The need to upgrade to the latest smartphone every year is now a thing of the past with people holding onto their devices longer than ever; I too am part of this trend. As a security editor though, I know all about the dangers of using an old phone too long but I just can’t bear to part with my aging OnePlus phone.
I first made the switch to OnePlus after Google canceled its Nexus line in favor of its more premium Pixel phones. With one of the best OnePlus phones, I knew I could get a device with excellent specs at a great price.
Unfortunately though, my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren (a terribly long name I know) is no longer as capable of a device as when I first got it back in 2020. The battery doesn’t last as long as it used to, the USB-C charging port feels a bit loose and all of the devices in the OnePlus 7 lineup have now officially reached their End of Life date and won’t be getting any more updates.
Still, I’ve yet to find a suitable replacement as the OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7T Pro and the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren all have one feature that the Pixel 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and even the iPhone 14 Pro Max don’t have.
A truly notchless display
Sure, all of the phones I just listed are vastly more powerful and have better cameras but my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G lacks one thing they all have — a notch.
OnePlus tried something different with its OnePlus 7 Pro and T series phones that the company hasn’t revisited since, using a pop-up selfie camera instead of putting it above the screen like it did with older phones or inside the screen like with its latest devices. While a pop-up camera might not be for everyone — especially those who frequently take selfies or use their phone as a mirror — I absolutely love it.
With the front camera tucked safely in the top of the phone, the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G has an 88.1% screen-to-body ratio. This gives you more screen for your buck and when you play back a full-size video, nothing gets cut off. As we noted in our OnePlus 7 Pro review, the company says that this pop-up camera can open and close up to 300,000 times. I’ve been using my phone for three years now and I’ve yet to have an issue with the pop-up camera. I also like its design from a security perspective as you’re less likely to be spied on through your phone’s front camera.
Besides being notchless, the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G is truly a sight to behold since it takes inspiration from the McLaren racing team and the etchings on the back of the device resemble the oil swirls and skids you’d find on a race track. However, OnePlus has since ended this partnership so don’t expect a McLaren edition of the OnePlus 11 anytime soon.
The End of Life conundrum
As an Android user, when your smartphone reaches its End of Life date you have a decision to make. You can upgrade to a new phone or you can try downloading and flashing a custom rom to breathe new life into your current phone.
If you especially like your current device like I do, you might consider going the second route and flashing a custom rom. Our phones editor Jordan Palmer did just this when he installed /e/OS on a OnePlus 6. Lineage OS is another popular option that /e/OS is actually based on.
While I could flash a custom rom on my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G, a Reddit post discussing the OnePlus 7 Pro’s End of Life points out one of the worst aspects of doing so — banking apps don’t always work with custom roms. Sure, there are some workarounds to get them working but at the end of the day, you need to be able to use your smartphone instead of having to fiddle around with it for hours. Even then, you run the risk of wasting your time or even worse, bricking your phone. In that case, you’d have no choice but to upgrade to a newer device.
An Android problem that’s slowly getting better
As for whether or not I’m going to ditch my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G, I’m still undecided. By now, I figured under-display cameras would be readily available on the best Android phones and I wouldn’t have to ‘downgrade’ to a phone with a notch. However, only a handful of phones have them, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra and the RedMagic 7 Pro.
One thing’s for sure though, when I finally replace my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G with a new device, I’ll be able to use it for even longer. This is because OnePlus has a new update policy that promises select phones from this year will get four major Android updates. Meanwhile, the best Samsung phones — not just a select few — will get four generations of OS upgrades and five years of security patches.
Although I doubt I’ll ever make the switch from Android to iOS, these kinds of problems almost make me wish I was using one of the best iPhones instead. In fact, the iPhone 5s and other older Apple devices recently received a surprise security update to protect users from a number of different bugs that are being exploited in the wild.
Whatever device I choose for my next smartphone, one thing is for sure, it won’t look nearly as good as my OnePlus 7T Pro 5G does when the sun hits the etchings on the back of the device.
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