OnePlus 7T: The Morning After

Posted on September 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Uncategorized with 44 Comments

2019 has been a great year for the silent majority of people who can’t or don’t want to spend $1000 on a smartphone. And while there have been some excellent entries in the mid-range market, the OnePlus 7T stands above them all. Because this isn’t a mid-range handset. It’s a flagship handset sold at mid-range prices.

Put another way, the OnePlus 7T is built to last, but priced to sell. It is the epitome of value in a market gone insane with escalating prices.

Consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. It’s an excellent handset in so many ways, but then it should be at its $1100 selling price. Indeed, at that lofty price tag, the Note 10+ shouldn’t have any meaningful compromises. And yet it is full of compromise, from its terrible in-display fingerprint reader, decent but not marketing-leading camera system, often terrible Samsung app and service duplications, and its lack of a headphone jack. At $1100, you should be given everything.

Consider the Google Pixel 3a XL. It costs even less than $600—$480 to be exact—and at that pricing level, one expects some compromises, maybe even some big compromises. And you get ‘em: The Pixel 3a XL has an incredible camera system, of course, a fast fingerprint reader, a headphone jack, and a cool polycarbonate body. But it also has serious performance problems that pick away at you over time, plus an unacceptable amount (64 GB) of non-upgradeable storage, no Gorilla Glass display protection, no wireless charging, and no water resistance. The Pixel 3a XL may be a good value today, but it’s absolutely not future-proof. Its mid-level processor and low storage alone ensure that. And its lack of decent display protection means it’s a ticking timebomb.

Those compromises may be acceptable to you: That’s the deal you’re making when you spend about half the going price of a flagship smartphone.

Or is it?

The OnePlus 7T costs just $600, and as I was walking around Allentown last night, taking photos of places, food, and drink under increasingly dark conditions, I was thinking about compromise. Or, rather the lack of meaningful compromise.

Downtown Allentown, ultra-wide lens

The OnePlus 7T costs just $600, as noted, but it is the only smartphone in the world to ship with the Snapdragon 855+ processor, at a time when all Android flagships ship with a Snapdragon 855 or equivalent. This chipset is, basically, an overclocked version of the 855. Some of its cores run at higher clock speeds, and its graphics co-processor performs about 15 percent better. It’s future-proof.

Zoom

The OnePlus 7T includes an incredible 8 GB of RAM. That’s more than an iPhone. It’s more than any Pixel. And it’s the same as the amount of RAM you get in a Note 10; the Note 10+ provides 12 GB.

The OnePlus 7T includes 128 GB of super-fast UFS 3.0 storage. This storage is faster than the storage used by any handset in the market, save one: The Note 10+ also uses UFS, but it uses the new F2FS file system instead of EXT4, making it a bit faster.

Gratuitous food shot

The OnePlus 7T, like the 7 Pro, offers an incredibly fast and accurate in-display fingerprint. It’s a joy to use after the frustrating unit in the Note 10+. It’s so good, I’m starting to get over my attachment to rear-mounted fingerprint readers. It’s the real deal.

Ditto

So where’s the compromise? There must be some compromise.

And there is. The good news is that neither of these issues is a deal-breaker, at least for most people. Neither should prevent this handset from being future-proof, again, for most people.

And more

The first is the display. Yes, it’s a super-smooth 90 Hz wonder, and yes it’s wonderful to use. But it lacks the curved display edges that mark most (non-iPhone) flagships these days. It’s just a normal, flat display with very small bezels (and a tiny, unobtrusive tear-drop notch). But two interesting points to that: Many people actually prefer a flat display and don’t like the curved edges or worry that they make the phone more fragile; there is some validity to that. More important to me, the flat display plays a role in the incredible thinness of this device. Compared to porkier flagships, the OnePlus 7T is svelte and light.

Gratuitous drinks shot

The second is that storage, not because of the F2FS/EXT4 issue, but because it’s non-upgradable. You can have a OnePlus 7T as long as 128 GB of storage is all you’ll ever want. And here’s the thing: That is all I’ll ever want. Maybe not forever, but for the foreseeable future. 128 GB is, from my perspective, the sweet spot in storage. And while microSD expansion would end that debate for good, we can at least agree that where 64 GB, like that in the Pixel 3a XL, is unacceptable, 128 GB is enough. For most.

Night falls

The camera system will require more testing. But in looking at the shots I took last night, zooming in to view details, and assessing its performance in a variety of scenarios, I’m actually kind of impressed. This camera system is at least as good as that in the Galaxy Note 10+, at least as far as I can tell. Again, it costs barely more than half the price of that handset. I can accept less than perfect shots at that price range, yes. But these shots are very good, overall. I’m not compromising at all, regardless of price.

And I need to mention the fast charging. My God. It’s almost hilarious how fast this phone charges when you use the bundled Warp 30T fast charger. It’s amazing. It may literally be using alien technology.

You lose some detail with Nightscape mode and have to keep the phone still, but the results are decent

Overall, I’m not getting up with a hangover this morning. Instead, I’m even more impressed by what OnePlus has accomplished with the OnePlus 7T. There are some questions, still, and some confusion over how this fits into the product lineup against the OnePlus 7 Pro. And how this new phone has completely obliterated the firm’s “one flagship” and mid-year “T”-model strategies. But whatever. I’ll just keep using it. And so far I really like what I see.

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Comments (44)

44 responses to “OnePlus 7T: The Morning After”

  1. wunderbar

    This is a very small nit to pick, but the one thing that's really kept me from thinking about OnePlus phones is the proprietary charging standard that requires both a specific charger and a specific cable, and those same chargers and cables do not support USB-PD.


    I'm *really* close to being able to carry around a single USB-PD charger and cable that can charge everything I carry with me at 45W, or at least the maximum a device supports. My laptop, phone, 2 sets of headphones, gaming device (switch), and tablet all charge via USB-C.


    That I'd have to carry another charger and cable if I wanted to charge a OnePlus phone at maximum speed is kind of a deal breaker for me.

  2. John Craig

    I gave up on Windows phone 2 years ago and picked up a Oneplus 5T. At exactly the same time, my daughter bought an iPhone X. We unboxed together. Twenty four months later and my OnePlus is humming along, as excellent today as it was when it first powered up. My daughter is on her second iPhone. She's had major problems, and it continues to bug out.


    My 5T is by leagues the best handset I've used in the past 10 years. Its just a joy to use.


    I'd love to have a reason to upgrade to the 7T, it looks like a cracking device, but my 5T is just so damned good that I can't justify the upgrade. At this rate, my 5T has at least another two good years ahead of it, minimum.


    I may only be looking to upgrade every 4-5 years going forward, but I'll be upgrading to Oneplus every time.


    Unless Andromeda appears, but that's never ever happening

  3. tyneshae8

    The iPhone 11 makes so much sense, it's just $100 more than the OnePlus 7T, and you get better performance (much faster CPU and GPU, faster storage) which will last you for years, much better cameras, more colour-accurate display, better build quality, IP water resistance, wireless charging.


    And don't forget OnePlus doesn't work with all the carriers but you will have no such trouble with the iPhone. Apple has way better support, even providing in-person support in a store.


    So with so many benefits over the OnePlus with just $100 more, I think getting the iPhone 11 is a no-brainer.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to tyneshae8:

      Um. Not exactly.


      It's only $100 more but it had a poorer LCD display with lower resolution. Two cameras, not three, with no telephoto. The performance benefit you cite is imaginary; in day to day use, the new iPhones and top Android phones all perform just as well as each other. This phone will also last for years. The fast charging is MUCH faster than on iPhone.


      So much for the no brainer.


      The real story: Both are great choices. Claiming otherwise is partisan nonsense.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to tyneshae8:

      In addition to the points that Paul makes, the iPhone also runs iOS instead of Android, which makes it a non-option for many.

  4. christian.hvid

    "Many people actually prefer a flat display and don’t like the curved edges or worry that they make the phone more fragile"


    After having the display on my S10 cracked by being dropped edge-first onto a *padded chair*, I'm decisively in that camp. Also, I can't count the number of times I have inadvertently opened an app just by holding the phone a little too tight. But I will admit that the soap bar shape feels wonderful in the hand, however impractical it is.

  5. wocowboy

    It is a red-herring to compare the amount of RAM on an Android phone with that of an iPhone. The operating systems, chipsets, etc are all totally different and are so tightly woven and tuned together so that they allow the iPhone to give users a vastly more fluid and smooth user experience than is possible on Android unless the device is equipped with a huge amount of RAM. This has always been the case, yet pundits and reviewers always slam Apple for putting a smaller amount of RAM into an iPhone compared with an Android device. It's just a plain and simple fact that an Android phone MUST have that sort of amount of RAM in order to give users a similar experience. It is amazing what Apple and iOS can do with much smaller amounts of RAM.


    Having said this, OnePlus phones are excellent, I have owned the 5, 6, and now own the 7 Pro and am wowed by the performance and value of the phone. It is just fantastic. I am not a professional photographer by any means, so I am perfectly fine with the pictures and videos it takes. I would recommend a OnePlus phone to anyone.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to wocowboy:

      It's a red herring to claim that iPhones are faster because of benchmarks.


      • wocowboy

        In reply to paul-thurrott:
        I have never really cared about benchmarks, and I did not claim that iPhones are faster BECAUSE of benchmarks, in fact I did not claim that iPhones are faster at all. In fact, I never even mentioned benchmarks at all. I said that iPhones can produce a smoother operational user experience while they are equipped with vastly smaller amounts of RAM. Benchmark numbers are meaningless, what really matters to users is smoothness of the OS, whether scrolling is jerky or smooth, whether apps launch smoothly or take a couple of frames to appear on screen in a jerky fashion instead of emerging gradually as they were intended, whether windows minimize or maximize smoothly, and whether performance suffers when dozens of apps are "open" at any one time. These actions have always been somewhat of a problem on Android. I have owned Android phones where scrolling through a long web page or through a long settings page was a horribly jerky experience. Some of it has to do with the OS itself and how it treats window actions, scrolling, and application states, and how Android manages memory, and there have been improvements made over the years. Some of the improvements have come about because of the huge amounts of RAM that some Android devices now contain.


  6. mike2thel73

    @Paul,


    the one plus 7T has no cons other than one plus doing security updates every other month or being 3 weeks late (;however, they are making significant progress in that department)


    I'll take the flat edges over the curved any day of the week. It's one of the reasons why I will never consider a Samsung phone as long as they are only building smartphones like that. Even with a case, said case can't protect the exposed glass on the side because that needs to be available for finger sensing. My sister's Galaxy S8 proved that point. Accidental touching is also an issue.


    As long as the price is around $600 I don't see the camera low light performance being a con.


    If I hadn't already invested money into the pixel 3, I would have def considered the 7T for a purchase along with the iPhone 11.


    Someone wrote that the iPhone 11 is a no brainer at $100 more. Not so fast.


    My sister traded in her S8 for an iPhone 11. I played around with the 11 setting it up for her.


    Battery life is phenomenal.


    Face ID is fast as long as you're directly looking at the phone. Face ID still has issues at angles.


    Because of the iPhone 11's thicker bezels, the phone can be awkward to hold for people with smaller hands. In fact it reminds me of when I owned the Galaxy Note II when I was barely able to hold that phone with one hand.


    iOS is still iOS...that's not a con for most people but for me it is and that's a whole other story. Most likely the iPhone 11's camera will be judged noticeably better now and in the long run but for someone like me who isn't a photo buff, that's not a big deal. Since I am not beholden to apple's ecosystem (IDK how much longer that will be the case) that $100.00 price difference is a big deal.


    For people who still deal with carrier non-sense and make payments on their phones thru their monthly bills, that price difference won't make a big deal but for people who pay for the device in full, it should be.


    Either the iPhone 11 or the one plus 7T should be the phones most people consider over the next year.


    Someone asked me what I think of the pixel 4 based on the leaks. Combine that with my experience on the pixel 3, I'm not impressed and prob won't be after the official announcement. There will be no fingerprint sensor on the pixel 4 at all. It's going be expensive right off the bat. Their version of Face ID along with the square camera housing rip off of the iPhone 11's, and only concentrating on camera performance is showing Google's lack of vision and proving time after time after time that the Android phone makers continued copying of apple is never going to do themselves any favors.

  7. Stocklone

    Very jealous of the macro mode and the flat screen. I do appreciate the notchless screen and 256GB storage though of my 7 Pro. Hopefully the 8 Pro can combine everything into one phone next year.

  8. lightbody

    Thanks for the great review Paul.


    As the proud owner of a Oneplus 5T 8gb/128gb, this might be my next phone, the only snag is that at the moment the 5T is still really, really fast for me, with good battery live and an upcoming Android upgrade.


    Do you think there is a killer reason to jump from 5T to 7T ?


    Cheers,

    Rob in Glasgow, UK.

  9. awright18

    I've never really considered any of the OnePlus phones, as I'm currently a pixel user, but this is a great endorsement an some very nice photos. If I ever get bored of my Pixel 2 XL or when it craps out, I may look into the latest OnePlus device. Looks like a great option that is reasonably priced given today's ludicrous smart phone prices. Thanks Paul!

  10. jpwalters

    I have the 5T and am thinking about this 7T. It seems like a great feature set without the 4 digit prices. Looks like the camera is a definite upgrade, and I'm really glad they are paying attention to that! Also loving the pictures of The Hamilton and PPL Center. Hockey season is here...Go Phantoms!


  11. F4IL

    The fact that they (OP) switched to ext4 is a benefit in my book. As a filesystem, ext4 is more stable than f2fs (nobody likes losing data) and the performance differences are minor (unlike the potential for data loss) since the device ships with a UFS3.0 ssd.


    Also, the shots look good. I was expecting the results to be much closer to average.

  12. rmlounsbury

    I'm curious, if the 7T has the same camera hardware how is this one acceptable for photography when the 7 Pro was just middling?


    I'd imagine any software changes carry over to the 7 Pro so they should be almost identical. Unless the 855+ has more photo processing chops.


    Curious to see the final verdict on the 7T photography. I know the Moment team has produced some great photos and videos with the 7T

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to rmlounsbury:

      I can't explain why. Only what I see.


      The zoom on the OnePlus 7 Pro was TERRIBLE. So far... this one seems much better. There is a macro mode that is unique to this phone, perhaps that is indicative of software improvements.


      I will keep testing.

      • rmlounsbury

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        The 7 Pro was on Android 9 when you tested it. So perhaps some software upgrades with the OS update that I'm sure brought some OnePlus upgrades as well.


        Interesting, either way. It does kill me that I picked up a 7 Pro and they drop this just months after the Pro launch. One of the things that drives me nuts about OnePlus. Had I had any idea this was coming I would have gone the 7T route.

  13. RobertJasiek

    Although I am not interested in feature-highend smartphones and rather look for the decent lowend to lower midrange, both ranges share the same problems: tall + notch display fashion, too few Android updates even for Android One, Android data / privacy violations, often uninstallable crapware, almost always unreplacable battery. The manufacturers really should offer real variety: all display ratios at all times, Android and Pure OS versions, if crapware then at least make it uninstallable, with or without replacable battery.

    Concerning feature-highend smartphones, I cannot share everybody's excitement about cameras because I notice weakly represented dark shades in low light pictures or parts of pictures. This is so for all smartphones. None compares to competently used DSLR. I can understand if some accept compromises but please do not pretend excellence that is not there. Good enough for most is not the same as DSLR quality. Describe it as "best for smartphones" if you like but do not describe smartphone cameras as if they "could not be better".

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Getting updates is one of the benefits of getting a OnePlus.


      Regarding form factor, OnePlus is a small, community-driven company. This is what they're asking for. If you want a smaller/shorter device, there are other options.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Having just checked their webpage, it seems like security updates are provided for circa 4 years. This is better than the average Android manufacturer and good enough for users updating their smartphones every 2 or 3 years (and accepting the OnePlus form factor(s)).

        For people like me, 4 years is not good enough. I would want to use a smartphone for at least 7 years because a) hardware is (and will continue to be) good enough for my intended smartphone usage (phone, light browsing, text reading, music), b) average expense per year is kept low and c) environment and ressources must be saved.

        For comparison, Microsoft does security updates right: 10 years for every device no questions asked. Although Windows 10 is not for smartphones, its update policy is a good model for at least how long security updates should be available for Android and iOS.

  14. Shane

    I gave a question the other week on phone upgrade. And i did think i might skip this upgrade, but.....Your review so far is putting me in a position of what to do.

    Its been nearly 2 yrs since my last upgrade to the 5T.

    I was thinking of waiting but from your comments so far when its released i think I might upgrade. I think it will give me a minimum of, very minimum of 2 years , but i think if i can resist up too 4 years for a phone, especially how i use it.

    The big thing that you go for , pictures, I have around $5000/ $6000 of camera equipment for my pictures.

    So we will see. But i think you tipped the bucket.

  15. jcalamita

    I wonder if the camera in this phone will be greatly improved by loading the Google pixel camera software on it. It greatly improved the 6T camera...

  16. bob_shutts

    To me the colors in all shots look a bit washed out.

  17. CaedenV

    Also at $370 is the Pixel 3 (not a)... which can easily trade blows with this phone on features for 2/3rds the price. And with the Pixel 4 coming out soon, that price may drop further.

    Or if you want the big screen experience the Pixel 3 is selling for under $500, and also expected to drop in price with the new phone around the corner.

    • mike2thel73

      In reply to CaedenV:


      I own a pixel 3. I've had it for 4-5 months. Battery life has been terrible.


      I've owned nothing but android phones since late 2012. Galaxy note 2, Note 3, Oneplus One, Nexus 6P, Essential Phone; PIXEL 3 HAS THE WORST BATTERY LIFE EVER.


      yes the charging is super fast but in 2019 if you have to charge your phone every 5-6 hours and you're not a heavy user, something is seriously wrong.


      I'm so disappointed with the Pxl 3 that for the first time ever, I'm probably going to consider a one plus or apple device more seriously over anything straight from google going forward.


      Worst of all if I wanted to take advantage of the fast wireless charge option for the P3, I'd have to shell out over $50 for the charger and it's proprietary so it won't fast wireless charge a device other than google's.


      I bought my mother a pixel 3A a few weeks after it came out. I bought it for her because she's a picture buff and figured the performance would be good enough because she's not a heavy phone user. Worst thing I ever did. Like Paul wrote above, the phone has noticeable performance issues that make it a real bum to use every day.


      I am not impressed with the direction google is going in with their devices. like someone else wrote, camera paperweights.

      • jgraebner

        In reply to Mike2thel73:

        If your Pixel 3 is only lasting 5-6 hours, something is wrong with it. You should probably take a look to see if you have an application that is using excessive battery and, if not, seriously look into a warranty exchange for a defective battery.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to CaedenV:

      Also, it's not fair to compare this to the Pixel 3/3a. That is a smaller device and not in the same category. You need to go 3 XL or 3a XL.

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to CaedenV:

      It doesn't have the future proofing of the 7T where you have a 355+ vs the 345 and 8GB of RAM vs 4GB. Plus to get to the prices you are noting has a screen that is 1" smaller, has bezels, and is 60hz vs the 90hz of the 7T.


      That is a pretty wide gap you are giving up for $229. Not to say that the Pixel 3 isn't an excellent value at the sales prices. But if you want something with a longer shelf life and better overall performance then you want to go 7T. Unless the camera is your #1 requirement.

    • Taylor Nelson

      In reply to CaedenV:

      When any Pixel isn't a total reliability nightmare, they can be taken seriously in these discussions. Until then, their camera is a nice paperweight. Posted from my fourth Pixel 2 XL...

  18. melinau

    Very helpful review, I Have a 5T and I'm tempted....

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