OnePlus 7T, the best mainstream Android phone in the world?


You know, there is a problem when you’re trying to quantify a product in absolutes. And OnePlus’s T models which are more refinements of their flagship from the first half of the year are even harder products to judge. Last year, on PCMag India, I wrote, the OnePlus 6T was a boring wimp of an update which I ended up recommending as one the phones of the year. So how does one judge, the OnePlus 7T keeping in mind, this year, it had launched the OnePlus 7 Pro and the OnePlus 7? Well, the OnePlus 7T fares in very nicely as it is perhaps the biggest design update that OnePlus has implemented since the OnePlus 5T on a “T” model. So does that make this one of the phones of the year as the OnePlus 7 Pro was the Android equivalent of the iPhone?  Let’s find out! 

What’s warped

  • While this phone only has a 1080p OLED panel, but again OnePlus is on point with its colour calibration and as always the blacks are inky. The phone also now has the 90Hz refresh rate which made the OnePlus 7 Pro so good. Considering, it is a lower resolution screen it also makes this a more power-efficient screen as 1080p on a 6.55-inch panel is good enough for almost everything. 
  • The design of the phone has been overhauled from all angles. It doesn’t look like a carbon copy of the OnePlus 6T anymore. On the front, with the bezels being trimmed further, the notch is now smaller by 31.46% while the bezels are also trimmed further. The backside has a radial camera array that packs three cameras and the flash. It’s bulging out but it looks cool reminding you of the old Nokia Lumia phones. The new Glacial Blue colour is also silken which makes this phone feel supple in the hand. 
  • The performance of this phone is just epic. For all intents, this is the fastest Android smartphone around. It is the first phone with not only Android 10 out of the box but also the Snapdragon 855 plus processor which is around 15% faster than the Snapdragon 855. It is a minor difference in the scheme of things but it should make a difference while playing intensive games like PUBG. The user experience has also been further improved because of the new haptic motor which makes this phone a delight to use day-to-day. 
  • The battery gets a boost with a 3,800mAh pack while also charging faster by around 10-15% with software optimisations. I’m seeing around a full days battery life which makes this quite a reliable phone for the sake of roadrunners. 
  • The biggest update comes to the cameras. Despite retaining the same 48-megapixel camera which was there on the OnePlus 7, this phone adds two more cameras — one telephoto 12-megapixel sensor which provides a decent 2x zoom and a macro mode and an ultra-wide-angle 16-megapixel camera which has a 117-degree field of view. OnePlus has also tuned the camera further which has improved sharpness levels and low-light performance. Its camera performance is now as versatile as saying the Samsung Galaxy S10e. 
  • The video capabilities of this phone have improved a bit. There a new hybrid stabilisation system which works in tandem with an optical stabiliser and electronic stabilisation. Video is also quite usable but not in the league of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones. 
  • OnePlus is also launching its cloud drive with this phone along with its MVNO service in India. These are the type of additions which make this phone a more compelling solution. 
  • OnePlus has added dual speakers which make this a great phone from a YouTubing point of view for videos and for just audio, as it gets very loud while retaining audio fidelity. It also comes with 256GB of storage which makes this a great device to store a lot of videos and music. 

What’s not 

  • As is the case with most “T” editions for OnePlus smartphones, the upgrades aren’t tectonic that will encourage anyone who owns a OnePlus 7 or OnePlus 7 Pro models. If anything, the launch of this phone will irritate users of these phones. 
  • The software “at the time of writing” this the software on the OnePlus 7T is broken. But that’s more to do with this being pre-release software. For instance, the Facebook app was unusable for the first couple of days — and then uploading images to third party apps like Snapseed and Instagram has been problematic for some reason. 
  • The portrait mode on the OnePlus phones remains quite abysmal, which is disappointing as this is a camera focused product. Likewise, the audio capture for video remains average at best. Overall, the camera is good on this phone, but it isn’t the champion camera phone that OnePlus is hedging it as. 

Apart from some minor irritants that sully make the phone feel unstable, this could be the new Android champion for anyone with a budget of upwards of Rs 30,000. These irritants are also likely to be resolved by the time the phone hits the stands where normal consumers are going to buy it which will make this phone a no brainer.