Oct 5th, 2019

Coming in at a “staggering” $750, the 7 Pro was OnePlus’s most expensive device, but stills beat others with similar specs by hundreds of dollars. Fans in the United States may have been a bit perturbed, but those in other markets were treated to the OnePlus 7. The 7 is an inexpensive follow-up to last year’s OnePlus 6T that retained the same design while bumping specs and keeping the same budget-friendly price.

Now, OnePlus is back with another refresh that is complicating matters even more. The OnePlus 7T is a refresh of the same design with even better specs and an even better price- just $599 for a flagship device. There are rumors of a OnePlus 7T Pro coming for international markets, but we’ve spent the last week with the 7T and have come away impressed with what you can get for under $600.

Build, Body, and Display

Saying that the OnePlus 7T is just another OnePlus 6T or 7 is actually a bit simplistic because there are some changes. The chassis is slightly narrower and a hair taller than those devices and the change is immediately noticeable. The 7T feels a lot easier to handle because of its narrow design, though it isn’t as drastic as something like the Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus.

Another change I really appreciate is the flat display. While the OnePlus 7 Pro looks great, it’s a lot harder to handle because of that curved screen. Sure, it melts into the sides of the phone, but it’s a lot harder to hold onto than the 7T. Speaking of the sides of the phone, we get a well-constructed frame that holds some of the most clicky buttons on a device I’ve ever used. Basically, they’re perfect. The mute switch (one of my favorite features on a OnePlus phone) is much smaller than on the 7 Pro and a bit harder to use since there isn’t as much surface area to grab.

The bottom of the device houses the bottom-firing speaker and charging port, while the left has the volume rocker opposite the power button and mute switch on the right. If you were waiting for the part where I said the top houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, well, I’m sorry because OnePlus has definitely abandoned it for good.

The biggest change in the 7T comes on the back of the device. A massive, round camera module houses three cameras and a dual-tone flash. It’s large and a pretty big departure from other OnePlus designs of the past. I can’t say I’m a fan of this design and most people I’ve asked have been turned off by it. In addition to it being huge, it sticks out quite a bit too. OnePlus sent along three cases with the device for us to check out, and only the large silicone case comes even with the camera hump. And yes, it wobbles on your desk if you try to type on it while it’s sitting down.

The trend of 90hz displays is alive and well here on the OnePlus 7T. While the OnePlus 7 only featured a 60hz display, OnePlus bumped the 7T’s display up to 90hz, just like the 7 Pro. This is one of those features you really need to see in person to feel the full effect. The display now refreshed 90 times a second in supported apps and it’s a game-changer for me. Others poopoo the display for diminishing battery life, but it’s well worth it in my book. After using a few devices with high refresh rates, I do not ever want to go back.

Unlike the 7 Pro, the 7T has a 1080p display instead of 1440p. I noticed no real difference in day-to-day usage at 1080p and even turned down the resolution on the 7 Pro to see if I could see a change. I couldn’t. I do think that larger displays benefit from higher resolution, but the OLED panel on the 7 Pro and 7T are just fine at 1080p in my book. Additionally, colors are vivid and blacks are deep giving it that excellent contrast ratio you only get on OLED panels. The 7T’s display might not rise to the level of the current Samsung flagships, but it’s damn close and a joy to look at.

Software & Performance

Oxygen OS, the custom skin on OnePlus devices, is one of my favorites. I feel like it provides the right amount of customization while not straying too far from the core Android experience. Since it’s a pretty light skin, this also lets OnePlus update its software rather quickly, too. It was one of the first companies to come out with Android 10 betas and Android 10 full releases.

But, sometimes that speed comes at a cost. The OnePlus 7T is running Android 10 out of the box and the experience has been less than stellar. I’ve encountered quite a few bugs that should’ve been caught before the software ever shipped and it’s pretty disappointing. Often times, my theme just reverts. OnePlus makes it really easy to take control of your theme through the customization menu so I can easily change it back, but in the week that I’ve been using the device, it has reverted to a light theme three times.

Beyond that, there have been many app crashes and system freezes of 20-30 seconds each that you just have to sit through and wait for the system to figure it out. Knowing OnePlus, they’ll figure it out eventually but it’s highly disappointing that the software shipped in the state that it did. It feels like the company pushed out an incomplete and buggy build because it had a deadline of the 7T shipping.

On to the good stuff– this thing is seriously fast. While other companies let their software get in the way with bloated needless features and terrible animations, OnePlus does not. I’ve never once felt like this phone is slow during normal operation and app loading times are among some of the best. Part of this is due to the top of the line process, while the crazy fast UFS 3.0 storage and 8 GB of RAM also play a part. 8 GB of RAM is still more than enough and should be fine for the next couple of years, but if you really want bleeding-edge specs (the 7T ships with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage), there is a 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage version of the 7 Pro available.

Battery Life

Battery life is another stand-out- in fact, it’s better than the 7 Pro. I routinely have seen 6-8 hours of screen-on-time with normal to light usage. I have seven email accounts synced and spend a lot of time streaming music and video, as well as scrolling through Reddit for dank memes. Heavy users and gamers will see diminished battery life, but it’s still going to be excellent, and one of the best on the market today. When your battery gets low, you can charge up with the included Warp Charge 30T wall charger and get back over half your battery (from dead) in half an hour. Battery life this good means you never have to worry about your phone dying and that can really be a game-changer.

Cameras

The camera experience is largely unchanged from the OnePlus 7 Pro and that’s a good thing. While you’re not getting a class-leading experience, the OnePlus 7T falls into the “good enough” category that most phones in this price bracket. If you’re looking for a true flagship camera experience, you will want to look elsewhere at something like a Samsung Galaxy S10e or a Pixe 3a XL, both of which can be had at a cheaper price but with a better camera.

As for the hardware, the 7T rocks a triple camera setup with a main 48 MP shooter at f/1.6 that features optical image stabilization. It’s flanked by a 12 MP telephoto lens at f/2.2 and a zoom of 2x and a 16 MP ultrawide lens at f/2.2.

Looking purely at specs, you’d be impressed with the camera setup and the versatility it presents. The main 48 MP camera does just fine in well-lit situations and can even pull off some decent low-light camera shots with OnePlus’s low-light mode enabled, maybe even better than the 7 Pro. Again, it falls behind camera offerings from Google who uses its excellent computational photography to seemingly pulls light out of nowhere in dark situations and illuminate details that would otherwise be lost if you were shooting on a OnePlus device. But as you can see in our camera samples, OnePlus does a pretty decent job in challenging situations.

The telephoto lens has been looked at as a step back from the one found on the 7 Pro since it “only” zooms at 2x instead of 2.5x, but we found little difference in day to day usage. The same can be said for the ultrawide lens that is still a ton of fun to shoot with and will provide some great social media photos. That’s basically all we really do with pictures we shoot on our phones these days anyway, isn’t it? If that’s what you’re looking for, the OnePlus 7T is just fine. But, as I said earlier, you can find better cameras at a cheaper price, you just have to be prepared to make sacrifices elsewhere in the phone.

Final Thoughts

OnePlus has really done it again. The 7T feels like a return to self where the company offers almost unparalleled value in a flagship phone. The problem for OnePlus is that a lot more companies have followed its lead since the OnePlus One came out five years ago. Huawei, Realme, Google, Samsung and a long list of others all offer flagship performance, flagship cameras, or flagship design at mid-tier pricing. OnePlus is still (one of) the best, but it has a lot of company.

And as much as we love the 7T, it’s certainly not perfect. The haptics feels like a step back from the OnePlus 7 Pro. I generally turn vibration off on Android devices because Apple has ruined them for me, but I actually left them on the 7 Pro– not so much with the 7T. I was consistently disappointed with the intensity since I picked the phone up. The fingerprint scanner also feels like a step back. It’s not quite as bad as the scanner on the OnePlus 6T, but I was getting consistently better results and faster reads on the OnePlus 7 Pro.

That being said, there’s a ton to love here. I forgot how much I enjoyed face unlock and how fast it is while using the 7 Pro because I got tired of the popup camera pretty quickly. Sure, there’s a notch to contend with (though it is smaller) but it’s worth it, in my opinion. I didn’t notice it after about the first five minutes of use.

So, who is this phone for? If you have a OnePlus 7 Pro or 7, you’re not going to find much here to entice you. Even OnePlus 6T users should probably stand pat if the cost of upgrading is more than a hundred dollars or so. But this is going to be an excellent introduction for most people to the OnePlus brand. Walking into a carrier store for a new phone and finding the OnePlus 7T on the shelf next to similar devices that cost hundreds more is going to be pretty compelling for a large swath of people. Value hunters will be especially interested and we can’t blame them. The OnePlus 7T might be the best value the company has ever put out and that’s saying something.

OnePlus has built its brand on quality and value. Starting with the OnePlus One, the company has continued to put out super compelling devices that beat the competition on price while matching them on specs and features. That’s why it was such a shock when it came out with its most expensive phone earlier this year, the OnePlus 7 Pro.

OnePlus 7T Rating: star_full star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_25(4.2/5)

The Good

  • Excellent value
  • Extremely fast
  • A new narrower design makes it easy to use

The Bad

  • Haptics could be better
  • Massive camera module is an eyesore

The Bottom Line

The OnePlus 7T is an amazing value and one of our favorite budget flagships of the year. It packs excellent specs, a nice design, and fantastic battery life at a price everyone can respect. While the camera module and haptics are two sore spots, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives.

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