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OnePlus 7T review: a Pro in all but name  

This year has been big for OnePlus. Not only did the company launch two flagships side by side for the first time, the OnePlus 7 (review) and OnePlus 7 Pro (review), but also made its debut into a new category altogether – televisions. OnePlus isn’t done yet though, as its ‘T’ launches this year include an additional three phones. The most affordable among the new trio is the OnePlus 7T, which gets a significant price hike over the OnePlus 7, but packs in a bunch of upgrades too. To find out if it’s worth your money, I’ve been using it exclusively for the last two weeks, and here’s all you need to know.

Design and display

Traditionally, OnePlus doesn’t make any radical design changes to its T-series devices, but the OnePlus 7T is different. The most noticeable of them all is the rear camera layout, which is now encased in a circular module compared to the previous pill-shaped design. The 7T also gets three cameras at the rear instead of two, bringing it up to par with the Pro variants. The glossy glass finish of the OnePlus 7 has been replaced with a refreshing matte frosted glass, and is available in Frosted Silver and Glacier Blue colourways, of which I have the latter. The upside of the frosted material is that it doesn’t pick up smudges, which is a godsend. As for the display, it’s been equipped with a buttery smooth 90Hz refresh rate, which was incidentally my favourite feature on the OnePlus 7 Pro. The display also gets HDR10+ support, which was also a feature reserved for the Pro model.

On the topic of the display, it’s now slightly larger measuring 6.55-inches (vs 6.41-inches on the OnePlus 7), and the aspect ratio is taller at 20:9. Overall, these are pretty major upgrades for a mid-cycle device, and ones that are sure to make OnePlus 7 users regret their purchase.

A few things remain the same in terms of design – you still get a waterdrop notch, and the display is still flat with full HD resolution. The trusty alert slider is in its usual position on the right, and you get a Type-C port for both charging and audio, but no headphones in the box. The in-display fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate, and face unlock is even faster, but won’t work in the dark. The design and display improvements get a big thumbs up from me, but I wish OnePlus had opted for an IP rating for added protection from water and dust.

Cameras

The OnePlus 7 featured dual cameras, a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor accompanied by a 5MP depth sensor. On the OnePlus 7T, the same primary camera has been retained, but the aperture has been increased slightly from f/1.7 to f/1.6. OIS and EIS are both available as well. The depth sensor has been swapped out for a 12MP telephoto lens with f/2.2 aperture and 2x optical zoom, along with a 16MP wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and a 117-degree field of view. The front camera is the same 16MP Sony IMX 471 sensor with f/2.0 aperture.

Images captured in daylight are gorgeous – sharp and detailed, with good colour reproduction. However, I found issues with white balance, particularly when scenes had a mix of shaded areas and bright lighting. I also noticed the wide-angle and telephoto lenses veered towards warmer tones compared to the cooler tint of the primary shooter. The added warmth is most pronounced when taking portrait shots, where the yellowish tone is quite noticeable in some lighting. Speaking of the portrait mode, since the OnePlus 7T doesn’t have a dedicated depth sensor, the edge detection and background blur aren’t as effective as the OnePlus 7. However, you can still get some good results, provided there’s ample lighting.

The primary camera also has a super macro mode, which OnePlus says lets you get up to 2.5cm close to your subject. While you need a steady hand to capture macro images, the results can be pretty impressive once you get the hang of it. The camera also does a decent job in low light, although there’s visible softening if you pixel peep. Turning on the Nightscape mode however changes things drastically, bringing out details in darker areas, removing light flares and generally making the image look sharper without artificially overbrightening it. Selfies are the same as what you get on the OnePlus 7 – sharp and detailed in daylight, with natural skin tones that aren’t artificially whitened.

Software and performance

I’ve said it plenty of times – OxygenOS is my favourite custom Android UI. I love the simplicity and useful extras that add more functionality while retaining a mostly stock interface. However, with the latest builds based on Android 10, I’ve been frankly disappointed. When I received my review unit, the software was exceedingly buggy. Random app crashes and freezes were the norm, and I also encountered strange bugs like not being able to send any media files in WhatsApp, not being able to play any videos in Instagram, and not being able to use the Netflix app. Following feedback, OnePlus did issue an update, and while most of the major issues have been fixed, it’s still not as smooth and reliable as I expect OxygenOS to be. I’m confident that OnePlus will fix these issues though, as the brand is prompt with issuing software updates.

Coming to the internals, the OnePlus 7T is powered by Qualcomm’s latest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 855+, paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB of storage. There’s no microSD card slot on the device as usual, but the onboard storage is UFS 3.0 rated, so transfers between the phone and laptop are lightning fast. With those core specs, you can expect the usual flagship level performance for both multi-tasking and gaming, minus the few hiccups with the software.

As for the battery, it’s a 3,800mAh unit (slightly larger than the 3,700mAh battery on the OnePlus 7), and this time around, OnePlus has included support for Warp Charging as well, which means it charges at a super fast 30W, just like the OnePlus 7 and 7T Pro. OnePlus is calling it Warp Charge 30T this time around, and has added a few changes, such as allowing it to charge at 30W speeds even while gaming, and ensuring better heat dissipation too. Unfortunately, there’s still no wireless charging available. As for the battery life, the phone lasted me an entire day with about 20 percent left over. I averaged 4-4.5 hours of screen time with the display set to 90Hz, but if you want to save more power, you can tone down the refresh rate to 60Hz as well.

The competition

It goes without saying that the OnePlus 7T’s biggest competitor is the OnePlus 7, which at its current price of ~Rs 30,000, offers a similar usage experience at a much cheaper price. That said, the OnePlus 7T brings notable upgrades across the board, and is a better overall device if you can afford the premium.

The OnePlus 7 offers similar overall performance at a significantly cheaper price

Then there’s the Redmi K20 Pro (review), which offers flagship-level specs and a stylish pop-up selfie camera for Rs 13k less. MIUI may not be your cup of tea if you’re drawn towards more stock interfaces however.

The ASUS ROG Phone 2 offers the same processor, bigger battery and several gaming-specific enhancements for an identical price

The other option is the ASUS ROG Phone 2 (first impressions), which is a fully loaded flagship with a 120Hz display, the same Snapdragon 855+ chipset and a much larger 6,000mAh battery. The ROG Phone 2 also has several gaming-specific enhancements and accessories, so if you’re looking for a primarily gaming-focussed device, this should be your pick.

Verdict

At its asking price of Rs 37,999 (Rs 39,999 for the 256GB model), the OnePlus 7T doesn’t come cheap, but comparing it to the much more expensive OnePlus 7T Pro (priced at Rs 53,999), it’s undoubtedly the OnePlus flagship to buy this year. OnePlus has brought the 7T up to par with the Pro variant on almost every aspect – from the 90Hz display, HDR10+ certification, triple cameras (the 7T Pro in fact offers a lower resolution 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera) and Warp Charge 30T. The only notable areas of difference are the 7T Pro’s curved display and QHD resolution. The 7T Pro also features a larger battery, but the higher resolution screen will drain more juice in any case. With those minor differences in mind, the OnePlus 7T is easily the OnePlus flagship to opt for this year. And if you wait a month or two before you make your purchase, the software issues should be ironed out as well, making this an excellent choice if you want an Android flagship without breaking the bank.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Smooth 90Hz display
  • Fast, efficent performance
  • 30W Warp charging
  • Capable cameras

What doesn’t:

  • Software is buggy
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP rating

Photos by Raj Rout

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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.