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One brand’s premium, another brand’s budget: OnePlus 7T Pro vs iPhone 11

On: October 23, 2019

It is the phone battle that no one could have predicted a few years ago. Although OnePlus and Apple both have had flagship-level phones in the market for more than half a decade, it was almost unheard of to see the two brands go toe to toe against each other. That is because they occupied totally different spectrums of the price brand. OnePlus was very much the flagship killer, offering high-end specs at surprisingly affordable prices, generally in the vicinity of Rs 30,000-35,000. On the other end of the spectrum was Apple’s iPhone, which often cost almost twice as much. “Should I go for a OnePlus or an iPhone,” was a question that troubled very few users. Both devices were iconic in their own right but were literally poles apart as far as price went.

Well, that changed this year. OnePlus decided to go the premium route with its Pro series of devices, while Apple surprised everyone with a relatively low priced iPhone 11. In fact, at the time of writing, the OnePlus 7T Pro is priced at Rs 53,999 and has a special McLaren Edition priced at Rs 58,999, while the iPhone 11 starts at Rs 64,900, but is available at lower rates under some schemes.  

Suddenly, should I buy an iPhone 11 or a OnePlus 7T Pro is a totally legitimate query!

So what is the answer? Which of the two should you go for – the one from the Different Thinker or the OnePlus from the Never Settler? Well, let me try to figure out: 

Blending in classily…or standing out eccentrically!

When it comes to design, this is a clash between two schools of thought. Yes, there is glass on the front and back of both devices, but while the OnePlus 7T Pro has a curved glass display, the one on the iPhone 11 is relatively flat. The OnePlus also has a gradient matte glass finish on the back, which makes it look very stylish as compared to the more plain back of the iPhone, but the iPhone 11’s rather large dual-camera arrangement on the back makes it stick out in the crowd. The OnePlus is also much larger than the iPhone – it is about 162 mm long as compared to 150 mm – and is therefore just a little bit more unwieldy, although it is only slightly heavier (206g as compared to 194g). The OnePlus might look a little more glitzy with its shimmer and shine and curves but the iPhone thanks to its eccentric camera placement, stands out, and well, has a wider range of colours at the time of writing. The iPhone also has certified water and dust resistance, something that the OnePlus rather mysteriously lacks. 

AM OLED…you are?

When it comes to displays, the two devices are about as similar as chalk and cheese, or to be more literal, a quad HD AMOLED display and an HD LCD one. On paper, this should be no competition, with the curved AMOLED display of the OnePlus winning the day comfortably with its much higher resolution and of course, its now-famous 90Hz refresh rate. However, in reality, there does not seem to be as vast a gap between the two displays as the specs would suggest. There’s no doubt that the OnePlus 7T Pro has the better display, and thanks to its much higher resolution, can show more information, but the iPhone 11’s display, just like the XR’s before it, performs surprisingly well. That said, there is only one winner here, and it is the one that comes with a Plus!

Chipping with Bionics and Snappy Dragons

In terms of hardware, the battle between the two devices is an interesting one, for both phones come with processors that claim to be the best that could be – the Snapdragon 855+ on the OnePlus 7T Pro and the A13 Bionic on the iPhone 11. On paper, there is not too much separating the two chips, but going purely by reputation, we would say that the A13 Bionic holds the edge – I mean, Apple’s A10 almost three year old A10 chip is still a terrific performer. At the time of writing, the A13 Bionic’s performance has been compared to desktops, which tells a story. I am not saying the Snapdragon 855+ is a pushover, but the A13 definitely has an edge over it. 

Can we forget about memory already…

Apple never officially reveals the RAM of its iOS devices, and iOS and Android are two very different kettles of fish when outcomes to utilising memory, so comparisons in this regard would not really be appropriate. Speaking purely in statistical terms, however, the OnePlus 7T Pro would seem to have a clear edge with not just an 8GB RAM, but even a 12GB RAM variant. In terms of storage, both devices max out at 256GB and neither has expandable memory. You are crazy about numbers? Well, the OnePlus 7T Pro has them, but whether they will translate into actual performance is going to be another matter. I would call this a tie. 

Two cameras or OnePlus two cameras…

This is where it gets very interesting indeed – the camera department. On paper, you would think that OnePlus would have the upper hand here. The 7T Pro comes with three cameras – a 48-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel telephoto and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, two of which come with OIS, and the ability to also shoot macro from as close as 2.5cm. The iPhone 11, on the other hand, has a dual 12-megapixel camera set up, with one wide and one ultra-wide camera, with one having OIS. Seems like a no contest, right? Well, we were actually surprised to see the iPhone 11 boss the Never Settler in this department. It was not as if the OnePlus 7T Pro had bad cameras – far from it – but the iPhone 11’s dual snappers simply seemed way more consistent and realistic in terms of colour and detail. Six or seven times out of ten, be it in stills or video in normal and ultrawide modes, the iPhone 11 scored over its Never Settling rival, and also delivered a better low light performance. The OnePlus 7T Pro’s telephoto and macro abilities do give it a clear edge in those departments and if that makes a difference to you, then we think that the OnePlus would be the phone for you. However, if you are more of a point and shoot person, we will point to the iPhone 11.

Notched up or popped up

The story of the rear cameras is repeated in the front-facing ones as well. On paper, you would think the OnePlus’ 16-megapixel selfie snapper would hold its own against the 12-megapixel one on the iPhone 11. But it actually gets left behind on more occasions than one. Some might like the slightly smoother-looking selfies from the OnePlus device, but the iPhone finally comes to the selfie wars with a 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera and delivers better images more often than not. Mind you, I am still not convinced by Slofies (selfies in slow motion)! The pop-up mechanism of the OnePlus device might look a whole lot cooler, but its results are literally a notch below the ones delivered by the selfie camera in the iPhone 11’s notch.

Game on, but on which one?

This is a very tricky call – which of the two devices handles gaming better? We could not find a clear winner as both devices handled games brilliantly. The slightly larger display of the OnePlus gives it an edge, although the tapering over the sides display can sometimes mess up the viewing experience – and no, I was not able to see the 90Hz refresh rate of the OnePlus’ display make a discernible difference, perhaps because not enough games support it. The iPhone hits back with decidedly better sound, though, and at the time of writing, Apple Arcade gives iOS users a slight edge over its Android rivals at least in India. I am going to call this one a tie, really, as both phones are very good. 

The Flicks experience, net net (filmy stuff)

When it comes to multimedia and film watching, both phones again end up being neck and neck. It is pretty much like the gaming scenario – the bigger display of the OnePlus 7T Pro makes for a more immersive viewing experience, but the iPhone 11 does not really get overwhelmed. I do think that if you are a binge-watcher, though, the OnePlus is a better option, even though the iPhone scores on sound. Plug in earphones, however, and both devices are on par. I would call this one a tie again.

The charge of the battery brigade

I never thought the day would come when I would say an iPhone outperformed an Android flagship when it came to the battery. Well, the iPhone 11 does. Whether it is because of the smaller, lower-resolution display or slightly larger battery or a combination of all three, the iPhone 11 comfortably kept getting through a day and more of normal to heavy usage without any problems. The OnePlus 7T Pro, on the other hand, struggled to see through a day – we suspect that magnificent display and refresh rates had something to do with it. The OnePlus 7T Pro charges much faster that said, thanks to Warp Charge 30T – the iPhone 11 is the only one of the new iPhones to be stuck with an old 5W charger, alas – but in terms of sheer battery performance, the impossible has happened – an iPhone has outlasted an Android flagship. 

No soft wear this…Oxygen bearing Android or iOS?

Perhaps the biggest point of distinction between the two devices is the operating system each runs on. Whereas the iPhone 11 runs iOS, the OnePlus series runs on Android, with the brand’s own Oxygen OS laid over it. Which one is better is a matter of preference, but I will confess that I do lean towards iOS simply because of the consistency of updates, the generally better security and higher quality (and better supervised) app ecosystem. That said, OnePlus has done an exceptional job with its Oxygen OS, making it not only a relatively unobtrusive UI (it almost looks like stock Android), but also updating it with impressive regularity. As I said, my vote would go to iOS, but if you are an Android fan, well, OnePlus is perhaps as good as clean, minimalistic Android gets. 

Stuff in general…you know, general stuff

Bring it down to general usage like calls, messaging and routine app usage (social networks and the like) and I think the iPhone 11 has a slight edge here, thanks to its better sound quality and I suspect the better integration between iOS and the hardware it runs on. Mind you, unless you really are nitpicking you will not notice any significant difference in general performance speeds of the two devices. The iPhone does seem to handle calls a little better but then those who love Android’s notification system will like the OnePlus better in that regard. A crucial area in which I think the iPhone 11 steals a march over the OnePlus is face unlock – the iPhone 11’s face unlock is superb and definitely a lot quicker than its counterpart on the OnePlus 7T Pro. The 7T Pro also comes with a fingerprint scanner under the display (which is more secure than its own face unlock) but as with many in-display fingerprint scanners, it can sometimes be a little moody. 

Go for God Phone? or Never Settler?

So which device does one go for? Let us get the prices out of the way first – the iPhone 11 starts officially at Rs 64,900, which is well above the Rs 58,999 for the 12GB + 256GB high-end McLaren Edition of the OnePlus 7T Pro, which is quite a looker as well. So well, if you are on a tight budget, the decision is a bit of a no-brainer. However, if you have one of those budgets that stretch a little this way and that, then the decision becomes a tough one. Of course, if you really love specs then the OnePlus 7T Pro is a winner, thanks to that display, those oodles of RAM, and all those megapixels packed into those cameras. Get into the experience zone, however, and the iPhone 11 comes into its own with a performance that seems slightly smoother, better cameras and sound, and surprise surprise (I still cannot get over this), better battery performance. And well, at the time of writing, the iPhone 11 does cut a very distinct figure – love or hate those massive cameras on the back, there’s no doubt they make the phone stand out. Which one should you buy? I cannot give you a clear answer. Because there isn’t one. It all depends on what you consider important.  I would lean slightly towards the iPhone, given its reputation for longevity (an iPhone stays new for longer than a OnePlus does, especially after the arrival of the T variants – I mean, people who bought a OnePlus 7 Pro barely a few months ago might be forgiven for thinking they already have an old phone) , software performance and updates and of course, its overall performance (the cameras and battery especially), but the OnePlus 7T Pro would not be a waste of money by any means, and is staggeringly good value for money. 

It is that close. Which tells you just how well OnePlus has moved up the value chain… and also how well Apple has come up with its own dentition of “budget” iPhone. One brand’s premium can be another one’s budget, indeed. 

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Nimish Dubey

Nimish Dubey has been writing on technology since 1999. He has contributed to a number of publications and websites including The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Mint, Economic Times, Outlook, and India Today. He is currently the Editorial Mentor at TechPP.com and a regular contributor to Indian Express. When not writing, he loves to read and listen to classic rock.