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OnePlus 5T Review

ONEPLUS HAS developed an unusual approach to hardware releases: they use a new flagship as almost a beta device, listening to feedback from people who bought it, then pulling it and releasing an even better version. It’s a great way to ensure the final phone is the best it can be – but risks alienating people who bought the full-priced ‘test’ version.

Of course, now that OnePlus has established this practice with the OnePlus 3 and 3T, it was fully expected with the 5 and the new 5T. Indeed, when the OnePlus 5 was suddenly ‘sold out everywhere, the internet rumor mill went into overdrive that a 5T was on the way — and indeed it was (there wasn’t a OnePlus 4. It’s in the tech void with Windows 9).

It seems this approach is working well for OnePlus: in its first six hours, the 5T became their fastest-selling device ever.

So after our glowing review of the 5, what do we make of its successor? Here’s our full OnePlus 5T review.


To misquote Henry Ford, the OnePlus 5T is available in any color as long as it’s Midnight Black. Honestly though, handset color choice matters less and less when everyone with any sense whacks the handset straight in a case — and as ever, OnePlus has given us some lovely choices in the form of wood grain, carbon fiber, and plain-colored silicone variants.

As before, the phone comes with a screen protector pre-applied, which saves you covering the lovely OLED screen in bubbles and creases from misapplication (anyone who can put a protector on without these problems is a straight-up robot, in our view). And as before, the handset is not waterproof, so don’t use it for reading in the bath.

OnePlus 5T Review

OnePlus tells us the 5T’s slender aluminum unibody is covered with a three-phase black coating, followed by two sandblastings and an anti-fingerprint finish. Honestly, the result is fairly standard-looking for a metal phone, but it does have a satin-smooth feel and a scintillating sheen.

The ceramic, circular fingerprint pad sits in the center back, above the fairly subtle OnePlus logo, and the dual camera lenses emerge from their own encased hump beside the flash unit. The back curves gently, as do the rounded-off corners, completing an ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing chassis that – let’s be honest – somewhat resembles an iPhone 7 Plus. Well, give the people what they want, and evidently notched screens don’t make the cut.

OnePlus 5T Review

The left side of the handset features a textured alert slider and a pleasantly clicky volume rocker. The SIM tray is on the right edge with the power button below, and the speaker, USB-C charging port, and headphone jack (yay) are all lined up along the bottom. None of which is groundbreaking, but it’s surprisingly vexing when manufacturers deviate too much from this layout (looking at you, BlackBerry Motion ‘convenience key’. Tut).

The top and tail bezels on either end of the display have seen a considerable trim since the 5, and the physical home key with fingerprint sensor is gone altogether. Instead, we’re back to software keys, with the fingerprint pad on the back. It’s no great loss and ceases being noticeable within a few minutes.

Hardware, storage, and performance

There are two versions of the OnePlus 5T: one with 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and one with 128GB storage and a stonking 8GB of RAM. The price difference between the two is just £50, which seems more than worth it to us — especially if you’re planning to use this phone for a year or more. There’s no microSD slot, so you won’t be able to add space later, but more importantly, 2 extra gigs of RAM makes a considerable difference to longevity and performance.

Whichever model you go for, you get the quality Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC with its eight cores delivering up to 2.45GHz in the space of 10 nanometers. This is paired with the Adreno 540 GPU and Dirac HD sound from the solo bottom-facing speaker.

Using the 5T day-to-day, performance on the 8GB version is as smooth as you’d expect, handling most tasks (and games) we threw at it without blinking. We did run into some occasional crashes and hangs, but rarely, and usually with the Facebook app which is prone to issues on many Androids.

OnePlus 5T Review

OnePlus has a chequered history with hardware benchmarks, having been discovered cheating on the 5 and the 3T. We ran the Geekbench 4 CPU test on the 5T and got very high results: a single-core score of 1967 and a multi-core of 6754, which according to the current rankings would place the 5T squarely at the top of the table. However, according to Xda-Developers who discovered the original skulduggery, OnePlus has changed its ways for the 5T. Even so, we’ll take those scores with not so much a pinch of salt as the whole cellar.

Nonetheless, from our own experience, we can attest to excellent performance on the 5T, including in intensive processing and gaming scenarios. The best out there? Probably not, but it’s very good for the money, especially if you spring for the 8GB version.


At the time of writing, the OnePlus 5T’s Oxygen OS is based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, not the newer version, Oreo. There’s an update promised early next year, but in the meantime, only Android diehards should be put off: OnePlus’s skinned version of the software is as feature-rich and stock-like as ever.

In fact, in some ways, we prefer OnePlus’s version of Android to stock. It adds a whole buffet of tweakable, from the LED notification color to the system font (the 5T comes with the option of OnePlus’s own, called Slate, instead of the standard Android Roboto) — you can even choose which Bluetooth audio codec you’d like to use, from a menu of three.

OnePlus 5T Review

There are traditional gestures like flip to mute and double-tap to wake, plus new ones like swiping on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade, or long-pressing on it from the viewfinder to take a photo.

You can still swipe right from the home screen to access the ‘shelf’, otherwise known as OnePlus’s hub for often-used apps and contacts, plus a memo pad and some at-a-glance phone info. All three of the software navigation buttons (back, home, and recent) can have a custom double-tap and long-press function added in settings (under ‘Buttons’) and you can swap Back and Recents if you choose, or hide the bar altogether. The double-tap power button camera shortcut is there too and launches satisfyingly fast.

The fingerprint sensor is blistering, unlocking the phone almost before you’ve felt its haptic feedback. But it has competition this time around: face unlock, so you don’t have to feel left out of the most pointless trend of 2017.

This feature is really impressively fast once it’s set up: I quite like my lock screen (an angry closeup of my cat), and I hardly ever saw it once I’d activated face unlock. It’s also quite amazing how little you can be facing the phone and it still works – mine unlocked when I was just casually checking the time and not even pointing my head towards it.

OnePlus 5T Review

However. I suspect — as with many things tech — not many women were involved in its development. Because while the OnePlus 5T never fails to recognize me bare-faced — as I was when I configured it — it unlocks far less reliably once I’ve put eye makeup on. I ended up going back to the fingerprint sensor for this reason.

Not cool, OnePlus. Some of us like the smoky look.


OnePlus has yet to jump on the wireless charging bandwagon, so you won’t find that in the 5T. However, the company’s own fast charging tech is of course included, and it’s better than ever. Branded ‘Dash Charge,’ the 5V 4A system promises ‘a day’s power in half an hour, and in our experience, that’s absolutely true.

A full 3,300mAh battery charge will last you the entire day with frequent use, including gaming, calls, and lots of screen-on time. Generally, we had around 20-30 percent battery left by midnight, and that’s using the phone for absolutely everything. On lighter-use days, it’ll probably last you the weekend. And even if not, it charges back up to 50 percent within about 40 minutes, so you can carry on finding those new Pokémons, or whatever you kids do nowadays.


The generous 6.01in AMOLED screen on the 5T is superb. It’s 1080p full HD (401ppi) rather than quad-HD as some of its competitors offer, but we’d wager most people couldn’t tell the difference without a VR headset in play.

The display is covered with 2.5D (in other words, gently curved) Gorilla Glass 5, which is the latest version of Corning’s extra-tough coating. That means the phone is less likely to crack or smash if the worst happens — but as ever, it’s not impossible, so treat your 5T with care.

As you might have spotted from the handset pics, the screen has the 18:9 aspect ratio that’s become popular with top-end handsets of late. This, again, is OnePlus squarely aiming its crosshairs at the big guys (Samsung, Apple, LG, and Google all have 18:9 flagships).

Thankfully, there’s no sign of the jelly scrolling we saw on the OnePlus 5 here. The display is sharp and bright, with crisp colors and backlight levels going all the way from I-can’t-see-a-thing dark to I-can’t-see-a-thing bright.

As ever with OnePlus, the settings are full of customization options: you can tweak the color profile, toggle Night Mode and Reading Mode, turn on the ambient display option, and change the phone theme to Dark if you’re feeling emo.

In the same menu, you’ll find adaptive brightness, which includes (but doesn’t mention) the new Sunlight Display feature. Popular on fellow Chinese brand Xiaomi’s phones, OnePlus says the Sunlight Display “adapts automatically to harsh light to facilitate a great viewing experience.” Being that we’re in London, we haven’t had much sunshine to test this with, but we can assure you the screen is beautifully readable under our depressingly powerful office fluorescents.


Sadly, this section is something of a letdown in an otherwise great phone. The 16MP and 20MP dual main cameras and the 16MP selfie camera on the OnePlus 5T are, for a 2017 flagship contender, disappointing — so if the photo quality is important to you, we’d recommend you buy one of the competing flagships instead.

We tried the phone in all kinds of lighting conditions, with other camera apps, we even tried applying a system update that claimed to improve photo quality. Nothing helped significantly. While the 5T’s main camera will take a good photo in bright light (or with the dual-LED flash), in lower lighting conditions it’s sub-par, and the selfie camera is even worse.

OnePlus 5T Review

Check out the loss of detail on the red roses

OnePlus 5T Review

Bright studio lighting leads to a good result but zooming in, there’s still too much grain

At first glance, some of the photos are fine, but zooming in they become soft, fuzzy, and lacking in detail. Lower-light shots from the selfie camera are sometimes not even good enough to share. This was taken in a theatre and should have been plenty well-lit to take a decent shot:

The camera app post-update is useful and fully-featured, including portrait mode, 4K filming at 30fps, slow-mo and timelapse. But unless OnePlus make further updates to the camera software, we can’t recommend the 5T as it stands to anyone who likes their memories clear and sharp.

OnePlus 5T Review

Shot in Portrait mode in a well-lit indoor environment

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Our verdict

The OnePlus 5T makes an appealing budget alternative to a flagship, with excellent hardware performance and impressive battery stamina. However, not all the flagship features are there, and we think more people will be bothered by the lack of wireless charging, QHD screen, waterproofing and a reliable camera than will be attracted by the trendy 18:9 aspect ratio or face unlock feature.

Nonetheless, this is a solid almost-all-rounder and very good value for the price -- just don’t buy it if photography is top of your list.

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