I needed to replace my Pixel 2XL and I was really interested in T-Mobile’s new 5G service. I didn’t think their 5G was going to be revolutionary, but I wanted the extended range. I decided to go with the OnePlus McLaren and got it a few days after it was released.
My first impression of the phone was that it was heavy, appeared to have a solid build quality, and was a nice looking piece of equipment. Thought it was nice looking, I see no logic in why phone makers use glass on the back of phones. It looks good, but is not practical. The glass and polished metal makes this phone as slippery as a wet bar of soap. I worry about breaking my screen and I don’t want to worry about also breaking the back of the phone. This meant I immediately put a case on it. I also put on a glass screen protector that had mixed reviews on Amazon. Some people said the fingerprint scanner [in the screen] worked with this screen protector and some said it didn’t. I put on the screen and trained the fingerprint scanner. No luck using the fingerprint scanner and the screen protector went in the trash. I also found that even without a screen protector, the fingerprint scanner doesn’t work very well. It often fails until the selfie camera pops up and uses facial recognition. So far, I prefer a fingerprint scanners on the back of phones that seem to work most of the time.
Since I mentioned the selfie camera needing to be used when the fingerprint scanner [often] fails, I should comment on it in general. I see the popup feature as a gimmick that can lead to mechanical failure. I would prefer a camera in the body of the phone or a small notch in the screen. I almost never use a selfie camera, but unfortunately it is needed on this phone for authentication.
I am okay with the OnePlus Oxygen OS since it is close to stock Android, but there are some issues. As others have complained, there are GPS issues. I tried using Waze on the freeway and it could not figure out where I was. Waze kept bouncing my location around on side streets and finally locked my location in place. I turned off Waze and used Google Maps, which had better results. The map sometimes twirls around, but eventually locks to my correct direction of travel.
The OnePlus McLaren 4085 mAh battery definitely provides me with all day use. I usually end the day with around 45% battery remaining. I find that this phone having 12GB of RAM just incredible. The operating system never feels sluggish! I also don’t know what to do with 256GB of storage. I take a lot of photos, but they are uploaded to a couple sources and not stored on my phone. I guess I will have plenty of storage in case I am in an area with no cell service for a long period of time. I will be able to take a lot of photos and video…
And finally, the screen. The 6.67″ screen with the 90 Hz refresh rate is bright, the colors are great, and everything looks smooth. I would appreciate it more if I watched a lot of video, but I don’t enjoy watching such small screens (though this is a great size for a phone). I’ll stick to my television or computer for viewing video. What I don’t like is the curved display. I don’t see the practicality in this trend. I don’t think a curved display looks any better than a flat display (I think it looks worse), a curved display makes it more difficult to apply a screen protector, and it makes touch input a little more difficult. I cannot think of any positives associated with a curved display. One of the best shaped displays I had in a long time was the Nextbit Robin. It was flat and perfectly rectangular. No notches or curves and the first screen protector was the only one ever needed. Every curved display I have used has been a bit of a pain to apply a screen protector and they pop off easily since they adhere only at the edges. I wish all phone makers would go back to flat displays. Notches would be acceptable.
One little thing I like a lot is the physical button to silence the phone. Slide it up one click and the phone ringer and alerts are set to vibrate. Slide it up one more time and now everything is silenced. I like being able to use the slider instead of having to use the OS.
Am I completely happy with this phone? No, but I don’t know if this is even possible with any phone. This phone has room for improvement, but I am pleased with it so far. Hopefully OnePlus takes feedback seriously and works to fix issues in a timely manner. This is my first non-Google phone in many years, so I’m use to somewhat quick fixes.
I will next be reviewing the budget Motorola Moto G7 Power. I have a couple free lines through T-Mobile and I wanted a cheap phone to use as a backup phone or to allow friends test T-Mobile. I considered several low priced phones, but a requirement was T-Mobile’s band 71. T-Mobile has great coverage in my region, but I wanted the best possible signal in a backup phone in case I was somewhere with poor coverage. I also wanted friends to have the best possible experience since they will be comparing T-Mobile to their current wireless provider. People often do not consider the fact that every wireless carrier has strong areas and weak areas. Poor coverage in a particular area may sour someone’s opinion of the network in general. I can’t wait to get this phone and get testing.