Less than six months after the OnePlus 5 was unveiled, OnePlus has unveiled the 5T — a ’T’ upgrade to the handset. This move will likely anger many 5 owners who just got the handset but then the 5T is not a major upgrade over its predecessor. Its an evolutionary upgrade — an update just to ensure the phone keeps up with the time.
Steve has already reviewed the OnePlus 5T so I am not going to review the handset again for our readers. Instead, I want to talk about the major improvements and other changes that I have noticed on the 5T coming from the OnePlus 5.
The biggest difference between the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T is the display. The 5T features an 18:9 FHD+ Optic AMOLED display with minimal top and bottom bezels. This is in line with the displays found on other mid-range and flagship devices launched this year. The new taller aspect ratio and the minimal bezels make the 5T look much better than the 5 in terms of design.
The 5T’s display panel is only marginally better than that of the 5 but it makes up for it with its improved accuracy and smaller bezels.
The smaller bezels at the front also mean that OnPlus had to move the fingerprint scanner at the rear of the device. While the sensor still remains one of the fastest in the market, I have not used it much on the 5T.
And that’s because of face unlock. Despite coming with the same 16MP shooter at the front as the OnePlus 5, the 5T features Face Unlock. The feature will also make its way to the 5 with the Oreo update next year but until then its only available on the 5T.
While almost every flagship Android device launched this year features face unlock, OnePlus’ implementation has left them in the dirt with its speed. With the 5T, I unlock the device by pressing the power button and go straight to the home screen. The face unlock process is so fast that I don’t even get to see the lock screen. You set up face unlock once on the 5T and it fades into the background working silently when you press the power button. It is only when face unlocks fails — primarily in low-light scenarios — that you have to use the fingerprint scanner to unlock the device.
Sure, OnePlus’ implementation might not be as secure as Face ID on the iPhone X, but it wins over the latter in terms of pure speed. Plus, OnePlus’ implementation is more convenient since there is no need to swipe up on the screen to unlock the device.
The OnePlus 5T features a dual-camera setup like the OnePlus 5 but with a twist. While the primary 16MP f/1.7 shooter remains the same, the secondary shooter now houses a 20MP f/1.7 aperture lens. The telephoto lens has been replaced to offer better low-light performance.
The approach taken by OnePlus here is unique and unlike the competition. Instead of just using a better primary sensor, the company uses 4:1 pixel binning to capture better photos in low-light from the secondary 20MP sensor on the 5T.
While unusual, the method does work as the OnePlus 5T captures better low-light photos than the 5. It is still nowhere near the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel 2 but its a notable improvement nonetheless. And knowing OnePlus, the company is bound to further improve image quality with future software updates.
The dual-camera setup also allows the 5T to offer a Portrait mode which has been further improved over the 5. The colour, sharpness and details are much better in Portrait photos taken on the 5T vs the 5.
The OnePlus 5T is not a perfect phone though. It has its own fair share of issues but they are primarily software related and can be fixed in a future update. The first and foremost is related to the software navigation keys on the device. For some reason, OnePlus has placed them too close together. This makes it quite difficult to press them sometimes. While I understand that a certain section of users might prefer the navigation keys so close to each other, OnePlus should at least provide users with the option to revert the spacing between the keys to their default values.
The second issue is related to video calls in Duo. All video calls done on the OnePlus 5T have some sub-par audio quality with echo issues. I have constantly faced this issue on the OnePlus 5 as well so this is likely another underlying software bug. Knowing OnePlus though, its a matter of time before these bugs are fixed by the company.
The OnePlus 5T is the handset to buy in India within the sub-35k range. While Xiaomi’s excellent Mi Mix 2 does give the 5T a run for its money in the design and build department, the improved camera and Portrait mode on the 5T helps it edge out the latter. I have also noticed slightly improved battery life on the OnePlus 5T which acts like a cherry on top of the cake. Not to forget, OnePlus’ excellent Dash Charge is still here which easily beats the likes of Quick Charge 3.0 and USB-PD implementation found on other devices.
If you are looking to buy a handset within Rs 35,000 in India, you really can’t go wrong with the OnePlus 5T. The smartphone market might be bustling with phone launches every week but very few phones stand out from the crowd like the 5T does.