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Newest Kid On The Block

OnePlus has released the swanky new 5T variant to help keep the brand up with the Joneses

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What do you do if your five-month-old product is doing stupendously well, yet there are a few things you really wished you could change before the annual update window opened up next year? If you’re OnePlus, you go down the path of forced obsolescence with the OnePlus 5, releasing a swanky new 5T variant with the 2017 flagship du jour near-bezel-less design that keeps you up with the Joneses…even if you have to deal with a little consumer backlash along the way.

And so it is with the OnePlus 5T. On the face of it, you may think not a lot has changed, since the new phone largely retains the same footprint as the outgoing model, but in place of the 5.5-inch screen, you get a large 6.01-inch screen in a tall 18:9 aspect ratio. Gone are the thick bezels of the 5 — the 5T display covers 80 per cent of the front of the device, giving the familiar design a modern twist that will look fresh well into 2018. The display itself is bright and vivid, and while it isn’t the highest resolution display around, the 2160 x 1080 resolution is enough for most folks’ needs. The larger size screen benefits gaming and movies immensely, since the effect is that much more immersive.

With the screen dominating the front of the 5T, OnePlus has jettisoned the physical home button and embedded fingerprint scanner from the front. Instead, the fingerprint scanner makes its way to the rear panel and, as expected from OnePlus devices, is blazing fast. Complementing the fingerprint scanner is the new homegrown Face Unlock facial recognition feature, which uses more than 100 identifiers to distinguish you. In all but the lowest ambient light, Face Unlock works extremely fast, rivalling the speed of a fingerprint sensor (and certainly faster, if not as secure, as the iPhone X’s Face ID). It’s so fast, it could have someone unlock my phone simply by flashing it at my face for a split second; not something you would want if your phone was being stolen!

Face Unlock may have grabbed headlines at launch, but the rest of the software experience is refined and full of nifty little features - Parallel Apps, for instance, lets you run two instances of social media apps, App Locker keeps data private by locking app with your fingerprint, and there’s finally a Game do-not-disturb mode! That said, the lack of the latest Android version on a phone that is launching more than a quarter after Android 8.0 was made available is downright disappointing – OnePlus says an update to Android 8.0 will come sometime early in 201.

Now, while the OnePlus 5 took rich and detailed photos in good light, one of my big complaints was that the rear camera was a bit of a letdown in low light. The

5T has made big strides in this direction, albeit by dropping optical zoom capabilities on the second rear camera. OnePlus uses the second 20MP camera automatically in low light conditions, performing some fancy pixel grouping to capture more light, which means that images taken in low light are a lot brighter and suffer from a lot less image noise.

Despite these changes, the 5T is powered by the same top-shelf hardware and software smarts that made the 5 such a pleasure to use – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip coupled with 6/8GB of RAM is still about as fast as it gets on Android. OnePlus has retained the same price while turning out a more modern smartphone that will see them through till the hype train rolls in with the OnePlus 6 mid next year. Sure, the 5T lacks wireless charging and weather proofing, but it still remains the best phone money can buy…without burning a Pixel/iPhone/Note 8 sized hole in your wallet!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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OnePlus 5 OnePlus 5T android magazine 9 december 2017

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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