What makes a product good rather than great? That’s a question that’s best answered in the details most people never notice. They create a seamless, pleasing experience and add up to a level of polish that makes me rave about a product rather than merely thinking it’s okay.
My phone is a perfect example of a failure in that regard. I have a OnePlus 7T, which I purchased in late 2019 after being an iPhone user for more than a decade (I hated iOS’s paranoid lack of features, but that’s another topic.)
The OnePlus 7T should be a superstar among tech nerds like me. It has a giant, beautiful AMOLED screen, a 90 hz screen refresh rate, and a Snapdragon 855+ chip that was top-of-the-line for the comparatively cheap price of $599 USD.
On paper, it’s perfect, but software quirks ruin the experience. One of the biggest annoyances comes during phone calls. The sensor built into the device that’s supposed to detect when I’m holding the phone up to my ear rarely does. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve accidentally hung up on someone while cradling the phone between my ear and shoulder because the screen was still on and my cheek touched the End Call button.
There’s also the baffling choice to invert the Accept and Decline Call swipe directions. On OnePlus phones, you swipe up to decline, or swipe down to accept. Though I found a setting to reverse that, it wasn’t easy to find, and I accidentally declined important calls countless times because of it. This setting might be a cultural difference, but even if it is, OnePlus should know that and localize their UI.
Another daily annoyance is the ambient light sensor. It’s supposed to read the amount of light in the room and adjust the brightness of the screen automatically, but the sensor on the 7T is aggressive. I’ve routinely unlocked my phone in a dark room only to be blinded by a blisteringly bright screen. The sensor corrects this quickly, but it overcompensates. Sometimes it dims the screen so much I can’t read it, especially while my eyes are still recovering from getting blinded.
Creating a smartphone and a smartphone OS in this day and age is a massive undertaking with a lot of small things to consider. But ultimately, attention to detail separates a great product from a merely good one. While I don’t hate my 7T, the daily annoyances with it have made me appreciate how much more polished Apple’s phones and OS are. In other words, I won’t be buying another OnePlus phone. And that’s the moral of the story: Paying attention to the details keeps users happy, and that directly translates to keeping users around.