OnePlus 5T Review Roundup: The Best $500 Smartphone

With the OnePlus 5T slated to go on sale from tomorrow, the first batch of reviews for the handset are out. Similar to the OnePlus 5, the 5T is being praised unanimously for its performance, display, build quality, and the overall value for money it packs.

However, the rear camera still remains the Achilles Heel of the device as its performance still leaves a lot to be desired. Check out what other publications had to say about the OnePlus 5T in their review.

The Verge

The publication rightfully calls the OnePlus 5T as the best phone without a camera. It praises the design of the handset which will continue to look modern even after a year from now and also praises high heaps on the rear fingerprint scanner’s performance and placement.

The move of the fingerprint sensor from the front to the back of the phone has been a total triumph. Covered by a smooth ceramic, the reader sits exactly where you’d find it on Google’s Pixels and LG’s G6 and V30: horizontally centered and a third of the way down. I find it perfectly usable and reliable, but for those situations where you might still want to access the phone without lifting it off a table to ID yourself, OnePlus has also added a new Face Unlock feature to the 5T. I’ve found Face Unlock both delightful and frustrating, like most other face-identification systems thus far, but more on that later. The important thing is that OnePlus has preempted a complaint while at the same time feature-matching The iPhone X’s FaceID.

It also praises the OLED panel sourced by OnePlus from Samsung for its color accuracy and brightness levels. Unlike Google, OnePlus made the smart move of waiting and ensuring it gets the best OLED panels from Samsung. The camera, however, remains a disappointment.

Ultimately, the OnePlus 5T’s camera lands in the territory of being serviceable. Decent, even. If you’re only looking at your photos on the phone itself, using them to Instagram a few sights or share moments with friends in a casual and unobsessive fashion, you’ll probably be just fine with the 5T. I have grown used to the higher standard of Google’s Pixel 2 camera, but that phone costs substantially more than this OnePlus device.

Ars Technica

Similar to The Verge’s review, Ars review of the OnePlus 5T heavily praises the handset for its build quality, the ideally located fingerprint scanner at the back and the 6-inch FHD+ OLED panel at the front. More importantly, perhaps, the review also highlights the 5T’s secondary camera which can actually help the device capture better photos in low-light than its predecessor. However, since the pixel binning trick lies in the software, it is unclear why OnePlus decided to go with a dual camera setup at all on the 5T.

The low light sensor is a 20MP sensor, but you won’t actually get 20MP of clarity out of a dark scene. On the secondary rear camera, OnePlus merges every four pixels into a single pixel (in a process it has branded “Intelligent Pixel Technology”), allowing the phone to capture more light. This is kind of like having a larger pixel size sensor, and it really does make a dramatic difference—the 5T can take photos that are a lot brighter than the OnePlus 5. The tradeoff is that the image is not as detailed. The camera still pumps out photos with a “20MP” resolution, but it’s clear they’ve been heavily processed, since there’s all sorts of fuzziness and artifacting at 100 percent.

The review also asks a pretty interesting question at the end.

The answer to “Is the OnePlus 5T the best phone you can buy at the $500 price point?” is an unequivocal “yes.” But the really interesting question the OnePlus 5T asks is, “Do you really need to spend $300 to $500 more on that other phone?”


The review praises the various aspects of the OnePlus 5T, though it does note that the facial recognition on the device is not as secure and could be easily fooled using one’s photograph. It found the 5T’s battery life to be better than the Galaxy S8 and just a wee bit bitter than the Pixel 2 XL. Plus, not to forget, the inclusion of Dash Charge means the 5T can charge itself in just a few minutes.

The secondary camera sensor at the rear does do well in low-light but the overall imaging performance of the 5T is still behind the likes of the Galaxy S8.

So on the the OP5T, the second 20-MP camera is now a dedicated lowlight shooter, which activates automatically at around 10 lux (which is about the same as a room lit by a candle). And you know what, it actually works. In a shot of my sad little fruit bowl, lit only by a few strategically placed candles, the OP5T’s pic looks sharper, noticeably less grainy, and has warmer, richer colors. It’s not a huge difference, but for people who spend of lot of time taking photos in bars or of food in poorly lit restaurants, it’s a nice bonus.

But it’s not a win across the board. The camera’s good, but in other head-to-head comparisons, the OP5T didn’t consistently out shoot the S8’s sharpness and detail.

Overall, the OnePlus 5T is the best Android smartphone to buy for $500.

But in a time when it feels like the smartphone industry has gone crazy about fancy features, the OnePlus 5T is return to sanity. It’s not super pretty or especially sleek, but for $500, it’s a damn fine phone. And it just might be the best value around.

The OnePlus 5T goes on sale from tomorrow in India, Europe, and the United States. What do you think about the handset? Do you plan on buying one?

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