The OnePlus 7T is the Best Value in Smartphones Today

Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $599
OnePlus 7T
Cameron Summerson

The OnePlus 7 Pro is one of my favorite Android phones of all time. The 7T brings a lot of the same things that make the 7 Pro great, but at a more accessible price point. It’s a killer phone for $600.

Here's What We Like

  • The best value in Android today
  • Blazing fast
  • Beautiful display w/ 90 Hz refresh rate

And What We Don't

  • The waterdrop notch isn't as clean as the pop-up camera on the 7 Pro
  • No wireless charging
  • No official IPA rating

To make it clear, the 7T isn’t an upgrade of the 7 Pro—it’s an updated version of the OP 7, which wasn’t released in the US. So, this is kind of like the new 6T, if anything. But compared to the 7 Pro, it’s more of a lateral movement—an upgrade in some ways, but not in others. It’s a more affordable version of the 7 Pro but still manages to somehow be better than the 7 Pro in a few ways. It’s a fascinating piece of hardware when placed in the product lineup as a whole.

And just like the 7 Pro was the best Android phone, you could buy when it was released (and really, it probably still is), the 7T is the best phone in its price range that you can buy right now. In reality, I would easily pit it against the $800-1000 flagship phones from other manufacturers without hesitation.

Specs, Performance, and Software: Speedy McSpeedpants

Since the OnePlus 7 was never released in the US and I’ve been using the 7 Pro for the last several months, that’s where most of the comparisons will be drawn when it comes to the 7T. In the review of the 7 Pro, I said it was “mind-reader fast,” which is also true of the 7T. And while the speed isn’t as mind-blowingly impressive in comparison, it’s still sure to be huge for anyone that isn’t coming from another current-generation flagship phone. The Snapdragon 855 Plus in the 7T is a beast.

As for the other specs, here’s a quick overview:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Display: 6.55-inch QHD+ AMOLED panel (402 PPI) w/ 90Hz refresh rate and waterdrop notch
  • Cameras: 48MP main camera, 12 MP telephoto lens, 16 MP ultra-wide lens; 16MP front camera
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Headphone Jack: No
  • Battery: 3,800 mAh
  • Fingerprint Sensor: In-display
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/b/ac, 2.4GHz/5GHz; 2×2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC; AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile support
  • Colors: Glacier Blue, Frosted Silver
  • Price: $599

The 7 Pro that I’ve been using for the last several months has 12 GB of RAM, which isn’t even an option in the 7T. But you know what? I haven’t noticed a single difference in performance or memory management. It’s pretty clear to me that 12 GB of RAM is overkill in a phone (at least for now), with 8 GB hitting the sweet spot for performance and price. That’s one of the things I was talking about earlier when I said the 7T is a lateral movement compared to the 7 Pro—it’s has a faster processor, but less RAM. Ultimately, the performance is killer and there’s no tangible trade-off here.

Speaking of what is tangible, let’s talk about the overall form factor of the phone for a second. It’s smaller than the 7 Pro—albeit not by much—and lighter. That last bit is a welcome change because the 7 Pro is one of the heaviest phones I’ve ever carried. I got used to it pretty quickly, but it was immediately apparent to me that the 7T is just easier to carry. Period.

Otherwise, the rear finish on the 7T is also a noteworthy feature. My review unit is Glacier Blue, and the overall look is very similar to the 7 Pro. The main difference here is that the color is under a layer of frosted glass (the back of the 7 Pro is aluminum), which gives the phone a unique look. It’s a little more understated than the 7 Pro, so if flashy phones are your thing, you may want to look at that instead. Or, you know, just a get a fancy case. It’s worth noting that the OnePlus includes a basic clear TPU case in the box with the 7T, so if you don’t want to cover the look but still want to protect it, you’re good to go with no additional purchases.

OnePlus 7T in Glacier Blue

Finally, let’s take a quick look at the software. The 7T is running Android 10 out of the box, which puts it on the bleeding edge of Android builds. It’s a slightly modified version of Android called OxygenOS—OnePlus does a good job of adding meaningful tweaks to stock Android without making the OS feel sluggish or loaded down. Android 10 on the 7T feels a lot like Android 9 did on the 7 Pro and 6T—basically, all of the same tweaks are available.

That said, I’ve also found OxygenOS’s Android 10 build to be buggier than its predecessor. For example, OxygenOS 9 had its own sort of dark mode, and it worked well all the time. Since Android 10 has native dark mode settings that are applied system-wide and to all applicable apps, OnePlus switched to this system. The thing is, it’s weird. It doesn’t work as well. When connected to my Android Auto head unit, which automatically sets light and dark modes depending on the status of the headlight (on/off), dark mode is broken. What’s worse, it doesn’t automatically reset itself once it’s disconnected from Auto, which leads to a weird half-ass light/dark mode combo and is very annoying. For now, I have to manually re-enabled dark mode every time I disconnect my phone from Auto, which drives me nuts. This wasn’t an issue on OxygenOS 9.

OxygenOS 10 is full of little quirks like that, too. Nothing that totally breaks the system or makes it unusable, but minor annoyances (part of which may be Google’s fault for changes in Android 10). It’s still stable, fast, and useful— it just lacks the polish I’ve seen on older versions of OxygenOS. The good news is that OnePlus is usually pretty solid about updating its OS with fixes, so hopefully, it’ll iron out these minor issues shortly after the phone is officially released.

Display: One Step Forward, One Step Back

The OnePlus 7T's waterdrop notch in the display
Cameron Summerson

One interesting thing about the 7T when compared to the 7 Pro is the display is that it features the same 90 Hz refresh rate (which is incredible), but forgoes the full edge-to-edge panel and pop-up front camera for a waterdrop notch similar to what was on the 6T. The notch is smaller than the 6T’s, however, which is a nice touch. Still, I’d be lying if it doesn’t feel like a tiny step back compared to that sleek-ass full panel display on the 7 Pro. Once you get used to a screen like that, going back to a notch is difficult—it’s just a bit of an eyesore. If you’re currently using a phone with a notch, huge bezels, or even a hole-punch fro the front camera, however, it’s not a big deal.

Going back to the 90 Hz refresh rate, though—it’s seriously a gamechanger. Once you get acclimated to the buttery smoothness, it’s challenging to go back to a phone with a 60 Hz panel. It can be done, of course, but it takes a day or two of adjustment. Even then, you’ll likely miss the higher refresh rate, which makes everything on the phone feel more fluid, smoother, and generally looks better.

Otherwise, the 7T’s display is great. Colors are fantastic (and adjustable if you don’t like the out-of-the-box calibration), the resolution is sharp at 2400×1080 (402 PPI), and it’s overall just a pleasure to look at. It’s basically the 7 Pro’s display, but with a little notch. It’s great.

Cameras: Good, Not Great

OnePlus 7T triple camera array

When it comes to good smartphone cameras, there’s Google, Apple, and everyone else. Sometimes Samsung makes its way into the conversation, but that’s generally pretty short-lived. No one can really touch what Google and Apple are doing with smartphone cameras, and the OnePlus 7T doesn’t do anything to change that. It makes sense, because a lot of what Apple and Google are doing is computational stuff that’s handled on the back end, and smaller companies like OnePlus simply don’t have the resources to compete.

If you buy this phone expecting a game-changing camera, you’ll be disappointed. If you buy this phone expecting a solid, usable camera, then you’ll be happy. The triple-lens array gets the job done—it’s not great, not best in class, but it’s good.

OnePlus 7T camera sample at night OnePlus 7T Night Mode shotLeft: Main camera; Right; Night Mode (click for full size)

Like the 7 Pro, the 7T has a main camera, a telephoto lens for zoom shots, and a wide-angle lens. From what I can tell, the main and wide-angle shooters are the same ones that are in the 7 Pro. The telephoto lens, which is objectively very bad in the 7 Pro, is different. It’s a 16 MP shooter with a slightly wider f/2.2 aperture (instead of f/2.4 on the 7 Pro).

 OnePlus 7T Main Camera sample OnePlus 7T Wide Angle camera sample OnePlus 7T Telephoto lens sampleLeft to right: Main camera, Wide-angle, Telephoto (click for full size)

And in reality, it makes a difference. While the main and wide-angle cameras produce nearly-identical images to the 7 Pro, the telephoto lens is better (even if only slightly). What’s even cooler is that the 7T has a “macro photo” setting that, well, let’s you take macro photos. And if you pair that with the telephoto lens, you can get some crazy-cool shots very up-close. It’s kind of a novelty, but it’s a cool one.

 Left to Right: Main camera, 1x Macro Mode, 2x Macro Mode (click for full size)

Overall, the camera package on the 7T is good for $600 and capable of producing very good, usable images.

Battery Life: I Mean, It’s Pretty Okay

I may be beating a dead horse at this point, but when the 6T was my daily driver, I got some crazy-impressive battery life with it. And while the 7 Pro is one of my favorite Android phones of all time, it didn’t quite match what the 6T could get from the battery. The 7T is closer to the 7 Pro than the 6T in battery life, which makes a lot of sense because it has a lot of the same battery-sucking features (like the 90 Hz display).

Still, the battery life isn’t terrible. According to AccuBattery, I routinely get around 6.5 hours of screen-on time. That’s me doing what most people do on their phones: texting, web browsing, watching some videos, listening to music, and playing the occasional game (including Pokemon GO). All in all, I can’t complain about the 7T’s battery—it easily got me through the day every single day, even while traveling and heavily relying on my phone for work communication. I did cut it pretty close some days, though, getting down to single-digit percentages left by the time it hit the charger at night.

Still, I’m happy with the 7T’s battery life overall.

Conclusion: Great Phone, No Gimmicks

OnePlus 7T outside

So here’s the thing: there are brands out there that make good phones, then there are brands that stand above the rest. OnePlus falls into the latter category. This company’s phones tick all the right boxes for Android users: they offer great hardware, excellent prices, and timely updates. The price-to-performance ratio is simply unmatched with OnePlus handsets, and this might be most true about the 7T.

With that in mind, you may be asking yourself if you should buy the 7T or the 7 Pro, which is a great question. On the one hand, you have the 7T—a modern phone that looks good, performs great, and only costs $600. On the other is the 7 Pro—a forward-thinking phone with a sleek, sexy design and $700-750 price tag.

I have both phones. I’ve used both phones extensively. And you know what? I can’t call it—they’re both incredible. Dollar-for-dollar, the 7T has to be the winning choice here, if only because it’s $100 cheaper (for very similar specs) and has a slightly better camera. But there’s also something to be said for the 7 Pro, which is still one of the sexiest phones on the market today with its edge-to-edge display and pop-up camera. But it’s also bigger and a lot heavier, which can be off-putting to some users.

At the end of the day, the OnePlus 7T offers better bang for your buck than any other Android phone on the market right now—the 7 Pro included. So if that’s what you’re after, this is the phone for you.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $599

Here’s What We Like

  • The best value in Android today
  • Blazing fast
  • Beautiful display w/ 90 Hz refresh rate

And What We Don't

  • The waterdrop notch isn't as clean as the pop-up camera on the 7 Pro
  • No wireless charging
  • No official IPA rating

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and serves as an Editorial Advisor for How-to Geek and LifeSavvy. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. Read Full Bio »

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