Sometime in 2021, OnePlus announced that it will not be making a T-variant of the OnePlus 9, like the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 7 and so on. However, this doesn’t mean that the T-series (calm down, PewDiePie) will be completely discontinued and OnePlus will go back to launching a flagship lineup once again in a year. Instead, OnePlus opted for the OnePlus 9R for an upgrade back in October. Now, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagship set to launch anytime now, it’s finally coming to India with the Snapdragon 888, with some new features, but mostly the same old identity.
The last point is important, because starting in 2022, OnePlus will merge many of its unique personalities with Oppo, and by the looks of it, the OnePlus 9RT will be the last of the most critically acclaimed Android experiences. It remains to be seen how much of the company’s identity will continue in the OnePlus 10 series, but for now, the OnePlus 9RT is proof that the magic is still there. After using the Galaxy S21 FE 5G for a few days, I switched to the OnePlus 9RT just a day ago and am still getting my bearings. So for now, here are my initial thoughts –
A no-nonsense flagship performer
The OnePlus 9RT is nothing short of disruptive. It’s more of a repeat, of what the OnePlus 9R offered, but with upgraded core hardware. It packs a Snapdragon 888, up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, a 4500mAh battery with 65W charging. But if you’re following last year’s developments, the Snapdragon 888 isn’t the coolest chipset. It gets noticeably hotter in phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro. To handle that, this time there is a larger VC cooling system than the OnePlus 9 Pro, which the company claims provides 20% better cooling efficiency. So far, from the little I’ve used, the OnePlus 9R hasn’t gotten hot at all. I simulated use-cases that trigger the overheat warning in the OnePlus 9 Pro (such as shooting 4K video), but the phone got very warm. Maybe it’s because of the cold wave that’s sweeping through Delhi right now, but I’ll definitely be doing more to stress performance and check for overheating.
Without the fear of overheating (so far), the OnePlus 9RT has been a delight to use. It is so comfortable to hold and the screen is extremely responsive thanks to the 300Hz sampling rate. It can be cranked up to a whopping 600Hz during gaming for even quicker response times. 29ms is how long it takes the phone to register your touch input while gaming. It is much, much faster than any other smartphone in this price range.
Arguably, touch sampling rate is more important for smooth gaming than high refresh rate, as Android games rarely cross the 60FPS barrier even on flagship phones. And since we interact with phones by touch, a higher touch response rate means much faster responses and quicker results. Speed has been the DNA of OnePlus smartphones since the beginning, and the OnePlus 9RT is no exception. Fast and smooth old tag can easily be moved to this.
Besides the core experience of being fast and powerful, there are small upgrades that go a long way in improving usability — for example, the OnePlus 9RT features a 4D haptics motor that’s trained to output 150 vibration types that cover select in-game events like gunfire. , explosions, etc. Apart from delivering the tightest and most solid rumbles for notifications and calls.
But what I love most is the familiar UI of the OnePlus 9RT. It runs on a stable version of OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 and as a result, has not yet transitioned to Oppo’s ColorOS, as the company announced last year. OxygenOS still has one of the most minimalistic, clean interfaces to use and offers a wide range of customization and useful features to suit your needs. Having said that, it will be upgraded to Android 12-based in the near future.
Opposition to the camera
While performance is top notch and in line with the Pro series, the camera setup is closer to the cheaper OnePlus Nord 2 than the OnePlus 9 Pro. On the back, the primary camera has the same 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor, a 16MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro camera. There is a 16MP selfie camera on the front. The primary sensor is also used in the Oppo Reno 6 series as well as the Find X3 series and is larger than the 1/2-inch sensor used in the previous OnePlus 9R.
Moreover, the camera app is directly away from the Oppo smartphone. Most used features like photo, video, night mode are a swipe away, while long-exposure, pro mode, etc. Fun features like these are in a separate sub-menu. The app lets you customize the lineup of options and features are easy to find.
There are some new features like a high-resolution mode that combines multiple shots from the 50MP camera to create a 108MP output. There’s an option to shoot HDR video as well as 4K 60FPS, though you can’t combine the two. This camera has some limitations. For example, there is no astro-mode or pro-video mode present in many flagships like the Vivo X70 series.
Delhi weather has been bad for my camera tests for the past few days. The city is always shrouded in thick fog, making it difficult to accurately check the camera output. I still managed a few shots that bring out some of the capabilities of the OnePlus 9RT. Browse below –
Familiar Design ID
OnePlus has carved a name for itself by bringing sleek new industrial designs to smartphones, with a lot of focus on colors, materials and finishes. This is one of the reasons why OnePlus phones started getting more and more expensive, the company experimented with new materials and increased the prices. OnePlus 9RT is the result of all previous experiments. It is offered in two distinct finishes – Nano Silver and Hacker Black. The former has a chrome-like metallic gradient, while the latter has a silky-glass finish filled with shimmering materials that shimmer against the light. I received the Hacker Black variant for review and it’s very good to hold. The smooth satin finish is an instant favorite. It’s as light as 198 grams and just 8.2mm thick, and the internal weight is evenly distributed, making it easy to hold and use.
OnePlus 9RT First Impressions
The OnePlus 9RT gets all the right components for flagship-grade performance, plus a design to go with it. But the camera feels a little lacking, especially with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G and Vivo’s X70 Pro in the same category. As a result, camera enthusiasts won’t find much to do with it, but if you’re a gamer or power user, the OnePlus 9RT will pique your interest. More, in our detailed review next week.
Thanks for reading this article till the end. Like our Facebook page for more such informative and exclusive technology content