OnePlus 7T review: Simple, excellent, and no messing around
“The fuss-free OnePlus 7T's screen tech, camera and overall simplicity make it ultra-desirable.”
- A versatile, capable camera system
- 90Hz screen is wonderfully smooth
- Great performance
- Super-fast battery charging
- Some software glitches
- 128GB storage is all you get
The OnePlus 7T is the simplest high-end smartphone you can buy. Everything about it is accessible and pleasing. Don’t take this simplicity as a codeword for basic, as the OnePlus 7T is anything but basic. It has every feature you need, none of the ones you don’t, and a few interesting additions you didn’t know you wanted.
OnePlus’ careful updating over the OnePlus 7 means if you have a OnePlus 5T, a Samsung Galaxy S8, or another phone from about two years ago, this is going to be a significant upgrade with all the modern tech you want, without spending hundreds of dollars on a larger phone that feels like overkill. The OnePlus 7T is the upgrade pick many have been waiting for.
Think the OnePlus 7T looks different to other phones? You’re right, the flat-not-curved screen has an unusual 20:9 aspect ratio and measures 6.55 inches. This makes the 7T taller than some phones, but not quite as tall and thin as some Sony Xperia phones, which have 21:9 aspect ratio screens. OnePlus said the ratio makes the screen more immersive, but that’s not the benefit I noticed. It makes the phone really comfortable to hold; it’s not as wide as many big-screen phones, like the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but it still has a big screen.
The body is otherwise familiar territory for OnePlus. Neatly curved sides blend into the back of the phone perfectly, the glass has an anti-glare coating and a special film underneath the top later to give it a metallic finish, and the helpful slider on the side of the phone lets you change profiles quickly. While OnePlus is practiced in this design, the new camera array is very different. The circular bump contains three lenses and a flash unit, and OnePlus’s intention with it is to disguise this, so you don’t notice how many lenses there are on the back of the 7T.
Does it work? Opinions will definitely differ, as it’s a challenging look. Part Lumia 1020 and part Motorola G7, it can’t be described as pretty, and the horizontal alignment of the lenses is jarring against the circular bump. One thing it does is make the OnePlus 7T look different to any previous OnePlus phone, but it’s part of a growing number of phones with odd camera lens arrays on the back this year, so it can’t claim to be unique, or even the most unattractive design choice out there at the moment.
Hold the OnePlus 7T in your hand, and you’ll not worry about the camera lens bump. It’s slim at 8mm, lightweight at 190 grams and the taller than usual body means even those with relatively small hands will be able to manage the 6.53-inch screen with ease. That said, it needs a case because the body is quite slippery, and the materials don’t feel as high quality as the OnePlus 7 Pro, or Samsung’s Galaxy S10 range.
The OnePlus 7T isn’t a stunner, but it’s not bland or unattractive either. It’s pretty without being too flashy, and quirky without being objectionable. I’m going to keep coming back to this point — it’s simple, you’ll like it, and won’t feel the need to update again very soon if you buy it.
The three lenses on the back of the 7T consist of a main 48-megapixel lens with optical image stabilization and an f/1.6 aperture, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens with electronic stabilization, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens.
OnePlus has improved its UltraShot engine for taking photos in difficult lighting conditions and added several new modes including portrait mode and Nightscape mode for the ultra-wide lens, along with a fun macro mode.
Confusingly, macro mode is activated using a separate button at the top of the camera viewfinder, rather than a mode selected using the slider above the shutter button.
The OxygenOS camera app is a bit confusing generally, and I don’t understand why the Settings button is hidden away under the slide-up menu, instead of along the top of the screen like almost all other camera apps; but I digress.
With it working, the OnePlus camera has beaten every other manufacturer in making a macro mode that actually takes usable photos, due to the images being 16 megapixels. You can genuinely get close up to an item, without dealing with a ton of camera shake or an out-of-focus viewfinder, which is what you get using clip-on macro lenses. It’s an excellent, fun, creative new mode that works well.
You’ll notice it works on all three lenses, but it’s technically using the ultra-wide-angle lens,m and simply cropping in when you choose one of the lens options.
How about Nightscape? It’s solid, and an improvement on what I saw with early versions of the 7 Pro. For example, it added warmth, atmosphere, and detail to a very low light shot of a seafront, which is exactly what I want from a night mode. I saw more atmosphere in most of the OnePlus 7T’s photos, whether it was with the standard or wide-angle lens, and was rarely disappointed. The 7T’s camera may not look great on the body, but it takes pictures that are natural, detailed, and sharp.
Once you get used to the camera app, it’s simple to exploit all its features, and none of them have extended wait times or annoying pauses. It all works quickly, effectively, and simply.
Smooth screen, flagship performance
OnePlus has imported the same Fluid AMOLED screen tech from the 7 Pro for the 7T, which means the same 90Hz refresh rate, but the resolution is 2400 x 1080 pixels due to the 20:9 aspect ratio. The teardrop notch has been reduced in size by 31%, and the brightness of the display has been increased by 27% over the OnePlus 7 to 1,000nits total.
The 90Hz refresh rate is wonderful. It brings a smoothness to the display’s performance you don’t usually see on Android phones in general. It’s an iPhone-level of smoothness (even if iPhones have 60Hz screens), especially scrolling through apps like Twitter or Google Photos. There’s no jerkiness, no stutters, and you can scan content in a way that’s not possible with 60Hz screens. It’s not a gimmick; it is a real reason to buy the OnePlus 7T.
The flatness of the panel ages the design though. The screen is bright, but the colors are a little muted, even when you select the Vivid color mode. Compare it to the iPhone 11 Pro and it lacks life, and otherwise vibrant videos appear rather washed out. The auto-brightness mode is also poor and usually sets the brightness much too low.
It’s not a gimmick; it is a real reason to buy the OnePlus 7T.
OnePlus has used the Snapdragon 855 Plus for the 7T, so it’s not lacking power. This is the same chip inside gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 2. My review model has 8GB of RAM. Here are some of the benchmark results:
- AnTuTu 3D: 396,370
- Geekbench 5: 787 single-core; 2,709 multi-core,
- 3DMark Slingshot Extreme: 5,507 Vulkan; 6,232 OpenGL
If the screen underwhelms, the OnePlus 7T’s performance is the opposite. Fast, fluid, and suitable for all everyday tasks as well as some hardcore mobile gaming, the 7T is the performance powerhouse phone I have come to expect from OnePlus. The AnTuTu 3D score smashes every other Android phone we’ve tested so far and is only beaten by the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, and the 3DMark test is similarly class-leading. It’s an absolute monster.
Android 10, super-fast charging
The OnePlus 7T is the first OnePlus phone to come with Android 10 installed, and among the first phone to launch with it, underneath OxygenOS 10.0. It contains 370 optimizations over version 9, from changes in gesture speed to making sure the app switcher works in landscape and portrait orientation. OxygenOS is neatly organized, doesn’t require much learning, and is free from massive design alterations over Google’s version of Android, yet still individual enough that it’s distinctly a OnePlus creation.
I like Zen Mode, which shuts down the phone’s notifications and incoming distractions for a period of time, which has now been increased to 60 minutes from 20 minutes. The gestures are excellent, and they’re standardized from Google on Android 10, so most Android phones launching with Android 10 should be using it. Swipe left and right from the edge of the screen to go back a step; it’s intuitive and easy to learn. The haptic motor has been improved, and the haptics are a step closer to the brilliant OnePlus 7 Pro in the 7T.
There have been some issues, though. Notifications haven’t always shown up, apps haven’t always installed from Google Play without restarting the phone first, and although the gesture system is faster than before, it doesn’t always register upward swipes for either the app switcher or to exit an app either, and instead just doesn’t perform either. These quibbles will likely be cured in an update.
A 3,800mAh battery gives a day’s worth of moderate use, with at least 20% remaining at the end of the night. Use the phone heavily and this figure drops. Gaming, in particular, puts some strain on the cell, and the phone does get quite warm to the touch under hard use. I’m still assessing the battery life on the OnePlus 7T, and will update when more figures are obtained.
It took less than 40 minutes to go from 17% to full, after I didn’t charge the phone overnight.
What doesn’t need to be examined further is the charging. OnePlus’s new Warp Charge 30T system promises 70% charge in 30 minutes, and a full charge in about an hour, and I cannot refute these claims. It took less than 40 minutes to go from 17% to full, after I didn’t charge the phone overnight, meaning it was ready to go after I’d showered and had breakfast. It’s excellent, and everyone will be thankful it’s there in an hour of need. What’s more, you can use any recent (since the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition) OnePlus charger to get these speeds too, not just the one in the 7T’s box.
OnePlus told me this is due to changes in the battery rather than the adapter, although it’s still proprietary tech, so not just any charger will achieve these speeds. I did have a problem with a third-party charger not charging the battery for longer than a few minutes though, despite the charger working correctly with other phones. It’s possible the battery is more sensitive than previous versions.
Price, availability, and warranty
The OnePlus 7T is $600 and will be sold worldwide, and the range has been simplified. There is one version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space available, which might be a problem as there’s no MicroSD card slot. It comes in frosted silver or glacial blue colors.
OnePlus offers a standard limited warranty that covers the phone from manufacturer defects one year from the date of purchase.
Everything on the OnePlus 7T has been carefully considered, and there are no needless features. You get fast charging, a hyper-fast processor, uncomplicated software, as well as a simple-to-use and versatile camera that takes great photos. The OnePlus 7T is excellent, with no messing around.
Are there better alternatives?
If we base comparisons on the OnePlus 7T costing less than $600, there are a few alternatives to consider, but none come close to reaching the 7T’s performance and specification. The Google Pixel 3a XL is a great buy for $480 and offers a strong camera, a large screen, and Google’s version of Android — meaning it’s clean and will quickly get updates. On the other side of the price scale is the $700 iPhone 11, complete with Apple’s latest software, camera enhancements, and a cool set of colors.
If the iPhone 11 is too expensive, take a look at the iPhone XR which is still part of Apple’s 2019 range. At $600 it’s great value. The Asus Zenfone 6 is our pick for the best low-cost Android phone at $500, for which you get a massive battery, and unusual flip camera, and good software too. It just doesn’t look pretty.
Finally, from OnePlus itself is the OnePlus 7 Pro. The $700 phone is better looking, has a great camera, feels more premium, and has the excellent 90Hz screen too.
How long will it last?
Two to three years if not more. The battery will start to degrade by then. There is no IP-rating for water or dust resistance, and the phone is made of glass, so it is not especially durable. There is a transparent silicone case included in the box, and OnePlus also makes a selection of other more colorful cases to protect the phone, which we highly recommend you do.
The final aspect to consider is the lack of expandable storage. There is only one OnePlus 7T phone and it has 128GB of storage space, so in the future, you may have to rely more on cloud storage options to keep photos, videos, and music off your phone.
Should you buy it?
Yes. the OnePlus 7T is an absolute steal. Such is its performance, camera ability, and screen technology.
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