Oneplus 5T

Oneplus 5T is the newest flagship (killer) device from the , now well-known, Chinese company. Although Oneplus 6 is going to be released in a month or so, the 5T model still has a flagship grade specifications list that leaves no-one unimpressed. Lets see below if it has all that it takes to rival the best models from Samsung and Apple.


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Packaging – Specifications

Just like with all Oneplus smartphones, the 5T arrives in a very stylish package with impressive layout for the included accessories.

Inside you will find the smartphone itself, a wall charger (quick “dash” charging is supported), a USB charging cable, a SIM eject tool, basic documentation and a TPU case. Unfortunately, no hands free earpieces are included.

As always, Oneplus equipped the 5T model with the best available hardware.

6GB of super fast LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB of UFS 2.1 ROM, Dual SIM (Dual Standby) capability, dual back cameras Both from Sony with dual LED flash and very fast phase detection auto focus), a very precise fingerprint reader now located at the back, a both power efficient and extremely powerful  Octa-core Snapdragon 835 SoC alongside with a new 2160×1080 6.01inch Samsung Optic AMOLED capacitive display (with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection) compile a true flagship device. There is no microSD slot but there is also a model sporting 8GBof RAM and 128GB of ROM as well.

The fairly big 3300mAh battery and the advanced Dual Band Wi-Fi and newly BT5.0 (A2DP, aptX HD) connection protocols are also more than anyone could ask for. We don’t know what Oneplus 6 will bring, but rest assured that the headphone jack is still appreciated by Oneplus in the 5T model.

The size of the device, 156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm, can be considered small considering the large display and the small bezels. Screen to body ratio is almost 80%, a number showing Oneplus’ efforts for a new, more modern design.

It seems that the only thing that is missing is any type of dust and water resistance.

The 5T will arrive with Android 7.0 (Nougat) as the pre-installed operating system but you will find the Android 8.0 (Oreo) update waiting in the corner when you check for software updates. This review is based on the latest Android 8.1 update.


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Build Quality – Layout

Build quality and design is once again flagship grade. We will most probably see a lot of 18:9 display based smartphones this year, but the combination of front glass / back aluminum curved chassis in such a slim profile is not something to be expected often.

The construction not only feels, but is in reality solid. The choice of, mostly, aluminum body distinguishes itself from this year’s rival flagship devices that are based in glass material (Samsung S9, Iphone 8/X). It is not exactly lightweight, but we consider a good thing to feel what you are holding. It has a great grip too since the 18:9 screen ratio provides slightly smaller width size so it fits better in your palm.

At the back you will find the two cameras, the dual LED flash and the newly positioned fingerprint reader.

At the top you will find the IR Blaster with the noise cancelling microphone while at the bottom you will see the USB-C port, the talking microphone, the headphones jack and the speaker.

On the left you will find the volume keys with Oneplus’ exclusive notifications slider, while on the right side the power on/off button and the SIM dual tray. At the bottom side you will find the USB-C charging port, the single main speaker and the headphone jack. For better noise cancellation, there are more than one microphones installed.

On the front, the generous 6.01inch display occupies the bigger part and at the top you will find the 16MP selfie camera (with all of smartphone’s remaining hidden sensors) while the bottom “chin” has neither capacitive buttons or fingerprint sensor allowing for slimmer screen bezels. 


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Software – Performance – Display

Google’s Oreo (8.1) OS is behind Oneplus’ “Oxygen” launcher. It is actually a stock Google ROM with many integrated tweaks and features usually found in custom ROMs. These include gestures or swipes for predefined or user selected actions, excessive quick toggles and network speed at the status bar among others. Compared to Google’s stock ROM, you will also find a feature named “shelf” that occupies the live news feed. In the shelf you will find all your favorite or most frequently used applications, contacts, memos and battery information. The shelf can be removed by the user, if necessary.

The lock screen is very functional with the expected notifications and the shortcuts for the camera and dialer. Double tap to wake is supported for your convenience although you will rarely use it since the lighting fast fingerprint reader will lead you directly to the Oxygen launcher. Oneplus also introduced a new facial recognition method to unlock the screen with the 5T. It works relatively fast, but keep in mind that it is not the more secure way to keep your data safe since there were times were the smartphone unlocked with a clear photo displayed on a large monitor (not always though). We kept the fingerprint reader as our main choice.

Security is further enhanced with the frequent software updates including the latest security patches.

Performance wise, the Oneplus 5T is a beast. Both benchmarks and real life testing proved that its Android performance is second to none. The result could not have been different with the SD835 SoC, the 6 GB of DDR4 RAM and the quickest internal memory (ROM) on the market (>500Mb/sec read and >210Mb/s write). You will find absolutely no lags while browsing, the internal ROM allows for fast application updates in the background and the available RAM allows heavy multitasking. The overall experience is similar with the one found in Google’s Pixel 2 XL smartphone. Gaming is also top-notch with the Adreno 540 GPU handling perfectly even the most demanding 3D games.

Screen/display performance is equally good. Oneplus chose once again to supply optic AMOLED panels from Samsung and the result is spectacular. Resolution aside, (still more than adequate but a far cry from the pixel density of Samsung’s  plus models) the panel is super bright offering brightness levels  >400 nits and calibrated colors. There are specific selections you can make like sRGB and DCI-P3 color profiles making your life easier on the go in case you want to edit photos or videos.

LTE (4G+) performance is really fast offering Cat12 600/150 modules.

Speaker and microphone performance is excellent and way above average. Noise cancellation works great and calls or video conferences will not be a painful experience.

Headphone jack audio quality is above average and in the settings menu you will find an equalizer available for tweaking based on your liking. There are presets of course, including fine tuning with specific earpieces sold by Oneplus.


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main camera, day shooting

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secondary main camera, low light

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battery life

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Camera – Battery Life

Although Oneplus still kept the rear/main dual camera setup, it now operates in a different way compared to the previous model (Oneplus 5). The dual rear camera setup consists of a 16 MP (f/1.7, 27mm) main daylight camera and a 20 MP (f/1.7, 27mm) one for low light photo shooting (with related post processing) . The second one kicks in automatically when there is light level less than 10Lux. Unfortunately, neither supports any type of image stabilization.

The layout of the camera application is very simple without distracting menus and many options. There is a plethora of available modes like panorama, portrait, slow motion and time-lapse. There is also a pro mode with dedicated ISO, Shutter and WB options. The resulted images appear way better, but you will have to be experienced in order to get them. Let alone the delay for the setting of the parameters. Not ideal for action shooting but great for landscapes.

Day light photos are flagship-grade but perhaps not the best of the category. There is a lot of detail with not over saturated colors and good dynamic range. HDR mode can assist in specific shooting conditions, especially where the sky and clouds are involved. The portrait mode adds a very nice bokeh/blur effect that is usually spot on.

Low light performance left a lot to be desired even though Oneplus used a dedicated camera for the purpose. They are not actually bad, but you expect such results from mid-range smartphones and not from expensive ones. The resulted low light images appear very soft with apparent loss of detail and  a high amount of grain. The lack of image stabilization does not help either. You can try using the flash to get better results, but you may experience a slight color shift.

Selfie cam is very good, as expected for a 16Mp one, with enough detail and good contrast. Probably one of the best selfie cams available. A bokeh effect is not available.

Video recording had a totally different performance. In video mode, image stabilization is available both in 4K and 1080p modes (both at 30fps). There is also a 1080p@60fps mode but with no support for image stabilization. 4K videos are great with a high amount of detail and decent stabilizing. The same applies for all 1080p modes, but we prefered the 1080p@60fps. The sound captured is very clear and it willl add positive points to your videos.

Overall, the daylight photos and video quality are way above average and almost flagship grade. We expected more from the low light performance. Oneplus is well-known for its consistency towards software updates, so maybe a different post processing added in a future update could bring better results.

Battery life is once again great considering that we are dealing with a powerful device. You can rest assured that a 5-6 screen on time can be achieved with heavy mixed use. We did so with three Gmail accounts, active Google feed/news, constant BT connection and mixed Wi-Fi/ Cellular data use. In case you need more “juice” the dash charger will help you charge your device from 0 to 58% in just 30 minutes. Pretty impressive and probably the best fast charging on the market today.


Summary

Oneplus hit a home run with the 5T model. It is indeed a flagship killer although there are some things to be desired with the low light camera performance being the most important one.

You get a well designed, and built, smartphone with great display, top charting performance (Snapdragon 835, 6GB RAM, blazing fast ROM), great battery life and frequent updates/support. If you wanted to go for better camera performance then any of the equivalent Iphone8/X, Google Pixel 2 XL and S9+ would cost at least 30-40% more.

In its price range (~499$), Oneplus 5T is the smartphone to beat. Look no further if you are out for a top performing Android smartphone.

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