OnePlus 5T long-term review: OnePlus’ latest flagship-tackling smartphone demonstrates it’s a company to watch
In many ways the OnePlus 5T is arguably the phone the company should have made in the first place, rather than have it follow a the OnePlus 5, which is now discontinued, a few months later.
The OnePlus 5T trumps its predecessor in pretty much every way, but it’s not perfect. The use of a Full HD rather than QHD resolution display means the phone lags behind the latest Android flagships.
It’s not that the OnePlus 5T’s display isn’t sharp, it’s just not as crisp as, say, the Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display.
There’s also the lack of waterproofing or dust resistant protection, which is now a common feature in flagship and mid-tier phones. The handset won’t melt in a few drops of rain, but it’s unlikely to survive a dip in a pint of water either, not that a common occurrence in regular phone use. Still, I’d have liked to have seen some form of water resistance to keep the phone on par with its rivals.
The single speaker on the bottom isn’t particularly impressive especially when compared to the stereo speakers on phones like the Pixel 2.
These are minor gripes for a phone that can still hold its own against some of the best in the market, especially when it weighs in at £499 for the entry model, which sports 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which undercuts all the current high-end phones.
The one sticking point could be the camera array. I was impressed with the OnePlus 5’s dual cameras and I’m equally impressed with the performance of its successor.
OnePlus has replaced the 20MP telephoto lens with one dedicated to low light photography, a weak point on the OnePlus 5. It has largely succeeded with pictures taken in dim environments looking pretty decent, though they can still look a little fuzzy when compared to pictures captured on an iPhone 8.
Removing the telephoto lens means there’s now an electronic rather than optical 2x zoom which means there’s a slight loss in fidelity when zooming in, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference. A lack of optical image stabilisation is a bigger issue making snapping zoomed shots a bit tricky unless you have rock steady hands.
Overall photography is impressive with the cameras snapping detailed and colourful pictures. However, the camera setup can’t compete with the photography chops of the Galaxy S8, Note 8 or iPhone X, nor can it match the exceptional results of the machine-learning augmented camera on the Pixel 2, which to my mind is the best smartphone camera around.
But given the OnePlus 5T is cheaper than the aforementioned handsets – some £500 cheaper than the iPhone X – directly comparing it to the best phone cameras around is perhaps a tad unfair. The camera setup is more than enough for all but the most die-hard phone camera fans, who will likely had a DSLR to scratch such photography itches.
Sum of its parts
If money isn’t a factor then the OnePlus 5T is still bested by the top flagship phones that offer just a little bit more in some areas.
But for under £500 the OnePlus 5T offers a lot of features, design and performance for considerably less, which leads me to consider it the best value Android phone around.
While there are a few shortcomings, when viewed as an overall package the OnePlus 5T, once again like its predecessor, is one of the best smartphones around. And if you don’t already have a OnePlus 5, then I’d recommend the OnePlus 5T as an Android phone for getting things done with minimal fuss or setup.
Yet the OnePlus 5T also represents a willingness for OnePlus to rapidly build upon on its phones adding in features in a fashion that’s refreshingly user-centric and not as tediously iterative as Apple has been until the iPhone X debut.
With this in mind, I expect to see OnePlus keep cranking out impressive phones that continue to nip at the heels of the finest phones. OnePlus might not quite have made a phone that sinks rival flagships in one fell swoop, but it keeps getting close. And for a company less than five years old that’s mighty impressive.
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