OnePlus 5T Retains Two Rear Cameras But Scraps Telephoto Lens

Chinese phone maker OnePlus announced its new mobile offering on Thursday, revealing its first 18:9 Android smartphone in the form of the OnePlus 5T. Besides an entirely new aesthetic, the handset also features a changed dual-camera setup compared to its popular predecessor, introducing a combination of hardware and software changes that's meant to improve on the imaging capabilities of the previous device and make the OnePlus 5T even more versatile and effective at capturing a wide variety of photographs in a broad range of scenarios.

While the camera setups seen on the rear panels of the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T appear to be identical seeing how both have horizontally arranged sensors situated in their top left corners and accompanied by a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash units, the differences between the two become quite notable underneath the surface. The main camera is the only common denominator here, as both devices use Sony's IMX 398 16-megapixel sensor with a pixel size of 1.12 µm situated behind a 27.22mm lens with an aperture of f/1.7 and featuring electronic image stabilization (EIS) support. However, instead of the IMX 350, the OnePlus 5T uses the IMX 376K for its secondary sensor. While both modules have a 20-megapixel resolution and 1.0 µm pixel size, the one found on the newer device backs a lens that's identical to the one found in front of the main sensor instead of having a 36mm telephoto one.

The secondary sensor hence takes advantage of a significantly brighter piece of glass compared to the f/2.6 lens found on the back of the OnePlus 5 which should translate to better low-light performance. On the downside, the 1.6x optical zoom that could have amounted to 2x (nearly) lossless zoom supported by the OnePlus 5 isn't part of the package offered by its follow-up. In practice, the new camera should perform significantly better in the dark but lose a degree of the somewhat natural bokeh effect that the OnePlus 5 was capable of producing thanks to its telephoto lens. While OnePlus still claims that "professional" bokeh remains one of the hallmarks of its dual-camera setup and is comparable to the effect produced by DSLR cameras, you obviously shouldn't take the marketing's word for it, nor should you expect to see results comparable to even entry-level DSLRs.

However, by being able to capture more light in a given period of time due to the fact it's nearly two stops brighter than its predecessor, the secondary lens of the OnePlus 5T should compensate for its lack of mechanical zooming abilities by not only performing better in low-light scenarios that would inhibit weaker hardware but also by being able to freeze motion more efficiently, i.e. without delivering underexposed results. The latter point is especially important in the context of the Pro Mode that's making a return with the OnePlus 5T and will allow you to granularly adjust your shutter speed, ISO settings, and aperture when circumstances allow you to take your time with shooting. As for scenarios that require speed instead of meticulousness, they'll still be bearable with the assistance of Quick Capture, another feature translated from the OnePlus 5 that provides users with the ability to take a photo at any moment by simply double-tapping the phone's Power button.

Furthermore, having two identical lenses on its rear allows the OnePlus 5 to deliver photographs that don't require any cropping, which should be especially important in terms of portrait photography. Portrait Mode of the handset was also improved to do a better job of eliminating image noise using multi-frame comparisons to blend numerous shots together, using the best, clearest portions of each one. The Chinese phone manufacturer refers to the zooming capabilities of the OnePlus 5T as "Clear Zoom" and claims they're comparable to the ones of the OnePlus 5 thanks to their improved algorithms, but again, zoomed-in shots may look slightly worse as a direct consequence of the firm's decision to do away with a telephoto lens. In overall, the OnePlus 5T should still be an objectively better 4K mobile photography tool than the previous handset, with zooming and bokeh being the only two aspects in which it isn't likely to outperform the OnePlus 5.

While the top bezel of the OnePlus 5T is significantly slimmer compared to the one found on its predecessor, it still features the same Sony-made IMX 371 sensor, an 16-megapixel affair with a pixel size of 1.0 µm mounted behind a 20mm lens boasting an f/2.0 aperture. Apart from Time-Lapse and EIS support, this particular module is also Auto HDR-enabled and can record 1080p video at 30 frames per second, thus being one of the more capable front-facing cameras on the market.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]