Launching its new flagship phone today, OnePlus joins in on the hottest trend of 2017 by nixing the display bezels, but it resists the urge to participate in another popular change by retaining its headphone jack. The new OnePlus 5T is only slightly taller than the OnePlus 5, however it fits a full 6-inch OLED display in roughly the same footprint as the earlier 5.5-inch device. OnePlus has also reworked its dual-camera system, making the secondary camera a dedicated low-light shooter, and it’s refined the already polished and appealing design of the 5 to a perfect finish. If you loved the OnePlus 5, but just wanted to see it with one of those fancy bezel-deprived displays, this new phone is the answer to your hopes.
Since the biggest change in the 5T is the display, let’s get right into it. With a new 18:9 aspect ratio and a slightly weird resolution of 1080 x 2160, the 5T is at once alien and familiar. Its pixel density of 401 ppi is ample to ensure clean, sharp images, and on first look you might not even be able to tell it’s an OLED display, owing to OnePlus’ hard work on tuning color rendering. There’s a broad set of color calibration options, including sRGB, so most people’s tastes should be sated by this screen. The unfamiliar thing about it is the elongated shape, which has only just started finding popularity this year with the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, Google Pixel 2 XL, iPhone X, and a few others moving to it.
I spent some time with the OnePlus 5T ahead of today’s announcement, and I can say that its ergonomics haven’t suffered one iota from the major change in display. Yes, the fingerprint sensor is now on the rear rather than the front, but it’s still every bit as fast as it’s always been, and OnePlus has added a new face-unlocking feature for those moments when you want to access the phone while it’s sitting on a surface. The face unlock simply uses the front-facing camera, it’s nowhere near as complicated as Apple’s Face ID, but it still works with surprising accuracy and speed. If I value convenience higher than security, I’d use and recommend it without hesitation.
The Samsung-made display also impressed me. Having suffered through the tribulations of LG’s OLED screens on the V30 and Pixel 2 XL, I was delighted to hear OnePlus had secured some of Samsung’s superior panels for its new device. I like the color reproduction, viewing angles, and sharpness of this phone’s screen, and I’d rank it very highly on the list of most alluring displays of the year, up near the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X.
You can have any color so long as it’s black
Shifting the fingerprint sensor to the rear might not be everyone’s favorite change, and OnePlus does say it tested some ultra-slim fingerprint scanners for the front, but it’s a good alteration, in my opinion. The reader is exactly in the central position it ought to be, and you easily find it with the forefinger of either hand. OnePlus has used ceramic to cover the the fingerprint scanner, which was meticulously color-matched with the anodized aluminum of the phone’s rear shell. An important point: the OnePlus 5T will only be available in black, at least at launch.
There’s not a huge amount to be said about the feel of the OnePlus 5T, because it has been deliberately kept very similar to that of the OnePlus 5. The company stuck to the same thin profile, measuring a mere 7.3mm in thickness, and it sought to optimize the components occupying that space. You still get a 3,300mAh battery with the proprietary Dash Charge fast-charging tech. And you’re still missing wireless charging or waterproofing. OnePlus told me that it believes the time for wireless charging has not yet come, which I’m inclined to agree with. Maybe things will look different next year with the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S, and LG flagship devices all supporting Qi charging.
As to the 5T’s spec sheet, it’s difficult to distinguish it from that of the OnePlus 5. The Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 540 graphics makes a return, and so do the two storage and RAM options: you can pick between 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage or 8GB of RAM with 128GB of space. No microSD memory expansion on board, but you get two nano-SIM slots. I like the Bluetooth 5 support, which is augmented with AptX HD support for some measure of future-proofing with respect to future wireless audio devices. That being said, I also very much like that the OnePlus 5T still has a headphone jack.
Beside the new display, OnePlus’ biggest tweak with the 5T is a novel camera system. Instead of using the traditional combo of a wide and telephoto lens — as the company did in the OnePlus 5 — the new phone comes equipped with a second “low-light camera.” Both the main sensor, which remains unchanged from the OnePlus 5, and the new one have lenses with an f/1.7 aperture on them, so plenty of light can get in when you tap the shutter. OnePlus says that in scenarios of very low light, the 5T will automatically switch to its secondary, which is supposedly better suited for those shots. I can’t say I fully understand how it’s better for low light, as the new sensor has 1μm pixels (whereas the main camera has larger 1.12μm pixels) and a somewhat excessive 20-megapixel resolution, but the proof will be in the testing. OnePlus is bringing back its portrait mode from the 5, which will hopefully have undergone plenty of improvement in the time since the earlier phone’s release in the summer.
On the software front, OnePlus disappoints by not managing to ship with Android 8 Oreo. You’ll get Android 7.1 Nougat at release, with the company making the standard promise to update your device as soon as possible. One intriguing new addition with the 5T are so-called parallel apps, which will allow you to clone an app and run multiple instances of it: most useful for social apps like WhatsApp or Twitter where you want to be able to access multiple accounts at once.
The OnePlus 5T will be on sale in Europe, India, and the United States starting on November 21st, priced at €499, ₹32,999, and $499, respectively, for the 64GB model. 128GB will push those prices up to €559, ₹37,999, and $559. The US price is $20 dearer than previously, though given how Apple and Samsung’s current flagships are now rising beyond the $1,000 mark, that shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance for people enticed by the latest tech and skinniest display bezels.