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OnePlus 5T Review - The Polished Flagship Killer

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We loved the OnePlus 5 from earlier this year. Several months later, an improved version was released and we still can't get enough of how good it is.
OnePlus 5T Review - The Polished Flagship Killer
OnePlus 5T review!

On paper, the improvements to the OnePlus 5T over the OnePlus 5 are minimal but very important. Here is our full review!


Display Quality

Really good screen
Really good screen

The OnePlus 5T carries a 10 point multi-touch, Gorilla Glass 5 protected 2.5D curved 6.01-inch FHD Optic AMOLED 2160 x 1080 resolution with 402 ppi!

18:9 1080p goodness!

The resolution choice will be questionable for some as most flagships carry an QHD resolution display but honestly, 1080p is more than good enough because of the better because of lesser battery consumption at a sharp resolution.

Because it is AMOLED, it has saturated colors with sharp detail and the deeper blacks you'll see compared to IPS displays.

The maximum brightness is more than enough to overpower the sun when used outside. It also no longer has the jelly effect that was found in the OnePlus 5.

Audio Quality

There is a single speaker at the bottom. The maximum volume is above average that able to fill a room even with our hands covering the speaker grill. What stands out is the clarity of these speakers.The amount of definition in the details is so audible that consuming media on this phone is no doubt flagship grade.

Speaker quality is amazing for a phone! 

For headphones and earphones, the box does not come with earphones. There is the OnePlus Bullets V2 that you can buy separately from Digital Walker.

Anyway, we used our trusty RHA S500i and the OnePlus Bullets V2. This is a good driver with balanced output. The size of the soundstage depends on the earphones, but it is clearly audible. There is some distortion at max levels on headphones though but most sound files will be heard as they are meant to be. We love it!

The microphones are clear and clean enough for calls and recordings. We never had an issue or a caller comment that our voice had concerns during calls.

Battery Life

Nice battery life!

Our usual battery benchmark tool would crash whenever the benchmarking would end. It was clocking in at 10 to 12 hours. This happened all three times we ran the benchmark.

In our daily use of email, texting, calling, social media interactions, YouTube streaming, we were getting 10 hours of on screen time. We would unplug the phone at 8AM and end our day at 10PM with 40 to 50% battery left. We would usually charge the battery around 11 AM the next day.

It has the standard battery saving modes where it lowers performance and background tasks to improve longevity. It includes a regular power saving mode that will darken the screen and disconnect you to WiFi, data or Bluetooth and Smart-saving that consumes less power. It can be set to turn on automatically when the phone reaches 15% or 5%.

Charging time is under 70 minutes from 0 to 100! It is still the best Quick Charging implementation in the market today. AND THIS IS WITHOUT THE PHONE WARMING UP WHILE CHARGING!

Dash Charging is one of the best!

Camera

Improved dual cameras!
Improved dual cameras!

The rear camera is a combination of a 16MP f/1.7 Sony IMX398 and a 20MP f/1.7 Sony MX376K w/ PDAF, EIS. It retains the 2x zoom it is now fully digital. It is dubbed as the hybrid zoom like what Huawei have with the Mates.

OnePlus argues that the telephoto lens from the original OnePlus's quality wasn't an improvement over a digital zoom. And we agree with this.
Face Unlock is the fastest on the market!
Easy to use camera UI

The camera app has been reworked to make it easier to use. We like it now because it simplifies the categories into three: photo, video and portrait. To access the other modes, you would need to swipe up from the shutter button. It reveals the slow motion, time-lapse, Pro mode and Panorama.

The pro mode is good with manual focusing, aperture control, exposure compensation and manual ISO. It maxes out at ISO 3200 and the shutter speed maxes at 30 seconds and can go as fast as 1/8000th of a second which is unprecedented on a smartphone! Some DSLRs cannot get that high! You can also manually select white balance, exposure compensation and focus.

It also can shoot and save your photos in RAW format so you can do a lot more in post processing. We also loved the feature to have an electronic horizon leveling and being able to view a histogram. Very few camera apps offer this. The only other phone we know with a Histogram is the Mate 10.

The auto camera experience is good. The white balance accurately reproduces the color of the subject while the autofocus finds focus quickly and accurately with almost not hunting. The flash is there if you need it and you can seamlessly transition from one camera to the next and to video mode quickly. The HDR is surprisingly fast compared to other devices. We almost never got the two shot then merging delay which is quite an achievement.

The images are stellar! When we compared the images with the Huawei Mate 10, the OnePlus 5T was able to compete. There were situations where we liked the OnePlus 5T's images more than the Mate 10's and vice versa.

The decision to use a new sensor to improve low light was a great choice because it vastly improved the low light capabilities of this phone. It is now able to compete with the top dogs in the market.

Rear Camera Samples

Nice daylight image
Nice daylight image
Depth!
Depth!
1x zoom
1x zoom
2x zoom
2x zoom
1x zoom lowlight
1x zoom lowlight
2x zoom lowlight
2x zoom lowlight

On the other hand, it carries the same 16MP f/2.0 Sony IMX371 w/ EIS selfie camera from the OnePlus 5. It retains most of its features but with updated image processing. The images are slightly better but it is negligible. 
16MP selfie camera goodness
16MP selfie camera goodness

It has a 9 level beauty mode and a 2 second or 10 second smile timer where the phone recognizes if the subject or subjects smiles and then focuses and counts down to take the shot which enables the selfie takers to just focus on balancing the phone and taking the shot! The smile detection works 9 out of 10 times for us.

It uses an auto-face recognition autofocus. It works 9 out of 10 times which is an amazing experience whenever we don't have to struggle with using both hands or one hand while trying to balance the phone and tap the shutter button.

The selfie camera performs similar to the main where it works well in bright lighting conditions and will do a decent job in low light. It does perform better in low light than most cameras. It loses some resolution to grain but it is negligible and isn't a bad thing. It has screen flash as well.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Selfie against the light
Selfie against the light
Indoor groufie
Indoor groufie
Selfie harsh lighting
Selfie harsh lighting

For videos the rear camera can shoot in 4K 30 fps with EIS, 1080p 30fps / 60fps with EIS, 720p and 480p with EIS while the selfie camera can shoot up to 1080p 30 fps with EIS.

The EIS is noticeably better than the OnePlus 5. The quality of the main camera and secondary camera is very good!

The grain is noticeable but the resolution, color saturation, white balance and focus accuracy is one of the best we have ever seen! It is near from our experience with the Samsung Galaxy S8's dual pixel performance! And even though it uses EIS with a crop factor, it isn't that big which allows for a wide enough field of view.

Video Samples


Performance

Still one of the highest on the market today!

The phone packs the same octa-core Snapdragon 835 with 6GB (up to 8GB) giving this phone great performance on paper and with the Adreno 540 make this one of the best gaming phone for its price

One of the best performing phones at an incredible price!

The result is silky smooth multitasking and good gaming performance with almost no hiccups with normal tasks like web browsing, texting or emailing.


We've never had lags or stuttering with our time with the phone even with demanding games like NBA and Asphalt 8! In fact almost everything quick, responsive and it spoils us!
Updated to accommodate the new 18:9 aspect ratio!
Updated to accommodate the new 18:9 aspect ratio!

Equipped with the latest Android 7.1 based OxygenOS version with 18:9 support. OxygenOS is relatively stock but with added functional features like customizable interface (menu, colors etc) buttons, and gestures! We enjoyed being able to switch from a black theme to white without downloading themes.

We could also add gestures that can quickly launch what app we assigned to each gestures and we could even pick if we wanted on screen navigation keys or the hardware capacitive keys. OnePlus 5 enables you to use your phone how you want to use it.
Customizable gestures and buttons
Customizable gestures and buttons

For gamers, OnePlus introduces a gaming do not disturb mode which blocks notifications and locks certain buttons which prevents unnecessary distractions like notifications accidental button presses which is a great thing if you like playing immersive games on the One Plus. The phone also has no bloatwares that could compromise the user's experience.
Face Unlock is the fastest on the market!
Face Unlock is the fastest on the market!

The fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate and seamless. We never had an instance where the fingerprint sensor misread our fingerprints.

The face unlock on the other hand is the fastest on the market today. It is not the most secure but the phone usually unlocks as soon as we face the phone's selfie camera. It's so fast that it unlocks faster than the time it takes us to press the power button to check for notifications that most people would think that we don't have a lock screen activated. It's incredible and absolutely convenient. 

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

Pros - Improved low light camera performance, Fastest Face Unlock in the market, Solid, beautiful design, AMOLED display, flagship performance, camera performance is on par with flagships, 4K+EIS video recording, Dash Charging is still the fastest and safest, good after sales support, long battery life, unbeatable price, 
Cons - 1080p resolution, no OIS, water resistant but not IP certified, not yet on Oreo

Verdict

The OnePlus 5T has very few compromises like the 1080p display, the lack of OIS and the lack of an IP certified, however these are all negligible in our opinion because the starting price of PHP 26,990 undercuts nearly all of the flagships of today! It is more than half the price of an Apple iPhone X!

OnePlus did fail the people who bought the OnePlus 5 weeks before the 5T's release but honestly, if you have a OnePlus 5, unless you need that speedy Face Unlock, 18 by 9 display and the incredible low light camera performance, then there is no need to upgrade.

However, if you are looking for the best phone for under PHP 28,000, then this is your phone. Buy it!

Also note that unlike some brands with almost no accessory support, Digital Walker the exclusive distributor for OnePlus 5 offers several accessories like myriad of cases, bags, extra cables and power plugs.

It is great because most of the time I would have a hard time finding a good case that would protect a phone that I bought. And in some cases, I find myself accidentally losing or breaking my wires/power plugs. So it is good to know that there is after sales support.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.5 / 5
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