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Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff
90 Hz AMOLED screen
128 GB of storage
Three good cameras
Not water resistant
No wireless charging
Cutting edge camera tech needs polish
OnePlus 7T is a premium Android 10 phone at a bargain price. It offers high-end materials, cameras and performance while cutting a handful of almost unnoticeable corners (wireless charging, water resistance) to keep the price low.
OnePlus’s OnePlus 7T is a $599 smartphone that checks virtually all the feature boxes you’d want in a modern smartphone. It does so with real style and a surfeit of features for a smartphone in its price class (not one camera or two, but four!). It doesn’t lead in every feature, of course, and in some cases, the 7T is a reminder of why you spend hundreds more for Apple’s iPhone camera technology. Still, the OnePlus 7T makes a strong case for sub-$600 big-screen Android phones as your first smartphone choice.
The Android 10(!) OnePlus 7T is a gorgeous 6.55-inch smartphone wrapped in fingerprint-repelling brushed Gorilla Glass on the back and a flat expanse of gleaming Gorilla glass over the screen. That AMOLED display is sharp, with a resolution of 2400x1080 (402 ppi) and up to 1,000 nits brightness for decent outdoor performance in direct sunlight. The iPhone 11’s liquid crystal display, by contrast, tops out at 326 ppi and 625 nits.
The 7T’s flat screen (the “ultra-premium” OnePlus 7 Pro curves along the long edges) also refreshes at a smooth 90Hz, which is about 30% more than a typical iPhone (and most other smartphones).
The promise is smoother motion, but I’m not certain the human eye can pick up on that, at least at this screen size. I’m not saying everything from games to video didn’t look great. They all did, but not noticeably better than what I’ve seen on other leading smartphone displays. Faster resolutions make more sense on 60-inch-plus HDTVs, where fast-paced sports games can turn into blurry, tearing messes without refresh rates of 120- to 240 hz.
The screen and all that glass is supported by a solid metal frame. There’s a volume rocker along one thin edge and on the other side, a power/sleep button and a knurled, sliding silence button that lets you switch between ring volume on, vibration only, or total silence. There’s a small microphone hole in the top and a USB-C port along the bottom edge. One half of the stereo speaker system (the other half lives in an almost imperceptible grill along the top edge of the screen) sits at the bottom, too, along with a micro sim slot.
On the screen is a tiny teardrop-shaped notch (32% smaller than the one on the OnePlus 6T and a lot smaller than the iPhone 11’s TrueDepth module-housing notch) that houses a 16 MP camera that also supports facial unlocking. The fingerprint reader is under the screen. It’s almost infallible.
On the back is where things get interesting. Instead of a square, we get a camera circle. Like the pricier iPhone 11 Pro, this camera module houses three lenses:
There’s also a dual LED flash.
The 48 MP camera shoots in 12 MP by default, taking four pixels at a time and combining them into a larger one for, according to OnePlus, better performance, especially in low-light situations. That lens is also backed by optical and electronic image stabilization. If you want to shoot full, 48 MP frames, you just have to select the option under Pro mode. 48 MP definitely brings in more light but it in my tests it over-brightened some of the lights, blowing out nearby details.
Remember, Apple’s 6.1-inch $699 iPhone 11 only has a Wide and Ultra-wide lens (though, at 120-degrees, it does offer a wider shot). If you want a telephoto lens from Apple, you'll have to buy at least the $999 iPhone 11 Pro.
Since I last looked at the 6T and even the 7 Pro, OnePlus has raised its photography game. Overall image quality is excellent. Backlit and Portrait Mode photos taken with both the front and rear cameras look better (they’re certainly doing a better job with my bald head) and the detail and color verity is improved. There is no way to adjust the bokeh effect either during or after you've taken your Portrait Mode photo.
The OnePlus 7T’s low-light Nightscape mode is good and, with a tripod, you can even capture photos of the stars. However, OnePlus hides the tripod option under the camera settings menu and most of my ultra-low-light images came out a little green. The latter is clearly a processing issue that OnePlus can probably clear up with a software update.
I wish OnePlus wouldn’t hide features like Nightscape, Time Lapse, or Panorama under its Pro mode, but at least I can visit Settings to add them to the main camera screen.
I was especially excited about the new Macro Mode, a feature that appeals to semi-pro photographers like me. Macro lets you get within centimeters of your subject and capture crystal-clear images. Unlike Nightscape, the Macro option is part of the main Camera App screen and looks as you would expect it to—it’s a flower icon. I used it to capture some pretty impressive images. When I compared them, however, with iPhone 11 images I took from an only slightly greater distance, the images did not look as bright or detailed.
OnePlus can shoot up to 4k 60 FPS and supports HDR 10+. I did a side-by-side test where I shot 4K 60 FPS video on the 7T and on Apple’s iPhone 11 while literally running around my yard. Initially, the iPhone did a better job of smoothing out all the motion bumps. Then I turned on the OnePlus 7T’s Super Stable mode which uses information from the other two lenses to stabilize the video. OnePlus told me the system is not using actual footage from these other lenses, just scene information. The result is a mixed bag. Sometimes I got smooth-as-butter footage. Other times, portions of the frame visibly juddered.
The OnePlus can do some pretty impressive slow-motion video photography. I was able to shoot scenes at up to 480 fps in 720p. The phone will eventually get a post-launch update that will allow it to shoot super slow-mo, 960 fps at 720. The iPhone 11 tops out at 240 fps at 1080p.
OnePlus smartphones run the company’s Oxygen OS Android overlay system, which thankfully doesn’t mess too much with native Android. It defaults to Gmail, Chrome, and Google Calendar, but uses its own Gallery app instead of Google Photos (which isn’t included). Even with the new facial- and scene-recognition, I’m not a fan of OnePlus’ Gallery App. As far as I could tell, there was no way to select or act on multiple photos.
There are some nice, interesting touches, though.
Reading Mode, which is under the control panel, can turn your screen either Monochrome or a color-muted Chromatic. Either is supposed to be better on the eyes, kind of like reading on a more powerful Kindle screen. The other big innovation is Zen Mode. OnePlus introduced this tech time-out feature with the 7 Pro. Now it’s updated so you can choose to be locked out of your phone for between 20 minutes and an hour. It’s a good tool for a phone-free dinner time.
This is also my first in-depth experience with Android 10. Of all the changes, none will be as noticeable as the new Gesture-controls. Instead of Back, Home, and Recents, icons, there’s just a thin bar along the bottom edge of the screen (you can choose those traditional icon controls). I got used to quickly sweeping up to get home and sweeping halfway and holding to access all my open apps.
The OnePlus 7T runs on Qualcomm’s latest mobile CPU, the Snapdragon 855+. It’s backed by 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage (the iPhone 11 starts with 64 GB of storage). That plus sign does give the processor a little performance boost over what you’ll find in Snapdragon 855-running Samsung S10 and Note10 line, but the bump is minimal, and, in Geekbench 5 tests, it still falls behind Apple’s A13 Bionic, which is in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.
I have no complaints about performance, either. The OnePlus 7T handles everything from web browsing to gaming and video with aplomb and without any noticeable heat. It’s a pleasure to race in Asphalt 9: Legends with the big screen and powerful stereo speakers.
Battery life is excellent. I easily got a full day of mixed use on a single charge of the 3800 mAh battery. The phone ships with OnePlus’ huge Warp 30T Charger, which managed to fully recharge the phone from 10% to over 90% in under an hour.
I like the OnePlus 7T a lot. It’s stylish, smart, fun to use, and a pleasure to hold and carry (it weighs just 190 grams). Still, there are some tradeoffs:
Overall the $599 OnePlus 7T is, thanks to three three cameras, AMOLED screen. and 128 GB of storage, an excellent value for a quality Android handset. It offers more features, cameras and storage for the money and, with a few software tweaks could lead the Android pack.
The smartphone goes on sale on October 18 on OnePlus.com and, exclusively, on T-Mobile.
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