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Last Updated : Oct 29, 2019 10:37 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

OnePlus 7T Review: The OnePlus smartphone of the year

Continuing the trend, among the company's latest launches, the OnePlus 7T is now holding its 'performance at economy' fort.

OnePlus launched its first smartphone, the OnePlus One, five years ago. Back then, the company gained a lot of attention mainly due to its combination of flagship performance smartphone at a value-for-money price. 

Jump to 2019, and things have changed. Once known as the ‘Flagship Killer’, OnePlus entered the premium-to-higher-premium category in May with the launch of OnePlus 7 Pro costing up to Rs 57,999. The company also launched the OnePlus 7 with slightly inferior specifications. 

Continuing the trend, among the company's latest launches, the OnePlus 7T is now holding its 'performance at economy' fort. The OnePlus 7T may not be the company’s true flagship, but it still has features borrowed directly from the OnePlus 7 Pro.

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It also shares an almost similar spec-sheet with the OnePlus 7T Pro. So, is the OnePlus 7T an affordable, yet better version of the OnePlus 7 Pro? Or should you consider the more premium OnePlus 7T Pro instead?

I’ve been using the OnePlus 7T for two weeks now and here is what we think about it.

Design and Display

The OnePlus 7T has received an overhaul in terms of design and aesthetics. The display is now 6.55-inch tall with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The 7T gets a 90Hz refresh rate display borrowed straight from the OnePlus 7 Pro. However, there is still a teardrop notch which, to be precise, is 31.46 percent smaller than the OnePlus 7.

Even the chin bezel is marginally shrunken, claiming to be amongst the thinnest in the industry. The Full HD+ Fluid AMOLED display continues to remain flat and gets support for HDR10+ as well. This means that you can enjoy viewing content on Netflix, YouTube or Amazon Prime with better and higher colour accuracy.

You can tinker around with various modes between Vivid, natural and Advanced.  By default, the screen calibration is set to Vivid, offering more saturated and popped-up colours. If you find the display to be slightly on the warmer side as per your liking, you can switch to ‘Advanced’ and adjust to cooler colour temperature.

Add to it a peak brightness up to 1000 nits, which means you wouldn’t face any problems scrolling through your social feed, even while using the OnePlus 7T in direct sunlight.

OnePlus 7T front Another thing that you are bound to notice is that scrolling on the OnePlus 7T feels smooth and much better. This is mainly felt due to the 90Hz refresh rate. For the uninitiated, a 90Hz refresh rate means your display will render an image 90 times per second, enabling smooth motion and the ability to output 90 frames per second. Even if you are someone who is not-so-tech-savvy, you will notice that perceived speed bump over your previous smartphone with 60Hz display.

There’s also the earpiece at the top which doubles up as a secondary speaker. When combined with the bottom-firing speaker, the OnePlus 7T is quite loud and clear. To improve the audio experience, OnePlus 7T comes with Dolby Atmos support.

OnePlus 7T rear panel

Turn the OnePlus 7T around, and the first thing that you would probably notice is that huge circular camera module. You’ll either like it or hate it, but if you ask me, I’m not a fan of the camera module’s design. 

The rear panel is made up of glass and has a shiny matte finish. The curves along the edges of the OnePlus 7T help you wrap your hands around the hold for a better grip. It is not a fingerprint magnet but isn’t smudge-proof either. 

Everything else is like the typical OnePlus smartphone. The alerts slider and the power button are located on the right, leaving room for the volume rocker on the left. At the bottom edge, there’s the USB Type-C port between the speaker grille and the SIM-tray.

Also, in case you are looking for a 3.5-mm headphone jack, it’s not there on the OnePlus 7T.

OnePlus 7T comes in two colour options, Frosted Silver and Glacier Blue.

Performance, Battery Life and Software

OnePlus smartphones have always been fast, and it continues to be the case with OnePlus 7T. Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855+ SoC powers the OnePlus 7T. The latest processor, when paired with Adreno 640 GPU, offers 4 percent CPU and 15 percent better graphics performance.

Pair the processing unit with 8GB RAM and up to 256GB UFS 3.0 internal memory, and it delivers commendable speed. I am going to ignore writing about the benchmarks here and tell you how the real-world performance is, cause that’s what matters to most of us, right?

I played Call of Duty (Team Death Matches), a few Classic matches in PUBG and Asphalt 9 on the OnePlus 7T. Needless to say, with that spec-sheet, the game loads with the highest settings and graphics. I didn’t experience any sort of lag or frame-drop while playing any of the games. The phone did heat up a bit but shouldn’t be something that would worry you.

OnePlus 7T packs a 3,800 mAh battery. That may seem like a massive cell, and you may expect a prolonged battery life. That isn’t the case, to be honest. 

In spite of getting a slightly bigger power cell than its predecessor, the OnePlus 7T delivers quite an average battery life. I got between four-five hours of screen on-time during my regular usage. This includes a couple of hours of streaming OTT content while commuting to work, around 30 minutes of music playback on my wireless earphones, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and clicking snaps on Snapchat. Keep in mind that I was using the phone with 90Hz display all-the-time.

The good-bit here is the new fast-charging method that OnePlus calls Warp Charge 30T. It is an improved version of the Warp Charge 30 that charges the OnePlus 7 like it is on steroids. OnePlus claims that, with the new charging adapter, the device can charge from zero to 70 percent in 30 minutes, which means you do not need to charge it overnight.

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For unlocking the OnePlus 7T, there’s an in-display fingerprint scanner that can be used with the primary face unlock. I’m calling it primary because the face unlock speed is blazing fast. There were times wherein I would only press the power button to check some notification and the face unlock would identify my face, even from a distance. The in-display fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 7T is amongst the quickest, unlocking the device within a split second.

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The OnePlus 7T boots on Android 10 based Oxygen OS out-of-the-box. Kudos to OnePlus for launching 7T with the latest operating system, even before Google launched the Pixel 4. The new mobile operating system comes with improvements in security and privacy, along with some new gestures and animations.

OnePlus says that there are over 370 new tweaks and customisations in its latest Oxygen OS 10. My favourites include the dark mode, the new Zen Mode that now offers more time interval options. There’s also a ‘Customisation’ tab that gives options for changing app icon shapes, accent colours, tone, themes, etc.

You also get a reading mode, Fnatic mode, Night mode, etc. Android 10 also brings in new navigation gestures — Swipe-Up from the bottom of the screen to go to the Home screen. To open the multitasking window, swipe up from the bottom and hold for a moment. To go back, swipe left or right from the edge of the screen.

Camera

I’ve already given my impressions about the OnePlus 7T camera module’s design. However, what matters most is the functionality and… I have mixed feelings here, too. Don’t get me wrong. The OnePlus 7T has a versatile set of cameras for variable focal lengths. 

OnePlus 7T camera

OnePlus has one-plus’ed the camera unit on the 7T over the 7. You now get a triple-camera setup with a 48MP Sony IMX586 f/1.6 sensor with OIS and EIS, a 117-degree 16MP f/2.0 ultra-wide lens, and a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto sensor with support for 2x optical zoom.

Do you know which other OnePlus devices have the same camera setup? The OnePlus 7T Pro and the OnePlus 7 Pro (except that the Pro models have an 8MP lens with 3x optical zoom).

You can toggle between the three cameras within the camera UI. There are also various modes like Time-lapse, Pro, NightScape, Portrait, etc. which can be found by swiping up within the camera app.

The reasons why I said I have mixed feelings about the camera performance is primarily because of the colour science.  Take, for example, the primary camera that offers good sharpness and contrast with a check on the saturation levels. The photos are combined using pixel binning, resulting in a 12MP final output. The dynamic range, too, is pretty good.

The ultra-wide-camera is good, and you get a decent dynamic range and colours minus the details. There is some heavy distortion along the edges as well. One thing you might notice is that the colours of the same photo shot using the ultra-wide and the primary sensor do not match. 

The wide-angle lens also doubles up as a macro lens which shoots images as close as 2.5cm, which is very good.

The telephoto lens offers not-so-great colours and bumps up the contrast, making the shadows darker. Things get bad when you zoom into an image only to find some loss of details. Again, the telephoto image has a different profile when you compare it to the primary or the ultra-wide lens. This should get fixed via a software update, and considering it’s OnePlus, there should be one soon. Check the photos below to understand what I’m talking about.

OnePlus 7T

The shutter, too, isn’t the fastest on the OnePlus 7T and takes a fraction of a second to respond to an input. When it comes to lowlight performance, the camera does a decent job with noise reduction. The sharpness and exposure were a bit on the aggressive side in some cases. Don't expect a lot of detail from the OnePlus 7T's Night Mode.

OnePlus 7T Night Mode

Overall, the OnePlus 7T’s rear camera is good for the price, and you won’t be disappointed. But if you think about it as a flagship device, the camera performance is the only department which restricts the OnePlus 7T from being the ultimate smartphone.

There is a 16MP front camera that captures a good amount of detail. Skin tone and softness were kept on a check, without the need of making it too smooth like many smartphones do these days.

The one thing I liked the most about the OnePlus 7T’s front camera is that the beautification mode wasn’t on by default.  There’s also a portrait mode that blurs the background while keeping you in focus. However, the camera struggles a bit in some cases and blurs out the edges of hair and ears.

Verdict

The OnePlus 7T is a great phone for Rs 37,999. It takes cues from the last generation flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review), and also includes features found on the more-premium OnePlus 7T Pro. OnePlus has always been known as a performance-focused smartphone brand for an economical price.

The trend continues with the OnePlus 7T, which offers the latest set of hardware with the best of Android experience. The most significant differences in both the OnePlus 7T series smartphones is that the OnePlus 7T Pro has a slightly bigger curved, edge-to-edge QHD+ screen, a pop-up camera, an 8MP 3x telephoto lens instead of 12MP 2x optical zoom and a marginally bigger battery.

If you think you are happy to skip these, then the OnePlus 7T is the one you must buy. The deal is far more sweeter, considering the OnePlus 7T Pro starts at Rs 53,999.

With the OnePlus 7T, you get the Pro features at an affordable price. It is a definite upgrade over the OnePlus 7 and brings in the best features from the Pro models.

If you ask me my favourite upgrades on the 7T, I will pick the 90Hz refresh rate and that charging speed which is the best amongst the competition. However, I wish the battery could have been bigger.  The cameras, although not bad, could have been better.

However, it is not the only smartphone available in its price segment. ROG Phone 2 is its closest competitor when it comes to spec sheet and performance. Others like Pixel 3a, Reno 2, and even the Redmi K20 Pro do offer great specifications for the price.

If you want excellent cameras as a primary feature on your smartphone, I’d recommend you put your money on the Pixel 3a (Review). 

Reno 2 (Review) is another versatile smartphone that offers a quad-camera setup with up to 20x digital zoom.

The Redmi K20 Pro (Review) by Xiaomi is the company's direct bet against OnePlus and is also popularly known as the 'flagship killer 2.0'. You do not get the smooth 90Hz experience. If you are a fan of an all-screen design with a pop-up camera and top-of-the-line specs, the K20 Pro is the most value-for-money smartphone available right now.

In case you play a lot of games on your smartphone, the ROG Phone 2 is definitely a better combination for the hardware and price it offers. The Asus ROG Phone 2 packs a massive 6,000 mAh battery and also has a 120Hz refresh rate display. Add to that the cooling system the ROG Phone 2 houses onboard. Read our ROG Phone 2 review to know more.

In spite of all these options, in case you've made up your mind to buy a OnePlus device, then the OnePlus 7T is undoubtedly the OnePlus smartphone of the year

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First Published on Oct 24, 2019 05:06 pm
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