For a jaded tech reviewer who plays with the latest and greatest smartphones every year, the OnePlus 7T shouldn't feel that special - but it does
- Few smartphones impress me as much as those from OnePlus, and the OnePlus 7T made sure I keep feeling that way.
- The $600 OnePlus 7T really makes you wonder why other smartphones with similar specs and features cost so much. The performance is infallible, the triple-lens camera is great, the battery life is solid, and it charges absurdly quickly - and it looks pretty good, too!
- The only compromise you'd have to consider is a lack of wireless charging and no official "IP" water resistance ratings. The next best phone with those features is the $700 iPhone 11, and the $750 Galaxy S10e.
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As someone who uses the latest and greatest smartphones from companies like Apple, Samsung, and LG every year, you could argue that I'm a little jaded.
Most new smartphones are great, and they come with cool new features sometimes. But the element of surprise and wonder of a new device is unfortunately mostly lost on me. I grab a box containing a $1,000 smartphone from the Business Insider mail room as if it was a pizza delivery - there's slight excitement for the contents, but it's commonplace and not incredibly special.
Lo, the perils of being a tech reporter.
But twice a year, new phones from OnePlus reignite that missing sense of excitement in a new smartphone. The excited question I ask myself whenever a new OnePlus phone comes out is: "How can this company possibly top the previous phone while keeping it at an attainable price?"
In early 2019, it was the OnePlus 7 Pro. Now, towards the end of 2019, it's the OnePlus 7T.
Well, they've done it again. Not necessarily with crazy features or things that absolutely no other phone can do; it's that the OnePlus 7T is so good and such a good price.
Here's how OnePlus and the OnePlus 7T continues to surprise me while my drawer is full of the top smartphones from the biggest tech companies:
OnePlus phones have typically always been faster than other Android phones, but combined with a silky-smooth 90Hz screen, the OnePlus 7T feels unstoppable.
Super smooth 90Hz screens like the one on the OnePlus 7T don't actually have many — if any — functional benefits. It's purely an aesthetic thing, but it has a big impact.
From the moment you turn on the OnePlus 7T, the 90Hz screen and the resulting smooth and fluid animations while you swipe around Android or scroll through apps suggests you have something better and faster than anything else out there.
And just so we're clear, the OnePlus 7T has an AMOLED screen with a sharp 1440p resolution, just like phones that cost $900 or more.
I'm sure Samsung and Apple have their reasons for not adding a 90Hz screen to their latest smartphones, but it feels like a missed opportunity for both companies. They're making it much easier for OnePlus to look better.
The OnePlus 7T has better specs than most Android flagships of 2019, and it shows.
Even with regular flagship specs, OnePlus phones typically have better performance than the top flagships from big companies.
For 2019, however, OnePlus has given the OnePlus 7T better specs than most Android phones. It's running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus that runs slightly faster than the regular Snapdragon 855 in most 2019 Android flagships.
The thing is, the OnePlus 7T doesn't need the Snapdragon 855 Plus. The OnePlus 7 Pro from earlier this year, which runs the regular Snapdragon 855, has already shown that OnePlus phones with the same specs as top flagships perform better and faster. But OnePlus went with the 855 Plus anyway, because why not?
The result is a phone that feels faster and more powerful than any other phone I've used this year. Combined with the 90Hz screen I mentioned earlier, this thing simply defies the traditional smartphone experience. It also sets the benchmark for what I look for in a smartphone. All phones should, without a doubt, run as smoothly and as quickly as the OnePlus 7T.
Plus, it runs a clean and simple version of Android that doesn't feel like it's trying to distance itself from Android.
A lot of phone makers will add "skins" on top of the Android operating system to add more features than there are on stock Android. Many also redesign stock Android's look to something closer to the company's design language.
Some skins are heavier than other, and OnePlus goes for an ultra-light skin that largely leaves Android almost untouched. It's part of the reason why OnePlus phones, and the OnePlus 7T, run so quickly and smoothly compared to other Android phones.
With that said, OnePlus subtly adds its own features into its OnePlus phones. In the OnePlus 7T, OnePlus added its own gesture navigation, a "reading mode" that adjusts the screen for a more comfortable reading experience, and a "Zen" feature that blocks you out of your phone almost completely for a set time. Don't worry — calls and the camera aren't disabled, but you can't use other apps at all until the time you set for Zen mode runs out.
The OnePlus 7T looks great, but so does every other smartphone, at least those that cost $300 more.
Smartphone design is subjective, and in many ways, it doesn't really matter for those who use a case.
Still, the OnePlus 7T is a beautifully designed smartphone, and if you want something even prettier, you'll have to cough up at least an extra $300 for the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 phones.
The large circular camera system on the back is unique and not offensive, although the camera bump does feel a little large. The screen is flat compared to the curved edges that make the Samsung phones and the OnePlus 7 Pro so pretty.
In my opinion, curved screen edges look nice and serve to make the phones stand out when you're shopping for a new phone, but they feel pointless in everyday use, and they make the screen feel narrower than it should be.
Overall, I have no complaints with the OnePlus 7T's designs, and actively think that its flat screen is better than curved screen edges.
The OnePlus 7T has a triple-lens camera system, just like smartphones that cost $300 more (and it's a great camera, too).
Phones that are closer to the OnePlus 7T's $600 price tag mostly come with a dual-lens camera system that include a regular lens and an ultra-wide, like the $700 iPhone 11 and the $750 Samsung Galaxy S10e.
And yet, the OnePlus 7T comes with a triple-lens-camera system (with a zoomed lens as the third lens), and it costs $100 less than the competition.
I've taken several photos with the OnePlus 7T, and I'm pretty happy with all of them so far. I still prefer the photos that the Pixel 3 takes, but the OnePlus 7T's cameras are good enough. I can easily deal with little nitpicks like too much contrast and some unnecessary processing on certain photos for the OnePlus 7T's price tag, good looks, and sheer power.
I can comfortably use the OnePlus 7T all day without worrying about battery life, and the new "Warp Charge 30T" charger is stunningly fast.
On typical days, the OnePlus 7T gets me to about 40% at the end of the day when I get home from work at around 7:30 p.m. The most intensive things I do on a normal day includes an hour of WiFi hot-spotting, about an hour of YouTube video streaming, and about an hour of Spotify or radio streaming with wireless Bluetooth headphones, as well as some phone calls and text messaging.
On an intense day that involved the same as above except for extra messaging (more screen time), taking lots of photos, and using the OnePlus Recorder app for interviews, I got home at the end of the day with about 25% battery life.
In a sentence, the OnePlus 7T has great battery life, and I'm confident that it'll take me and my needs to the end of the day.
OnePlus' "Warp Charge 30T" charger is also worth a mention. It charges the OnePlus 7T faster than any other phone I've used so far. If you value fast-charging, there is no better phone than the OnePlus 7T. I haven't tried Samsung's 45W charger that's compatible with the Note 10 Plus, but then again, it's not a real competitor when it's an optional accessory that costs extra over a $1,100 phone. Plus, it only works on the Note 10 Plus, not even the regular Note 10.
I fully understand that people like different things, and variety is good. But the OnePlus 7T is one of the few devices that makes me wonder why anyone would buy anything else.
There are five reasons I can think of why someone wouldn't want the OnePlus 7T:
1. They're iPhone users who like iPhones and the Apple ecosystem.
2. They want wireless charging and/or an official "IP" water-resistance rating.
3. They want a smaller phone with a smaller screen.
4. They like to spend more money than they need to.
5. They don't know the OnePlus 7T exists.
Anyone looking for the best bang for their buck with minimal compromise, there's absolutely no doubt that the OnePlus 7T is the top choice in smartphones, at least Android phones.
And if any iPhone user out there wants to dip their toes into Android, the OnePlus 7T is an ideal device to start with, even more so than Google's own Pixel phones. With the OnePlus 7T, you're really getting the best of Android, and you're risking $300 less than most other premium Androids.
It's up to you if wireless charging or an official water-resistance rating is worth the extra $300 you'd spend on a phone that has those features. I'll use wireless charging on a phone that has it, sure. But personally, I truly don't care about those things when the core of this phone is so good.