OnePlus 6T camera test: software is the secret ingredient

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Just six months after the launch of the OnePlus 6, it’s already time for the device’s successor to be released.  Although the Chinese manufacturer doesn’t present a hardware revolution in the OnePlus 6T, the company has put some time and energy into new software components, particularly the camera night mode, which promises better results in low lighting conditions. So have OnePlus’s software innovations paid off? Find out in our camera test!

The same photo sensors as the OnePlus 6

OnePlus smartphones have always offered excellent value for money, and have often positioned themselves as more than credible alternatives to more expensive devices. Yet, the camera compartment has always been the brand’s Achilles heel, and in our tests, we’ve seen that it still suffers from a slight delay. In its new model, OnePlus opted not to gamble with adding more sensors, and has instead taken another route.

OnePlus uses the same two sensors that you can find on the OnePlus 6. In terms of technical specs, there is a main Sony IMX-519 sensor with 16 MP (f/1.7 aperture) and a Sony IMX 376K with 20 MP (and an f/1.7 aperture). The second sensor helps with portrait mode. Only the main sensor benefits from the optical stabilization. In terms of video, the OP6T also features electronic image stabilization.

However, OnePlus has made major optimizations on the software level. For example, image processing is less aggressive and so is the smoothing/blur effect of the pictures. The white balance has also been carefully redesigned and it shows!

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The OnePlus 6T uses the same hardware as the OP6. / AndroidPIT

The new smartphone also makes use of artificial intelligence, but OnePlus prefer not to mention it much. It’s used for image processing, but the manufacturer chose not to highlight this aspect – many brands have already turned AI into a marketing gimmick. There’s also no trace of AI in the camera app. Unlike LG and Huawei, OnePlus doesn’t employ object or image recognition.

Excellent in bright light

Not surprisingly, the OnePlus 6T is an excellent camera phone when lighting conditions are good. The OnePlus 6 had a pretty decent camera, and the OP6T has made further improvements. The images have nice constrast, the details are rich and the colors are realistic, just like on the latest Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The shots come out great and have rich and dynamic renderings. Compared to the OnePlus 6, there is significantly less smoothing and the scenes have better lighting. The portrait mode is also very good, as are the depth effects.

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An autumnal landscape (with fairly low temperatures). / AndroidPIT

Improvement in low lighting

When lighting conditions are diminished is when you will notice the camera’s true progress and potential. The new software processing has proven to be immensely helpful in this regard. This just goes to show you that sometimes it’s better to invest in software rather than giving in to the temptation of changing or multiplying the number of cameras. The software tweaks have made the blurring of images less aggressive (picture details remain) and the photos are better.

Compared to a Mate 20 Pro or a Google Pixel 3, the differences aren’t huge. If you consider the price of the OnePlus 6T (starting at $ 549), these are great results. My only concern is that OnePlus has invested too much energy in publicizing its night mode. The night mode sometimes makes the photos look unnatural, a bit artificial. You’ll also have to be patient when taking pictures in this mode, since it involves more advanced software processing.

What about the selfies?

The selfies also come out pretty well. But as is the case with the rear camera, there’s no wide-angle sensor. The images come out correctly, but sometimes suffer from a lack of brightness. I don’t have any particular comments to make about the video quality other than that the OnePlus has the option of filming in 4K (and Full-HD). The video results are also satisfactory.

In general, you can take pictures very quickly. The photo app isn’t the prettiest in terms of aesthetics, but it offers all the options that you’d expect like time lapse, slow motion, panorama, etc.

Conclusion: clear progress!

In the end, the OnePlus 6T’s camera will give you very satisfying results. The improvements in the photo experience are noticeable in comparison to the previous generation of the device. The Chinese manufacturer has intelligently improved the software instead of giving in to the temptation of adding more sensors. Furthermore, OnePlus hasn’t forgotten about OnePlus 6 users. That’s right, the brand has promised to provide them with an update containing this software. Job well done, OnePlus!

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