If OnePlus phones have an Achilles heel, it's the camera. Although the company has made great strides, it still can't compare with the best of Google or Huawei, and that's still the case when it comes to the new 7T, though there are a couple of improvements and new features worth your consideration.
First, let's cover the camera differences between the 7T and the 7 Pro.
Minimum focus on the primary camera (left) and super macro mode (right).
As I touched on in my earlier hands-on, the new super macro mode uses the wide-angle camera together with a new motor to bring super-close focus to the 7T. Normally, the closest you can get for a shot is around six inches away, but this new mode can focus as close as around an inch from the lens, giving you an up-close view of... pretty much anything. The only real downside is that you need to be careful with how narrow the plane of focus is — it can be tough keeping what you want sharp — and that focus seems to fall off pretty quickly outside the center.
Left: "3x" telephoto on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Right: "2x" telephoto on the OnePlus 7T.
As my friend Michael Fisher pointed out to me, the telephoto camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro wasn't the sharpest. Even if it's probably good enough for social media, its results were pretty "soft," and the phone's typical issue with consistency (very visible above) was easily exaggerated by using it. While the OnePlus 7T loses OIS on its telephoto camera, and swaps "3x" zoom for "2x," I think its overall results are a lot better, and less hazy-looking.
Progression from wide angle (left) to telephoto/2x zoom (right).
All three cameras have their uses, but the thing that bothers me most about switching between them is how they disagree when looking at a single scene. The camera's white balance and tint/color change more than they should if you swap between the wide-angle, telephoto, and primary. I wish the camera could utilize details from the other two lenses when determining those details, so the white balance, exposure, etc., could better match if you switch between them.
I also noticed some pretty strong chromatic aberration/"purple fringing" on the wide-angle camera when using it outside, so that's something to be wary of in the right lighting.
In isolation, this photo might seem nice, but the white balance and exposure were entirely wrong, it was dimmer and less green in person.
Just like the 7 Pro, overall camera performance on the OnePus 7T is inconsistent, and you don't know what you're going to get until after you hit the shutter — which itself lags more than I'd like, too. In the image above, the scene was much more dimly lit and contrasty, but the 7T bumped the exposure too much and threw off the white balance, giving an almost filtered look. It might look nice later, but it isn't as close to reality as some other high-end camera phones can snag. Just below, the OnePlus 7T also mangled the beautiful pinks and oranges of a smoky Tahoe sunset into mediocrity.
This scene was stunning with vibrant purples fading into an almost DayGlo orange in real life, but the 7T utterly butchered it.
And while dynamic range has always been a struggle for smartphone cameras (even the Pixel clips and under/overexposes bits of difficult scenes), the 7T requires that you repeatedly tap around to try and finagle the best overall balance, or accept that your point-and-shoot results will look like this:
Low-light camera performance isn't Pixel-level, but I think OnePlus has gotten to the point that it's more than usable, it can even take the odd good photo — that just might take a few tries. Nightscape is also finally good for more than a bit of extended dynamic range in highlights at night, it actually brightens the scene a bit, though you need a steady hand and a subject mindful of long exposure times. (Note the added blur from even slight movements in the Nightscape image below.)
Nightscape off (left) and on (right).
In general, I think that the same old complaints apply: It doesn't do its best work in low-light (though it can occasionally take a photo that impresses) and dynamic range isn't great in challenging scenes. The OnePlus 7T isn't going to give you a Pixel or Huawei-level experience. But most of the time, it will take a good photo — more than good enough for social media, and generally okay unless you really need to depend on precise shutter timing, a close crop, or the perfect exposure. In general, I think most people will be satisfied, even if it can't compete with the best.
A preliminary gallery of photos taken from our recent Android Police meetup and my vacation are just below: