Turning up the heat in the flagship smartphone segment, again- Tech Reviews, Firstpost
I wake up to an annoyingly loud alarm and to my horror, I’m late for work. To add to that anxiety, my phone has seven percent of battery left because last night, like a doofus, I forgot to turn on the switch after plugging in the power brick. By the time I’m ready to leave, I came back to find that the phone had charged to almost 30 percent. I let out a sigh of relief since it’s more than enough to last my entire commute to the office. All hail the fast-charging gods! This technology has changed our smartphone-usage lifestyle for the past few years. And the new fast charging technology on the OnePlus 7T or “Warp Charge 30T” as they’d like to call it, is bonkers.
The OnePlus 7T is a powerful phone that doesn’t compromise anywhere. Not on hardware or software. It’s running the most powerful mobile chipset currently available, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+, with 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of the fastest internal storage available on phones today. There’s a 3,800 mAh battery and warp charging has been given an upgrade that the company claims to be 23 percent faster than the previous generation. It has a bright 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a smooth 90 Hz refresh rate. The phone runs on OxygenOS 10 based on Android 10 out-of-the-box. There’s an in-display fingerprint scanner and face unlock as well, both being faster than ever.
Two colour variants are available including Glacier Blue and Frosted Silver. While the former is available in both 128 GB and 256 GB storage options, the Frosted Silver model is only available in the 128 GB storage variant. The 128 GB variant is priced at Rs 37,999 and the 256 GB variant goes for Rs 39,999. The rear panel on both the devices is super-smooth and I’d recommend a case for better grip.
With over a week of using the OnePlus 7T as my primary phone that also included a short vacation, here’s what I think about the device. An OTA update was installed that fixed some UI issues and added camera improvements. The final verdict of this review is based on the usage of the updated software.
Borrowing some of the Pro features
It was only a matter of time till the 90 Hz refresh rate display from the OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) arrived on the non-Pro model. The 7T gets the same “Fluid AMOLED” display and everything feels buttery smooth if compared to phones with 60 Hz refresh rates. However, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as the 120 Hz ultra-smooth display on the Asus ROG Phone 2 (Review). The company claims that the phone is capable of going beyond 1,000 nits of brightness but we don’t have the equipment to test that claim. What I can definitely say is that the maximum brightness is enough to be visible under direct sunlight.
There’s a tiny waterdrop notch on the display that is supposedly 31.46 percent smaller than the one on the OnePlus 7 (Review). It does get in the way while watching videos in full screen if you’re coming from a notch-less display. But in a few days, I got used to it. Anything bigger than that would have bothered me, although any kind of notch still bothers me. I would anyway prefer a tiny notch over a notch-less display that resolves the issue with a pop-up front camera.
Since the phone’s display supports HDR10+, you can watch HDR-enabled content. I spent a lot of time watching those beautiful HDR videos on YouTube that are meant for HDR TV demos. The colours and black levels are satisfying to watch without any form of artefacts showing up in the scenes. You can obviously tinker around with the colour profiles from the Android settings menu according to your preferences. I also watched a few HDR TV shows on Netflix and the dual front-facing stereo speakers add to a wonderful multimedia viewing experience. The dual speakers are loud and detailed enough to not require headphones while watching movies. Comparatively, the ROG Phone II display was more saturated and the speakers reproduced better detail on the 7T.
OxygenOS 10 is smooth as ever and I didn’t experience any kind of issues after an OTA update that had arrived right before the phone’s launch. There are more customisation options for the theme this time including quick settings and app icon shapes, font, colour accents, etc. Night Mode, Reading Mode, Fnatic Mode and Zen Mode are some other features that have been continued.
Powered by the Snapdragon 855+, there was nothing to hold back gaming performance. I played a lot of Asphalt 9: Legends, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty: Mobile without noticing any stuttering or glitches. The phone did get warm at times but it wasn’t impossible to hold it. While playing, I found it more comfortable to hold the device with a case slapped on rather than the bare device. If you’re a casual gamer and even a competitive one, you will be able to play any game without any issues.
Good picture quality and impressive portrait shots
The OnePlus 7T uses the same triple-camera system on the rear as the OnePlus 7 Pro. However, it makes use of a different camera bump design. The circular camera housing has a primary 48 MP Sony IMX586 lens along with a 16 MP ultra-wide lens and a 12 MP telephoto lens. While the pictures captured on both the devices looked similar at first, it seemed like the 7T had more natural colours. The 7 Pro’s white balance was warmer and sometimes the colours looked muted.
You can click on the camera crops/samples below to check out the high resolution or full resolution images.
In daylight, most of the smartphone cameras are able to perform well. It was no different on the 7T which was able to capture slightly saturated colours that were only noticeable in bright colours. I clicked pictures in several locations across two cities that produced good picture quality with vivid colours without oversaturating them. The camera app comes with all the bells and whistles including 2x optical zoom, portrait mode, slow-motion, timelapse, and a night mode that’s called Nightscape. I tested out all these camera modes to see how they performed.
Taking pictures of the same scene using the three lenses captured good details except on the ultra-wide lens. However, the colours changed in every lens and the phone wasn’t able to sustain a consistent white balance. While the colours were washed out in 2x optical zoom, the primary lens produced an oversaturated image at times with the best details. The shots on the ultra-wide lens were more balanced but at the cost of losing details.
A Macro shot mode was added to the OnePlus 7T that allows you to take pictures of objects from a distance of even 2.5 cm. This is done on a software level since there isn’t a dedicated macro lens in the phone. I took some shots of regular objects using this mode and the level of detail produced was impressive.
You can check out all the camera samples taken with the phone in our Flickr album below.
Portrait mode on the 7T did a decent job of isolating the subject from the background. It gave satisfactory portrait shots even using the front camera. And the level of detail captured by both the front and rear cameras was brilliant. But do note that this isn’t a Pixel. I got pictures with more details and better portrait shots using the Pixel 3a XL.
When compared with the ROG Phone II, it was difficult to claim which one produced better details in normal shots but when it came to white balance and saturation, the 7T proved to be better. However, whenever I switched to the portrait mode on the 7T, there was always a weird yellowish tint to the images indoors. This tint was more clearly visible on the 7 Pro and a similar effect is present on the 7T as well. I’m hoping this could be resolved in a future update since this is where the camera on this phone lacks in colour and white balance accuracy.
In low-light conditions, the OnePlus 7T does lose details in the shadows but overall it’s able to capture some nice shots. Nightscape manages to reduce the overexposed highlights from hard light sources but the sharpening is too aggressive. In certain shots, the sharpened textures look unnatural. But the same images pop the colours brilliantly that could be instantly uploaded to social media. It’s more of a personal preference at this point.
Finally, coming to video recording, the stabilisation was below average initially but it became slightly better after installing the OTA update. Videos recorded in 60 fps whether at 1080p or 4K, looked smooth with hardly any artefacts. The recorded videos looked sharp but weren’t oversharpened. Highlights didn’t blow out in daylight and the camera could recover quickly when the exposure changed. The ROG Phone II also recorded good quality videos with better stabilisation. However, it couldn’t capture as much detail as the 7T.
OnePlus has managed to pull off a brilliant triple-camera system on the 7T that didn’t quite work out well at launch on the 7 Pro. However, if compared to the OnePlus 7, the camera on this phone has a significant upgrade to the quality and capability.
Battery life: Average but fast charging makes up for it
Reiterating that Warp charging is incredibly fast, the OnePlus 7T touched 37 percent of charge in only 15 minutes. And in the next 15 minutes, the battery percentage went up to 74 percent. Essentially, in half an hour the phone could potentially last you almost a day with average usage. If you’re like me who tries to ensure that the phone completes a full charging cycle every time, the OnePlus 7T can fully charge in under an hour, 54-55 minutes to be precise, in my testing.
Although the phone shines in fast charging, it doesn’t impress to the same extent in battery life. Can’t have it both ways, huh? I was able to hit five to six hours of screen-on time but not more than that. This involved listening to music while commuting to work and back home, scrolling through social media, clicking some pictures, watching a few videos on YouTube and Netflix, and several calls, all in the full brightness setting. With 20-25 percent battery still to go, I didn’t even bother charging the phone overnight. During my vacation, I shot several pictures and recorded a lot of videos through the day to return to my room with only 10-15 percent of battery remaining. While using the phone for regular activities, I also used the phone a lot to navigate on Maps.
It’s clear that the 90 Hz refresh rate on the display is taking a toll on the battery life. You can dial it down to 60 Hz for an extra boost but that’s not the intended way to use the phone. You would be anyway spoilt by the smooth display and not even consider using the phone at a lower refresh rate. The OnePlus 7T offers average battery life but with the blazing speed of Warp charging, it makes things up. If you run out of juice, you could simply plug in the charger and reach 50 percent of the battery in only 20 minutes. Do remember, in order to enjoy these unreal charging speeds, you will have to use the power brick provided with the phone for Warp Charge 30T to work.
Verdict: This could definitely be your next
I could have straight away recommended the OnePlus 7T unless it was for the ROG Phone II. This is where personal preferences heavily come into play. For a mainstream Android smartphone with top-notch hardware, brilliant camera performance and the best software experience in the market, you can’t go wrong with the 7T. However, if you’re seeking some extra features in a chunky gaming smartphone, then you could look at the ROG Phone II since both of them are neck-and-neck in performance.
As per my personal preferences, the 7T was easier to hold and fit in my pockets. The display size made it comfortable to reach the corners of the screen and other edges without clumsily holding the device. OnePlus has had a good reputation with software updates and you can expect features to be continuously added along with new Android version updates.
Starting at only Rs 37,999, the OnePlus 7T offers so much that it could actually be a big competition to its own OnePlus 7T Pro. Unless the company justifies the ‘Pro’ tag on the bigger brother, it’s going to be difficult to sell the latter. I didn’t come across any deal-breaker on the 7T and this phone could indeed be your next upgrade.