OnePlus 5T Review: The Hard To Beat $500 Smartphone

OnePlus 5T Official Shot
Print
by Rob Williams on March 8, 2018 in Mobile

Since the launch of its original smartphone, OnePlus has managed to follow up again and again with solid iterations, both with the launch of a major new model, or an update to one. The 5T continues that record of quality updates, making this the latest $500 Android smartphone to beat.

Photos, Performance & Final Thoughts

The 5T has a promising camera setup, with a dual configuration found at the back. Sony provides both camera sensors here, with the IMX 398 handling the rear dual camera, and the IMX 376K up front. Both sensors are glued to f/1.7 and have a focal length of 27.22mm. At least on paper, the only real difference between them is the megapixel count.

Alongside the dual camera at the back is a dual LED flash, which assists with low-light situations. The cameras can support capturing video at 4K/30FPS, 1080p at both 60 and 30, 720p at 30, and also 720p in slo-mo mode, at 120.

Over the course of the past month, I took a huge number of photos, but there weren’t many I was personally proud of (to no fault of the device). Many did come out very well, though, as you’ll see here. All of the shots are straight out of the camera, just resized down.

Napa Valley Marriott Outside Dining Area
Photo test: Lenovo Yoga closeup
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: CHERRY MX red switches closeup
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: Corsair's Justin Ocbina taking aim
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: Cameras were made for shots like this
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: On-the-move shot of Seagate location in Fremont, CA
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: Inside Corsair's game room
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: Inside Corsair's game room (come get some!)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Photo test: Cat waiting for a checkup

Some of the shots above show dramatically different lighting conditions, and overall, the 5T handled them all very well. That includes the shots taken inside of Corsair’s game room at its Fremont HQ. There’s an on-the-move shot of a Seagate location in Fremont that I think came out pretty well, too, but that’s one of three I shot in succession that came out so clear.

Here’s a couple of portrait shots (I wish I had taken more), all of which came out really well. The cat photo was shot in portrait mode, which adds a bokeh effect that looks great. It might take a few attempts to get the desired effect, but it’s not hard to get a good one. Of this set, I’m most impressed with the shot of the Corsair whisky, but now regret not asking for a taste.

Inside San Francisco (SFO) Airport
Photo test: Eris where she shouldn't be (portrait mode)
Napa Valley Marriott Outside Dining Area
Photo test: Corsair small batch whisky... apparently a thing! (portrait mode)

These final shots show off the 5T’s 2x zoom feature I’ve come to use a lot. As you’d expect, it merely zooms in to 2x to let you grab a better view easier. As you can see from the shots below, the end result is pretty satisfactory.

Napa Valley Marriott Outside Dining Area
Camera zoom test: Far Cry 5 event (no zoom)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Camera zoom test: Far Cry 5 event (2x zoom)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Camera zoom test: AMD Ryzen processor (no zoom)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Camera zoom test: AMD Ryzen processor (2x zoom)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Camera zoom test: Far Cry 5 backpack (no zoom)
GIGABYTE Summer 2016 Event - Artesa Winery Wine Aging Room
Camera zoom test: Far Cry 5 backpack (2x zoom)

Unfortunately, these shots would have looked even better on the OP5, which includes a telephoto lens. On the 5T, the 2x zoom is done entirely in software. Given that, I think the results are very impressive, but because of the nature of software optimization, you’ll probably want to take multiple shots at 2x to make sure you’re going to get one of desirable quality.

Even without the optical zoom, though, I still use this feature pretty religiously at this point. That’s really because the images I’m taking are not meant to be judged by their technical merit. I’d even welcome a 3x button to complement this one, because zooming in with your fingers can feel so imprecise.

Performance

I don’t have a dozen or so phones on hand to do in-depth comparison testing, but I can test the new flagship against the OnePlus 3, to give an idea of what’s changed between Snapdragon 820 and 835, and to give prospective upgraders who want to go the same route a general idea of what to expect.

To be clear, though, I retested the OnePlus 3 for these results after having used the device for a year-and-a-half. There may be some degradation somewhere, but I wouldn’t expect a great difference anywhere outside of maybe the storage, and even then, it’s not as though the NAND has seen as much use as even a single chip on my desktop PC’s SSD.

OnePlus 3OnePlus 5T5T Advantage
3DMark Physics17393026+74%
3DMark Graphics29813738+25%
3DMark Physics (Vulkan)17052623+54%
3DMark Graphics (Vulkan)22622771+23%
GFXBench Car Chase2021+5%
GFXBench Manhattan 3.13133+6%
AnTuTu CPU5542072401+31%
AnTuTu GPU6746383329+24%
GeekBench Single-core17451976+13%
GeekBench Multi-core41316645+61%
PCMark Work 2.055597308+31%
PCMark Computer Vision33904053+20%
PCMark Storage36575351+46%
Basemark Web 3.0164.89234.74+42%
JetStream49.54463.443+28%
WebXPRT5979+34%
Notes: In GFXBench, the Adreno 530 (OP3) ran the tests at 1920×1080, and on the Adreno 540 (OP5T), it ran them at 2046×1080. All results represent the highest score achieved across multiple runs. Both devices were running Android 8.0.0.

The 5T has a clear performance advantage over the 3. Surprised? Outside of the single-core GeekBench and GFXBench test, every result was at least 20% better for the 5T over the 3, with the CPU-bound 3DMark physics test proving an impressive 74% better.

The GFXBench result is barely different from one device to the next, which may seem odd considering the other GPU tests scale much better. This is because GFXBench tests at the device’s native resolution, or at least close to it. The 5T has a 2160×1080 screen, but GFXBench claimed a resolution of 2046×1080, which is 6.6% more pixels than the 3’s 1920×1080. So while the Adreno 540 is faster than the 530, the fact that the resolutions differ make the side-by-side comparisons tough. So one way to look at it is: the Adreno 540 managed to outpace the 530 even when needing to deal with 6.6% more pixels.

From a basic usability standpoint, I couldn’t tell you if the OP5T feels faster than the OP3, because to me, it doesn’t. But that’s more a testament to how fast the OP3 was. Even a year-and-a-half at use, I can’t spot noticeable slowdown. It’s actually the first long-term phone I’ve had where I haven’t had to complain about that. Battery endurance has made a slight drop, but not performance. I’m hoping for the same with the 5T.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned in the intro that I came to like the OnePlus 3 so much, I wasn’t sure I’d ever find another phone that could replace it, in terms of being such a great all-around package. The phone’s camera wasn’t anything special, but beyond that, the size was fantastic, and as also mentioned, a year-and-a-half of daily use didn’t do anything to diminish its performance.

If time can manage one thing, though, it’s that it can change opinions. I thought I wanted a finger print reader on front, but as it turns out, I just don’t want it in a bad location at the back. With it gone from the front, the face is so much cleaner looking; more optimized.

OnePlus 5T Smartphone

Other perks of the phone include its super-fast charge time. Starting from 0%, the the 5T can reach 60% in just 30 minutes, and clear 90% after an hour. The phone also includes a preinstalled screen protector, which is a great touch. Funny enough, the screen protector that came preinstalled on the OP3 lasted me all the way up until this past CES, where I ended up catching a part of it, resulting in a quick tear-off. Let me tell you: these things work.¬†Days later, I managed to scratch the screen, even though I thought my pockets were completely free of debris. So quite literally, a free, preinstalled protector, is definitely “one plus” of this phone.

Tying into the protector, OnePlus also includes a free case. It may not be the highest quality, but it’s suitable enough for those who merely want to keep their phone safe, especially if they’re just waiting for a better one to arrive. I am not sure about its long-term capabilities, but it’s a nice bonus, nonetheless. Beyond that, the 5T’s facial recognition works extremely well (not that I’d recommend using it, per se; finger prints are far more secure), as does the finger print reader. There is no iris reader like there is on some other devices, but at least the solutions that do exist, work well.

The biggest hits against the 5T include the lack of expandable storage (though I’d personally take a second SIM over that if that was the choice to be made), and the camera struggles a bit in really low-light situations. The lack of a proper zoom lens is unfortunate as well, considering there¬†was just one on the predecessor to the 5T.

That all said, even with those flaws, the OnePlus 5T really is the phone to beat at its price-range. It’s a great all-around package that’s hard to find genuine complaint for.

Pros

  • Seriously well-rounded package.
  • Charges ridiculously fast (0-60% in 30 minutes).
  • Finger print reader works perfectly, and is located in an ideal position.
  • Facial recognition works really well.
  • Clean OS, void of bloat. Fast, and smooth.
  • Dual-SIM feature is great for out-of-country travelers.
  • Includes translucent plastic case and preinstalled screen protector.
  • Great thickness when paired with standard protective case (not bumper).

Cons

  • Optical zoom from the OP5 is gone on the 5T.
  • No expandable storage.
  • Camera struggles in some low-light conditions.
OnePlus 5T - SmartKevin Editor's Choice
OnePlus 5T

Rob Williams

Rob founded SmartKevin in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

twitter icon facebook icon googleplus icon instagram icon