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Over the past four years, OnePlus has gained some serious momentum in the smartphone world. For better or worse, it’s a company that draws the attention of technology enthusiasts.
The biggest reason for this is that, since the beginning, it’s sought to bring flagship specs and performance to a phone that costs a lot less than its big-name brand competitors. Prices aren’t as low as they were in the beginning, but OnePlus’ commitment to delivering a powerful smartphone that’s well made is still there.
Earlier this year, the OnePlus 5 wowed us with its proper, grown-up flagship experience that cost just £449. Now, just six months later, there’s a new version: the OnePlus 5T. Complete with a new 18:9 screen form factor, can it continue to push OnePlus’ success?
156.1 x 75 x 7.3mm; 162g
Rear fingerprint sensor
Midnight black only at launch
At a glance, from the back or the sides, the OnePlus 5T looks very similar to the OnePlus 5 that launched earlier this year. It’s kept the same focus on using quality materials, designed in a way to both look good and feel great sitting in your palm. It’s a unibody aluminium build, which feels very solid, and also very slim and comfortable thanks to the curves that extend from the back, up the edges, to form that “horizon line” along the sides. Combined with the soft, slightly textured finish, it’s easily one of the most pleasurable in-hand feels going in a modern smartphone.
You’ll find the same arrangement of buttons and ports as the previous phone too. That means the volume rocker and the ever-useful alert switch are both on the left edge, while the power button and SIM tray are embedded in the opposite side.
As OnePlus has been keen to point out during pre-launch teasers, there is a 3.5mm jack on the bottom edge, alongside the USB-C port and the loudspeaker. So you don’t have to use Bluetooth or Type-C headphones!
One thing we really like in the 5T, as with the previous model, is the Midnight Black finish. It’s made up of three layers that are just 14 microns thick, and finished in such a way that it’s resistant to both scratches and fingerprints, so your phone should look new for much longer than most other phones.
If there’s anything you could regard as “missing” in a flagship phone of 2017, it’s a water- and dust-resistance certificate. OnePlus is now one of very few high-end phone makers not to have an official IP-rated certification. Switching to the back of the phone and you’ll notice one of two major design changes in the ceramic fingerprint sensor. It’s now placed within easy reach of your index finger and is finished to closely match the Midnight Black.
Of course, the fingerprint sensor moving to the back has been necessitated by the biggest change to the phone: the large 6-inch screen on the front. Now that it’s an 18:9 ratio display, the bezels are much smaller and therefore can’t play home to a fingerprint sensor.
If you’re used to a home button on the front, it does take some getting used to having the sensor on the back. But credit where it’s due: it’s perfectly positioned for easy reach with an index finger. Which is great, considering you can now use gestures on it to take a photo, or swipe down to bring down the notifications and quick settings shade.
Other minor changes compared to the OnePlus 5 include the camera housing on the back, which in the 5T now has gently curved, sloping edges to make it feel more like one seamless part of the phone. And, of course, the new phone is ever-so-slightly taller and wider than its predecessor.