Chinese electronics maker OnePlus’s mid-year upgrades, which go by name of T-edition, are mostly about minor but relevant cosmetic and hardware tweaks. But the company’s latest midrange flagship, the OnePlus 7T, brings several improvements over predecessor OnePlus 7. In terms of upgrade, the phone gets a fluid AMOLED screen of a 90Hz refresh rate, a triple camera set-up on the back, a frosted glass design, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus mobile processor, and the Android 10 operating system. On the face of it, the new upgrades should improve the user experience. But do they? Let’s find out:
The OnePlus 7T retains the glass-metal sandwich design of its predecessor, but it has a new frosted glass with matte finish on the back. Though the glass on the back gets a new design, it still feels slippery and attracts fingerprints easily. Thankfully, the matte finish subdues the fingerprint marks and makes the back panel look less dirty. Besides the new glass finish, the phone gets a big circular camera module on the back that significantly protrudes from the phone’s body. It does not go with the phone’s premium design language and looks unimpressive. Moreover, at 190g, the phone is heavy and feels uncomfortable to handle and operate during extended usage.
With the OnePlus 7 Pro, the company introduced a 90Hz refresh rate screen panel, which we liked and appreciated in our review for making transitions lively and enhancing the overall user experience. As part of upgrades, the OnePlus 7T has got a similar screen of a 90Hz refresh rate, albeit without curved sides and the QHD+ resolution. The phone boasts a 6.55-inch fluid AMOLED screen of a fullHD+ (2400 x 1080p) resolution, stretched in a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. It has a waterdrop-shaped notch on top, similar to the predecessor, accommodating the phone’s front camera.
The display is bright, vibrant and responsive. It is set to render vivid colours by default, but it can be tuned from settings to use natural colours. Additionally, there is an advanced display-calibration setting, which also allows the screen to be set to AMOLED wide colour gamut, RGB and Display P3 – based on user preference. While the OnePlus 7T display delivers on most counts, it is marred by a broken automatic brightness management that sometimes boosts the brightness in low-light environments and dims the display in bright outdoors, making using the screen difficult in both scenarios.
The OnePlus 7T has a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 48-megapixel primary sensor, 16MP ultra-wide sensor and a 12MP telephoto lens. The multi-sensor set-up makes the phone camera cover a wide spectrum of imaging, including landscape shots, macro shots, close-up shots and portraits. In ideal conditions, with good natural light, the phone’s three cameras impress with detailed shots, good dynamic range and negligible noise. However, in lowlight conditions, especially artificial lights, the output is not great due and the result is inconsistent. Thankfully, the phone has a dedicated night mode, which brightens dim-lit frames to capture details that otherwise remain in the dark. But the night mode also fails to capture details in artificially-lit environments.
Imaging is not known to be OnePlus’ strength; while the cameras in the OnePlus 7T are a good improvement, they are still no match to what you expect from a midrange flagship.
Though a midrange flagship, the OnePlus 7T has top-tier specifications that even the most premium smartphones fail to match. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus system-on-chip (SoC), mated with 8GB RAM and up to 256GB internal storage based on the UFS 3.0 architecture. The phone boots Android 10 operating system-based Oxygen OS, which looks almost stock Android but with some value-added customisation to improve user experience.
Though the phone’s performance is top-notch, there are some glitches in the operating system that hamper user experience. The apps keep crashing, the phone hangs randomly, and built-in apps ask for user permissions but do not work even after all permissions are granted. The display also acts up at times, fluctuating a lot, especially under direct sunlight.
Powering the OnePlus 7T is a 3,800 mAh battery, which is good for a day of normal usage but falls short under medium and heavy usage. Thankfully, the phone has got Warp Charger 30T, which replenishes the phone’s completely-drained-out battery in around an hour. However, due to the OnePlus proprietary charging technology, the fast charging does not work with any other charger, so you might like to keep a bundled charger handy.
At Rs 37,999 for the base variant with 128GB storage, the OnePlus 7T is a smartphone rich in specifications, but it needs some software polishing. Considering OnePlus’ past record on software updates, it is safe to assume that the phone’s current limitations in OS, camera performance, and display inaccuracy would be addressed through future software updates. Until then, exploring Asus’ gaming-centric ROG Phone II (review) — which has the same price tag as the OnePlus 7T but a lot more to offer — seems a better choice.