The brand new OnePlus 5T is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest flagship model. Like its predecessors, offers high-end specifications, materials and design at a price point that is noticeably lower than the more established competition.
The 5T is in most respects pretty much identical to its predecessor, the OnePlus 5. However, there are two important changes: the AMOLED display now comes with an 18:9 aspect ratio, covering the entire front of the device, and the dual-camera has done away with the tele-module and replaced it with a secondary sensor that has been optimized for low light performance.
The camera switches to this sensor when light levels drop below 10 Lux and merges four pixels into one for improved image quality. Despite the lack of a tele lens, OnePlus says the new dual-camera setup offers a similar zoom performance to the OnePlus.
We’ve had the OnePlus 5T in our hands for a few days now and used its camera in a wide range of light conditions. Here are our first impressions.
- Main camera: Sony IMX 398 1/2.8″ 16MP sensor, F1.7,
- Secondary camera: Sony IMX 376K 1/2.78″ 20MP sensor, F1.7
- 27.22mm equivalent focal length
- Dual-LED flash
- 4K video at 30 fps
- 720p slow-motion at 120 fps
- Manual mode and Raw capture
- 16MP / F2.0 front camera
- 6″ 1080p AMOLED display, 18:9 aspect ratio
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset
- 64/128GB storage, 6/8GB RAM
- 3,300 mAh battery
In bright light the 5T captures images with pleasant colors. Auto HDR kicks in for high-contrast scenes, ensuring decent dynamic range and good highlight detail. Lens sharpness is good across the frame but if you zoom in to a 100% view, low-contrast detail, such as distant foliage or other fine textures, can look a little mushy. There’s also more luminance noise in the sky than we would like at base ISO.
|ISO 125, 1/490 sec|
When shooting against the light the 5T occasionally captures slightly too dark exposures to protect the highlights, but despite some shadow noise the shot below looks quite pleasant. Occasionally low-contrast detail in the shadows can be very mushy, though.
|ISO 250, 1/1525 sec|
The 5T camera deals much better with higher-contrast scenes, even when overall light levels are lower. The shot below was captured at ISO 640 indoors and shows very good edge definition. There is some luminance noise but it is very finely grained and not too intrusive. Overall detail is still good, despite shooting in low light.
|ISO 640, 1/50 sec|
Noise reduction and smearing of fine detail are more noticeable in this ISO 1000 shot but overall detail is still good considering the light conditions. However, skin tones on the subject are a little warm and just a touch underexposed. It appears the camera was aiming to protect highlights in the brighter background. Overall, the 5T does pretty well in this scene, though.
|ISO 1000, 1/33 sec|
Detail becomes noticeably softer in night shots, as the one below, but exposure is very good and noise well controlled. The OnePlus 5T tends to do a good job in static night scenes.
|ISO 3200, 1/17 sec|
The camera app doesn’t tell you when it switches to the more low-light efficient secondary sensor with its ‘Intelligent Pixel Technology’. But a look at the EXIF data reveals that images taken in very low light have a 20MP resolution, as opposed to the 16MP of the main camera. This also indicates that, if there is some pixel-binning going on, the images are then upscaled to full sensor resolution again.
Looking at the two samples below, the mode is capable of achieving good exposure and color in low light situations. However, level of detail is very low and images have an almost pixelated appearance when viewed at a 100% magnification.
We have also noticed that two images taken in quick succession can look quite different in terms of both exposure and detail rendition. If you click through to the full-size versions of the samples below you’ll see that the image on the left is pretty grainy, while the one on the right has an almost water-color like smeared look. The levels of detail are equally low on both images, though.
|ISO 2000, 1/20 sec||ISO 5000, 1/17 sec|
OnePlus says that, despite the omission of a dedicated tele camera, the 5T’s 2x zoom produces similar image quality to the OnePlus 5. Looking at the sample scene below, this is true. Viewed at a 100% magnification the 2x zoom image shows noticeably lower levels of detail than the standard image, but the tele-lens on the OnePlus 5 did not produce much better results. Zoom images are not ideal for display at larger sizes but look nice at typical social media or web use resolution.
|ISO 250, 1/553 sec|
|ISO 160, 1/504 sec|
The same is true for zoom images captured in low light. The 2x zoom image below was taken in a dimly lit club. Fine detail is not great but the shot is perfectly usable at web size and the zoom function allowed me to get the framing I wanted, even when shooting from the back of the crowd.
|ISO 1600, 1/20 sec|
OnePlus says the 5T’s bokeh mode has been improved over the version used by its predecessor and our initial tests confirm that. There are still some minor artifacts around foreground subjects but overall subject separation from the background is pretty good, even in lower light and with human subjects.
In addition, the amount blur applied to the background is not too strong, resulting in a fairly natural bokeh rendition.
|ISO 320, 1/464 sec, Depth mode|
We also shot a few videos with the OnePlus 5T and the results are pretty good, with decent detail, nice color and good exposure. Stabilization is pretty good when hand-holding the camera, but things get a little shaky while panning, as you can see in the clip below.
The video mode delivers decent image quality in this artificially lit indoor shot. Video stabilization keeps things nice and steady during handheld recording.
You can also record video using the 2x zoom settings. The results in the low light clip below aren’t quite broadcast quality but definitely usable, with good stabilization.
With its new 18:9 display and powerful processing components the OnePlus 5T is a great smartphone in general use. However, there’s a lot to like about its camera as well. Images show good exposure and color across all light levels, the bokeh mode captures images that look more natural than on many competitors and the zoom function produces usable results, even in very low light.
Like on the 5T’s predecessor, pixel level image quality is a bit of a weakness, though. The Auto HDR function produces some ghosting artifacts and mushy textures, and we also found more luminance noise in base ISO images than we’d like to see.
Low light image quality is decent but not up with the very best, and with the current software version OnePlus’ ‘Intelligent Pixel Technology’ doesn’t really offer any noticeable low light benefits over a fine-tuned conventional camera.
That said, OnePlus is known as a manufacturer that is frequently pushing software updates and improving the performance of its products. If the engineers are able to fine-tune image processing and video stabilization a touch more, the OnePlus could easily jump up a few spots in the smartphone image quality rankings.
There are 10 images in our OnePlus 5T samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don’t abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
You can also still have a look at our OnePlus 5 review gallery from June.