My First 48 Hours with the OnePlus 5Tby@DuaneStorey
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My First 48 Hours with the OnePlus 5T

by Duane StoreyDecember 7th, 2017
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I’ve been an iPhone user since the iPhone 3G was first released. Each year, almost on cue, I would follow my peers and faithfully upgrade to whatever latest and greatest device <a href="" target="_blank">Apple</a> released.

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I’ve been an iPhone user since the iPhone 3G was first released. Each year, almost on cue, I would follow my peers and faithfully upgrade to whatever latest and greatest device Apple released.

Many times, I was generally happy with the upgrades. But more often than not, especially with some of the latest models, I didn’t feel the price of the new iPhone justified the incremental improvements. Many of Apple’s flagship features introduced into the phone over the years, such as Facetime, were half-baked at best and have never really been fixed. And in general, I can’t help but feel that the quality of iOS (and as an aside, macOS in general — I Am Root!), has been steadily declining over the years.

Prior to about a week ago, my phone of choice was the Apple iPhone 6S. It’s a bit old and banged up, but it still works. When the iPhone 7 came out, I was briefly enticed to upgrade, mainly for the dual camera support. But unfortunately I soon realized that the premium camera configuration only came with the iPhone 7 Plus, and at the time I found both the form factor and the cost prohibitive.

I sat with a friend during Apple’s presentation of the iPhone 8, and we were mostly laughing to ourselves, “that’s it?” It just seemed like Apple’s typical innovation curve these days — faster processor, larger glass, more money, rinse, repeat. Missing from most of the new releases these days seems to be any real innovation, maybe due to the heart of Apple, Steve Jobs, no longer being present.

As expected, later in that same presentation Apple announced the iPhone X, a new phone with Face Unlock (arguably the key selling feature), and apparently a whole array of animated Emojis. While the look of the phone certainly was an improvement, the expanded feature set certainly wasn’t enough to justify the hefty price tag of $1319 CAD for the base level model, at least not for me.

Many of my friends instantly upgraded to the iPhone X, which is what I would have done as well in the past. But since my last iPhone upgrade, I have had a harder and harder time parting with money with it comes to a phone. While the argument can of course be made that these devices are so much more than just phones, there is a certain appeal at this point in both my career and my life where treating these devices simply as phones is appealing.

Since my iPhone 6S was definitely showing its age (having been repaired several times already), I decided I would start looking elsewhere for a phone upgrade. Not long after I saw the announcement by OnePlus for their new, flagship OnePlus 5T model phone and decided to take my first head-first plunge into the Android ecosystem. So that day I ordered the 6GB OnePlus 5T for around $650 CAD, which is less than half the cost of a new iPhone X in Canada.

Let that sink in and marinade for a few moments— less than half the cost.

It took about a week of navigating shipping and customs to get here, but it arrived earlier this week and I’ve been exploring it ever since. And what do I think so far?

I absolutely love it.

This is the first phone I’ve had in ages where I actually am having fun playing with it again. Perhaps it’s the unfamiliarity with the Android OS that’s giving me this sense of enjoyment, or the realization of the possibilities of not having a phone that’s locked into a particular corporate ecosystem (as is the case for the iPhone). But regardless, I find myself simply picking it up from time to time just to play with it, and it’s a great feeling to have again.

I’m actually really amazed with the state of the Android operating system. I was always led to believe that it was a vastly inferior OS compared to iOS. I don’t doubt that years ago there was probably some truth to that, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way today. In fact, simply bouncing around and exploring the operating system makes me realize how many things Android seems to have solved in a more elegant or more refined way than Apple has.

For example, I remember trying to move a home page icon on the OnePlus 5T from one page to another and being surprised how easy it was to accomplish. Anyone with an iPhone knows moving icons around is finicky at best, often involving trying to physically push your finger off the edge of your device to make it acknowledge you want the icon on another page. It’s simple functionality, but something Apple has never gotten right nor ever tried to make right since the original version of iOS.

I love how you can view detailed mobile data usage with a few key presses, and can even enter a specific billing date for when it should roll over. You can also force the phone to suspend mobile data if you breach a certain threshold, making it highly unlikely you could ever exceed your data cap. This seems like such an obvious addition that it’s hard in retrospect to understand why similar functionality doesn’t exist on iOS since mobile data usage is probably the number one cause of bill overages these days.

This morning my Mazda entertainment system told me I had received a new message from a friend, and asked if I wanted it read out to me. This had never happened with my iPhone before, and it surprised me. Apparently this functionality is part of the Bluetooth specification, and the combination of my new phone with the entertainment system caused it to start working. I suspect similar iOS functionality may exist in their CarPlay implementation (which my Mazda doesn’t support), but it was a pleasant surprise after owning my vehicle for two years that I suddenly had a new useful feature for when I am driving.

In terms of the transition from iOS to Android, my main worry was how much more difficult it would be to communicate with my friends without having iMessage. And I won’t lie, it was a bit of an adjustment for the first few hours— the response to my very first SMS message to a friend ended up being routed to my computer instead of my phone, since it was set up that way on iMessage. So I ended up having to remove my phone number completely from iMessage to make it work consistently, officially severing my phone and its number from the Apple ecosystem.

For most of my friends, communication over SMS works fine — we all have unlimited text message plans in Canada, so there’s no issue there. My dad is currently in Arizona, so him and I have switched to WhatsApp for now. Nowadays many people in this situation simply use Facebook messenger instead, but I’m not a big fan of it. Regardless, the loss of iMessage was mostly a non-event.

One aspect I immediately came to miss on the OnePlus 5T was the lack of notification bubbles next to icons to show me how many messages in each application I have yet to receive. I immediately went looking at websites or add-on reviews that would address this for me, and eventually found a resounding chorus of Android power-users questioning quite unequivocally, “why the hell would you want that?”

So against my initial impulses, I left the notification system as is, which essentially requires me to manually display the notification panel to see what’s been happening on my phone. Strangely, after 48 hours of usage, I think I agree with those users — it’s surprisingly refreshing and less stressful to not constantly see how many notifications you have available in each application.

The OnePlus 5T

In terms of the OnePlus 5T itself, it’s really quite a beautiful device. It’s made out of an all-aluminium body and both the size and weight feel perfect in my hand. The display is a beautiful 6" AMOLED variant in an 18:9 aspect ratio (so it’s longer and less wide than most displays, making it easier to hold with one hand), which clocks in at slightly more than 400 pixels per inch (ppi). While that’s technically a lower resolution than some of the higher end Smartphones on the market, I would argue that in practical terms it’s a non-issue, as I suspect many people lack eyesight that is good enough to resolve more than 400ppi anyways.

One of the key selling features of the OnePlus line of phones that set them apart from their competitors is their dual SIM card support, meaning a person can install two different SIM cards in their phone — as someone who has missed important calls while travelling abroad before, that’s a pretty appealing feature, one that I’m also looking forward to testing on my next trip.

The battery life of the OnePlus 5T is outstanding thanks to its 3300mAh battery. Also included in the box is OnePlus’ proprietary Dash (20 watt) charging system, which can fully charge the phone (from 0% to 100%) in approximately one hour. I’ve tried this, and it really is that fast. As someone whose phone battery was previously almost always hovering near 0%, this is a killer feature for me — I actually ordered a second Dash charger, and now have a separate Dash charger at home and in my office.

The combination of the OnePlus’ battery and Dash charging system now means I’ve reached a new state of phone nirvana — the fabled promised lands where a person only needs to charge their phone once a day, regardless of usage.

While I’ve taken the odd photo with the OnePlus 5T, I certainly haven’t taken enough of them to have a solid opinion one way or another in terms of quality. Certainly the photos I’ve taken are completely adequate. Most of the other reviews I’ve read say the camera certainly works well, but is noticeably less sharp than other competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 (although to be fair, these devices also cost much more). That said, today OnePlus just released an OS update that is rumoured to address some of the perceived image quality differences, so I suspect they have addressed some of the issues via algorithm adjustments.

Like the iPhone X, the OnePlus 5T also includes Face Unlocking. Unlike the iPhone X though, the OnePlus 5T performs this feat using just the front facing camera, with no added infrared information. So from a technological point of view, the OnePlus 5T implementation is likely less secure than Apple’s, but for most practical purposes (such as unlocking the phone) it works extremely well and is apparently difficult to fool. It also includes a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device (the iPhone X doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner), which can still be used for any activities (such as payments) that require a higher level of security.

My first 48 hours with the OnePlus 5T has been quite enlightening. They have demonstrated to me that you don’t have to be Apple to make an amazing Smartphone, nor do you have to be locked into a particular ecosystem to have a powerful, productivity-enhancing device. While the loss of iMessage was at first noticeable, it wasn’t that difficult a problem to overcome. And unexpectedly, many of the Android-specific ways of solving problems on my Smartphone seem at first glance to be quite intuitive, often seeming more natural than similar iOS features.

So right now, I’m extremely satisfied with my purchase of the OnePlus 5T, especially since it provides a lot of the same functionality of Apple’s flagship iPhone X, but at roughly half the cost.

I certainly don’t begrudge Apple at all — I have had many happy years as an iPhone user and lover. But with the ever increasing price of the iPhone coupled with a perpetual release timeline that seems to favour timeliness over quality, I expect many other people like myself, who were longtime iPhone users, will be starting to consider other options as well. And if you do, I encourage you to look at the OnePlus 5T, which seems to be one of this year’s best Smartphone offerings in terms of cost vs value. Not only will you likely not regret your purchase if you are upgrading from another Android device, but I also suspect that like me you won’t have any regrets if you leave the Apple ecosystem behind during the transition as well.

To read more articles from Duane Storey, please visit his personal website at