If you already bought a OnePlus 7, which was launched just this summer, you wouldn’t be best pleased to be reading this. But that is just how the smartphone market is. Change is quick and upgrades cannot be delayed. The OnePlus 7T is now a very real thing and there are subtle, and some not-so-subtle changes and improvements compared with the 7. There is a new-ish design, a taller and upgraded display with 90Hz, a newer processor under the hood, triple cameras at the back and a slightly larger battery, to talk about the headline changes.
It was always going to be slightly tricky to price and position the OnePlus 7T in the very tight gap between the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro. But then again, some of the features trickling down from the OnePlus 7 Pro to the OnePlus 7T make this an upgrade over the predecessor. The OnePlus 7T with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs 37,999 and is available in Glacier Blue and Frosted Silver colours. The higher spec version is the one with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage priced at Rs 39,999. OnePlus continues to sell the OnePlus 7 as well, with prices between Rs 32,999 and Rs 37,999—though these could see some changes in the coming days and weeks.
As you sit and admire the OnePlus 7T (and it will be quite often, mind you, as it rests on the desk in front of you), there are certain aspects which you will probably notice first. The taller personality being one. Well, it is true. The OnePlus 7T measures 160.94mm vertically, while the OnePlus 7 measured 157.7mm north to south. That is because of the 20:9 aspect ratio of the display that the 7T brings along. Taller phones to look cool if the design is done well, and OnePlus surely has that knuckled down perfectly in this case. It was imperative that OnePlus kept the bezel above and below the screen to the thinnest possible, and I would say they have delivered on that front.
Cradle the OnePlus 7T in your hand and you’ll immediately notice that it is a tad slimmer than the OnePlus 7. That is not all. The 7T is thinner too. Shaving off the slightest of margins from a smartphone just improves the ergonomics significantly. However, the bigger observation would be that the 7T is lighter to hold than its predecessor. Factually, you would be a tad incorrect—the OnePlus 7T weighs 190 grams as compared with the OnePlus 7 which tips the scales at 182 grams. However, the reason the OnePlus 7T feels lighter is the significantly better balance in place—it doesn’t feel top heavy, for instance. And the materials in use also have some part to play in it. Lighter yet stronger. There is no doubt in my mind that the OnePlus 7T is just a great phone to hold and carry around.
Let us talk a bit about the finish on the back. Frosted glass. The Apple iPhone has done it. And we know what happens whenever the iPhone does something. Yes, there is frosted glass which gives it a gorgeous look. Quite frankly, I love the finish, particularly in the Glacier Blue colour on the OnePlus 7T. There is also a Frosted Silver option, in case that is what you prefer. On the blue phone, the light reflects off this finish in a very subtle and restrained manner—and there is never a traditional shine. The contrast between the blue that peeks out from behind this frosted glass and the shinier blue that adorns the metal side spines works brilliantly. And there is that slight curve on either side of the back panel where the glass cascades into the side spines—and that is the single biggest reason why the OnePlus 7T sits so comfortably in the hands.
Flip the phone over to the business end, which is the display, and a lot of action seems to be happening here. The basic specs first—its 6.55-inch in size, 2400 x 1080 resolution and the taller 20:9 aspect ratio. But that isn’t all, is it?
This gets the 90Hz refresh rate feature from the OnePlus 7 Pro, something the OnePlus 7 didn’t have. A lot has been said about the 90Hz display refresh rate. From what my eyes could understand, the transitions and visual elements when the display is set at 90Hz, certainly look smoother. On the OnePlus 7 Pro, I had noticed slight tearing of text on web pages, for instance. That is no longer the case, at least with the OnePlus 7T. The 90Hz feature would work best when there are enough apps and games that support the higher refresh rate. At the moment, what you are left with is the feel-good factor of a slightly smoother video viewing experience, but not much else. The thing is, the magic of 90Hz is something that may not instantly hit you with its awesomeness but switch to a phone which has a display at the default 60Hz, and you’ll immediately have that feeling of incomplete love.
OnePlus called this screen Fluid AMOLED, and this really can be optimized finely as you preference. Multiple screen calibration modes to choose from—Vivid, Natural and Advanced. If you choose Advances, there is the option to choose between the sRGB, Display-P3 and the AMOLED Wide Gamut colour gamut options. Till the OnePlus 7 Pro, my favourite was the Display-P3 option, since that comes to the closest to how I like the colours to look on the screen. This time around, I’m leaning more towards the AMOLED Wide Gamut.
It takes some time to get used to this taller real estate. At this time, a few apps don’t render properly at times—examples include Google Photos and Instagram. That said, this tall display is good for reading, since there is more content available on the screen. Videos look good in landscape mode.
Under the hood sits the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Put this in perspective with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that the OnePlus 7 runs, and it becomes important to understand what upgrades that change brings to the table, if it all. Both sets run the same Kryo 485 CPU cores, the same Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, the same Spectra 380 image signal processor and the Adreno 640 graphics. But the changes that do matter are that the clock speed of the highest performing core (the Kryo 485 Gold) has been boosted to 2.96GHz (earlier it was 2.84GHz) and the GPU clock speed has been increased by 15 percent to 672MHz compared with 585MHz earlier. The reality is that these changes will purely make a mark on the synthetic benchmarks (how many times would you run those and lust over the scores?) and the real world usage between a phone running the Snapdragon 855+ and a phone running the Snapdragon 855 (the OnePlus 7 in this case), would be negligible. If you feel that the Snapdragon 855+ feels faster than the Snapdragon 855, I’m afraid but it is purely a state of mind issue. The OnePlus 7T performs as a phone running a flagship processor should. Well, you wouldn’t expect anything lesser, would you? These upgrades are purely of utility in terms of future proofing. The most important one being the UFS 3.0 storage which is incredibly fast in terms of data read and write speeds—and that means everything feels faster as you use it. OnePlus has this RAM Boost feature as well since the OnePlus 7, which also intelligently keeps the memory free from unnecessary clutter, to be ready when you need it to load a bunch of apps or something. In most usage cases for you and me, the OnePlus 7T and the OnePlus 7 are as fast as each other. Period.
In a way, the Android 10 update for OxygenOS gives the OnePlus 7T just that extra push towards being up to date (OnePlus is one the few phone makers to be so quick with Android updates). The stability, privacy and security as well as battery life improvements and optimizations are most definitely welcome. The interface has been redone with the slightest of tweaks and improvements in terms of the layout, the icon spacing and some open spaces for visual relief. It doesn’t feel like just a paint job, but the essence of Oxygen OS remains intact.
What really impressed me is how smooth the navigation gestures are on the OnePlus 7T. Very Apple iPhone-esque, and that is a compliment in the strongest possible terms. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go to the Home screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold to open the recent apps menu and swipe up from the bottom and then make a gesture to throw the pull towards the left or the right of the screen to switch between recent apps. Gestures on the OnePlus 7T are smooth as silk, more than can be said about a lot of premium Android phones recently. In fact, on most phones, I have refrained from switching to gestures and remained on the traditional navigation bar navigation—but this time around, I made the jump. And didn’t regret it.
Warp Charge 30T is one of the new additions to the OnePlus 7T package. It is 18 percent faster than Warp Charge 30. This means the OnePlus 7T’s 3800 mAh battery, from being completely discharged gets to 70 percent charge in 30 minutes (our testing showed 31 minutes, but close enough). OnePlus says this faster speed is derived from a new algorithm that manages the power delivery to the phone and also a new battery structure that allows it to get charged faster.
Cameras is where the OnePlus 7T is truly taking over from the OnePlus 7. Instead of two cameras bearing the responsibility for the photography duties, this time around, there is a 48-megapixel primary camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera sharing the workload. The OnePlus 7 Pro has a 48-megapixel, a 16-megapixel and a 8-megapixel trio. Not only do you get more versatility for your photos with the ultra-wide camera also in tow, but straight off the bat, the colours look great. Daytime shots and good lights shots look well detailed and crisp—zoom in and the clarity is retained to a large extent. However, there is some challenge when it comes to replicating details in the shadows, and quite often, it just doesn’t retain the actuals. Low light photos are good, but more often than not, you would want to switch to the Night Mode. That certainly brightens up pictures and colours look vivid and well separated here too. However, details again get sacrificed. We expect updates to improve the photography performance, just as the OnePlus 7 Pro’s camera became significantly better over time.
One of the hangovers is that by default, this camera still clicks 12-megapixel photos and you still need to go to the Pro Mode to shoot 48-megapixel photos. And if you close the camera app, it doesn’t retain the Pro mode the next time you launch the camera.
We end this review on a rather perplexing note. The OnePlus 7T is a perfectly good phone. There is no doubt about it. The design bit is spot on and the frosted glass at the back just adds a new dimension to not just the visual appeal but also the in-hand feel. The taller display looks immersive and the 90Hz refresh rate feature is something that will have its utility in due course of time. Running the Android 10 flavor for Oxygen OS out of the box just bumps the experience a couple of notches higher. There is that whole familiarity and warmth that one associates with a OnePlus phone which is undeniable with the OnePlus 7T.
At Rs 37,999 and Rs 39,999 depending on which variant you pick, the OnePlus 7T is a definite choice. This is by far the best Android phone, at its price.
But (and there is always a but isn’t it) we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. Where does this leave the OnePlus 7 and those who already have a OnePlus 7? The reality is, it will be hard for OnePlus to justify the arrival of the OnePlus 7T as an upgrade just a few months after the OnePlus 7. For anyone who already owns a OnePlus 7, their anger would be justified. No longer does the money they spent give them the knowledge that they own the flagship, but the arrival of the 7T also pulls down the resale value of their phones. It is only natural to be a bit angry when you find that your phone isn’t exactly “new” anymore. Just a few weeks after you bought it.