OnePlus 5T Hands-on and First Impressions: More of a Good Thing

OnePlus 5T Hands-on and First Impressions: More of a Good Thing

Last year, OnePlus introduced a revision of their flagship through the OnePlus 3T, a new device that was almost identical to the OnePlus 3, but that also brought some smaller, targeted improvements that further enhanced what was already a powerful package. Now, only half a year after the release of the OnePlus 5, the company is introducing the OnePlus 5T to rekindle their line-up and venture into 2018 with a handset that’s in line with the trends brought by OEMs in 2017. So what’s new with the OnePlus 5T, and how different is it from the OnePlus 5?

First of all, we’ve detailed the specifications of the OnePlus 5T, as well as price and availability, in a dedicated article. We’ve also documented many small changes across hardware and software in a separate piece, so that you can see everything that’s new with this device and what changes its OxygenOS ROM brings to the table.

OnePlus 5T Specs
Dimensions 156.1mm x 75mm x 7.3mm
Weight 5.7 ounces (162g)
Software OxygenOS 4.7 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat
CPU Snapdragon 835 octa-core @ 2.45GHz
GPU Adreno 540
RAM 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 2-Lane
Sensors Fingerprint, Hall, Accelerometer, G-sensor, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light Sensor, RGB, Sensor Hub
Ports USB 2.0 Type-C, USB Audio Support, Dual Nano SIM slot, 3.5mm headphone port
Battery 3,300mAh Capacity
Buttons On-screen navigation buttons, power button, volume rocker, Alert Slider
LTE Supports 3xCA, 64QAM & 256QAM, DL CAT 12, UL CAT 13
Bands FDD LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 66

TDD-LTE Bands: 34, 38, 39, 40, 41

TD-SCDMA Bands: 34, 39

UMTS (WCDMA) Bands: 1, 2, 4, 5, 8

CDMA: BC0

GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz

WiFi MIMO 2×2, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 supports aptX and aptX HD
NFC NFC enabled
Positioning GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Audio Bottom-facing speaker, 3 microphones with noise cancellation, supports AANC and Dirac HD Sound
Display 6.01-inch 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 aspect ratio, AMOLED, supports sRGB, DCI-P3, 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5

In terms of design, the OnePlus 5T features a chassis that’s almost identical to that of the OnePlus 5. It’s just as thin as the original, though a bit taller to accommodate for the larger 18:9 6-inch FHD+ AMOLED display at the front. It’s really a marginal difference, though, as the company managed to seriously minimize the bezels at the top and bottom of the OnePlus 5 in the 5T, resulting in a flagship that’s more in line with other 2017 flagship devices from the likes of Samsung and Google. The OnePlus 5T boasts a 80.5% screen-to-body ratio, with minimally curved corners (the radius of curvature is smaller than what’s found on devices like the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8, for example). Beyond the additional height and screen corners, the panel is similar to what we’ve come to expect from OnePlus, with multiple display profiles to choose from via Display Settings. Users are now able to choose from sRGB, Adaptive Mode, DCI-P3 and the Default color profile, while still being able to customize color temperature and access night mode for blue light filtering, and reading mode for additional contrast on a sepia color palette.

All of the screen options that OnePlus has been working on coalesce in the OnePlus 5T, which now also offers a Sunlight Display mode for better outdoors visibility. It’s still a 1080p (FHD+) screen, though, meaning you won’t be getting the best pixel density — especially given that it’s yet another pentile AMOLED display which results in uneven color resolution. Ultimately, though, it looks to be a better screen than what the OnePlus 5 offered (especially after the display jello issues, which I have yet to notice in my limited time with the device), and OnePlus’ focus on color accuracy will appeal to enthusiasts or purists who prefer sRGB display profiles on their devices. Its size alone makes it a more appealing display that most consumers will appreciate, especially given it doesn’t come at the cost of one-handed usability. The smaller bezels will allow OnePlus to have a competitive flagship as we venture into 2018, and as the paradigm shift strengthens as more and more devices adopt taller displays and smaller frames.

Suggested Reading: Despite the Controversies, the OnePlus 5 is a Proper Successor in a Disappointing 2017

While most of the OnePlus 5T’s body looks unchanged, particularly at the back, the taller display necessarily brings some changes with it. The fingerprint scanner, for example, is now at the back of the device, and so far it’s been great. The placement is quite sensible, and I’ve had no issues reaching the scanner while taking the phone out my pocket in one swift motion. OnePlus fingerprint scanners are among the fastest already, and while some prefer front fingerprint scanners, so far I think the back placement works better for the OnePlus 5T — especially given it now incorporates fingerprint scanner gestures to lower the notification shade, and to take pictures in the camera app. Since the fingerprint scanner is at the back, we also don’t see the traditional home “button” the company offered on the OnePlus 2, 3, 3T and 5, nor the (optional) capacitive keys they’ve featured since the OnePlus One.

The navigation bar sees some substantial changes in order to compensate for this. You can hide it with an additional option button to the left of the navigation keys; once hidden, you can reveal it with a simple swipe from the bottom of the screen, and lock it back in place by pressing the button once more. The keys on the navigation bar also see a slight redesign, and they are grouped closer together, which makes reaching the back key (in its default position, which you can still change) on this taller phone slightly easier as well. Finally, the navigation bar is now light-grey across apps instead of black, which is likely a way for OnePlus to showcase their tall display and bottom-rounded corners across all apps. I’m personally not a fan of this change, especially given there’s no built-in way to turn it black – even with the included dark theme – and it can seriously clash with third-party applications that do incorporate AMOLED-friendly black themes.

The secondary sensor of the rear camera setup also sees some changes: the telephoto lens camera is out, and instead we get a 20MP 1.0μm f/1.7 aperture sensor, which OnePlus claims will be able to deliver better low-light pictures. The combination of a large aperture and a decent pixel size should, in theory, produce decent results… though I’m still not sure about the company’s image processing software. We’ll need more time with the device before we can arrive to strong conclusions, but so far – and as expected – we see no real difference in image quality from OnePlus’ rear camera setup in regular lighting conditions. The company has seemingly scaled back their camera advertising efforts after the slightly disappointing OnePlus 5 camera, which was admittedly over-hyped leading up to the phone’s release.

On a positive note, performance is as good as ever with fast animations, responsive touch latency and just raw speed that permeates the user experience. It’s also quite smooth, though not as fluid as a Pixel XL or Pixel 2 XL. We’ve had limited time with the device, but it does look to be making good use of its 8GB of RAM — as good as other OnePlus devices at least, given it’s using the same ro.sys.fw.bg_apps_limit value of 32. We’ll be taking a closer look at the OnePlus 5T’s real-world performance in future coverage, but so far it’s proven to be a solid device in this regard, which we’ve come to expect from OnePlus as detailed in previous articles.


OnePlus 5T — Re-imagined, Not Upgraded

What else is there to talk about? Not much, and if you are familiar with the OnePlus 5, the details covered in these first impressions as well as our summary of smaller changes pretty much document most of what’s new in this release. While the OnePlus 3T brought clear-cut, bite-sized upgrades to various elements of the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 5T is more of a redesigned OnePlus 5 that brings a great 2017 device in line with some of its competitors, which have been adopting smaller displays while OnePlus managed to increase theirs from one year to the next. The OnePlus 5T is ultimately a better OnePlus 5 (similarly to how the 3T was a better 3) with very few hardware changes, and while future testing will determine whether the new secondary rear camera offers a tangible benefit, the telephoto lens hadn’t really impressed us in the first place.

The small differences in the software are likely going to trickle down to other OxygenOS builds for other OnePlus devices, and if they don’t arrive to these devices officially, XDA will likely find a way to bring over these new features and UI changes. Either way, we should be expecting Android Oreo to hit OnePlus devices shortly, as we’ve already seen beta builds for the OnePlus 3 & 3T and the OnePlus 5. All of these little details add up to an improved user experience, and while I’ve been critical of changes introduced in OxygenOS in the past (which were swiftly fixed, thankfully), I think that OxygenOS on the OnePlus 5T further improves an excellent ROM with more thoughtful features and the same emphasis on responsiveness and customization.

The OnePlus 5T, so far, has proved to be more or less what I expected: a “full-view” OnePlus 5 that feels like a OnePlus 5 in almost every way, with the same user experience plus a few extra features that may make their way to other OnePlus devices… and that I wouldn’t lose sleep over either way. It’s a better version of an already great device, and at its $500 price point it’s easy to recommend to anyone looking for an affordable flagship, and that doesn’t own a OnePlus 5 already. I’d say it’s less of an upgrade and more of a redesign than the OnePlus 3T was, as that device came with a beefier battery, faster processor and higher-resolution front-facing camera.

The OnePlus 5T is also not just sleeker, though — the larger (and taller) display does bring some user experience advantages, though at the loss of capacitive keys. The fingerprint scanner gains gestures, though its repositioning might upset some users. The secondary rear camera allegedly improves low-light photography, at the expense of the OnePlus 5’s (limited) zoom functionality. With no increase in battery capacity and no new processor, the OnePlus 5T isn’t a clear-cut improvement over the OnePlus 5, but in my estimation, it’s still the better device. There’s still a lot to talk about with the OnePlus 5T and we’ll be covering every detail in the coming weeks; personally, I must say I’m quite impressed with the phone and while it’s too early for me to make a conclusive assessment, I can see this redesign helping OnePlus to extend the life of its flagship line well into 2018.


What do you think of the OnePlus 5T? Let us know in the comments!

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