OnePlus 7T review

OnePlus 7T review
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Last Updated on by Daniel Osakwe

With the OnePlus 7T, you get many of the features you would expect from a flagship device at a lower price. In a device that costs several hundred dollars less than what you would pay elsewhere, you get super-fast charging, an advanced 90Hz display, and stunning performance. OnePlus 7T’s sheer value places it on our best phones list, but it isn’t flawless

OnePlus 7T might not be right for you if you’re looking for a class-leading camera or a pocketable design. Customers may also want to wait to see what the OnePlus 8 has in store, as it’s rumored to include wireless charging and 5G. However, the OnePlus 7T remains one of the best Android phones out there.

OnePlus 7T specs

Display (Resolution) 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED (2400×1080; 90Hz)
Rear Cameras Triple: 48 MP (ƒ/1.6); 16 MP ultrawide lens (ƒ/2.2); 12 MP telephoto lens (ƒ/2.2) with 2x optical zoom
Front Camera 16 MP
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM 8GB
Storage 128GB
microSD None
Battery 3,800 mAh with Warp Charge 30T
Colors Frosted Silver, Glacier Blue
Size 6.33 x 2.93 x 0.32 inches
Weight 6.7 ounces

OnePlus 7T design

OnePlus 7T review

The OnePlus 7T shares many similarities with previous phones from the Chinese manufacturer, such as its teardrop notch, tall footprint, and sloping glass back.

However, once you notice the enormous circular triple-camera stack at the back, it becomes clear that you are looking at a new device.

The fit and finish are superb, especially for what you’re paying, in typical OnePlus fashion. I appreciate the company’s commitment to preserving the alert slider, a habit I wish more Android phone makers could adopt. To my eyes, the new Glacier Blue color on offer feels so much better and classier than the Nebula Blue option that the OnePlus 7 Pro launched with.

The phone is not only beautiful but also functional. In addition to a pre-applied screen protector, the OnePlus ships its devices with a high-quality TPU case right in the box. I’ve never used a better pack-in case, and it helps mitigate the lack of serviceable third-party accessories that are inevitably part of using anything other than an iPhone or Galaxy.

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Despite this, I still find myself drawn repeatedly to the OnePlus 7T’s gigantic camera hump – and not in a good way. For one thing, it’s bit obnoxious and gaudy, though I’m worried about its durability as well. A prominent part of the back is taken up by the camera housing, which is just more glass that can be cracked or scratched, poking out from the rest of the hardware.

For once, I also wish OnePlus would make a smaller phone. The 7T’s 6.55-inch display is just a tenth of an inch smaller than the 7 Pro’s. It makes a lot of sense for the company to offer a cheaper and more compact device, especially if it really intends to have two phones. Unlike the iPhone XS, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10, and Pixel 3, the 7T is not the largest phone in the world, but if you’re used to it, you’ll find it unwieldy.

With the 7T’s water resistance, OnePlus takes a familiar approach in that it isn’t IP-certified, even though the company assures buyers it can handle an accidental splash or dunk. On the one hand, I understand the rationale – IP testing raises prices and besides, IP-rated phones don’t come with water damage coverage. However, peace of mind cannot be quantified, and that’s what IP ratings offer.

OnePlus 7T display

For the Fluid AMOLED display that OnePlus introduced in its OnePlus 7 Pro earlier this year, OnePlus has a familiar refrain. Any OnePlus representatives reading this review are kindly asked to forgive any inaccuracies on my part, but it goes something like this: “Once you go 90Hz, you can’t go back.”

The thing is, I typically dismiss catchy marketing slogans, but this one is absolutely correct. The 6.55-inch, full-HD+ panel on the OnePlus 7T isn’t the brightest or the sharpest we’ve seen. However, it’s easily my favorite panel I’ve used this year – and that includes the iPhone 11 Pro’s own Super Retina XDR panel – because of the silky-smooth refresh rate.

Animation plays a crucial role in how our eyes and brains interpret responsiveness. At a physical level, the 7T isn’t all that much faster than other flagships you can get today. But thanks to that 90Hz panel, it definitely feels as if it is.

It is much more enjoyable to thumb around Android at 90Hz than it is at 60Hz. So too is gaming, for those few Android games that can deliver higher frame rates. That’s not to mention the 7T’s HDR10+ color reproduction and the wide range of options it offers. The 7T can be customized to suit your preferences, whether you prefer more realistic DCI-P3 colors or ultra-saturated hues typical of older OLED phones. There’s even a new chromatic Reading Mode that mutes colors for comfort without becoming completely grayscale.

Even with the 7T’s peak brightness of 474 nits, which is lower than the iPhone 11 with Liquid Retina LCD and the Galaxy S10 with 611 nits, I can live with it. On the sunniest of days, you may want that extra light, although most of the time, you won’t notice it much.

In terms of color accuracy, the 7T delivered a Delta-E score of 0.27, identical to that of the iPhone 11 Pro – indicating true-to-life color reproduction. OnePlus’ 155.1% coverage of the sRGB color space broke the iPhone 11 Pro’s 117.1% mark, which at least means you’ll be able to see slightly more saturated colors right out of the box with the 7T.

OnePlus 7T camera

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The OnePlus 7T inherits the OnePlus 7 Pro’s 48MP primary sensor from Sony, as well as its 16MP, 117° ultrawide sensor. Lastly, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with a 2x zoom completes the back of the camera. OnePlus 7 series’ 16-megapixel front-facing camera is mounted in a notch rather than using a pop-up mechanism as on the Pro model.

Today, however, it’s never just a matter of optics. OnePlus says it has continuously improved the algorithms that run the UltraShot photography engine and Nightscape modes based on user feedback.

According to the 7T’s rendering of this picturesque late summer scene of Hudson Yards’ iconic Oculus, I believe them. Despite my preference for the Apple handset’s attempt to capture warmer, more realistic colors as well as how it manages to neutralize the brightest highlights (like the reflection of the sun off the white sedan to the right), that big 48-MP sensor and */1.6 aperture still do excellent work here. Due to the 7T’s Quad Bayer filter, it actually binning four neighboring megapixels together for a 12-MP result that extracts more light from your surroundings.

I also appreciated the 7T’s ultrawide lens, which captured a picturesque view of lower Manhattan from the edge of Jersey City. For what it’s worth, the iPhone 11’s ultrawide camera provides a wider field of view than the 7T’s, thus explaining the difference in building sizes between the two images. It also reveals a more dynamic range from the clouds above, presenting a delicate gradient of grays and whites that adds a splash of contrast to the image.

In order to test the 7T’s dedicated 2x optically zooming telephoto lens, I honed in on one of the buildings along the Hudson River. In this comparison, the iPhone 11 lacks a zoom camera – you’d need to choose the $999 iPhone 11 Pro to compensate – so it’s unsurprising that it can’t capture the same level of detail as the 7T. There is just so much sharper detail on the OnePlus handset, from the trees at the base of the building to the metal frames and windows extending all the way to the sky.

This brings me to my favorite new feature of the 7T: Macro mode. Macro Mode lets you peer into the smallest of details, allowing you to take images close up that on any other device would be blurry. Macro Mode doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you’ve used a DSLR lens, but it’s still an impressive feature.

It can be frustrating to try to take a picture of something that is just too small, such as a ladybug or something else in nature. Despite practically touching the petals of the flower with the back of the 7T I was using to take the image above, I was still able to get a relatively sharp result. Since no other handset, I’ve used can claim that I didn’t even bother sharing the photo I took with the iPhone 11 from the same vantage point.

However, I can’t give the 7T the same praise for its bokeh-effect portraits. My colleague Caitlin’s picture taken by OnePlus is outclassed by the Galaxy S10’s attempt. Although both pictures were taken outside in broad daylight, Samsung’s handset offers cleaner details, more realistic colors throughout and a brighter overall image. Caitlin’s hair is muddy in the 7T’s shot, a pretty egregious error for a camera that is otherwise capable.

Finally, OnePlus’ new Nightscape mode depicts a late-night Brooklyn scene admirably. The 7T’s algorithms don’t embolden edges unnaturally like the S10’s, so the result from the OnePlus’ phone feels more natural and less stylized. Despite this, the 7T opts for a redder cast, which is especially evident if you examine how the overhead street lamp colors the asphalt below. It’s hard to choose between Samsung’s and Apple’s lighting, primarily because Samsung’s is more accurate.

In the end, the OnePlus 7T isn’t a replacement for the iPhone 11, Samsung S10, or other high-end cameras we’ve tested this year. It suffices for many scenarios, especially for a phone that costs less than $600.

OnePlus 7T performance

There’s an unexpected discrepancy between the OnePlus 7T and 7 Pro: The newer, cheaper model is actually faster than the latter because it comes with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 855 Plus processor.

In spite of their slight differences, the 855 Plus and 855 models differ significantly. There are eight cores on both 855 processors, four of which are designed for low-power tasks, and four which are designed for high-performance tasks. One of those four is a Prime core, which has the highest peak clock speed of all, and it’s the Prime core that sees the biggest increase in the 855 CPU – up from 2.84GHz to 2.96GHz.

Furthermore, the 855 Plus’ Adreno 640 GPU is capable of 15 percent faster graphics rendering than the GPU in the regular 855, thanks to a boosted clock speed there as well. The end result of all of this is a phone that is optimized for a superior gaming experience.

Despite not noticing a big difference playing PUBG Mobile, the OnePlus 7T’s 855 Plus chip and 8GB of RAM were more than adequate to handle the battle royale shooter at its highest frame rate and HDR graphics setting, with anti-aliasing and shadows enabled for good measure.

However, the phone did get quite hot under all that pressure; after about five minutes, I had to slow the frame rate in order to play comfortably. Nevertheless, if you want to test the limits of that 90Hz display, the 7T has the muscle to do so – just remember that the smoothest gaming experience will cost you a lot.

The Snapdragon 845 chipset in the OnePlus 7T makes it one of the fastest phones in terms of benchmarks. The 7T scored 2,759 points in Geekbench 5, a score more than 100 points higher than the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, but a hair behind the 2,802 scores of the OnePlus 7 Pro we tested earlier this year, which came with 12GB of RAM – four more than the 7T’s 8GB.

Comparing it to Apple’s latest iPhones is pointless. While the $699 iPhone 11 reached 3,251, the $999 iPhone 11 Pro led with 3,509 despite having half the RAM of the 7T. Despite its ramped-up performance, the Snapdragon 855 still can’t match the A13 Bionic silicon’s blistering pace.

The 7T did not work with 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme benchmark, which we typically use to test graphics performance. The phone, however, performed 1,169 frames at 18 frames per second in GFXBench’s Aztec Ruins off-screen test for high-tier devices. The Note 10 managed to get through 1,058 frames at 15 frames per second, while the iPhone 11 Pro again beat both – 2,174 frames at 33.8 frames per second.

OnePlus 7T battery

There is a 3,800mAh battery inside the OnePlus 7T, which is 100mAh bigger than the one in the OnePlus 7, but 200mAh smaller than that in the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Due to Warp Charge 30T, the OnePlus 7T recharges more quickly than either of its predecessors. OnePlus said it has refined the circuitry inside the phone’s battery and optimized the charging algorithm to achieve faster speeds than previously possible. It is still using the same brick it ships with the OnePlus 7 Pro out of the box.

Based on OnePlus’ estimates, users should be able to reach 70 percent in 30 minutes, starting from zero. Although we didn’t achieve that pace with our unit, with the stock adapter it reached 61 percent – still not bad, and at least consistent with the OnePlus 7 Pro’s performance.

The 7T was able to run for 8 hours and 47 minutes in our custom battery test, which cycles endlessly through websites at 150 nits of screen brightness. Despite its decent performance, that’s not only worse than the OnePlus 7 Pro (9:31); it pales in comparison with the iPhone 11 (11:20) and Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus (12:35).

Why is the endurance so short? It could be due to the 7T’s 90Hz display because a higher refresh rate uses more power. However, OxygenOS’ built-in battery saver mode does not automatically reduce the frame rate like you’d expect if you are especially worried about longevity.

Additionally, the 7T lacks wireless charging, as is typical for OnePlus phones. In the past, the company has always said it is too slow for a good user experience. The situation has begun to change in recent years, as companies like Samsung and Google have found ways to push more power over induction coils without damaging their devices. Let’s hope OnePlus takes up wireless charging soon.

OnePlus 7T software

OxygenOS 10.0 includes more than 370 improvements, which range from a refreshed stock gallery app to improved algorithms to enable faster and more secure performance. In addition to Face Unlock and optical fingerprint recognition, users can now access Zen Mode, which locks the phone for everything except calls and camera access for up to an hour.

OxygenOS 10.0 is based on Android 10, so you get all the improvements there, including improved gesture navigation, Smart Reply in notifications for all chat apps, not just Google’s.

In particular, OnePlus’ new gestures are really clever, since they have improved upon Google’s new back motion, which requires a swipe inward from either side of the screen. On OxygenOS devices, performing this action within the top fifth of the screen opens in-app menus – just like the gesture was originally designed to do – instead of sending you back. A brilliant way to bridge the gap between legacy and future Android that doesn’t disrupt the way software has traditionally worked on the platform.

As a Pixel user, I prefer OxygenOS’ little enhancements to Google’s interpretation of Android. Since Dark Mode has been available in OxygenOS for much longer than Google’s hacked-together-feeling solution, it is more consistent and supports the full suite of OnePlus’ stock apps.

Not to mention the features that have been part of OxygenOS for years, such as app encryption, scrolling screenshots, a hidden app drawer, and Quick Launch, which uses the in-screen fingerprint sensor to launch shortcuts if you long-press after unlocking your phone.

I have yet to see a smartphone with an optical reader that’s as fast and reliable as the one under the 7T display. It’s no small compliment coming from me, as I tend to have the worst luck with in-screen scanners. 7T’s is the first I’ve used that comes close to those old-school capacitive modules in terms of convenience and immediacy.

Pros Cons
Excellent build quality The camera bump is an eyesore
Macro mode works well No wireless charging
Speedy charging Only average battery life
Blistering performance

VERDICT

There is no better Android phone for the money than the OnePlus 7T, with its smooth 90Hz display, great performance, and a fast-charging battery.

 

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