OnePlus 7T Review: Putting $999 Phones To Shame

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OnePlus isn't messing around anymore. Keeping things simple, OnePlus made the 7T the phone to buy.

OnePlus 7T Review
$599
Rating
Pros
  • Impressive design for a sub-$600 smartphone
  • Incredible performance
  • Great battery life
  • Oxygen OS 10 is amazing
  • Android 10 out of the box
  • Great value for the money
  • Smaller and easier to handle than the OnePlus 7 Pro
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP rating for waterproofing
  • Camera could use some work
  • No expandable storage
  • No "upgraded" models (just one version in the US)

Contrary to popular belief, the OnePlus 7T is actually a successor to the OnePlus 7. Which never made its way over to the US. So many are comparing it to the OnePlus 7 Pro that did come to the US, and it compares pretty well. The price is very similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro, only about $70 difference.

But the OnePlus 7T is ready to compete with the big boys that are releasing phones this fall. That includes the iPhone 11, Pixel 4 and Galaxy Note 10. All of which are much more expensive, but is the OnePlus 7T a better value? Let's find out.

Cheapest 90Hz smartphone you'll find right now

OnePlus was not first to the high-refresh rate game. Razer was actually first with its 120Hz panel on the Razer Phone, nearly two years ago. Since then, we've seen it come to other gaming phones from Xiaomi and ASUS. But OnePlus was the first one to put it in a phone that was not geared towards gamers, specifically.

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It decided to bring the 90Hz refresh rate down to the cheaper OnePlus 7T, which is pretty incredible. And just like the OnePlus 7 Pro, I've been spoiled by that high-refresh rate. It doesn't sound like it's going to do much, but it really does. It makes the whole OS feel a lot more snappy and smooth, versus when it's on 60Hz.

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OnePlus 7T: App Drawer

On top of that, the high-refresh rate does not hit the battery that hard.

OnePlus did stick with a full HD+ panel on the 7T, which I'm not complaining about. This panel looks incredible. If you didn't tell me it was full HD+, I probably wouldn't have even noticed. And this comes from someone that is using (basically) all of the latest flagships. One of the trade-offs to using a lower-resolution display is that battery life. Which is good to see, especially with 90Hz.

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The 7T also uses a smaller display than the 7 Pro, as well as it being a flat panel. Those were two of my main issues with the display on the OnePlus 7 Pro. It was too big, and the curved display was very curved. Making it hard to hold onto, and also hard to use the gestures on the 7 Pro. Those things are gone now. The OnePlus 7T sports a 6.55-inch flat display, which is an improvement in almost every way, except for the resolution.

The 7T also works really well outside. It gets up to over 1000 nits. Now, being here in the midwest and the fact that it is now fall, there's not a lot of sunny days left. But there were a few, and I was able to use the 7T outside without having any trouble seeing the display. That's something that really only Samsung can do, so it's impressive to say the least. Not to mention, a very welcome addition.

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OnePlus 7T: Teardrop notch

Unlike the 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7T does have a notch. Though it's a teardrop notch that OnePlus says is about a third smaller than the OnePlus 6T's notch. So it really doesn't stand out like you might think it does. In fact, after using this phone for a few hours, I completely forgot it was there. When you're watching video, it does fill in the screen a little bit, but because of how small it is, it's not really an issue.

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OnePlus has plenty of authentication options on the 7T. There's the in-display fingerprint sensor, as well as the facial recognition.

The in-display fingerprint sensor has gotten better, but it's still not perfect. It's faster and more accurate. But a capacitive sensor on the back or below the display would still be faster. It's also low enough on the panel that it actually is easy to hit it the first time with your finger. Unlike the Galaxy Note 10, where it's pretty far up from the bottom of the display.

Then there's facial recognition. Something OnePlus started two years ago on the OnePlus 5T and it was insanely fast then. It's still super fast, in fact I never ever see the lock screen anymore. It's that fast. Pick up the phone, press the power button and it immediately recognizes my face and unlocks.

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Now it's important to note that the fingerprint sensor is going to be far more reliable and secure than facial recognition. That's because OnePlus is just using the front facing camera for facial recognition, and not any other sensors. So it's going to be very easy to trick it. But at this point, we should all know that, since almost all Android smartphones are using just the camera, and no other sensors for facial recognition.

Of course, you could also just rely on the PIN or password that you set on your phone. If you really want to go old-school.

Good, but not impressive battery life

A 3800mAh cell in a smartphone sounds pretty small for the end of 2019. Especially with most competitors putting in a 4000mAh or larger capacity battery in their smartphones. But OnePlus has been known for offering some pretty good battery life, though the OnePlus 7 Pro was just average.

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That is not the case with the OnePlus 7T though. We were able to get over six hours of on-screen time multiple times, while using the OnePlus 7T. Now that might not be enough for some power users, but for about 98-percent of people out there, that's enough for a full day and then some.

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OnePlus 7T: Battery Life

Since I use my phone a lot more on the weekend than during the week, I normally went to bed with around 50-60% battery left during the week. The weekend was another story, it was closer to around 20-30% (the weekend is where I would see six or more hours of screen on-time).

If that is not enough battery though, to get you through the day, Warp Charge 3oT is here.

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Now, I have to admit. I did laugh when OnePlus announced this ahead of the 7T. The name was funny, because it wasn't really an upgrade, but it was faster charging. But after using it, I'm no longer laughing, I'm amazed.

With Warp Charge 30T, you're getting 23-percent faster charging speeds than with the OnePlus 7 Pro – which was already insanely fast. We're talking zero to full in about an hour. And in our testing, that's exactly what we got – plus or minus a few minutes. That means that topping off is super simple, and quick to do.

The only downside to Warp Charge 30T is the fact that it still uses USB-A to USB-C, instead of USB-C PD. Though it does support 18W USB-C PD charging, it's slower, but still fast.

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There's still no wireless charging, and if I'm being honest, I could care less. For the most part, wireless charging is slow, and more of a hassle than it sounds like. And while there are faster wireless charging standards out there, like Xiaomi's 30W wireless charging, you're going to need to buy a new wireless charger to use it. And right now, there's not many available. So no wireless charging in the 7T? That's fine with me. Even on the Pixel 3 XL, I never use it.

OnePlus 7T is still blazing fast

This OnePlus 7T review is no different from any other OnePlus review, in the performance section. That is because OnePlus always uses the latest silicon from Qualcomm, with plenty of RAM and faster storage. This provides customers with a pretty insanely fast smartphone, and one that will stay fast for at least two years, but likely longer.

That's important with more and more people opting to upgrade their phones every two to three years instead of every year. And in some cases, they are waiting even longer.

Inside, you'll find the Snapdragon 855+, this is a slightly upgraded processor from Qualcomm. It's mainly focused on gaming, which means faster clock speeds, and that makes a non-gaming smartphone like the OnePlus 7T feel even faster. That's paired with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. that storage matters, UFS 3.0 is much faster than the UFS 2.1 that virtually every other smartphone runs with. That means that installing apps, opening apps, recording video, etc is going to be much faster on the OnePlus 7T. And it's also future-proof for probably about five years (on the storage side).

Pair all of this with Oxygen OS 10 and a 90Hz display, and you've got yourself a pretty fast device from OnePlus.

While the 7T is not being marketed as a an entertainment phone, it does have all of the makings to be one. It has that beautiful AMOLED 90Hz display, with HDR10 and HDR10+ support. Along with Dolby Atmos speakers and a battery that can last for quite a while.

Watching videos on the OnePlus 7T was pretty incredible. The speakers get very loud. And OnePlus is using a dual speaker system here. With a single down-firing speaker at the bottom of the phone and then the earpiece as the second speaker. Together, they sound incredible. Almost on-par with the Pixel 3 XL and its dual front-facing speakers (though Pixel 3 XL does not have Dolby Atmos).

Then of course, you have that battery that is going to stay powered all day long, and then if it doesn't, you've got Warp Charge 30T to top you off.

I watched a ton of YouTube on the OnePlus 7T and it was incredible. I actually enjoyed it more than watching on my Pixel 3 XL, but not quite as much as the Galaxy Note 10+, though Samsung does have a better and higher-resolution display on the Note 10+.

A gaming phone without the title

One of the trends we've been seeing a lot lately among smartphones are gaming phones. Razer really kicked it off two years ago with its gaming phone. Then ASUS, Xiaomi, and others jumped in with their own gaming phones. These are usually spec monsters with incredible 120Hz displays and a huge battery. That sort of sounds like the OnePlus 7T, but not quite.

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OnePlus 7T: Asphalt 9

The 7T has that 90Hz display, and a somewhat decent battery of 3800mAh capacity. But it does run the same processor as other gaming phones, the Snapdragon 855+. Which Qualcomm touts as being a gaming phone processor. So how well does the 7T perform when gaming? Really well, actually.

And if you're a OnePlus user, that won't surprise you.

Fnatic mode really helps the user take full advantage of all of the power inside the OnePlus 7T. With Fnatic mode, you can adjust the CPU, GPU and even the frame-rate. Boost them up to their max settings, and you'll be amazed at what the phone in your pocket is really capable of. Obviously when you do that, you'll need to prepare for a battery drain. Luckily there is Warp Charge 30T to charge it up pretty quickly.

We gamed on the OnePlus 7T playing a few games, but Asphalt 9 in particular looked pretty incredible. Even though this is not a Quad HD+ display, it looked amazing. The OnePlus 7T did get a bit hot after playing for a little while, but it never got so hot where the game quit because it needed to cool down. Or even so hot that it was hard to hold onto the phone. Which are both good things in this day and age.

Oxygen OS keeps getting better

Somehow, Oxygen OS continues to get better and better. And with the OnePlus 7T, we've got Oxygen OS 10 with Android 10. This makes it the first Android smartphone to launch with Android 10 and Google apps.

Google made a point to say "Android 10 with Google apps" after the OnePlus 7T was announced. That is because the Huawei Mate 30 Pro was announced the week before with Android 10, but no Google apps.

The OnePlus 7T is part of only a handful of smartphones that have Android 10 right now. That includes the OnePlus 7, 7 Pro, Essential PH-1 and the Pixel smartphones. And that's basically it.

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OnePlus 7T: Oxygen OS 10

With Android 10 came a new version of Oxygen OS, and I must say, it didn't bring a ton of changes from what we saw on the OnePlus 7 Pro just a few months ago, but it does feel a lot more polished.

One of the major design changes you'll notice is in the settings. There's a new "Customization" option, which now brings all of your customization options into one place, instead of being scattered. This allows you to change the clock on the lock screen, the fingerprint animation, the theme (dark vs not-dark), accent colors, icon packs and much more.

It's also presented in a very user-friendly way. Showing you in real-time what the changes you're about to make will look like. It doesn't sound like a big change, but it is, and it's definitely worth mentioning.

Another feature that OnePlus added to Oxygen OS was a new chromatic effect in Reading Mode. This is going to mute the colors, which makes it much easier to read longer articles (like this one), or even some books on your OnePlus 7T.

But for the most part, OnePlus kept things pretty much the same for Oxygen OS 10. This allowed them to get it out the door sooner, which is what their customers wanted, without having a bunch of bugs that need fixing first.

Macro mode makes these cameras fun

Macro mode isn't something new, cameras have been doing it for some time. In fact, HONOR added a dedicated macro camera on the 20 Pro earlier this year. But it was not very good. OnePlus, however, added a macro mode on the 7T, and it is very good. I've been very impressed with the macro mode on this phone so far.

With this Super Macro Mode, OnePlus is actually moving hardware in the camera to get the super close focus it needs. We're talking as close as an inch away from the phone. That is pretty darn close. I did take a number of macro shots with this camera, and just about all of them came out pretty well. there was one I took of the Sonos logo on the Sonos Move that came out a bit darker than I expected, but it still looked good. As the logo was white, so it stood out.

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OnePlus 7T: Triple Camera Setup

Now that's not all this triple-camera setup has to offer, of course. Speaking of which, there's a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 48-megapixel main lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. Very similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro. The only big difference is that telephoto is 2x instead of 3x now. Which makes it a bit less necessary, compared to the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Nightscape, OnePlus' version of night mode, is also very good on the 7T. I was actually impressed with how well it took a few night shots I took with the device. It was pretty similar to the Pixel 3. However, the Pixel 4 will likely improve Night Sight and make Nightscape look not-so-great, but that's still a few weeks away.

It's not all good, though, when talking about these cameras. I noticed that the ultrawide-angle lens is not that sharp. There's a picture in the Flickr gallery below, that I took in a field. I took it with all three cameras, and the ultrawide versus the main sensor, has a huge difference. Some of the foliage is just not all that sharp and it makes it tough to see sometimes too.

OnePlus 7T Camera Samples - Flickr

I will give credit where it's due though. OnePlus has sent out two updates for the camera since I received the device. And it has brought some noticeable differences in the camera. If history serves us right, this camera should be pretty impressive, after a couple more updates. But I'm still a firm believer that OnePlus should have done these tweaks before releasing the 7T. Reviewers are all reviewing the phone now, in its current state. So even if the camera gets drastically better, when customers are looking for reviews of the 7T in a couple months (around the holidays) they are going to see that the camera isn't that great. Even though it has improved a lot since these reviews were written. Hopefully OnePlus will get that together for the OnePlus 8 next year.

OnePlus did a pretty good job with the 7T cameras here. But it is still falling short, behind Google and Apple. That is largely because OnePlus does not have the computational data that both Google and Apple have, to make this camera even better. But we'll see what happens with the next few updates OnePlus sends out for the 7T.

Wrap Up

The OnePlus 7T is a pretty amazing smartphone for $599. There are some things that we'd like to see changed or fixed though, specifically with the cameras. And of course, getting a full HD+ smartphone in 2019 sounds ludicrous. But when you compare the OnePlus 7T to other phones that cost $999 or more, it really does come out on top in most areas.

Would I buy this over the Galaxy Note 10+? Probably. Unless you really want that S Pen and that larger display, the OnePlus 7T is going to be the better option. And you'll likely get faster updates too. Not to mention, it already has Android 10 installed.

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OnePlus 7T: Home screen

There are still quite a few complaints with the OnePlus 7T, but none of them are dealbreakers, and I'm willing to bet that most people are going to forgive those issues when they see the price tag. The OnePlus 7T is hitting a price point that really no other phone is right now. Under $600, for flagship specs and a flagship smartphone. Even Apple and Samsung's "cheap" flagships are more expensive. The iPhone 11 might give the OnePlus 7T a run for its money though, depending on the customer.

OnePlus will start selling the 7T (outside of India) on October 18. That's a few days after the Pixel 4 is announced by Google. So by then, we should know whether the OnePlus 7T is a better phone than the Pixel 4. We're already fairly certain that it is going to be a cheaper one. Nonetheless, you can purchase the OnePlus 7T from OnePlus.com starting October 18  here.