OnePlus 5T First Impressions

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 39 Comments

OnePlus 5T First Impressions

I’ve always been a big fan of OnePlus and its approach to the smartphone market. But the OnePlus 5T is special: This flagship phone delivers on the design and specification needs of even the most demanding customer. And it does so at prices that should make the market leaders blush.

Let’s step through the ways in which OnePlus nailed it with this release, which comes just months after the initial OnePlus 5 release.

First up is the thin, light, and gorgeous form factor. Unlike, say, the Google Pixel 2 XL, the OnePlus 5T is so pretty you’re going to want to forego the case and leave it exposed. I … won’t do that, of course. And OnePlus was nice enough to include five cases in the reviewer’s kit, plus the freebie that it throws in the box with the OnePlus 5T itself. A nice touch.

It’s also modern, from a design perspective, in that it features a tall 18:9 aspect ratio and near bezel-less 6-inch AMOLED display. Like that Pixel 2 XL, it’s not curved at the edges, but I like OnePlus’ more subtly-curved corners better than those of the Google device, which look crude by comparison. One minor nit (pardon the pun): The display runs at “only” 1080p—in this case, 2160 x 1080—which I assume is a nod towards battery life. But in person, it is crisp, bright, and beautiful. And it holds up well against the Pixel 2 XL, with its much higher resolution display, when viewed side-by-side.

The tall display did necessitate some changes: So the OnePlus 5T features a back-facing fingerprint reader, which is ideally located and works quickly. It bolsters this sign-in method—and answers the complaints of dissenters—by also adding facial recognition, which I’ve enabled for testing purposes. See, Apple? You can do both and make everyone happy.

OnePlus also has enough class to retain a standard headphone jack, a move I find more courageous than following Apple like sheep. And like previous OnePlus devices, the 5T includes a unique notification slider, which is both a great idea and a rejection of the current move to fewer and fewer hardware buttons.

The internals are as modern as they get: An 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. (The review unit has 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.) It features universal wireless coverage, Bluetooth 5.0, and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and runs off of USB-C as you’d expect. There’s no microSD expansion.

The camera system is interesting. The original OnePlus 5 was the firm’s first smartphone with dual cameras, and it featured a wide-angle and a telephoto lens, the latter of which provided iPhone Plus-like 2x optical zoom. For the 5T, OnePlus has kept the wide-angle lens but swapped out the telephoto lens for one that is more optimized for low-light shots. This has been somewhat controversial among OnePlus fans, but my early shots look great and I’ll be testing the camera thoroughly.

Speaking of controversial, the OnePlus 5T ships with Android 7.1.1, though the firm says that Android 8.0 Oreo is coming in early 2018. I don’t see this as a big deal, but their unique take on a clean Android distribution—OnePlus calls it Oxygen OS—remains a thing of beauty. I’ll be delving into the unique features there.

So this is all good. Very good, in fact. But where the OnePlus 5T crosses over into bonzo territory is with pricing. The “base” OnePlus 5T—with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage—costs only $499. And the version with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage is just $559. Oh. My. God.

To put this in perspective, comparable Pixel 2 XL phones are $850 and $950, respectively. So you’d save $350 to $390 by choosing the OnePlus 5T instead. And from the look of things—granted, I just got it—you’d end up with a better phone too.

The value of this phone is exciting, and it is, of course, reminiscent of what Google often did with Nexus, in particular the now-lamented Nexus 6P and 5X. But OnePlus is here today, getting it right, and not gouging their customers just because they can. And you just have to respect that.

I’m eager to see if the OnePlus 5T meets my initial expectations, and will do so. But my first peek at this wonderful device has raised no alarms. I will have more soon.


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Comments (40)

40 responses to “OnePlus 5T First Impressions”

  1. Brian Devins

    This sure looks tantalizing. Any frustrations or incompatibilities with OnePlus hardware or OS? Do they have a good track record for device support after 2 years?

    • skst

      In reply to demodulated:

      IMO, they do. The OnePlus 3 still receives O/S updates. I loved my OnePlus 3 (which my son has now) and I love my OnePlus 5 even more. Personally, I like the fingerprint reader on the front because I frequently unlock and use my 1+5 while it's laying on a desk or table, but my next phone will still be a OnePlus because it's so beautiful, (relatively) inexpensive, well-supported, and more importantly, functional.

    • Japser

      In reply to demodulated:

      (Disclaimer: I own an OP5)

      Their track record is average compared to other Android OEM's. You get regular updates for a while and security updates every 2 months or so. And you'll definitely get 1 big Android update, possibly 2. But a Google phone will always have better and longer support.

    • AwkwardSwine

      In reply to demodulated: My 17 month old OnePlus 3 phone just got pushed the Android 8.0 update yesterday. My experience with 2 Op3 phones in the family has been excellent. Very reliable, well built hardware that is receiving a steady stream of major OS upgrades and regular security updates. So I'd say their recent track record has been excellent. There has been a lot of positive press around 5t release, so it seems like this company's profile is rising beyond the original enthusiast crowd.

      I put in my order for the 5t yesterday but actually felt a bit of hesitation as there is NOTHING at all wrong with the Op3 I use every day. I guess I can hand it down to someone else or keep in reserve as a backup phone if one of our others gets lost or damaged.

    • Winner

      In reply to demodulated:

      Versus the Pixels, I think it depends upon how important the superior camera and fastest Android OS and security updates are, versus saving money.

  2. Michael Langone

    i'm sorry but oneplus is keeping up with the times like all the other oem's raising their prices because everyone else is raising their's too. Between $500 and $600 pricing range now there is no excuse to sticking with 1080P. I've read some of the comments here. security updates every other month or every few months is BS. issue them out every month. No excuses. like someone else said here there support is avg at best. You will be lucky to get one major upgrade in a year 1/2. Oneplus was better when they were letting someone else handle the software. unfortunately we all know how that ended up. AS FAR AS PAUL GOES IM DISAPPOINTED IN HIM. THE 5/5T MIGHT HAVE TAKEN OVER THE NEXUS PRICING BUT ONEPLUS DEVICES WILL NEVER BE LIKE NEXUS AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT GETTING UPDATED LIKE A NEXUS. ONEPLUS SUPPORT IS SPOTTY AT BEST. I am a former oneplus one owner. It was a great phone until the cyanogen/oneplus partnership blew up. after that happened, updates came farther and farther apart and buggier and buggier as time went on. the oneplus 3/3t and 5T are very good devices and oxygen os has come a long way but I can't live with the oneplus corporate shenanigans. IF ANYONE IS GOING TO BUY THE 5T BUY THE $499 64GB STORAGE 6GB RAM. THE EXTRA $60 FOR THE 128GB OF STORAGE AND 8GB RAM IS NOT A GOOD DEAL. THE 8GB RAM IS A WASTE. IF YOU NEED 128GB OF STORAGE BUY THE ESSENTIAL PHONE FOR $499 AND YOU WILL GET SECURITY UPDATES THE DAY AFTER GOOGLE DEVICES GET THEIRS. IF YOU REQUIRE A HEADPHONE JACK WELL....

  3. UbelhorJ

    As a note on the phone shipping with Nougat, Oreo started rolling out for the 3 and 3T over the weekend. I can't imagine it'll be much longer for the 5 and 5T.

  4. PincasX

    This is the second review unit that Paul has gotten this week. He is pure sunshine and light for the review units he gets vs. the more sober reviews of the things he purchases.

  5. johnh3

    OnePlus 5t are a nice device. But there are other Chinese competitiors in this category to especially for the European market. Like Vernee Mix 2 (6GB RAM and 64GB ROM and support micro sd card expansion)

    No bloatware and basicly stock android.

    I think Google made a mistake to increase the prices on their phones so much. Yes their cameras are good, but the Pixel 2 XL seems to have a lot of issues. So in perspective maybe the best would have been to keep the Nexus line with a lower price.

  6. raptor

    Looks like you had a nice honeymoon with the OnePlus 5T. Now comes the reality:

    1. The camera is mediocre
    2. No monthly security updates
    3. At most 1 OS update
    4. No project Treble support
    5. Constant Privacy concerns with OnePlus
    • jlv632

      In reply to raptor:

      Geeh... Only Point 5 and worse still your the only one to mention this concern!!

      This OnePlus company is so Shady I'm surprised that Paul is even looking at these phones. This company was caught red handed and I'll never touch their products. Paul may as well simply share his calendar and Goggle password with OnePlus it is this bad.

  7. Michael Langone

    by the way the 3t justified it's existence because of the updated S.o.C. The 5T is what the 5 should have been from the beginning. The 5T should have shipped with oreo. oneplus 5 users should have received the oreo beta first so that by the time the 5T came out oreo would have been ready...but no they decide that oneplus 3/3T users get it first because it makes so much sense. my opinion of oneplus has not changed since the controversial launch of the oneplus 2. It's like their consumer approach is copying microsoft pre-nadella, take one step forward, 2 steps back, wash, rinse, repeat to infinity.


  8. HellcatM

    The one thing thats wrong with this phone is that Google won't update it on a regular basis. Still have to rely on OnePlus to update it and will they do it quick enough and will it get the next at least 2 versions of Android? I know you say that you don't endorse the Pixel 2 but its still the only phone that updates regularly. Google should try and take a page from Microsofts book and make signature phones. Try and get Samsung, LG, HTC...etc to make phones (or let Microsoft re flash the OS) that have pure Android and get updated by Google. Put these phones next to the crapafied phones at carrier stores or at least Costco, Best Buy and other stores.

  9. wocowboy

    This phone ships with Android Nougat, and since it does not ship with Android Oreo out of the box, it is not subject to Google's requirement that all shipping Oreo phones must adhere to the Treble update requirements, and Oppo has said that they will not allow or pass through those Treble updates. This is unacceptable and a glaring example of the ridiculous fragmentation problem Android has. I agree that OxygenOS is nice, I have a OnePlus 5 and it is smooth as silk and fast. But at the same time I can't go for this new phone at all because of the fragmentation and update problem. Unless Google can get a handle on this problem, my 5 is probably the last Android device I will own, sad to say.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to wocowboy:

      I'm not sure what you mean. Google are obviously *trying* to do something about it, but they have to start with a clean slate. If Treble tech is in Android 8.0 from the off, then that's where they've got to start. Separating the core Android OS from the vendor stuff is probably the best thing they can do to speed up deployment of system updates, but you likely can't assume devices upgraded from 7 to 8 will support it properly. I think it's sensible move, and as devices start shipping with 8.0, then it will gradually make the whole process smoother and quicker. Google *are* getting a handle on the problem, but it takes time.

    • Bill Russell

      This "problem" was the only approach that would have allowed another smartphone ecosystem to thrive in the face of the iPhone. Google still says a priority is not to prevent OEM's ability (freedom) to customize android, (i.e. the "fragmentation mess" as the cynical will say). By all means use iPhones, but even there we can thank android for allowing the competition to keep prices down. You do also have a choice of using google's own Pixel phones, which have no fragmentation problem, rather than dismissing the entire android brand as a problem. I have not owned a phone that has not seen 3 years of patches. No not necessarily the day a monthly google patch comes out but who ever says it needed to be?

  10. Bill Russell

    I am going to wait until next year when midrange phones ship with Oreo out of the box ("trebleized").

  11. Bats

    LOL....only $499? LOL....only $499? For a worker who only makes (say.......) $17/hr, that almost a week's paycheck.

    I have one question. Since when does "value" become exciting? Exciting in what way? Like a techgasm? LOL. #weird

    The OnePlus line is very good. This is good for non-techies. However, because it's NOT pure Android, as evidenced by it not having Oreo, techies need to move on to a faster upgrade-able platform. For example, does this phone have Google Lens? BTW have to try Google Lens, it's FANTASTIC! Second, Project Fi?

    IMO, I probably would just go for a Moto Z. After Motorola is in line be Project Fi compatible, as one already is. Plus with the Moto Z, you can extend the phone easily with another speaker, another camera, projector, etc.... It's like a "James Bond" phone, hand given by Q himself.

    • CaedenV

      In reply to Bats:

      No offence, but this isn't for you. For a flagship device, this is a great value... That does not mean that it is free.

      As you provide more value to society you will be paid more. As you are paid more you will be opened up to nicer things. But for the moment, no, this is not for you. I mean, you make $17/hr... you can barely afford a roof over your head, food, and transport! This is why there are plenty of decent base phones for $1-200.

      Heck, I make ~25/hr, and when it came time for me to replace my phone I opted for a used One+ 3 (not even the T version). I love tech, but heck man... priorities. I make pretty OK money for my position, but with a family, and an older home, and other tech wants/needs, I can only justify spending so much on a cell phone. It does not negate the fact that the One+ 5t is still a fantastic deal... just not a deal for me right now.

      But you dont come whining on a forum saying stupid things like saying this isnt a good deal because it is too expensive, and then list more expensive phones running worse hardware. Grow up man.

    • UbelhorJ

      In reply to Bats:

      OxygenOS is "not pure Android" in much the same way Lumias were not pure Windows Phone. It's 95% identical to standard Android with a few additions and modifications where it makes sense. It's nothing like the fake iOS fan-fiction that other Chinese phones run.

  12. Polycrastinator

    Camera. The camera is always the dealbreaker with the cheaper phones. Every time I look at something cheaper I end up coming back to that. I need a great camera, I end up with an expensive phone.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      Different strokes... I take maybe a dozen photos a year with my 'phone, whereas I'll take a few hundred in an afternoon with my Sony Alpha or Canon EOS. Mostly I use the camera for QR codes or photographing server room kit serial numbers, when they are in positions where you can't stick your head in to look at them.

  13. Rithesh Natarajan

    The 5T does not feature wireless charging. Does it? NFC yes, wireless charging, no.

    • UbelhorJ

      In reply to Rithesh:

      I used wireless charging for a good 4 years between my Lumia 920 and a Nexus 5. I swore I'd never get a phone without it. I honestly don't miss it at all with my 3T. The battery life is so good, and dash charge is so fast, I just plug it in for a bit when it needs it. It just gets charging over with instead of having to leave it on a charger for hours and hours.

  14. YEHUDA

    Ordered mine yesterday at 8am CST, super excited, upgrading from the 3t for the more modern screen.

    You should also mention that the price is even more reduced with the 10% student discount, bringing the base version down to an amazing low $449.99

    @paul, Are you saying these all come with a free case or is that just the review unit?

    • Campbell

      In reply to yehuda:

      They all come with a free case - which is enough for day one. It also comes with screen protector already fitted.

      Still finding it a bit weird moving from my 6sPlus to the 5t - but enjoying not paying 800-1000 for a new phone.

  15. Pbike908

    No Verizon means not for me. Great specs though. Fortunately for me Samsung has enough Galaxy sales throughout the year that I can pick one up for $150 to $200 off retail which although not as inexpensive as OnePlus it's still a great value compared to IPhone or Pixel.

  16. Oasis

    plus the freebie that it throws in the box with the OnePlus 5T itself.

    According to article it comes with a freebie case, Pauls came with 5 more case for a total of 6.

  17. jbinaz

    So I assume the camera will fall short of the Apple/Samsung S8/Pixel standard based on cost and what I've already read elsewhere.

    I'm curious as to how much of the falling short is software and how much is hardware. Assuming it's more hardware, I wonder how much it would really cost to put in a more expensive sensor for the camera to make it truly comparable. Would it be an extra $30? $50? $100? And how many additional people might buy it if they added it and the cost is reasonable.

  18. JVarde

    Nice puff piece Paul. Why isn't it relevant that it apparently won't work on Verizon or Sprint, which have around 200 million subscribers combined (if you can believe the internet)? Sounds like a major failing to me.

    • UbelhorJ

      In reply to JVarde:

      If you want to use anything but main stream US market targeted phones, you're going to be continually disappointed as a Verizon or Sprint customer. OnePlus' biggest markets are Asia/India and Europe. Even if a phone has compatible CDMA hardware, Verizon and Sprint make the phone manufacturers pay outrageous testing fees to certify their phones to be on a white list of allowed devices. When your market is global, dealing with Sprint and Verizon just isn't worth it. Even Microsoft didn't want to bother with their special snowflake BS with the 950.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to JVarde:

      It's a "first impressions" article. It's not meant to be a complete review.

      • JVarde

        In reply to jbinaz:

        That's no excuse. Paul says that the 5T "delivers on the . . . needs of even the most demanding customer" but ignores the fact that 200 million of those possible customers can't use the phone. I'm one of those on Verizon; certainly my needs and demands haven't been met.

        • jbinaz

          In reply to JVarde:

          That's not relevant to the usefulness of the phone and whether it's a good value for the price.

          Yes, it does leave a lot of customers out in the U.S., but I'm willing to bet most of OnePlus's customers aren't in the U.S. And it's not their fault that Verizon and Sprint use a standard the rest of the world doesn't.

    • Stooks

      In reply to JVarde:

      Wow if that is true......major fail!

  19. wright_is

    It doesn't have Oreo, fine, I can live with that. But does it at least have the November security updates for Android? Is the Krack zero-day patched?

    For me, the availability of timely security patches is the most important feature of any modern device.

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