OnePlus 7T review
- Sexy design
- Gorgeous screen
- Unrivaled performance
- Excellent battery life
- Stock Android
- Incredible value
- Telephoto camera lack OIS
- No wireless charging
- No headphone jack
It’s been just four months since I reviewed the awesome OnePlus 7 Pro, so imagine my surprise when OnePlus reached out about a new phone. What? See, the company’s been on a tick tock-like cycle — launching a new handset every six months or so — since the OnePlus 3T back in 2016. New products arrive in the spring, followed by an updated version in the fall. That’s just the way it is™. Yet here’s the OnePlus 7T ($599), prancing around two months early, trying to distract me from Galaxy Notes, iPhones, Pixels, and other hotties. I wasn’t ready for this.
Ok fine, I’ll bite. Hello there, sexy beast. Let’s get to know each other. What are you bringing to the table? Seriously, though, this phone’s place in the lineup is a bit weird. In some ways it’s just a smaller OnePlus 7 Pro with a 1080p display and Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 855+. Based on naming alone, it’s really supposed to be an updated OnePlus 7 (which never came to the US), but compared to that handset, the OnePlus 7T is really more of a new device — complete with a triple-rear camera setup and 90Hz screen.
Confusing, it’s it? You have questions, I have answers. Let’s try to get to the bottom of this together. Most importantly, with the affordable flagship segment heating up, is the OnePlus 7T the one to beat, once again? Here’s my full review. Enjoy!
Hardware and design
Big circles on the back of smartphones are the thing right now. I’m not kidding. This past ten days alone, the Vivo NEX 3, Huawei Mate 30/30 Pro, and OnePlus 7T were all announced with a bunch of shooters mounted in a large black circular pod. Now before you cry wolf about Moto being first with its round camera bump, (a) those are smaller, and (b) the Nokia Lumia 1020 did it first, unapologetically, like a boss. So there you go, history buffs. And you know what? I like it. A lot. It just looks fantastic, especially on today’s bigger handsets.
Inside that big circular pod are three shooters — a 48MP main sensor, a 16MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12MP telephoto lens — plus a dual-LED flash. The rest of the back is covered in a silky feeling, matte looking “3D” glass panel with discreet OnePlus branding. It’s shaded in a color that’s appropriately called Glacier Blue. Alternatively, the OnePlus 7T is also available in a Frosted Silver hue, but it’s kind of boring. Under that rear cover hides a sizable 3800mAh battery, but still no wireless charging coil, unfortunately.
Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, which is really big, the OnePlus 7T is far more manageable and much easier to hold. In front, it looks very much like a OnePlus 7, but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the 6.55-inch display has a 20:9 aspect ratio, making the phone narrower than its predecessors. The teardrop notch is also 30% smaller than before, and is home to a 16MP lens. Yes, there’s no pop-up front shooter here — I guess that’s reserved for current (and future?) Pro models. Also missing is a notification LED, which is a bummer.
The shape of the OnePlus 7T is unmistakably OnePlus, and so is the layout of the controls and ports scattered around the aluminum frame sandwiched between the front and rear glass. You’ll find the secondary mic on top, the volume rocker on the left, the SIM tray, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille along the bottom edge, and the power/lock key and mute slider on the right side. No surprises here. As usual for the company, this device is not IP rated, but there’s a seal around the SIM tray, so it’s likely splash-proof.
Overall the OnePlus 7T is attractive and feels great in hand. It also benefits from OnePlus’ usual excellent build quality. Frankly, this might just be the company’s best design to date — that round camera bump really steals the show.
If you were hoping for another OnePlus handset with a 1440p screen, this isn’t it. The OnePlus 7T packs an edge-to-edge 6.55-inch FHD+ Fluid AMOLED panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio (2400 x 1080 pixels, 402ppi, HDR10+) and the same incredibly smooth 90Hz refresh rate as the OnePlus 7 Pro. While bezels are minimal, there’s still a tiny chin — but remember, the teardrop notch is 30% smaller now, so that’s gotta count for something, right? I’m also happy to report that this display is bucking the silly curved edge trend that’s sweeping the flagship nation.
Anyway, this is a lovely screen. My eyes aren’t really good enough to tell the difference, so I’m fine with that 1080p resolution. Colors are vivid but not overdone, blacks are inky deep, and with a maximum brightness of 1000nits, it’s easy to read in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are nice too, without any bothersome off-center color shift. As a bonus, this panel blocks 40% of harmful blue light, and there’s an additional chromatic Reading Mode that only partially desaturates colors for better eye comfort. So yeah, forget QUAD HD+ — the OnePlus 7T display delivers.
If anything is missing, it’s a proper always-on screen option. There’s an Ambient Display mode but it requires lifting the OnePlus 7T up or tapping the front glass to see the time, and any outstanding notifications, which defeats the purpose.
So this is where things get really interesting. It’s easy to assume OnePlus just transplanted the triple rear-camera system from the OnePlus 7 Pro into the OnePlus 7T and called it a day, but that’s not quite the case. The main shooter is identical and features Sony’s popular IMX 586 48MP sensor along with an f/1.6 lens with OIS and phase-detection AF. It’s a Quad Bayer sensor that bins groups of four pixels into 1.6-micron super pixels (12MP) for better low-light performance. This yields excellent results when implemented properly, like it is here.
The 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera is also the same — complete with that fun 117-degree FoV. It’s with the telephoto shooter that things change, and not necessarily for the better. Instead of an 8MP f/2.4 camera (3x zoom) found in the OnePlus 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7T uses a 12MP f/2.2 setup (2x zoom). Resolution and magnification aren’t really that much different. Both sensors have 1.0-micron pixels, and it’s well documented that the OnePlus 7 Pro actually uses a 13MP shooter with 2.2x optics cropped to 8MP to achieve that advertised 3x zoom.
The big problem here is that unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7T’s telephoto lens lacks OIS. Yes, you read that right. The camera that’s the most sensitive to shaky hands doesn’t have optical image stabilization anymore. But wait, I hear you say. Surely Qualcomm’s mighty Snapdragon 855+ has a super mega ISP that enables fancy electronic image stabilization. Also, that new lens gathers more light than the old one (f/2.2 vs. f/2.4). That’s all true, but unfortunately, this new telephoto shooter stumbles in my experience, at least in low light.
At first I was really annoyed by this, but then I decided to compare the two phones side-by-side and found that the results are a wash. Yes, you have to be more steady when using the OnePlus 7T’s telephoto camera, but neither device captures terribly great telephoto pics in low light. Then again, the Huawei P30 Pro and the Honor 20 Pro are my telephoto shooters of choice, so maybe I’m just spoiled. Either way, the OnePlus 7T’s telephoto camera is fine in daylight and indoors — I just think removing OIS was a step in the wrong direction.
In front, the 16MP f/2.0 1.0-micron shooter carries over from the OnePlus 7 Pro unchanged. The resulting selfies and portraits are adequate, but still don’t really shine. What’s more exciting, though, is the OnePlus 7T’s new Super Macro mode. It lets you get as close as 2.5cm (1 inch) from your subject and still focus properly. This opens up even more creative opportunities, and is a welcome addition to an already solid main camera. OnePlus’ NightScape night mode returns, and now also works with the wide-angle lens.
Overall, the OnePlus 7T takes nice photos with proper exposure and enough dynamic range to handle most conditions. While colors are generally accurate, the white balance was off on a couple of my pics — a bug that will hopefully be fixed in a future update. Low light performance is good — at least on the main shooter — and NightScape makes it even better. The ultra-wide camera also benefits from NightScape. Just stay away from that telephoto lens in the dark. Finally, portraits now benefits from two FoVs with the rear camera, which is cool.
The OnePlus 7T records video with stereo audio at up to 4k 60fps stabilized with the main shooter, and up to 1080p 30fps stabilized with the ultra-wide, telephoto, and selfie cameras. It also supports slow motion (up to 720p 480fps, main camera only) and time-lapse (1080p 30fps with all 4 shooters). But what’s really exciting is OnePlus’ new Super Stable mode (1080p 30fps), which combines optical and electronic image stabilization for remarkably shake-free videos. In all, the resulting videos look nice and sound good.
Reception and sound quality
As usual, OnePlus sent me an unlocked dual-SIM review unit (T-Mobile is getting a single SIM variant). I mostly used it on Verizon’s LTE network in San Francisco, and didn’t run into any issues with reception, data speeds, or call quality. Both the earpiece and bottom-firing speaker sounded loud and clear in my tests. Like many other flagships today, the OnePlus 7T combines these two drivers for a decent stereo listening experience. Interestingly, while it sounds louder at max volume than the OnePlus 7 Pro, it’s also slightly tinnier overall.
I know I’m gonna sound like an old lady yelling at the clouds here, but where’s my fricking headphone jack? I know, I know — it left with the OnePlus 6T and it’s not coming back. But I’m still annoyed about this, especially considering OnePlus’ history and customer base. And to make things worse, there’s not even an adapter in the box. That’s just cheap. On the plus side, this handset supports both analog and digital USB Type-C audio accessories, so you have options. Anyway, I’m glad I got this off my chest. Now get off my lawn!
The OnePlus 7T also features Dolby Atmos for both speakers and headphones, and aptX for high-quality Bluetooth audio. When using an analog dongle, I found the built-in DAC and amp to sound pretty good, if somewhat volume-limited when driving larger headphones.
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