OnePlus 7T Review: The pro, Smooth But needs Improvement

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OnePlus’ ‘T’ variants usually end up being deemed as the smartphone that the company should have launched in May, but it would be unkind to look at the OnePlus 7T the same way. Getting straight to the point – the OnePlus 7T is pretty much the return of original flagship killer. It’s everything people liked about the OnePlus 7 Pro (including the frosted blue color), at a more palatable price.

Given the fact that it’s only been a few months since the company launched the OnePlus 7, the launch of a 7T with considerable improvements across the board would definitely annoy fans, but this certainly isn’t the first time OnePlus has done it. At INR 37,999, the company has raised the price of its base offering once again but as I implied, the improvements here aren’t minor and even though OnePlus 7 buyers will tell you otherwise, shelling out a little more here is completely justified.

Well, that said, the OnePlus 7T, despite what it offers at this price, isn’t clear of competition. Despite being a gamer-oriented smartphone, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 breathes right up the OnePlus 7T’s neck when it comes to specifications and features; while the likes of the Oppo Reno2 offer a better design, although it does lose out on top-of-the-line internals. But if you were to look for an overall package that pretty much does it all, there’s little to find fault with the OnePlus 7T.

OnePlus 7T: Design, Build and Display

Since the OnePlus 7T is more of a successor to the OnePlus 7 and not the 7 Pro, the design here hasn’t changed drastically. It is a little taller than its predecessor, making is almost as tall as the OnePlus 7 Pro. This is due to OnePlus opting for a 20:9 aspect ratio that keeps the Fluid AMOLED screen tall and narrow and thankfully, much easier to hold and use in one hand. On paper, the differences are only a few millimeters, but in daily use, the effect is significant.

I haven’t used the OnePlus 7 Pro much, but personally, I prefer the flat glass on the OnePlus 7T over the visually appealing curved glass on the Pro. It sits well in hand and weight distribution is just about right. You still get an all-metal chassis with a chromatic blue hue highlighted in a soft matte finish. I say soft matte finish because the phone’s still quite prone to smudges. To OnePlus’ defence though they’re also quite easy to wipe off.

Now the part that I strongly dislike and consider a step backwards: that ugly rear camera module. OnePlus strangely calls this a ‘refinement’ but its anything but. The bump is big and if that wasn’t enough the edges around the circular protrusion is sharp enough for you to get a paper cut

The 7T also continues the tradition of the teardrop notch that debuted with last year’s OnePlus 6T. Despite the hate that notches get in 2019, they are a much more practical in comparison to pop-up cameras, even though the latter does reduce bezels. OnePlus says that the teardrop notch on the 7T is considerably smaller than the one on the OnePlus 7, but honestly, it’s still a notch and you can’t unsee it just because it’s smaller.

Like all OnePlus phones before this one, there’s an alert slider to switch between silent, vibrate, and loud, which is convenient. Like the OnePlus 7, the stereo speakers carry significant volume but aren’t the clearest.

OnePlus says its goal was to bring as many of the 7 Pro’s features to the 7T as possible, so you’ll find an AMOLED display and a 90Hz variable refresh rate, a feature that, once you use it, you never want to go back to a phone with a traditional 60Hz panel.

This was my first experience with a 90Hz panel as a daily driver and now I really wonder how the likes of Samsung and Apple can even think of leaving this out of their super expensive flagships. The panel used by OnePlus on the 7T by the way is by far the best you’ll get under INR 50,000. Its color accurate, vibrant and punchy if you want it to be and get very very bright indoors.

There’s one thing that I did notice though and that’s the fact that outdoors, I could barely read anything well, despite OnePlus claiming that this panel can get as bright as 1,000 nits. Move to an area with a bit more shade and visibility is restored. Definitely not a deal breaker, but it could be something that OnePlus can work on bettering come the OnePlus 7T Pro perhaps?

OnePlus 7T: Performance and Software

The OnePlus 7T’s biggest USP is that it’s officially the first smartphone to ship with Android 10 out of the box. Now, OnePlus has been consistently good with updates and bug fixes over the years but this time OnePlus even managed to beat the Google-made Pixel 4 to the race for Android 10.

Being first to the game though has worked out to be a double-edged sword for OnePlus. The build that my unit came with is full of minor niggles – opening WhatsApp’s Media library freezing the app and occasional frame drops swiping through system UI every now and then, to name a few.

That said, OnePlus has already assured me that a biggish software update is on its way which is expected to polish out most of the niggles.

Moving over to the positives of Android 10 here, there’s dark mode, on which OnePlus builds a whole bunch of customizations, along with a version of Google’s gesture navigation that, thanks to the 90Hz display, feels much more natural.

ASUS may have stolen OnePlus’ thunder by launching the ROG Phone 2 with Qualcomm’s new flagship Snapdragon 855+ chip but that doesn’t take anything away from the experience of using the OnePlus 7T. Qualcomm claims that the 855+ is 15% faster than the 855 chip that arrived earlier this year.

There’s no visible performance difference between the 7T and the OnePlus 7 Pro, used side-by-side. My colleague and I did a simultaneous app launch speed test of sorts between the 7 Pro (running the Android 10 Beta) and the 7T and the 7T came out on top by a couple of seconds overall and that’s hardly anything. It is reassuring to know though that the phone has additional headroom to maneuver around graphically-intense games or handle some quick video editing projects if need be.

‘Nuansed Dark’ Theme on Android 10-based OxygenOS

Gaming is a breeze as well. I threw every heavy title I know at the 7T and as you’d expect, it handled them without breaking much of a sweat. PUBG fans, you have to try the game at maxed framerate to see what you’re missing out on. Battery drain is an issue though and I really hope OnePlus’ upcoming update makes some under-the-hood changes to improve that.

On a separate note, OnePlus has also brought the same high-quality vibration motor that was in the OnePlus 7 Pro, along with the excellent optical in-display fingerprint sensor (still the fastest in-display implementation I’ve seen on any phone) — two small additions that have a tremendous influence on the experience.

OnePlus 7T: Camera Performance

You’ve probably read up till here, just to find out whether the OnePlus 7T has a good enough camera experience for the price. To sum things up, there’s plenty to be happy about here, but it’s not up to speed with the high-end flagships just yet.

First, this is a very similar setup to the OnePlus 7 Pro, though the module is circular with a horizontal loadout of lenses, a layout much more striking and imposing than the vertical strip on the 7 Pro. The star of the show is still the Sony IMX586, a relatively large mobile sensor packing 48 megapixels that uses some light combination tricks to create high-quality 12MP captures.

It’s the sensor found in most “affordable flagships” this year from the ASUS ZenFone 6 to the Honor 20 series to the OPPO Reno 2 and the aforementioned OnePlus 7 Pro. It’s a good part — putting out clean photos with extremely versatility, since its interpolation feature can be disabled in well-lit environments to eke as much detail as possible out of all 48 megapixels.

The triple camera setup on the back is identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro, though the module is circular with a horizontal loadout of lenses. The star of the show is still the Sony IMX586, a sensor found in most “affordable flagships” this year from the ASUS ZenFone 6 to the Honor 20 series to the OPPO Reno2 and even the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Overall, the primary sensor puts out clean photos with extremely versatility. Shots in well-lit conditions are as good as it gets and those in worse lighting conditions are not bad by any means. OnePlus is still using the combination of optical and electronic stabilization on the main sensor, and for the most part it works really well in poorly-lit environments, allowing the shutter to stay open for longer periods without significant blur.

 

OnePlus also appears to have put in some work on its color science – something that was an issue with the OnePlus 7 Pro. What you get here are photos that don’t exaggerate hues or flatten detail but still produce realistic yet pleasing shots.

I haven’t taken a boatload of photos yet with phone but I did like 9 out of 10 photos that I shot overall. There were a few times in bright environments where a foreground subject was too dark, exposed improperly due to the strength of the lights around, but those were few and far between. Indoor shots also had trouble with white balance, settling on an unsettling bluish tint at times or a much warmer than normal look at other times.

The OnePlus 7T also feature a wide-angle lens this time and its super fun to use for these dramatic landscape shots. Yes, it distorts at the corners, but I can forgive it because switching between cameras in OnePlus’ camera app is super simple. What is a bit annoying is the change in color tones between pictures when you switch lenses for the same scene.

OnePlus 7T

The wide-angle camera also support video capture out of the box — a feature that only came to the 7 Pro earlier this month. Better still, the wide-angle lens also works on OnePlus’s increasingly-competitive Nightscape mode, which tries to capture as much light as possible from a given scene.

The OnePlus 7T also has a trick up its sleeve that hasn’t rolled out the 7 Pro yet: Super Macro mode, which also uses the wide-angle lens to get very close to a subject, with pretty interesting results. This isn’t a feature that finds its way into phones that often, but I really liked having fun with it.

As for video, OnePlus phone generally manages fairly good electronic stabilization from its algorithms, but with the 7T it’s officially debuting a Super Stable mode, which uses sensor data from both the wide-angle and regular cameras to offset hand motion and offer incredibly smooth results. It’s limited to 1080p, and there’s definitely a bit of judder when moving your hand quickly, but for smooth pans or shots where you’re shaking the camera vigorously, Super Stable works fine.

OnePlus 7T: Battery Life and Charging

With a 3,800mAh battery and a super-efficient 7nm Snapdragon 855+, I didn’t expect to have to worry about the 7T’s battery life but well, think weren’t as smooth sailing as I thought it would be.

Most days, the 7T lasted from morning till night without needing a top-up, though a few days the battery bar flashed red by evening. This, however, is quite likely a result of the software build I was running – another area where I expect OnePlus to improve on with a software update.

There’s no wireless charging still if you care but OnePlus has further improved its proprietary Warp Charge tech, aptly here called Warp Charge 30T. Though it uses the same 5V/6A charging brick as the OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus says it’s optimized the battery resistance, allowing for higher full-speed current for longer periods than the OnePlus 7 Pro.

OnePlus says that the 7T can maintain a 30-watt charge for 14 minutes, six minutes longer than the 7 Pro. That means the battery can go from dead to full in just under 60 minutes. Heading somewhere? Simply plug in your phone for 5-10 minutes and you’re good to go for at least half a day. In fact, the OnePlus 7T goes from 0-65 in just half an hour’s charge.

Price and Verdict

At INR 37,999 (INR 39,999 for the 256GB model), there’s no going wrong with the OnePlus 7T. It’s got everything you’d want in a flagship phone and thanks to its tall-and-thin stature, it’s relatively easy to lug around all day.

Apart from the horrible circular camera module, it’s designed well, super fluid in everyday use and has one of the best displays on a smartphone. The camera isn’t the best out there, but it’s more than good enough for most people’s needs. The software experience isn’t super fluid just yet, but knowing OnePlus, they’ll have that ironed out pretty soon. (I will put the phone through its paces again once a more stable build is out)

That said, if your a hardcore gamer and you’ve been saving up for the OnePlus 7T, get the ROG Phone 2 and you won’t regret it. For everything else, the OnePlus 7T is just the right value for money flagship to buy.

Courtesy of Mashable 

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