OnePlus 7T Budget Smartphone Review 2020

Price-wise, the OnePlus 7T is a midrange device, but it's anything BUT mediocre.

Welcome to the era of the $1,000 phone! All the bells and whistles can be yours—if you’re willing to pay for them, or so we’re told.

Enter OnePlus. This company has some different ideas about value—that is, what you’re going to get versus what you’re going to pay. Price-wise, the OnePlus 7T smartphone is a midrange device, but don’t let that fool you—it’s anything but mediocre.

Let’s talk about it.

Popular OnePlus 7T plans

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A closer look at the design of the OnePlus 7T smartphone

One of the great things about the hardware when you buy a OnePlus device is that you get a case and screen protector right from jump. And with that covered (literally), let’s take a look around the device.

OnePlus 7T smartphone

On the right side of the phone, you get a hardware alert slider that allows you to set your phone’s notifications to silent, vibrate, or ring, with a flip.

And right below that is the power button.

Detail image of the OnePlus 7T's alert slider and power button

On the bottom of the device, you’ll find stereo speakers that support Dolby Atmos, a USB-C charge port, and a dual SIM slot.

Detail image of the OnePlus 7T's speakers, charge port, and SIM slot

On the left side is your volume rocker, and the top houses one of the microphones.

The rear of the 7T is where you’ll find its three cameras. We’ll come back to those in a minute.

Detail image of the OnePlus 7T's rear side showing cameras

On the front of the phone, under that pre-installed screen protector, you’ll find:

  • a 6.55 in. (2400×1080), 90 Hz, AMOLED display
  • a 16 MP front-facing camera
  • an in-display fingerprint sensor

And there’s a speaker grill on the front just above the display. You may have missed it because OnePlus did a great job of hiding it so that it just melts into the design instead of making it a part of that notch in the display. Kudos for that.

Detail image of the OnePlus 7T's hidden speaker grill

The rear camera is a Sony sensor 48-megapixel affair with optical image stabilization. It includes a telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens that gives you a 117° field of view. (We’ll talk about photos in Nightscape mode in just a bit.)

Below the cameras, internally, is a 3800-milliamp-hour battery that supports OnePlus Warp Charge 30T fast charging. That means you can charge your phone from zero to around 70% in about 30 minutes.

Are the OnePlus 7T’s cameras good?

Its low-light image quality isn’t as impressive as more expensive smartphones, but it’s still pretty good.

Let’s get back to those cameras. One thing I’d really like to touch on is Nightscape mode. I went out and took some night shots at a local Metro bus stop here in Los Angeles, and, as you can see, the color reproduction actually looks pretty good.

It’s when you get into the darker areas of the photo that this camera’s shortcomings become apparent.

Zooming into the darker areas of the photo, you’ll notice the grain. It isn’t horrible, but the graininess reveals the limitations of the sensor’s ability to handle low-light situations.

Closeup of a photo taken in Nightscape mode showing graininess

That said, the phones that do a better job at producing low-light images are going to cost you hundreds more. And I think the compromise on image quality at this phone’s price point is absolutely worth it, especially if the OnePlus price point better aligns with your budget.

Let’s face it—you’re not gonna blow these photos up into 8×10s or billboards. For the average user, these are gonna be serviceable low-light photos that won’t leave you squinting to try to figure out what or who was in the picture. For most folks, these photos will be great for their ultimate purpose—sharing on social media, where the images will be compressed or made smaller and lose quality anyway.

For most folks, these photos will be great for their ultimate purpose—sharing on social media.

Is the OnePlus 7T’s software good?

OxygenOS is the highlight of this smartphone.

The software, OxygenOS, is where the OnePlus 7T really shines. It can be as busy as you want, or you can Zen out (literally—more on that below) and keep things simple. You can easily spend an hour or more just exploring the settings for the display, customization options, the Buttons and Gestures menus, and other features.

Here are some features of the OnePlus 7T’s software I want to highlight:

Customization

I could do an entire article on the Customization menu alone, but I’ll give you just the high-level overview:

You can customize everything.

If you’re the type who likes to obsess over the little things and customize every little aspect of your phone—not just the wallpaper but the icons, the menus, the navigation bar, truly everything—well, I think you’re going to like OxygenOS.

For the lock screen, you can change the clock style, the fingerprint animations, and the wallpapers. At the system level, you can customize the icons and menus. You can change the accent color, the tone, the shape of the icons, and even the icons themselves with various icon packs.

Take some time, look around, knock yourselves out—there’s a lot to go through here.

Buttons and gestures menu

In the Buttons and gestures menu, you can customize exactly what the alert slider does. You can go into the Navigation Bar and Gestures menu and control how the Android nav bar functions.

The OnePlus 7T's Buttons and Gestures menu

Do you like your Back Home and Recent options to be persistent at the bottom of your screen taking up real estate? Not sure if you’re ready for the world of gestures and for that Nav button to be hidden?

The menu here does a good job of using tutorial animations so that you can see what the Gesture functions look like and make a well-informed decision about which one is going to work for you. Swipe between the animations to see all of the gestures in action, or click on the Start Learning button to be taken through a four-step tutorial on the subject.

Gestures

If you’re all about that Gesture life, you can venture into the Quick Gestures menu and set up a novella’s worth of different shortcut gestures, such as:

  • muting the phone
  • answering the phone
  • screenshots

You can also create custom shortcuts that utilize preset gestures, like drawing an O on the screen to launch Outlook, for example. You have five shortcuts you can assign here.

A 90-hertz refresh rate that doesn’t kill your battery

When you look at the OnePlus 7T’s Display menu, you’ll find the usual items—plus one more you may not be accustomed to: screen refresh rate.

The OnePlus 7T's Display menu showing refresh rate

This phone supports the standard 60 hertz and the faster 90 hertz refresh rates. Think of hertz in this context: it’s like a flip-book. The faster you flip the pages, the smoother the animations. So on the OnePlus 7T at 90 hertz, pages will scroll smoother, animations will look smoother, and you’re treated to a visual experience that is more pleasing overall.

Think of hertz in this context: it’s like a flip-book. The faster you flip the pages, the smoother the animations.

I haven’t noticed a significant hit to the life of the battery with the 90 hertz option on, so I recommend leaving it on (which is the default setting).

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Social media lovers should check out the Parallel Apps option
If you’re someone who has multiple Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram accounts, you should definitely check out the Parallel Apps option in the Utilities menu. It’ll allow you to run two instances of those apps logged in to two different accounts.

A smartphone that looks out for your mental health

The OnePlus 7T offers some unique features to promote digital well-being.

When it’s time to breathe, OxygenOS is your friend. The Digital Wellbeing (DWB) menu allows you to manage notifications and distractions so that you can focus on what matters most in your day.

You’ll find a Wind Down option in the DWB menu. This allows you to set scheduled times for the screen colors to change so that the blue light scientists say interrupts our sleep patterns is actually filtered out.

Do Not Disturb functionality can be scheduled here in the DWB menu, too, including scheduling when your phone will return to its normal settings.

The OnePlus 7T’s Digital Wellbeing menu is all pretty intuitive, so creating space to have a digital detox and slow your brain down before it’s time to hit the pillow is a pretty simple affair.

Focus mode

Taking it one step further, you can go into the Focus mode menu, which will allow you to schedule times to block certain apps from generating notifications. You can go through just about every installed app on your phone and add them to your Distracting Apps list.

The OnePlus 7T's Focus mode

Zen mode

Breathe even deeper with Zen mode. Just select it from the dropdown shade.

The OnePlus 7T's Zen mode in action
Zen mode is hardcore.

You select the amount of time you want to Zen out, and Zen mode will mute incoming notifications, allowing only incoming calls and outgoing emergency calls. It locks all the apps except for the camera.

Once you activate Zen mode, it cannot be canceled. But you are in control of the time, somewhat. You can choose to Zen out for 20, 30, 40, or 60 minutes. That’s some hardcore exposure therapy for your FOMO.

You can even schedule Zen time, and you’ll get badges and awards for the amount of time you spent getting all Zenned out throughout the week.

Conclusion: Is the OnePlus 7T worth it?

It depends on what’s more important to you—image quality or a budget-friendly price.

So how are you feeling about this phone now? Do you think it can be your happy place or help you achieve enlightenment? I don’t know if it can do all that, but at $650 for the unlocked US Warranty model on Amazon* and at $599 (or $25 a month) from carriers like T-Mobile, the OnePlus 7T is a fantastic option for those unwilling to shell out $900 or more for a phone.

Sure, there are better cameras to be had on more expensive phones, but are you really scrutinizing your photos so much that paying up to $600 more is worth it? Only you can be the judge of that, but I think it’s a pretty fabulous phone.

If you have any questions about the phone, leave them in the comments below.

* Amazon.com List Price as of 2/21/2020 1:00 p.m. (MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Reviews.org utilizes paid Amazon links. Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.