The OnePlus 7T sounds like my perfect phone on paper, packing a nice high-end chipset, a bright 1,000 nit 90Hz screen, and the latest Android 10 software. While flagships are pushing the market into fatigue at over a thousand dollars, this phone champions affordability at "just" $600. In fact, I loved almost everything about the OnePlus 7T, though folks like me who are picky when it comes to screens may be disappointed.

Specs

Chipset Snapdragon 855+
Display 6.55" 2400x1080 90Hz "Fluid" AMOLED w/ in-screen fingerprint reader
Battery 3800mAh, Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
RAM 8GB
Storage 128-256 GB
Rear cameras 48MP f/1.6 primary (IMX586), 12MP f/2.2 (2x zoom) telephoto, f/2.2 16MP (117-degree FoV) wide-angle
Front camera 16MP f/2 (IMX471)
Headphone jack No
Software OxygenOS 10 (based on Android 10)
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 w/ aptX, aptXHD, LDAC, and AAC; a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi; NFC; 4x4 MIMO LTE
Carrier compatibility GSM carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US (plus some MVNOs), Verizon
Dimensions 160.94mm x 74.44mm x 8.13mm, 190g
Colors Frosted Silver, Glacier Blue
Misc Alert slider, dual asymmetrical stereo speakers, dual SIM (double-sided tray, only on some models), USB 3.1
Price Starting at $599

The Good

Display 90Hz is super smooth, and the screen gets quite bright for easy visibility outside.
Super macro camera Being able to focus as close as an inch away won't be useful for most people, but it's very useful for me. Every phone should have this.
Telephoto camera Sharper than the one in the 7 Pro, though it doesn't have as much "zoom."
Software OxygenOS is still a light touch and remains a favorite. Not many phones have Android 10 yet, either, but this does.
Size The difference in width and thickness might seem small, but this fits my hands far better than the oversized 7 Pro.
Speed Crazy fast, though I can't tell the difference against the older 7 Pro.
Price $600 isn't bad for the specs.

The Not So Good

Display again I examined two units, and the screen is much less uniform at lower brightness than the older OnePlus 7 Pro, which is especially unpleasant when using Android 10's dark themes. Grays are also easily crushed/clipped to black.
No IP rating Isn't actually rated to resist any water, dust, etc.
Automatic brightness Always too bright or too dim at night, no matter how much you "teach" it.
Charging issues Phone sometimes won't charge from USB PD power sources — not nice to wake up to in the morning.
Missing features Still no wireless charging. Also no headphone jack.
Price difference The 7 Pro is just $70 more, and I think it's better.

Design, hardware, what's in the box

If you're familiar with the company's products, this is identifiably a OnePlus phone. You've got the standard, subtly-curved "horizon line" top and bottom, a matte glass back, and a polished aluminum frame without any gaps in the fit or finish. The build quality is substantial and solid.

Left to right: OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7T.

Both of the current colors have a gradient, going from light to dark in the rear glass, though not when it comes to the aluminum frame. I'd still prefer to see more wild, brighter, and interesting colors, but the blue and silver options are pleasant and understated. A subtle etching makes them iridescent when light is at the right angle, giving them just a little bit of "pop."

Although the new camera bump on back is large and round, the cameras themselves are still in a line, just horizontal rather than vertical. That big circular look isn't my style, but it is easy to wipe clean with the edge of a shirt. The new alert slider is also smaller than it was on previous OnePlus phones. It wasn't an issue for me, but I preferred the larger sliders, which were easier to catch with the pad of my thumb/finger.

7T on top of the 6T for notch comparison. 

While I felt that the OnePlus 6T had a fairly unobtrusive notch, the OnePlus 7T's is 31.6% smaller, according to the company. That should make it even less of an eyesore if you don't like them. As someone who couldn't care less so long as the notification bar isn't too big, I wasn't bothered.

Between the two, you get "full" stereo.

Like the 7 Pro, you get stereo speakers in an asymmetrical arrangement (earpiece + bottom-firing). Driving an older car around my hometown on a recent vacation, I racked up plenty of hours using it as a surrogate stereo. As with all phone speakers: it's tinny, it gets loud enough, its quality is easily beaten by even the very cheapest Bluetooth speakers, but it's fine. Call quality was also unobjectionable.

On paper, the OnePlus 7T's display sounds great. The 6.55" 20:9 1080p-equivalent (2400 x 1080) display hits 402 PPI, exceeds 1,000 nits of brightness, and has HDR 10/10+ certification — in short, it checks almost every box if you don't want a crazy-high resolution. However, there is one big drawback, though it's one not everyone will be bothered by.

The screen on the OnePlus 7T gets nice and bright outdoors, but both of the OnePlus 7Ts that I've examined have had uniformity issues noticeable to the naked eye at low brightness, as well as a problem with "crushed"/clipped blacks.

 

Left: Recent OnePlus phones (left to right: 6T, 7Pro, 7T, 7T) showing dark gray at a low brightness. Right: Black saturation test on 7T (top) and 7 Pro (bottom), both at minimum brightness.

Almost all OLED/AMOLED screens have some unevenness at low brightness, but this is a little worse than I've seen in recent flagships, and a step back from the improvements OnePlus made in recent hardware. With dim content displayed at a low brightness (read: using most apps' dark/night themes on Android 10 at night), the uneven illumination is visible to the naked eye, though it may not bother everyone.

Automatic brightness on the OnePlus 7T compounds this issue even more. I don't know if it's because of the sensor's location beneath the screen itself, but the display rarely lands at a comfortable brightness at night. It's always either too bright or too dim in low light.

Now, my opinion and hasty bathroom photos aren't the most scientific analysis; Though they are generally unmolested RAW -> JPG essentially "straight out of the camera," they're only really useful as a relative metric for comparing general uniformity in the pictured devices. Those especially concerned about the 7T's display should wait for someone to make a more quantitative report with the proper gear, I don't have the hardware.

Although the quality of the display doesn't meet my personal standards for a flagship, it won't bother everyone, and I otherwise had no issue with the screen. 1080p remains perfectly fine at this size, and the taller 20:9 aspect ratio was a nice way to get some extra space without added width. More aggressive accidental touch rejection for the bottom edges would be nice, though, as I had some trouble typing at times.

The in-display fingerprint reader is very fast. OnePlus claims it's a further improvement over the one in the 7 Pro. All I noticed is that it uses white light to illuminate your finger rather than green light, as it did before. I don't know what difference that makes, but it's still sub-second, feels as quick as the 7 Pro's, and it's faster than the ultrasonic solution in Samsung phones.

 

In the (especially long) box, you get the charger, a clear case, SIM ejector tool, and branded microfiber cloth. Although I've been a proponent of OnePlus' own cases in the past, the selection of first-party offerings has dwindled in recent years, and the lovely wood cases it used to offer are sadly gone. The cases for the 7T are a little more boring, and one of the carbon fiber cases I got had irregularities in its fit. You're probably better off going third-party this time around.

Software, performance, and battery

The OnePlus 7T is one of the first phones to launch with Android 10, and you get most of the non-Pixel-exclusive features the new version of the operating system brings. In short, that means much better notification management, expanded customization options, a system-wide dark theme, and a new iOS-style gesture navigation system, among a much longer list. And if the 7 Pro is any indicator, the 7T should be getting frequent and fast updates — maybe not Pixel-level, but faster than most.

As usual, OnePlus hasn't bloated its OxygenOS software too much. You still get the same sort of zippy "stock plus" experience, and the same drawbacks. Though the company has said it would change the practice, apps are still aggressively killed in the background. That means having to wake up and re-launch apps occasionally to get them to work as expected, and broken functionality on Bluetooth devices that require a constant connection to a third-party app when they're killed. Note that you can manually add apps to a list that ostensibly should protect them, but you shouldn't need to, and that list has sometimes been unreliable.

The other change I'd really like to see in OnePlus' software is for the pointless "Shelf" on the left-most pane in the stock launcher to be replaced with Google Discover, as the T-Mobile version of OnePlus phones gets. The Shelf is useless and bad, and I'd be happy using the stock launcher otherwise.

Plugged in overnight, still at 40%.

Probably the most significant bug I ran into was the phone failing to charge when connected to a USB PD power source. There's no big error notification or alert to accompany this behavior, you even get the little "lightning bolt" icon in the battery that would otherwise indicate it's pulling power, but it just won't charge. That's not a great thing to wake up to in the morning, though a reboot fixes it.

I also ran into some general stability issues, seeing more app crashes than I've come to expect from Android 10 on other devices. Browsers and poorly-optimized games (lookin' at you, Pokémon Go) were most frequently hit. There were a few hiccups using the OnePlus Switch app to set up/move data to the phone, as well. Several applications didn't work or behaved oddly afterward until I cleared some of the app data the process transferred. It is probably better to either set up the new device from scratch or stick to the simpler restoration process tied to the Google account setup.

Excluding these problems, this latest version of OxygenOS is as pleasant to use as previous incarnations. Combining its own options with those added in Android 10, OnePlus has expanded customization settings to include new lock screen clocks, icon packs, and icon shapes, all in a new and much more attractive settings menu. You also get Digital Wellbeing, and all the other accouterments of a modern Android flagship software experience.

The ambient display (now called smart display) still isn't "always-on," but it's picked up a widget that shows some extra info like currently playing music or weather.

There are at least two things that OnePlus did better than Google, though: the new gesture navigation system, and the volume control.

On stock Android 10, when using the new gestures, the only way to get a slide-out navigation menu to appear is either via a button (if the app gives you one) or a pretty difficult "peek" gesture. OnePlus instead reserves the top 1/3 or so of the screen for edge app gestures excluding navigation. In practice, it's way easier to use than Google's implementation. If you preferred OnePlus' older gestures, which used a slide up from different locations along the bottom of the screen, that's sadly gone on the 7T.

Left: Pixel 3 XL expanded volume control, bad. Right: OnePlus 7T expanded volume control, good. 

OnePlus' volume controls also expand for all volume channels right out of the same slider as the default, rather than requiring a second, annoying, huge pop-up like on the Pixels.

Performance is typical of OnePlus phones — that is to say, very fast. Although the Snapdragon 855+ should be a tiny bit snappier than the older Snapdragon 855 in the OnePlus 7 Pro, I didn't notice a difference. However you measure it or benchmark it, it's among the fastest devices you can use right now. Mix in the high refresh rate display, and even the unavoidable Android jank/occasional dropped frames become almost unnoticeable.

The best battery life I was able to finagle, I usually saw closer to 5 hours. 

Charging, as always, is crazy fast with the included charger. OnePlus claims it was able to drop the internal resistance lower for the new "Warp Charge 30T," making it up to 18% faster to charge than the Warp Charge 30 in the 7 Pro — though it otherwise uses the same charger. I haven't set up an extensive test to compare that claim, but it does anecdotally seem to top up slightly faster. In half an hour, I was able to charge from 12% to 80%.

Battery life is going to vary depending on your use. In general, I was able to get between one and two days out of the phone before it ran dry. For me, that means around five hours of "screen-on time" in a single day (as low as four if I'm heavy on it, up to seven if I'm easy), or around four hours spread across two days. That's pretty good in my mind.

Camera

In short, camera performance on the 7T generally matches what we saw on the 7 Pro, though it does have a few small differences: The telephoto camera this time around has no OIS, it's set at 2x rather than 3x "zoom," it's a little sharper than the 3x zoom on the 7 Pro, and there's a new super macro mode that makes use of an extra motor on the wide-angle lens to focus as close as an inch away. Also, OnePlus' Nightscape mode is actually useful now, brightening scenes noticeably, if not as well as the Pixel's Night Sight.

Nightscape off (left) and on (right). It takes a lot longer to capture Nightscape photos, though, and you have to hold very still.

As we touched on in our more detailed camera impressions, results are still generally inconsistent. OnePlus has made great strides in its photo processing, even just over the lifetime of the previous 7 Pro. But most of the time, you still don't know what to expect until after the camera takes its photo, though you can rely on three things to be very certain: processing still looks like a muddy oil painting on crop, the shutter will be too slow, and dynamic range will be bad unless you spend time tapping around a scene to get the right balance yourself.

Left: Minimum focus on primary camera. Right: Super macro sample. You can get even closer, focus just becomes harder to hit. 

It's the inconsistency that bothers me the most, though. Shot to shot, rear camera to rear camera, moment to moment, I have no idea what to expect from the 7T. I'd like if OnePlus could make its results a little more predictable, by both matching what all three cameras see for more similar results as you switch between them, and by improving the consistency of overall white balance, color, and dynamic range in scenes.

Wide-angle (left), primary (center), and 2x telephoto (right) camera samples. Not especially consistent between cameras. 

That's not to say it's a bad camera. I still think OnePlus' results are basically fine. I've used the older 7 Pro as my daily driver for most of the last few months, and the camera results usually haven't bothered me. Occasionally, it's even pretty good. Still, the 7T's photos don't compare with what you'll get from a Pixel, iPhone, or high-end Huawei.

If you want the best camera, this isn't it, but I think most folks will get by.

Should you buy it?

OnePlus 7T
8/10

Probably. The OnePlus 7T is a great phone, though I still personally think the 7 Pro is a better device — purely because of how flawless its screen was. If you think you might be picky about that sort of thing, it's easily worth spending the extra $70. The benefits of the Snapdragon 855+ over the "base" 855 are slight, though you would be giving up plenty of good new features exclusive to the 7T, like a brighter screen, faster charging, and the camera tweaks. The 7T also fits much better in hand than the chunky 7 Pro, even though the dimensional difference is slight.

There are also a few other issues I'd like to see OnePlus fix, like the automatic brightness performance and the USB PD charging not working, but those can surely be fixed in software. Given the company's track record resolving little issues with the 7 Pro, I don't expect it to take long.

If you aren't super picky when it comes to the screen (and most people aren't), the 7T is a good value and a great phone at $600. For half what some other phones cost, you get the best performance, pleasant software, frequent updates, and a smooth, bright display. I can't say it's the best phone you can get today, and it isn't my personal favorite, but it's one of the better choices you can make.

Buy it if:

  • You want a flagship on a budget.
  • Software and updates are a priority — OnePlus has a good record.
  • The 7 Pro was just a little too big for you.

Don't buy it if:

  • Screen irregularities will bother you.
  • You need the best camera.
  • Wireless charging is a must.

Where to buy:

The OnePlus 7T will be exclusively available via OnePlus' own storefront and T-Mobile in the US starting on October 18th (though a pop-up in New York City will have a one-day sale on October 11th).