Review: The OnePlus 5T is the 2017 Flagship Killer

Being in under the same umbrella as other smartphones brands like OPPO and vivo, the OnePlus brand is arguably the more popular of the three with its no-nonsense approach to smartphones. The OnePlus 5 is only a few months old and already, we saw the release of the OnePlus 5T a month ago. To be fair, I have never gotten my hands on a OnePlus smartphone, but I have heard the stories.

There are significant differences between the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T, which comes with an aggressive price point as well. This makes it a real threat to many flagship smartphones, and rightfully so.

Bigger is Always Better

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially your girlfriends/wives/mistresses (I kid, of course). Back to the matter at hand…

The OnePlus 5T isn’t just an upgrade to its predecessor, it’s also a replacement, and a very good one at that. The OnePlus 5T carries a 6.01-inch Full HD Optic AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. This is the first ever OnePlus smartphone that carries a large display panel, which is surprising from the Chinese brand.

However, when comparing the size of the display panel against other premium flagships, the OnePlus 5T does fall short as it’s still stuck in its Full HD resolution at 1080 x 2160 pixels and 401 ppi density. This is far less than what both Apple and Samsung are offering; of course, you’re paying through the nose to afford a smartphone from them so in that sense, the OnePlus 5T is perfect for its price point.

By no means is the display panel on the OnePlus 5T a bad one. Quite the contrary, comparing to other smartphones at its price level, the OnePlus 5T completely stumps them. Colour reproduction and consistency are amazing, giving off a full, life-like look without looking blown out of proportion.

There are also plenty of ways to adjust the display to your eyes in its settings menu. One such feature is Adaptive Brightness, which optimises the brightness level for available light. This means it will automatically detect harsh light and will adapt accordingly to give you the best view possible. By adjusting the theme of the OnePlus 5T to either light or dark, you will also get to pick your own accent colour to add a little splash of pink, purple or even orange into your life.

There are also give different screen calibrations to pick from, mainly the default setting, sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive Mode and Custom Colour. I kept it at default because it seemed to work best with the screen and my eyes as well.

Changing the Game

I have always been a strong advocate of having the fingerprint sensor at the back of the device rather than the front. It just gives a much more natural feel of the device without having to awkwardly place your finger on the scanner at the front. Instead, you can hold the device like you normally would and rest your pointing finger at the back, which makes it a natural spot. Why can’t all brands see that?!

Anyway, aside from moving the scanner to the back, the OnePlus 5T is encased in a premium metallic unibody. This gives off a sleek and smooth touch, although it will take some time to get used to as it is a bit slippery. One design aspect I would like to touch on for a moment is its camera positioning, which awkwardly stands out. To avoid a weird tilt when setting the phone flat on a surface, I suggest investing in a good case that will level things out.

The OnePlus 5T also comes with facial recognition software, which for the most part, works like a dream. Simply place the screen to your face and press the unlock button, you will see how fast it responds; literally in a blink of an eye. It even works great with glasses on, which for me, is always.

You’re also safe from having to get a Bluetooth headset as the OnePlus 5T comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The power button sits on the right side of the device while the volume buttons are on the left, right below the slider. This helps you to switch between silent (vibrate), do not disturb and ring.

An Insane Daily Driver

The OnePlus 5T is one of the better smartphones to have as a daily driver. with 6GB of RAM (if you want, there’s even an 8GB variant), you can literally blaze through an entire day with it and not feel any sluggishness. The OnePlus 5T also houses the Snapdragon 835 SoC with 64GB of internal storage (the 8GB variant comes with 128GB).

From various social media to map navigation, Spotify, Netflix and YouTube streaming, the OnePLus 5T is capable of handling all that and more without even feeling the pinch. Quick and snappy when needed to be, it is definitely a preferred choice when it comes to choosing a smartphone as a daily driver.

There is also a 3,300mAh battery to work with, which is capable of lasting a full day without needing a recharge. Of course, if you’re constantly using Waze and Spotify at the same time, it does tend to run the battery down a bit quicker than usual. Fret not as the OnePlus 5T does come with quick charging capabilities so you can get back to 100% in no time at all.

What is unfortunate about the OnePlus 5T is that it doesn’t come with an external microSD card slot. Much like how the Apple iPhone is, you will need to be frugal with your storage space, otherwise you will run out of space within a year. Of course, this is to encourage users to utilise cloud storage services, which is something many still aren’t used to. Aside from this small hiccup, the OnePlus 5T is still a formidable smartphone in 2017 and coming into 2018, it will still be in consideration, especially if you’re looking for an affordable flagship premium smartphone without its premium pricing.

What a Shooter

While the protruding dual camera setup is something to adjust to, its performance makes up for its weird shape. Much like its younger sibling, the OnePlus 5T comes with a 16-megapixel + 20-megapixel Sony sensors with an increased aperture of f/1.7 and a focal length of 27.22mm. This increase in aperture allows for better low-light shots.

To assist both the sensors is OnePlus’ Intelligent Pixel Technology, which merges four pixels into a single shot to improve the clarity while reducing the overall blurring and noise in the pictures. This definitely helps in making the OnePlus 5T a contender in the smartphone camera market.

In terms of low-lighting shots, the OnePlus 5T does live up to its name in giving you the best shots possible. Colours look great while the visual contrast between light and dark is a lot better than what it was on the OnePlus 5.

There is also a Portrait Mode in the OnePlus 5T, which offers the much sought after bokeh effect that you will see on many Instagram feeds. While it will never truly be on the same level as what DSLRs can accomplish, OnePlus has made its Portrait Mode on the OnePlus 5T exceptionally well.

Background blurring doesn’t look forced or overdone, which makes the overall sharpness of your subject look more natural. This is arguably much better than what other smartphone companies have been trying to accomplish the past year. I dare say, the Portrait Mode on the OnePlus 5T is just below the Galaxy Note8’s own Live Focus feature.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the OnePlus 5T has lived up to its potential as a premium flagship smartphone without the exorbitant price tag. From its design to its performance, the OnePlus 5T is one of those devices that makes you reconsider your purchase of Apple or Samsung smartphones, which you will have to pay through the nose to acquire.

Verdict: While lacking an external microSD card slot and coming with near stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat, the OnePlus 5T is a versatile performer that will please many.

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