2016 saw an interesting shift in OnePlus‘ smartphone strategy, in that the company chose to release a follow-up to the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T, a mere six months after the former. It was an iterative update, for sure, but an iterative update to arguably the most popular OnePlus smartphone since the original OnePlus One would be a beloved one regardless.
Fast forward to 2017, and OnePlus is adopting the same strategy by announcing the OnePlus 5T, the iterative successor to the OnePlus 5 released back in June. The OnePlus 5T has all the makings to go up against the best of them, such as a stretched-out display, facial recognition, and a new camera system, all in a package that promises to deliver a similar experience to that of a high-tier smartphone for a little over half the price.
Here’s what you need to know about the OnePlus 5T.
It’s all about that screen
The first thing that people will notice regarding the OnePlus 5T is that new 18:9 aspect ratio display, which takes up most of the phone’s front. The new aspect ratio better guards the OnePlus 5T against its higher-priced competitors, which mostly feature stretched-out displays of their own, and it gives people more display area to work with while not increasing the footprint of the phone by much.
That being said, the taller display will make it tougher for folks looking for a one-handed experience with their smartphones. OnePlus also continues to insist on using a 1080p resolution for the display, which will grate those spoiled by Quad HD displays and those who like to consume content in VR.
The counter is that a 1080p screen won’t make the processor work as hard as a Quad HD panel, which should result in the former exhibiting better battery life by comparison. The debate will continue onward, but with most mid-tier smartphones now featuring 1080p resolution displays, OnePlus might do well to open up to Quad HD.
The specs are mostly the same as the OnePlus 5’s
Thankfully, the OnePlus 5T’s changes are backed up by the same internals that made the OnePlus 5 an all-around solid performer. We’re looking at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 paired with either 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM, with either 64 GB or 128 GB of native storage. Remember that there is no microSD card slot, so choose your storage configuration wisely.
OnePlus has retained the headphone jack for the OnePlus 5T, as well as the company’s proprietary Dash Charge technology that allows the phone to charge up the 3,300 mAh battery in a relatively short amount of time.
Read: Full OnePlus 5T specs
The fingerprint sensor is on the back now
The OnePlus 5T’s stretched-out display might give the phone a solid aesthetic on the front, but it forced the fingerprint sensor to be moved to the back. This is a first for any OnePlus smartphone, which, apart from the OnePlus One and OnePlus X, have featured fingerprint sensors below the display.
The shift to the back allows OnePlus to incorporate gesture control, such as swiping to bring down the notification and quick settings dropdown and holding it to trigger the camera shutter when taking a selfie. Because the ceramic fingerprint sensor is located where your index finger might naturally rest anyway, these gestures feel intuitive and goes a long way to smoothing out the transition to a larger display.
You can unlock it with your face
Not only is the 16 MP front-facing shooter pretty weighty in the megapixel department, but OnePlus says it can also recognize your face, even when the display is off. This means that all you need to do is hit the power button and the OnePlus 5T should take you straight to the homescreen.
Interestingly, OnePlus stresses that this method of getting into your phone is less secure than the other available security options, so keep that in mind if you are skeptical about facial recognition security on smartphones. Even so, with the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X featuring their own takes on iris and facial recognition, the input method is bound to increase in popularity as time passes, so in that aspect, the OnePlus 5T is well-positioned for the future.
No more telephoto lens
The OnePlus 5T’s face scanner and 18:9 aspect ratio display are nice to see, but arguably the most significant change is the new camera system. Whereas the OnePlus 5 used the second main camera as a telephoto lens, the OnePlus 5T implements something OnePlus calls “Intelligent Pixel Technology.”
In short, when taking low-light shots with the regular 16 MP camera, the secondary 20 MP camera is used to group pixels together in order for the original sensor to capture enough light and dark data. The result should be cleaner low-light shots, but the change also means that the secondary camera is no longer used for zoom and portrait images – they are now achieved through software.
There’s still no water resistance rating
Most flagship smartphones in 2017 come with some form of ingress protection. Google, HTC, LG, Samsung, and others all have IP67- or 68-rated smartphones, but unfortunately that’s not the case for OnePlus. Obviously including an IP rating on the 5T would have hiked the price up even more, but it still would have been nice to see this time around.
The OnePlus 5T doesn’t even feature splash resistance, so those looking to not worry about using their phones in the rain, while taking a shower, or while sitting by the pool might either look elsewhere or pick up a case.
It’s running Android Nougat
Unlike Google’s latest Pixel phones and even Sony’s Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, the OnePlus 5T does not ship with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. Instead, we get a subtly-improved version of OxygenOS on top of Android 7.0 Nougat.
The changes OnePlus made to OxygenOS are welcome, such as its scalable Slate font to improve the viewing experience. It’s also nice to see display options like Night Mode and Reading Mode brought over from the OnePlus 5, and, combined with OxygenOS’ powerful underlays and outer simplicity, OnePlus has done a great job in further refining its take on Android.
Even so, the sting of an older Android version running the show is strongly felt. Oreo has been available to the public since late August, and to see a new phone released in November with Android Nougat is a bit depressing. Also worrisome is OnePlus’ software support, with the OnePlus 3T, a phone released last November, no longer receiving major Android updates past Oreo.
The OnePlus 5T should get updated to Oreo by year’s end, if OnePlus’ track record is anything to go by, but there is cause for a bit of concern for those who prioritize Android updates.
You can buy it soon
You can pre-order the OnePlus 5T through OnePlus’ official website starting 9am EST for either $499 with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage or $559 for 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. There are no carrier deals for the OnePlus 5T in the US, though you can opt to pay for the phone over time if you opt for PayPal Credit as your payment option.
As for elsewhere, the phone will be available for pre-order through O2 in the UK, Three in Denmark, and Elisa in Finland starting today. For the US and Europe, the OnePlus 5T goes on sale November 21, with India and China needing to wait until November 21 and November 28, respectively.
Want to learn more about the OnePlus 5T? Check out our related coverage below:
- The full list of OnePlus 5T specs – There are quite a few specs we didn’t mention in this article, so you’ll want to head here for the full list.
- OnePlus 5T pricing and availability – We’ll continually update this page as more deals and pricing information arises.
- OnePlus 5T hands-on – Take a closer look at OnePlus’ latest flagship smartphone.
So there you have it, the OnePlus 5T. Thoughts? Is this going to be your next phone, or are you waiting until next year’s flagship from OnePlus? Let us know in the comments.