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China-based smartphone manufacturer OnePlus, after coming up with a few affordable flagship devices, has now set a new benchmark by launching two flagships in a year. The company recently launched the OnePlus 5T, a flagship smartphone that breaks away from OnePlus’ 5.5-inch display culture in favour of an ultra-wide 6-inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen.
In a way, OnePlus has indeed repeated itself in its upgrade experiement – the company had last year launched the upgraded flagship OnePlus 3T soon after coming up with the OnePlus 3. This time, the OnePlus 5T has come within five months of the OnePlus 5 launch.
But how worthy was the OnePlus 5 for an upgrade? And is the OnePlus 5T even a worthy upgrade of the predecessor? Business Standard reviewed the OnePlus 5T and compared its features with the OnePlus 5 to assess the upgrade quotient. Here are our observations:
OnePlus’ choice of the future-ready ultra-wide 18:9 aspect ratio screen in the OnePlus 5T is a welcome move. However, continuing with a fullHD resolution seems to limit the otherwise perfect display. Competitors have long been offering quadHD screens in their flagships. With the new ultra-wide format screen in the OnePlus 5T, the quadHD screen resolution might have been a real upgrade.
The OnePlus 5T display offers good sunlight legibility, contrast ratio and saturation. It covers almost the entire front with minimal top and bottom bezels. Also, the screen is no more prone to ‘Jelly effect’, which had been seen in some OnePlus 5 units.
Camera is another area where the OnePlus 5T carries some tweaks from the previous version. The OnePlus 5T still sports a dual camera set-up – 16+20 megapixel. But, the 20-megapixel telephoto lens is now replaced by a new 20 MP camera of 27mm focal length and f/1.7 aperture – similar to the primary 16 MP camera.
The upgraded camera set-up promises to offer enhanced low-light photography, albeit at the cost of the 1.6x optical zoom which was there in the OnePlus 5. The phone does possess 2x zoom capabilities that go up to 10x, but that is all digital work.
On the other hand, low-light photography on the new device is not commendable enough to make up for the loss of an optical zoom. The phone switches from a 16 MP shooter to a 20 MP one shooter under low-light conditions and uses pixel-binning technology to enhance the output. But, the output remains largely similar to the predecessor.
The OnePlus 5T camera interface is neat and the much-hyped portrait mode is still there to take crisp portraits with a blurred background effect (Bokeh). However, the camera interface continues to lack real-time photo filters, which most competitors are now offering by default.
The video recording quality is top-notch and the enhanced electronic image stabilisation (EIS) works flawlessly to keep away unwanted shakes. However, the frame of view (FoV) is not wide and reduces further in 4K recording. The 16 MP front camera gives a soft touch to pictures and that works mostly for selfies.
Overall, the flagship smartphone camera is more of a mid-tier segment competitor than a flagship breed ready to compete with the likes of the Google Pixel 2-series, Apple iPhone 8-series and Apple iPhone X.
Talking about innards, the OnePlus 5T is not much of an upgrade over the OnePlus 5. The phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, which is coupled with the Adreno 540 graphic processing unit. The phone comes in 64 GB and 128 GB internal storage variants, with 6 GB and 8 GB RAM options, respectively. There is no memory card slot but the phone has a dual-SIM set-up with 4G support.
Interestingly, the phone boots the Android Nougat-based Oxygen operating system out of the box. However, a planned Oreo update is scheduled for late December. The OS feels smooth overall and there is no clutter or bloatware installed. The OS comes with the ‘Face unlock’ feature, which is blazing fast and unlocks the phone almost instantly. However, the company mentions that the face unlock feature is not secure, and suggests using PIN. The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the device, for the first time for OnePlus. The placement of the fingerprint scanner is perfect and the sensor is as quick as in earlier devices.
Housing a 3,300 mAh battery, similar to the one in the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 5T offers excellent usage time. The phone goes on for more than a day and recharging the device is swift with OnePlus’ proprietary Dash Charge technology, which charges 60 per cent in almost 30 minutes.
From the point of view of OnePlus device user, the launch of a new flagship in such a short duration comes across as a bit of injustice. But, with the technology sphere changing almost every day, OnePlus’ decision to roll out the upgrade as soon as possible rather than waiting for the next launch cycle defines the company’s ‘Never Settle’ motto.
Priced at Rs 37,999 for the premium variant, the OnePlus 5T is a mixed bag of worthy and unnecessary upgrades. The phone’s new ultra-wide screen, coupled with a software-based face unlock feature, the new dual-camera set-up and the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner do add to the list of upgrades. But, considering that most of these features are not properly polished, we would like to wait to see the sixth iteration of the device next year.