#7DayReviewChallenge A Tale of Constant Moving Between Phones

  1. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 1, 2017

    TranslucentLeaf , Dec 1, 2017 :
    Even if this review gets buried in a sea of other threads here, I wouldn't mind. I'm here to share my thoughts and experiences of this phone throughout this week and hopefully form a good enough impression of the Oneplus 5T to create a short video about it.

    Anyways hello everyone! I'm currently a high school senior whose phone usage consists of web browsing (articles and social media), productivity (emails, todo lists, etc), and photography/filmmaking. When purchasing a phone, I've always made it a point to find a phone at a budget price. My first phone started with the HTC Inspire over the iPhone 4, which led me into Android phones from the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and LG G6, all of which I've bought well under the flagship prices that start at $750.

    Now about a month of two ago I decided to upgrade from the Note 5 to the LG G6. There was nothing wrong with how much I enjoyed it except for the battery and tthe lack of original ROMs such as Lineage OS. And even though it's out for the Note 5 it's also incompatible with my model, another gripe I had with Samsung and a few other OEMs. So I picked up the G6 hoping that I'd get the same community support as the G2 did with a vast collection of original ROMs.

    The G6 didn't work out much better. The same problem with model incompatibility occurred again as LG sells two different phones under the same model number (US997). One of them is unlocked and one of them is carrier unlocked. One of them also happened to be 7 months behind on security updates and couldn't even be bootloader unlocked for custom ROMs. Even though I got the right model I later found out that with the original ROMs like LineageOS the camera features couldn't consistently work without aftermarket apps, and videos were even more unstable and may have had a chance of not saving anything. And then the last straw? Well the G6 is still stuck on Android 7.0. It might have fairly recent security updates (October so far) but the battery life and performance are subpar even though it has flagship specs.

    And then I moved onto the OnePlus 5T after that mess. So I present to you my review of the 5T.

    Day One - Unboxing

    While I do get a sort of new toy feeling from the 5T, I was looking for signs that I'd get a device that was consistent, functional, and long lasting like I'd thought the G6 would be while being fast, snappy, and trendy like a 2017 device should be. After powering up and setting it up I was surprisingly not disappointed. While the G6 stuttered and lagged as soon as I updated and installing a few apps the 5T handled everything with what felt like an actual upgrade from my Note 5. I attribute this to the clean and minimal OxygenOS that follow's Google's stock software closely while providing useful features. Thank you, OnePlus, for taking what I believe to be one of the best routes for an enthusiast when it comes to software (but still you unfortunately don't plan on implementing Treble to the 5T which I'll get to later).
    I would talk about a few more things about the hardware and software, but I'll save those details for the later posts. I'm just glad to have the 5T because this phone looks very promising, especially for its price, which can be furthered discounted for college students (one perk that helps me respect a company quite a bit more). And along with it's price it's has everything it needs to compete with the other Android flagships costing much more. I've seen some people criticize the camera which is fair but I do want to add that the $350 I save from the Pixel 2 XL or the $500 from a Note 8 or iPhone X can go towards a camera like the Panasonic G7 with a lens for any aspiring photographers/filmmakers out there like me (which is a small amount of people this argument applies to in all honesty).
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017

    Crystal Z. likes this.
  2. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 2, 2017

    TranslucentLeaf , Dec 2, 2017 :
    Day Two - Design/Display
    While not anything super ambitious, the 5T definitely matches the design of many 2017 phones with the 18:9 display and slim bezels, and I really like the design of this. The phone is solidly constructed with an aluminum body, which loses the wireless charging ability but I personally just cable charge with dash charging since it's so fast so for me I'd prefer the durability boost. Plus, with USB C plugging in the cable is much more easier. Moving on I really like the placement of the antennae lines since the phone looks extremely clean and minimal, including OnePlus's own logo in a glossy black instead of a more contrasting color. The phone's dual sim might be more useful to some compared to an extra SD card slot, but with the 64/128 gb of storage most people should be fine.
    As for the audio, the speakers can easily be covered up but other than that they sound fine like any other smartphone. I do applaud OnePlus for still keeping the headphone jack while simultaneously having Bluetooth 5.0 with the aptX codec. It's the best of both worlds and there's a minimal tradeoff here as far as I know. Even space-wise the phone is a lot thinner for its size compared to my previous Note 5 and the G6, and also lighter (I personally prefer heavier but it doesn't bother me) while still having a jack like the other two.

    The display on the OnePlus 5T might be only at 1080p resolution, but the display is still sharp enough for me to not notice any difference while extending battery life. Plus, the fact that it's 18:9 and sports a bright and vivid OLED display more than outshadows any disadvantage of the lower resolution. The little rounded corners on the phone are also a nice touch, and the thin-bezel display is just breathtaking. Moving from the Note 5's quality OLED display and the G6's 18:9 aspect ratio with a LCD display, the 5T combines the best of these two and delivers a quality display. You can calibrate the color space to your liking, which I really appreciate.
    So in summary this phone has sleek and modern design that includes slim bezels and a amazing OLED display that also has function in mind with the aluminum build and inclusion of good wired and wireless audio solutions.
    Some people don't need the headphone jack but given how much I listen to music it's pretty essential for me to have a convenient setup. The 5T doesn't skimp on wired or wireless audio via bluetooth's high quality APTx.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

    Crystal Z. likes this.
  3. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 3, 2017

    TranslucentLeaf , Dec 3, 2017 :
    Day Three - Camera
    The camera has been something controversial among many people, however it's such a complex topic for me to try to cover for one day, so expect plenty of updates while I put the camera to more and more testing. What I look for in a smartphone camera is the ability to quickly take a photo, maintain reasonable quality for others in its class, and also give the user a set of manual controls for those with more time and effort to experiment. My initial impression is that the phone meets my standard, but it'll take me a bit longer to fully explore what the camera excels at and falls short compared to other smartphones (in this case those would be the LG G6 and Samsung Note 5). I do wish I had Google's Pixel XL/XL2 to test with, but otherwise I cannot properly compare this camera among any other flagships.
    So far, I've only been using the default camera with auto settings on pro mode so I could take both regular jpeg files and also raw files. I've only had time to compare the jpeg files, but the raw files have a lot more potential to be better than the jpeg files that have already gone through software processing. The sharpness seems to be on par with the two phones I've tested, but not hitting above. I do wish it was sharper though, but I'm hearing reports that it may just be the processing that's holding the camera into average territory, so I'll be making more comparisons over the next few days with the Google Camera port and editing the RAW equivalent photos that I took.
    A bit of lens flare present. Image looks fine minus my sloppy composition.

    However at low night the camera has a stronger tendency to fall apart in noise and sharpness as the processing tries to denoise what is already unsharp, doubling down on the lack of sharpness. However many smartphones struggle with low light too, so this is typically expected. In this situation taking RAW photos and then editing them with a raw editor with better noise reduction and processing tools would really benefit it.
    As far usability goes, I really like the app. The camera launches extremely fast with it. I do wish you could switch modes by just swiping up instead of clicking the tiny arrow to launch the settings and camera modes. And this may be far fetched but focus peaking would be nice in pro mode so that when you can be sure that you are in focus when manually focusing. Other than that I love the controls on the pro mode, and how every option can be controlled by scrolling a wheel like you do on a camera dial.
    And while the cameras don't have optical image stabilization (it would be nice for still photos though), the electronic image stabilization could be promising for video like what Google did with the Pixel 2 XL. That'll have to undergo more comprehensive tests later on. So I'm pretty content for the camera, but I'll wait a little bit before seeing whether or not I can really get excited about this. Given the phone's price, the camera certainly seems capable with the right ingredients of software processing and creative freedom via the manual controls/raw photo capture.
    Detail looks good without any moire effect. Any loss of sharpness is from my shaky hands.

    Edit: Given the new Oxygen OS update, the camera app is a lot more easier to use when switching around different settings like photo/video or pro mode. I did wish that the pro mode came in default and that there was a pro mode for video too. I'm really liking how the camera holds in ideal light conditions, and while low light could use some work it's not going to be amazing on other smartphones as far as I can tell. The last thing I ask for is focus peaking since I miss focus without noticing sometimes!

    Image looks good from far away like most smartphones, although it does fall behind especially in the image processing for things like noise reduction.
    Another example of the noise reduction. Although most images won't be pixel peeped by anyone who doesn't care to compare image quality versus whether the image itself is a good photo or not.

    For video the electronic stabilization is a bit robotic at times but it's worth it when looking at how stable the footage can be when you're not doing any major movements. It does have a few points where it keeps quick focusing and there are also a few issues with noise but other than that I can definitely use the 5T as a backup to my main Sony Camera (Sony a6300). I do like how easy zooming is in video unlike the annoying pinch to zoom on other phones for video mode when I barely have a single hand to use while filming, and the audio seems to work pretty fine although you shouldn't expect it to drown out background noise (no mic could really do that on a phone).

    And for any other suggestions I would just like focus peaking and manual video controls and the phone will pretty much be extremely satisfactory!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

    Crystal Z. likes this.
  4. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 5, 2017

    TranslucentLeaf , Dec 5, 2017 :
    Sorry I was a bit late with the reviews! Being crumpled under homework and college applications really suck the time out of your life. Anyways, here is what I should have posted yesterday and today's review as well.
    Day Four - Performance
    Performance just. blew. my. mind. away. I think it's especially because of OxygenOS being very close to stock Android. Moving from the Note 5 to my LG G6 felt like a laggy downgrade sometimes, even though the G6 has a Snapdragon 821 chip. But the 5T's newer, more efficient equivalent chip (Snapdragon 835), 8gb of RAM (for my version), and the close to Android OS make for a beautifully smooth and quick experience. And I was making the comparisons with the animation speed set at 0.5 for the Note 5 and the G5 while I haven't even touched the 5T's animation speed. Whatever can slow this phone down to a halt is either a bug or would do the same to any other device before the 5T caves in. It's one of the things I love about this phone and what really makes me feel that I made a good purchase for the long-term use. Even the share menu pops up fast on this phone compared to any other phone out there as pointed out by this Reddit post. As I move around apps a lot and multitask often, I realized that the speed it takes to move between those apps is absolutely essential for my phone experience, even if it's something that doesn't seem to matter all that much.

    And it's not just the system that's fast, the face unlock works pretty nicely and in many lighting scenarios being based off of just the camera. I just point the phone at me, press the power button, and the phone goes straight into the app and skips the notification screen. Even though I primarily use the fingerprint scanner I use the face unlock for when you can't reach the back button fast enough. It just surprises me once in a while still. And the last thing that's super fast is the charging, which leads me too...
    The fingerprint scanner is fast too.
    Day Five - Dash Charge/Power Consumption

    I just love how USB C can be plugged in both ways.

    Sometimes I still am amazed at how fast Qualcomm's quick charge is. And then dash charge comes along and blows my mind even further. The technology also takes the heat conversions away from the phone so you don't deal with any major temperature issues as before (my Note 5 gets hot during the summertime). 15-30 minutes can get you so far ahead in charging these days. I just wish there was a dash charge power bank for the 5T since I have an Anker quickcharge powerbank that's not going to be 100% effective with the 5T.
    The charger brick is a bit big but charges so fast and keeps the heat away from the phone.

    Battery life is also great from my experiences. The LG G6 drains an awful lot of battery for some reason to the point where it's only a bit better than my Note 5, which is on a custom ROM that needs to be updated with a newer version and also a newer battery. I can actually last a full day with the OnePlus 5T. I'm still getting 70 percent capacity when I usually brace for 55-60% at most. The OxygenOS software adds minimal bloat and therefore minimum amount of apps that lag when I get all these notifications and further contribute to draining battery life. So with that I'd assume the battery lasts longer overall no matter what you're doing, but time will tell me more about this.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

  5. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 11, 2017

    TranslucentLeaf , Dec 11, 2017 :
    Day Six - OxygenOS
    The software experience is my favorite ever of any Android phone I’ve owned. It’s a gigantic fresh breath of air after the OEM skins of my previous Samsung and LG phones. It's very similar to the custom ROMs that I've installed on the LG G2, many of them which were closer to Android itself rather than LG's implementation. With the 5T there aren't any bloatware at all or two apps that do the same exact thing, and the smoothness is just blazing fast even at the default animation scale. Seriously, my favorite feature of OxygenOS is how it embraces the stock Android experience, and how the other features are intertwined with stock Android rather than trying to divide it. For example, on the LG G6 there are a countless amount of themes in the theme store but how come I can't get anything close to stock Android?

    As for actual features, double clicking the power button takes you to the camera no matter where you are (cough LG), and the screen off gestures to launch apps or open the flashlight are super convenient.

    So far, my biggest suggestions are to include the option of an always on display with brightness levels and a off period, more customization to the alert slider so that I can toggle what each setting does, and the final one being that the phone at least get two major updates, preferably more with quick security updates. I would have liked Android's Project Treble on the 5T, which would give us a little more room and future ease as far as updating the device goes and for developing custom software for the phone. I know it won't likely change for the 5T but I hope to see this in future devices for the entirely of the Android ecosystem, not just OnePlus.

    Day Seven - Conclusion

    As of writing this post it's been a bit more than seven days, but none of my thoughts or opinions have changed significantly. 2017 was a big year for smartphones as bezels started shrinking and prices started increasing. Starting at $500, the OnePlus 5T has become a budget phone that hits well above it's price, although it feels weird for me to call it a budget device, but when flagships cost twice as much, I expect twice as much and I'm left empty handed. The leftover money can be spent on a quality camera and lens if you need even more quality (especially since the flagship cameras aren't that much better when considering the value you get).

    What's most surprising to me is the lack extreme trade-offs I get for the low price. The specs are on par, and combined with stock Android actually punch above its price point as far as speed and responsiveness go. The design is excellent with a beautiful display and the camera is quite capable (and can be further improved if OnePlus works harder on the image processing). The only issues I can see here is warranty support for physical defects since OnePlus is a smaller company with less physical resources for repair and shipping. Software wise we don't get any specific details as far as updates go but in comparison with even the flagship companies Android updates are done relatively quickly and with good security patches and some actual care for the community (try shouting at LG or Samsung about your battery woes or the lack of Treble). I'm walking in with a little more respect for OnePlus and hope they can keep their promises and keep this 5T an amazing device as time moves along.

    So if I had a thousand dollar budget, my choices would be the Google Pixel 2 XL and the OnePlus 5T. Maybe the essential phone if you can get it cheaper than the 5T or the original Google Pixel if you want to save some money. Other than phones with a near-stock software experience there's nothing else I'd get even if money were no object. In fact, I'd get the 5T since the money would for sure be better spent upgrading my camera equipment or my laptop.

    And even though you could get a used flagship like the S8+ for a closer price to the 5T, well you're at the mercy of getting a used device with no warranty support and no returns either. And that's comparing it to a new 5T that isn't in the used market. The 5T can also drop in price in the used market by that logic and it's only a little bit of waiting that needs to take place.

    Well done OnePlus! You managed to continue my cycle of getting flagships/flagship-level phones at a cheaper price. Unlike the new G6 I have this feels like an upgrade and like a new and capable device. There's really nothing I dislike majorly with the 5T, and it should be able to hold true for the future should the software support be as good as some claim, whether it is official updates or community development.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

    Crystal Z. likes this.
  6. Crystal Z.
    Global Community <3 Staff Member Dec 14, 2017

  7. TranslucentLeaf
    Donut Dec 15, 2017

  8. Crystal Z.
    Global Community <3 Staff Member Dec 15, 2017

    Crystal Z. , Dec 15, 2017 :
    Now it's cool