I am late, I’ll admit. My able colleagues are busy predicting the OnePlus 8 lineup and what the OnePlus Concept One phone -- that will never see the light of day -- will lend to future devices. And here I am, still fiddling with the OnePlus 7T Pro, the latest of the company's able line-up from last year. But that's the thing about OnePlus. It’s a brand that does not compel you to move on to a new phone. Their remarkably reliable phones tend to bore you into switching to the latest model, if not offer something irresistibly new. So while a new lineup is on the cards, here is why you should keep an eye out for a good deal on the OnePlus 7 line up, especially the OnePlus 7T Pro.
We are obsessed with big screens. All the flagship phones of today are “phablets” of the last decade. And OnePlus is keeping up with the trend.
The 7T Pro has a beautiful 6.67-inch "Fluid" AMOLED display that shines through its other qualities. With a resolution of 1,440 x 3,120, it delivers great picture and is very legible under direct sunlight. But what makes this phone truly stand out in design is that the screen is a rounded, edge-to-edge masterpiece that does not have any space for bezels -- punch hole, teardrop or whatever. Instead, there is a delightful motorised, pop-up selfie camera on top of the screen. It pops up and retracts with minimum sound and makes the face unlock feature very accurate. The fingerprint reader under the screen is ridiculously accurate, too.
The phone has a great screen-to-body ratio of 88.3 per cent and does not need the three-button on-screen navigation. It comes pre-installed with the company's OxygenOS 10.0.3 -- very neatly adding to the Android 10 experience -- which improves the gesture navigation. A thin status bar at the bottom of the screen can be pulled up to toggle between open tabs and go back to the home page. You can swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go back and diagonally swipe from the left or right corners at the bottom of the screen to summon Google Assistant.
This helps improve the user experience on a good-looking phone, which is tall with an aspect ratio of 19:5:9 and heavy at 206 grams. Not quite suited to be handled with one hand, unfortunately. The new Haze Blue paint job with a subtle matte finish on the back makes this one pretty to look at. And a front and back 3D Corning Gorilla Glass coating does not let it get scratched easily. But the phone is slippery and the back attracts fingerprints. The rounded screen also invites some extra glare and accidental touches. But these are minor issues and take nothing away from its brilliant design. More on what makes OnePlus so reliable.
Apart from the Asus ROG 2 gaming phone (~37,999), nothing beats the speed of the OnePlus 7T Pro, according to Antutu, a popular benchmarking website for Android devices. The phone does not lag one bit, heats up only when you switch between graphic-intensive games, while running 100 other apps in the background. And you rarely need to do that. The bloatware-free OxygenOS running on the absolute best Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage makes this phone almost foolproof. Another feature that improves the performance is the 90Hz screen refresh rate (most phones have 60Hz), which makes gaming smooth. It does, however, reduce the battery time and you are better off using the default 60Hz refresh rate when not engaged in a competitive gaming session.
The 30W Warp Charger takes a little over an hour to bring the phone’s 4,085 mAh battery from zero to a full charge, which lasts a little less than 24 hours on moderate-to-high use (buzzing all day with notifications from social media and news apps, over two hours of video and 30 minutes of gaming). It's not great, but the brilliant screen is to blame. The stereo speakers deliver better-than-expected clarity and are sufficiently loud to share the screen with other people in a reasonably quiet room. Just that the placement of the speaker grill on the bottom right of the screen is not very smart and one tends to accidentally put a finger on it while holding the phone horizontally.
More on hardware, I am glad that OnePlus continues to retain the slider that toggles between ringer profiles in its phones. RIP, 3.5mm headphone jack.
The triple-camera hardware of the OnePlus 7T Pro is the same you get on a OnePlus 7 Pro: a dependable 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 primary sensor with a f/1.6 aperture for everyday stuff, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens with f/2.4 aperture to capture more on the screen and an 8-megapixel, f/2.2 aperture telephoto lens to magnify far-off subjects. The exposure and saturation in pictures clicked with the primary camera are very good, and the ultra-wide lens is very useful, but the telephoto lens does not offer the same amount of detailing.
The "T" update to the Pro gives the camera app a few new features. And they are not gimmicky. The Super Macro mode, especially, produces some detailed close-ups. 4K and slow-motion video recording, too, work well. And HDR (High Dynamic Range) support and auto-focus is consistent. But you still can't adjust the blur-effect in portrait mode.
The 16-megapixel selfie camera does little AI processing and produces more natural images than many camera phones in its price range. The skin tone, still, is slightly altered but the pictures are not over-exposed. The OnePlus 7T Pro is not a camera-first phone and Apple, Samsung and Google flagships have a leg up here, but its triple-camera module is good, the app interface is clean and the overall package is easily above average.
The OnePlus is a universe of its own. If you are not up for a beautiful, edge-edge screen and have no use for industry-best hardware for Rs 53,999, the OnePlus 7T with comparable specs -- 8GM RAM, Snapdragon 855 SoC and 128 GB storage – and a slightly low-resolution 6.55-inch screen that has a tiny camera notch, for Rs 34,999, is a near-perfect device. Even the OnePlus 7 starting at Rs 29,990 is a high-performing flagship. The 6-series is still very relevant and the 5-series is far from obsolete. If it is dependable performance you are looking for, just pick any one of them.