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April 17, 2018

Nokia 7 Plus vs. OnePlus 5T: A close contest

by John_A

The OnePlus 5T still offers the best specs in this segment, but the Nokia 7 Plus has a better camera and outstanding battery life.

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HMD Global revived the Nokia brand last year, primarily focusing on the budget segment. After a relatively quiet start, the Finnish manufacturer saw increased momentum in the fourth quarter of 2017, where it managed to sell 4.4 million phones, outpacing the likes of OnePlus, HTC, and Google.

HMD is adopting a more aggressive strategy for 2018, with the company rolling out a slew of handsets aimed at various price points. The most interesting of the new additions is the Nokia 7 Plus, which is the first phone — and the only one thus far — from the manufacturer to feature an 18:9 panel.

There’s a lot to like in the Nokia 7 Plus: it is powered by the Snapdragon 660, offers dual cameras at the back, and has a 3800mAh battery. The camera part is particularly interesting, as it is using the same sensor arrangement as the Pixel 2 XL for the primary camera. In fact, the phone itself is akin to a Pixel 2 Lite as it were, based on the overall design and the specs on offer.

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 5T is on its way out, with the phone on sale for just five months. The OnePlus 6 is scheduled to make its debut imminently, and while its predecessor isn’t available in most countries, it is still up for sale in India, the company’s largest market. India is also a key market for HMD as the Nokia name still carries a lot of weight here.

With the Nokia 7 Plus set to go on sale later this month for ₹25,999 ($400) and the OnePlus 5T retailing for ₹32,999 ($505), there isn’t much to separate the two phones in terms of pricing. It’s time to find out if the Nokia 7 Plus can hold its own in this category and take the fight to the OnePlus 5T.

Nokia 7 Plus vs. OnePlus 5T: Specs

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Operating System Android 8.1 OreoAndroid One Android 8.0 OreoOxygenOS 5.0.4
Display 6.0-inch 18:9 IPS LCD 2160 x 1080Gorilla Glass 3403ppi pixel density 6.01-inch 18:9 Optic AMOLED 2160 x 1080Gorilla Glass 5401ppi pixel density
Chipset Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660Four Kryo 260 cores up to 2.20GHzFour Kryo 260 cores at 1.80GHz14nm Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835Four Kryo 280 cores at 2.45GHzFour Kryo 280 cores at 1.90GHz10nm
GPU Adreno 512 Adreno 540
RAM 4GB LPDDR4 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 64GB eMMC 5.1 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1
Expandable Yes (up to 256GB) No
Battery 3800mAh 3300mAh
Charging USB-CQuick Charge 3.0 (9V/2A) USB-CDash Charge (5V/4A)
Water resistance No No
Rear Camera 12MP (f/1.75, 1.4um) + 12MP (f/2.6, 1.0um)Dual Pixel AutofocusEIS, Carl Zeiss optics4K@30fps 16MP (f/1.7, 1.12um) + 20MP (f/1.7, 1.0um)EIS, PDAF4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60fps
Front Camera 16MP 16MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, FM radioNFC, LTE with VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0GPS/AGPS/GLONASS/BeiDou Wi-Fi 802.11 ac MU MIMONFC, LTE with VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0GPS/AGPS/GLONASS/BeiDou
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor (back) One-touch fingerprint sensor (back)
SIM Dual Nano SIM (hybrid) Dual Nano SIM
Dimensions 158.4 x 75.6 x 8mm 156.1 x 75 x 7.3mm
Colors Black/Copper, White/Copper Midnight Black, Sandstone White, Lava Red
Weight ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 162g

Where they’re both equal

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OnePlus’ insistence on a clean software experience with OxygenOS allowed it to stand out in this category, and HMD Global is going one step further by partnering with Google on Android One. All HMD phones going forward will run Android One out of the box, as the Finnish manufacturer commits to Google’s vision of pure Android.

OxygenOS is one of the best skins around because of its clean interface interspersed with OnePlus’ own tweaks — such as face unlock and gestures — and although HMD also has a clean interface, it is missing the customizations that give OnePlus phones an edge.

Both phones also have a headphone jack, and there’s no water resistance or wireless charging.

What the Nokia 7 Plus does better

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The OnePlus 5T has a fairly utilitarian design that sees a unibody aluminum chassis with antenna lines at the top and bottom of the device. There’s not a whole lot to get excited about on the design front, but the limited edition Lava Red color variant definitely makes the phone stand out. That’s the case with the Sandstone White/Star Wars option as well.

Meanwhile, the Nokia 7 Plus has much more flair. The copper accents at the front along with the inserts at the back and the midframe make the phone stand out, and the ceramic coating at the back makes it easier to hold than the OnePlus 5T.

The Nokia 7 Plus is built like a tank.

Although both phones have widely varying designs, the unifying factor is the build quality. Both phones have top-notch build quality, and you get the feeling that they’re built to last from the moment you pick up either device. That’s particularly true of the Nokia 7 Plus, which is machined out of series 6000 aluminum — this phone is built like a tank.

And while HMD doesn’t officially list the weight of the device, it doesn’t feel significantly heavier than the OnePlus 5T.

If there’s one area that HMD excelled at last year, it’s rolling out updates. The company ensured it rolled out monthly security patches and platform updates to its portfolio of devices — often beating the Pixels to monthly patches. It doesn’t look like that will change this year. If anything, partnering with Google over Android One will allow HMD to offer updates at the same time as the Pixels. If you care about timely updates, there isn’t another phone out there that can come close to the Nokia 7 Plus in this category.

The Nokia 7 Plus wins out in two key areas: camera and battery life. With hardware being largely commoditized, it’s often the camera that serves as the differentiator in this category. And on that front, the Nokia 7 Plus has the edge over the OnePlus 5T. The 12MP primary camera takes stunning photos in daylight conditions, and is just as capable in low-light scenarios.

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Nokia 7 Plus on the left, OnePlus 5T on the right.

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The Nokia 7 Plus takes photos with accurate colors, whereas the OnePlus 5T tends to oversaturate images. Low-light photos taken on the Nokia 7 Plus have much more detail to them as well. It’ll be interesting to see what the OnePlus 6 offers on the camera front, but for now the Nokia 7 Plus is the outright winner in this category.

The Nokia 7 Plus also destroys the OnePlus 5T when it comes to battery life — the 3800mAh battery manages to easily deliver two days’ worth of usage from a full charge. And yes, it has an FM radio, just like Nokia phones of old.

What the OnePlus 5T does better

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The OnePlus 5T continues to be a performance monster. The hardware on offer combined with the uncluttered OxygenOS interface makes the OnePlus 5T one of the fastest phones in the market today. The 6.01-inch AMOLED panel is also marginally better than the IPS LCD display on the Nokia 7 Plus. You get much more vibrant colors, excellent contrast levels, and the OnePlus 5T is calibrated to the DCI-P3 color profile.

The OnePlus 5T has a more vibrant display, and the hardware is a cut above the Nokia 7 Plus.

The OnePlus 5T also has UFS 2.1 storage, whereas the Nokia 7 Plus is using an older eMMC 5.1 storage module. Without getting into the technicalities, the eMMC standard uses a half-duplex system — wherein it can undertake either a read or write operation, but not both at once — whereas UFS can handle read and write tasks simultaneously.

As such, UFS storage modules can hit a higher bandwidth, and are ideally suited for multi-tasking use cases. There isn’t a noticeable difference when it comes to day-to-day usage between both standards, but if you’re installing a lot of apps and trying to use the phone at the same time, you will see a few stutters on the Nokia 7 Plus, but not on the OnePlus 5T.

Which should you buy? Nokia 7 Plus

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This is an easy one to answer as the OnePlus 5T is no longer on sale in most parts of the world. The phone is still up for purchase in India — OnePlus’ largest global market — but it’s clear that potential customers are now waiting to see what’s on offer with the OnePlus 6.

Sure, the Nokia 7 Plus doesn’t match the OnePlus 5T in terms of sheer performance, but it does offer a lag-free software experience that’s a delight to use. And crucially, it has a camera that beats out the OnePlus 5T, and it delivers much better battery life.

The Nokia 7 Plus is set to go on sale in India from April 30, with pre-orders kicking off on April 20, and is slated to hit the UK on May 2. HMD’s strategy of offering phones across various price points will allow the brand to get more momentum in 2018, particularly in markets like India.

The main downside is U.S. availability — although HMD has stated that a few of its devices would make its way Stateside, there’s no indication yet if the Nokia 7 Plus is on that list. That’s a shame, because the Nokia 7 Plus has all the ingredients to be one of the best phones in the $400 segment.

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