Since releasing late last year, we’ve lauded the OnePlus 7T for being arguably the best value smartphone here on the Android side of things.
The fact that OnePlus has since released the OnePlus 8 series hasn’t actually dampened that stance either. The OnePlus 7T in many ways is actually a better purchase than the non-Pro OnePlus 8, and part of that is down to the “5G tax” that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset has brought with it.
When you also consider that OnePlus releases a brand new smartphone every 6 months, it’s actually surprising just how little can really be changed or altered with each iteration. But the OnePlus 7T felt like a quantum leap over the OnePlus 6T and 7.
Half a year is generally not a long time but still accounts for a fair portion of the lifespan of a smartphone. It’s also more poignant when you consider that US buyers upgrade on average every couple of years — and sometimes even longer according to research. Clearly, longevity is at the forefront of buyers’ minds, and that will only continue in the years to come.
With the Pixel 4a getting delayed, you might be on the lookout to pick up a new device but don’t want to fork over a ton of cash. Just how does the OnePlus 7T stack up now that it’s at a cheaper price and has been available for over 6 months?
Hardware & Design
The OnePlus 7T is a striking device that sits in-between the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 6T in terms of its overall design. That is in no way a negative, as the 7T is a gorgeous device that really showcases the investment by OnePlus in their “Color, Material, Finish” design ethos.
It has the only circular camera module that you will find on a OnePlus smartphone too, which makes it instantly stand out from the rest of the lineup. If you have used another OnePlus previously, the rest of the design still holds up — not that it wouldn’t after only hitting the market in 2019.
Every time I come back to this device, I remember just how useful having a physical alert toggle is. Being able to flick between modes is really useful if you want to silence your OnePlus 7T without even having to unlock. I’d love to see more smartphones add their own toggles simply because of how good it is in practice.
The Glacier Blue color is still one of the most striking designs that OnePlus has developed, it still feels a lot more refined than the 7 Pro’s Nebula Blue color. Even without a case, the rear glass panel has managed to hold up particularly well. Scuffs and dings are not something to be concerned about as the OnePlus 7T is a hardy glass sandwich.
Just rolling off the specifications, because with one SKU things are uncomplicated, the 7T comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.0 storage. This is still superb, and the Snapdragon 855+ is probably the most powerful 4G-only chipset that you’ll find in a smartphone.
As we said back at launch, this is a smartphone that matches and in some cases exceeds the build quality of many more expensive smartphones. It has good balance and although it can be had for less than $500 now, you get a fantastically designed smartphone. It is worth noting that you don’t get any sort of official IP-rating for water and dust resistance — which might still be a dealbreaker for some.
The OnePlus 7T has an utterly fantastic AMOLED display that gets bright and has great viewing angles. Most importantly, it’s completely flat. This is something I didn’t realize made a great deal of difference but when you’re not having issues with phantom touches or UI elements curving out of view, it really does enhance the experience.
Although, at the risk of being labeled as a fence-sitter, I’m genuinely in two-minds about 90Hz displays. The high refresh rate is great, I’m not denying that but is it exponentially better than 60Hz? I’m not as sure as I thought I was. But in many ways, the fact that the OnePlus 8 comes with a curved glass 90Hz display has me feeling that the 7T is actually better if you are a display snob.
Some might prefer the dewdrop notch over the punch-hole. Personally, the punch-hole is more elegant in my opinion. But I’m not fussed either way, the pop-up camera was a nice solution but that seems to be dead on OnePlus hardware for the foreseeable future at least.
Software & Performance
Arguably the core selling feature of the OnePlus series for a number of years has been the exceptional software and, in fact, the support levels. Could we see the OnePlus 7T eventually getting an update to Android 14 (or whatever it ends up being called) much like with the OnePlus 5/5T and Android 10? We can hope. Android 12 is guaranteed, after that, it’s up to OnePlus to decide if your device is worthy of getting even newer OS upgrades.
As it stands though, the OnePlus version of Android 10 is simply sublime. Even having been used on and off for since release, this phone does not skip a beat. Add in the 90Hz refresh rate and you get an experience that is head and shoulders above almost all Android OEMs — and in some cases, it even beats Google’s own Pixel series for sheer responsiveness.
On paper, the newer Snapdragon 865 chipset offers up to 10% gains over the standard Snapdragon 855+. Now that seems like a big deal but this is still the second-best Qualcomm chip available, which means that you’re getting one hell of a powerful smartphone regardless of synthetic benchmark results. To put this into perspective, having used the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 7T side-by-side, I have not noticed a single difference in performance.
Until pointed out, I hadn’t noticed any major issues with certain apps but it is worth noting that Chrome can have some freezing issues on OnePlus hardware as of late. The problem hasn’t yet been identified, but I found that it would only affect my device when I activated Battery Saver mode. I can’t speak for everyone here though, it is entirely possible that until a fix is rolled out, you may have freezing issues with Google Chrome for Android.
One thing I would implore hardcore users to do is join the OxygenOS Open Beta program. It is the best way to get new features first, while it enhances the speed at which you’ll get updates. The fact that you as a fan can try out software builds before they reach a stable OTA is pretty enticing from the outset. It’s not all roses, as beta updates do sometimes have the odd bug.
OxygenOS hasn’t changed all too much since launch, it’s still probably one of the best ways to experience Android. It still has quirks like the lack of a dark mode toggle and an insistence on not giving you an Always-on display option — which is coincidentally coming at some point in future — but complaints are few and far between.
The fixation that OnePlus has with specifications also ensures that your performance should remain as exceptional as it does on day one. Heck, even with extensive use and abuse, I’ve yet to see a slowdown even when running beta software for around 4 months.
Using a device everyday for over half a year will always have an adverse effect on the long-term battery longevity, which the OnePlus 7T is not exempt from. However, the battery life still remains impressive even after extensive usage. I’m still able to reach the upper echelons of 5 and 6 hours of screen on time. That is even with brightness set at 60% constantly.
Clearly, the 90Hz display will have the biggest overall effect, so to me, this is still impressive given the age. To put it more simply, I have not worried about the OnePlus 7T reaching the end of a busy day. I could potentially stretch to two days of usage if I were more sporadic with what I’m doing on my phone. It’s not quite a battery champion but it still manages to hang in there for a long time.
It’s great that Warp Charge 30T was added to the mainline series though, as it does top up the 3,800mAh cell in superquick fashion. I won’t complain about the lack of wireless charging though, as this isn’t present on the standard OnePlus 8 either. Would it have been a nice inclusion? Sure but I’m not fussed massively either way.
If you care about the camera on your smartphone and are choosing between the OnePlus 7T and the OnePlus 8, then you will want to pick up the 7T. It has a far better selection of lenses to choose from, as for some weird reason, the OnePlus 8 lacks a telephoto zoom lens in favor of a macro shooter. It’s great for a few hours but that 2x telephoto will be infinitely more useful in day-to-day shooting scenarios.
The primary 48-megapixel shooter is “good”, with great dynamic range in natural lighting conditions. Things aren’t quite as impressive when you’re faced with poor, mixed, or artificial lighting but this is a camera with a great array of shooting options and decent results across the board. Is it as good as the likes of the Pixel series? No, but it is a reasonably good camera that you will have a good experience with.
Recent OTA updates have increased the overall quality of the camera, and constant tweaks will only mean better results with all lenses. It’s not just the stills photography that excels though, as OnePlus has stuck extra slow-motion video modes on the OnePlus 7T since launch.
Alongside the plethora of 4K and 1080p modes, there is now the ability to grab ultra-slow-motion 960fps shorts at 720p. It’s not something I’ve used extensively but it’s great to see things being added after release — something we don’t see from many other OEMs throughout device lifespan.
The gold standard for haptics on Android is a toss-up between the Pixel 4 series and the OnePlus 8 Pro. The OnePlus 8 and 7T both come in at a close second though. The haptic feedback is not quite as “full” but when enabled every tap and touch is infinitely more satisfying than many other comparably priced smartphones.
This is how in-display fingerprint scanners should be done. The OnePlus 7T has a fabulous optical fingerprint reader, that to my mind has not failed on me once — or I haven’t noticed. Other OEMs should take note, as I feel this might even be better than Face Unlock, simply as it works so well.
With headphones and earbuds increasingly being used, it’s nice to know that the dual-stereo speakers are solid on the OnePlus 7T. They aren’t quite in the same league as proper front-facing stereo speakers but they get loud and there is a decent level of bass considering sound is blasting out of a smartphone.
In my opinion, the OnePlus 7T is a better purchase in many ways than the newly released OnePlus 8. I make that bold claim as day-to-day performance is more or less identical, plus you get a better camera setup, a comfortable flat display, and a lower entry price.
If you are insistent on having 5G support long-term, then, yes, the OnePlus 7T might not be the “right” smartphone to consider. However, this is still one of the fastest 4G smartphones you can experience with a hardware and software feature-set that blows away similarly priced competition. It’s by no means perfect but it’s about as close as you can get for under $500 — making it even more enticing even at this stage of 2020.
I can happily switch back to the 7T from almost any phone I happen to be testing or reviewing, and that is a testament to how good it is to hold, use, and most importantly enjoy daily. If you are on the fence or looking for a new device, then if you pick up the 7T you won’t be disappointed.
Where to get the best price on the OnePlus 7T
What has your experience been like with the OnePlus 7T?
Did you pick up the OnePlus 7T at launch? If so, how is your device faring? Will you upgrade to the OnePlus 8T or are you happy to hold out until the potential OnePlus 9 or even 10 series? Let us know down in the comments section below.
More on OnePlus:
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- OnePlus 8 Pro prices skyrocket from secondhand sellers as stock issues continue
- Chrome for Android appears to have severe freezing issues on OnePlus devices
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