Ashish Narsale finds out exactly what puts this reasonably priced flagship ahead of its rivals.
It is now clear that it will take a lot for any phone to overtake the OnePlus 5T in its category.
Even after the Mobile World Congress -- where most brands touted their best devices and best features -- the OnePlus 5T remains the best flagship phone considering the price.
The latest Android Oreo 8.0 update only revivifies the phone.
Rediff.com tries out the phone -- an 8 GB RAM with 128 GB ROM variant -- for a month after the latest update.
The phone came with OxygenOS 4.7.6 based on Android Nougat 7.1 out of the box and was recently updated to OxygenOS 5.0.3 based on Oreo 8.0 via OTA updates.
There has been vast improvement in the OxygenOS over the years, it gives almost stock Android-like experience. It is fast and smooth, and gives customizable and enhancement features.
If you are bored of default colours of the text and background on the phone you can change the same through the themes options in display settings. You can choose between a light or dark theme and change the colour of the text.
OxygenOS provides an eight accent colour palette; I only wish they had provided a colour wheel instead.
The OnePlus 5T also allows you to use two Whatsapp or any social networking IDs at the same time with the parallel app feature.
And thats's not all. The Android Oreo 8.0 update overlaid by OxygenOS 5.0.3 brings the following new features and application updates:
For app notifications, there appears a small coloured dot adjacent to the app icon.
If the app has any notifications, long pressing the icon opens a small menu giving brief information about the notification and other options.
The dot goes away after the notification is checked.
The quick settings tray has been redesigned with some new features and subtle animation.
When the quick settings tray is pulled down, it shows a brief app notification.
When you swipe the notification a little bit to the left, it show two options -- settings and snooze.
You can now snooze a particular app notification for 15 min, 30 min or 2 hours by just selecting the snooze option and you can even undo it.
The settings options takes you to more app settings.
Picture in picture
The update brings a new 'picture in picture' option for selective apps.
The 'picture in picture' option provides a thumbnail view of the app on the phones home screen.
For now YouTube is not supported, only YouTube Red is supported. However, there are other workarounds to achieve the same for YouTube.
Smart text select
With the new smart text selection prompt, you now have a contextual menu.
For example, if you select an address it gives prompt to search in the map. If a number is selected, it will allow you to call that number. And if you select a URL, it will prompt you with the browser option.
Hardware and performance
A good phone is supported by good hardware.
The OnePlus 5T, which is available in the 6/8 GB RAM and 64/128 GB ROM variants, draws power from the last year's Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 clocked at 2.45 GHz, an Octa-core 10 nm chipset. And it makes for a smooth experience.
Playing Need for Speed: No Limits was a lag-free experience. The phone did not show any heating issues.
The OnePlus 5T display has grown to the 18:9 aspect ratio to match up with the modern era. It has a bezel less AMOLED display of 1080 x 2160 pixels. The fact that it is a Full HD resolution -- not 4k like its counterparts -- doesn't matter.
It has good visibility in direct sunlight, and the lower resolution consumes less power.
To maintain almost the same height and width as its predecessor, the fingerprint scanner is ergonomically placed at the back of the phone to the center just little below the camera module.
The in network performance had good call quality. The Wi-Fi and hotspot sharing is also good; I never had a call drop or signal loss when on Wi-Fi.
All of this is packed in an anodized aluminum metal body that looks premium, but feels slippery.
It is advisable to use the TPU case provided in the box.
The OnePlus 5T runs on 3300 mAh battery.
The phone ran all day long on heavy usage or continued to the next day on moderate usage.
The dash charger, which is included in the box, is a saviour; it charges the phone in a jiffy. It approximately charged the phone from 0 per cent to 60 per cent in just 30 minutes.
The biggest oomph factor of the OnePlus 5T is the camera.
Like every other brand, this one too seems to be working towards compressing a DSLR into the phone camera. I won't say the OnePlus 5T has the best camera of all, but it performs exceptionally well for the price.
The OnePlus 5T's dual camera setup is a little different form its predecessor, the OnePlus 5.
While the OnePlus 5 had 16 MP f/1.7 telephoto + 20MP f/2.0 wide lenses, this one has 16 MP f/1.7 + 20 MP f/1.7 lenses -- both wide, which is technically meant for low-light photography.
The phone loses its optical zoom, but compensates with a futile digital zoom. Using digital zoom deteriorates the image quality.
The 16 MP f/2.0 front camera is also pretty good.
After the selfie mode, a portrait mode is the most wanted feature in a phone camera.
The portrait mode enhances your selfie by isolating you from the background or blurring the background, technically known as shallow depth of field or bokeh.
The portrait mode in the OnePlus 5T is good, but with some hits and misses.
Portrait without bokeh.
Portrait without bokeh in low light.
Having two wide angle lenses doesn't help with low-light photography.
The phone determines when to use the higher focal length, the 20 MP f/2.0 camera, in low light condition; OnePlus says it changes when the ambient light is lower than approximately 10 lux.
I found myself waiting for the camera to switch. I finally activated the 20 MP low-light camera by clicking on zoom and back again.
A toggle switch to select the desired camera will be welcome in the next update.
As you can see in the pictures below, the image shot in very dim light using the 16 MP camera show a lot of noise. When the camera switches to 20 MP, it does improve the picture quality, but some noise is still visible.
Photo taken in low light with 16 MP camera.
However, photos taken at night in well-lit conditions, showed good output as you can see below.
To shoot in low light and still get a good detailing, you need to have steady hands, which makes you miss the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).
Picture in shot in street light.
The pro mode gives you more control over the camera. You can select ISO (ranging from 100 to 3200), white balance (ranging from 2300k to 7500k), shutter speed (ranging from 1/8000 seconds to 30 seconds), and manual focus.
While shooting in the pro mode, I used a portable tripod (pictured below), especially when playing with shutter speed.
This phone allows you to shoot RAW images.
Though RAW images weigh more as they save uncompressed information about a photo, they produce a higher-quality images and allow you to further correct them (pictured below: a jpg version compressed by phone).
It's a good utility to have in a phone.
Overall, photos shot in good lighting condition came out well, and when you zoom in, the photos look like they are painted (pictured below).
You can shoot 4K (3840x2160) videos at 30fps, but if you plan to shoot lots of 4k videos (see an example below) then you will fall short of storage as a 21-second 4k video occupies 103 MB of space, and the OnePlus 5T doesn't support a memory expansion slot. The phone limits you to only 10 minutes of 4k video footage at one go.
Other than 4K, the phone supports full HD videos i.e. 1080p at 60fps, 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 30fps.
The front camera also allows you to shoot 1080p videos at 30 fps, and allows time-lapse at 1080p, giving you the option of adding more drama to your selfie video.
You can shoot slow motion videos (see an example below) on the OnePlus 5T at 120fps, but only at 720p resolution.
The phone even supports time-lapse.
Above all, any shake and jerks are handled by EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization); the EIS in the camera works well even at 4k.
If the camera is moved slowly, it actually makes you feel as if you are using Gimbal, which is a hand-held stabilizer on which a camera is mounted to get smooth video footage.
This phone retains the 3.5 mm audio jack.
It doesn't support a dedicated DAC for sound, but has Dirac HD Sound algorithm to calibrate music.
The sound output through the earphones is crisp and clear.
It supports a mono speaker at the bottom and is quite loud, but sounds tinny.
The OnePlus 5T adds Apple-like face unlock features to the common unlocking features -- pattern, pin and fingerprint unlock -- found on Android phones.
The face unlock is not as secure as the iPhones X have, but the unlocking is quite fast.
And the face unlock works even when it is over 90 per cent dark. The face unlock feature doesn't use any special sensors, just the front camera. In dark it lit up the screen to project light on the user's face for the recognition mechanism to work.
OnePlus 5T is an all-rounder. You can't expect greats, but it delivers the best with respect to being priced at ₹37,999 for 8/128 and ₹32,999 for 6/64.
If you want additional features like IP 68 dust and water proofing, a camera with OIS, a memory expansion slot and wireless charging, you will have to spend at least ₹7,000 more for the LG v30+.