the Samsung Galaxy S8 will keep you happy.