Fastest but not the most premium

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The OnePlus 7 Pro was one of our favorite devices from earlier this year. The phone set a benchmark for other valuable flagships to follow suit, with great performance, a great display and an innovative design. The OnePlus 7T Pro that came a few months later keeps almost everything and makes a few fleeting changes. That includes the latest Snapdragon 855+, the only major upgrade that was obvious anyway, along with a few new software features. The rest of the package is almost identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro. So is it really worth your money if the OnePlus 7 Pro is also available at a much cheaper price? Let’s figure it out –

Performance

Like any OnePlus device, the OnePlus 7T Pro is at the top of mobile computing, at least in the Android space. The Snapdragon 855+, which Qualcomm launched to help gaming phones differentiate themselves, powers the flagship. The upgraded SoC offers a higher binned prime core clocked at 2.96 GHz, along with an overclocked Adreno 640 GPU that Qualcomm says offers 15 percent better performance. That, coupled with 12GB of RAM and UFS 3.0 storage (up to 256GB), made the benchmark scores some of the highest we’ve ever seen. You can see that in the graphs below —

As the results show, the OnePlus 7T Pro is way ahead of its competition in the Android space. It even beat the latest iPhones in AnTuTu and 3DMark Slingshot, indicating that the CPU and GPU are ready for high performance. Considering synthetic benchmarks, the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is clearly the fastest Android smartphone this year.

More than benchmarks, using the smartphone itself gives the feeling that it is without a doubt the fastest smartphone currently available. And that is mainly due to the display with a refresh rate of 90 Hz. We’ll talk more about the panel later, but the higher refresh rate makes a big difference in the way you experience using the phone. The scrolling is much more responsive and the animations look more realistic. That said, you won’t be making much use of the 90Hz refresh rate outside of the UI. There are only a lot of games that can run at 90FPS and most high-end games are locked at 60FPS. But looking at the pace at which mobile gaming is evolving, we may soon see 90FPS gaming on Android, and the OnePlus 7T Pro is only going to be future-proof in that regard.

Speaking of gaming, the OnePlus 7T Pro is a mean slot machine, marred only by its curved screen. Games themselves run at their maximum frame rates with nearly 100 percent stability, but it takes some time to get used to the curved panel. First, the controls often tend to take over the curved part unless you manually set it up differently. And the touch response along the curved edges is weaker than the flat areas. And I missed a few taps while playing CoD: Mobile on the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. You can check out the game stats in the charts below —

Obviously, the OnePlus 7T Pro is on par with the rest of the flagships, at least in terms of performance. There is a special Fnatic Gaming mode that enables haptic feedback in certain games, blocks calls and notifications and also improves visuals.

But not everything is as good as it seems. Despite the OnePlus 7T Pro having the best hardware, it doesn’t seem to be good enough to handle all that firepower. While running the benchmarks, we encountered frequent heating issues with the CPU and GPU spinning more than 50 degrees. The problem occurs even during extended gaming especially when the charger is plugged in. OnePlus also uses aggressive resource management algorithms that often kill apps in the background. Except for games, which tend to stay loaded, apps like Battery Stat and Facebook Messenger were regularly killed randomly. The overheating could just be a software glitch but despite the phone being on the market for over two months, the problem is yet to be resolved. Moreover, this is a problem that is mainly limited to the McLaren edition. The regular OnePlus 7T Pro with 8 GB of RAM does not have such heating problems.

Software

OxygenOS’s user interface is also one of the main reasons why the OnePlus 7T Pro runs so fast. It’s one of our favorite custom skins for Android because of the way it’s designed and optimized. The OnePlus 7T Pro also runs Android 10 right out of the box, one of the few smartphones to do so. But getting Android 10 early also led to some unwanted bugs. Many users reported ghost touch issues, especially around the edges, while some reported backward scrolling as well. Fortunately, OnePlus regularly releases updates (almost twice a month) that they should eventually fix.

OxygenOS also brings a new Reading Mode, more customizable Zen Mode, and Horizon Light, which is nothing but OnePlus’ way of illuminating the edges on incoming notifications. It would have helped if these were continuous pulses rather than a single burst, reminding the user that there are unread notifications.

battery life

The OnePlus 7T Pro relies on a 4085mAh battery, which isn’t quite enough if you keep the screen running at QHD resolution and 90Hz refresh rate all the time. In doing so, I barely managed to get 4 hours of screen time, with the phone losing at least 30 percent of its charge in about 30 minutes. If you’re watching a video or playing a game, the drop is even greater. Thankfully, OnePlus lets you automatically push the resolution variable to QHD only when you need to, but even then, screen time only increases by an hour or so. Five hours of battery life is certainly not something you would expect from a premium flagship. In the PCMark Work 2.0 battery test, the OnePlus 7T Pro lagged behind the Galaxy Note 10+ and even the previous OnePlus 7 Pro. Check it out in the chart below –

Camera

Moving on to the camera, the OnePlus 7T Pro keeps the camera settings of the OnePlus 7 Pro and does some software-level upgrades to improve image quality. You get three modes to shoot in: wide angle, ultra wide angle and telephoto. The ultra-wide angle lens is also used for macro shots. The telephoto lens also shoots at 3x lossless zoom, according to OnePlus, but it is actually 2.8x optical zoom and the rest is digital. You can also shoot steady videos using a super steady mode that relies on machine learning to stabilize your footage, in addition to the stabilization shown by OIS and EIS.

Images of the OnePlus 7T Pro are nearly identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro and while well lit photos are more or less similar to what you get from more premium flagships like the Huawei P30 Pro and the Galaxy Note 10+. Only OnePlus uses a very specific tone for its daylight images, which sets it apart. It’s not bad, but it just looks different. You can see the difference in the examples below —

The first is from the Galaxy Note 10+, while the second is from the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren. Notice how the pink and green hues are more pronounced on the 7T Pro example? The phone essentially ups the contrasts to make the image look punchier, which may not be good for all users.

The 16MP ultra-wide lens comes with autofocus, a welcome addition missing from most premium flagships, and also comes with a fast shutter. But then you don’t get as much detail as with the 48MP primary lens. Thankfully, OnePlus has extended Nightscape support to the ultra-wide lens, but even then using the lens in the dark doesn’t yield the best results.

The telephoto lens is used for portrait shots as well as for zooming in on objects. Partial zooming works well during the day, but a lower f/2.4 aperture means you won’t be able to get the results you want in low light. What’s worse, it doesn’t work with Nightscape mode either.

Apart from that, the OnePlus 7T Pro can also record 4K videos at 60 FPS, but only for 15 minutes, tops. I also had a lot of trouble focusing while shooting videos and taking close-up photos. Objects tend to go in and out of focus a lot, which made life hell while shooting a product at a launch event. Here are some of the photos we took with the phone –

Design and display

The form factor of the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren is identical to the OnePlus 7 Pro, apart from the dimensions and weight. Only the rear panel gets a special McLaren flavour, which I personally didn’t like that much. The glass finish on the back doesn’t trap fingerprints but is quite smooth, so a case is recommended. The only design change is that the AF system has now been moved to the side of the camera module. That aside, there’s the pop-up camera, curved screen and rounded edges, all of which make it quite ergonomic to use and a joy to watch videos on. But I have a few comments about the curved screen.

The 6.67-inch QHD+ display curves around the edges, delivering a healthy 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. However, the curved edges are quite annoying and actually become a hindrance. For example, the edges have a glare under the sun, which often masks the content at the edges. Inside, it’s a fantastic screen to use. You can watch HDR10+ content on all major streaming sites, while the 90Hz refresh rate makes using the panel a lot more fun.

bottom line

The OnePlus 7T Pro is indeed one of the fastest smartphones out there right now, but it’s not flawless. In fact, the flaws are more or less acceptable if OnePlus was still active in the low-cost flagship segment, but this is a premium smartphone meant to compete against the Galaxy Note 10+ and the Huawei P30 Pro. So it is obvious for us to compare the OnePlus 7T Pro with the best smartphones of this year. And in that regard, the OnePlus 7T Pro lacks many features. Water resistance and wireless charging are two big misses, something most smartphones priced at Rs 60,000 offer. More than that, the phone has a tendency to overheat and has quite a few software bugs that have yet to be corrected. So if I had to choose, the regular OnePlus 7T offers more bang for the buck and doesn’t have the annoying issues caused by the curved screen. Also keep in mind that with the arrival of the OnePlus 7T Pro, the previous OnePlus 7 Pro is much cheaper and offers almost the same experience as the OnePlus 7T Pro.

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