OnePlus 5T hands-on: What’s new?


OnePlus 5T hands-on: Enough of an upgrade?

Despite the OnePlus 5 being out for barely 5 months, it now has a successor: the OnePlus 5T.

This quick release cycle shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with OnePlus, but it’s still in many ways a kick in the teeth to those who recently picked up a OnePlus 5. I think I would be okay with the move if it was simply a phone to go alongside the 5, but the 5T completely replaces its predecessor, which is now out of stock.

OnePlus 5T price:

The OnePlus 5T will start at £449 for the 64GB model, rising to £499 for the 128GB model.

OnePlus 5T release date:

You’ll be able to order the OnePlus 5T from November 21

This criticism aside, the OnePlus 5T is a predictably great phone. That’s because it takes everything that made the OnePlus 5 one of my favourite phones of 2017 and adds in an 18:9-aspect ratio display, reduced bezel and slightly improved telephoto camera.

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The OnePlus 5T keeps the overall look that was introduced with the 5 and that’s not a bad thing. This is a good-looking phone, with a black metal back that has a certain resemblance to the iPhone 7 Plus. The curved sides make it easy to hold and the fingerprint scanner is now below the camera sensor on the back. For those who aren’t happy with this placement, there’s now facial recognition too, which seems to work very well.

The fingerprint scanner has been moved because there’s no home button or capacitive keys on the OnePlus 5T. Instead, the screen on the front now stretches nearly edge to edge, with just a slim bezel running around the side.

Aside from looking a whole lot more modern, the bezel reduction also means you now get a 6.01-inch screen in the same body as the previous 5.5-inch screen. Getting more screen real-estate in a similarly size body is one of the reasons I really like this new direction phones are going in.

The screen itself has has a slight resolution bump to 2160 x 1080 (FHD+) but it doesn’t really make things any sharper. Instead it’s just there to add the extra pixels to the elongated display. It might not pack a quad-HD HDR panel like some of the pricier competition, but the AMOLED here is still perfectly adequate. Colours are punchy and vibrant, there’s a good hit of brightness and OnePlus has done some software trickery to make it work better in sunny conditions.

Unlike last year’s OnePlus 3T, which focussed on upgrading the internals over the OnePlus 3, the 5T keeps the same processor, RAM and storage. That means you’re getting a Snapdragon 835, 6/8GB RAM and 64/128GB of internal storage. These are all great options for such an affordable phone, but it means you won’t see any sort of performance boost if you’re coming from the OnePlus 5.

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There are, however, some updates to the camera. The OnePlus 5T retains the dual-camera setup of its predecessor, but the telephoto camera now has the same wide f/1.7 aperture as the main camera. In theory this should mean that switching between the two cameras is more seamless in challenging lighting conditions. I haven’t spent enough time with the 5T to really judge its camera fully, but from what I have seen so far it still seems to be the weakest point. The main 16-megapixel camera is good, but it lacks OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and struggles with demanding lighting conditions.

One area where I thought OnePlus might push things forward with the 5T is in the battery. Phones like the HTC U11+ and Huawei Mate 10 are using their big bodies to add in batteries nearly 4000mAh in size, but OnePlus has actually kept the same 3300mAh battery as before. This should offer perfectly good endurance, but it feels like a missed opportunity. At least there’s still Dash Charge, which OnePlus says will give you an day of power in 30 minutes.

Little has changed on the software front, and annoyingly the OnePlus 5T still runs Android 7.

First impressions

The OnePlus 5T looks like it’ll take the OnePlus 5’s prize of being the best bang for your buck smartphone out there. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with its existence, though. Considering the only real upgrade is the 18:9 display, there isn’t much here if you’ve recently picked up the OnePlus 5.

If you don’t fall into that category and are on the lookout for a powerful phone that won’t break the bank, then this could very well be for you.

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