Earlier this year, Chinese smartphone company OnePlus released the OnePlus 7 Pro which made gadget fans sit up and take notice.
The reason was because the gigantic Android slab boasted a screen refresh rate of 90Hz. For comparison, most phones only manage a 60Hz refresh rate. Your TV or iPad will generally manage 120Hz.
In real life, it means that browsing menus or watching animations is smoother and more fluid. OnePlus has just emerged with its second handset of the year (one mid-cycle refresh has become standard) in the form of the OnePlus 7T.
Unlike the standard OnePlus 7 – which was released alongside the Pro at a slightly more affordable price – the 7T does boast that all-important 90Hz refresh rate. The phone was officially announced at an event in London last week with the price set at £549, SIM-free. It’s a shade more than the £499 the OnePlus 7 launched with, but still good value.
There’s a small, teardrop notch on the 7T as it doesn’t have the 7 Pro’s headline-grabbing pop-out selfie camera, but the bezels have been reduced from the OnePlus 7. This is a long phone – it’s got a 6.55-inch display with a 20:9 aspect ratio. But it’s also pin-sharp with a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution at 400 pixels-per-inch.
All of that translates to a nice user experience before you’ve even flipped the phone over.
On the back is a triple lens camera and OnePlus’s breezy Glacier Blue colour option. It reflects the light like the dew on a frosty autumn morning. Unfortunately, it also collects grubby fingerprints so you may be making use of a case before long. OnePlus does do a range of decent official cases that you can find on its website here.
Camera performance is inherently subjective and there’s only so much you can do by throwing in more lenses and functions and features.
In my opinion, the 7T is plenty good enough for what most people use their phone cameras for.
For example, I’m not often perched on a cliff capturing sparkles of golden sunlight reflecting off the ocean. It’s more likely I’ll whip out a phone inside a grotty local pub to snap a copy of the wall poster showing kick-off times for England’s rugby world cup matches.
Still, the OnePlus 7T brings the goods.
It’s got a telephoto lens with a 2x zoom 12MP camera alongside an f/2.2 lens and an ultra-wide 117-degree field-of-view 16MP camera. The main lens is a 48MP f/1.6 aperture with optical image stabilisation to stop blurring and noise from shaky hands.
You can shoot 4K video at 60fps and also take advantage of a new Macro Mode which lets you capture a subject from as little as 2.5cm away in full quality.
OnePlus says you’ll be able to capture ‘intricate details that even the human eye struggles to see’.
There’s also the return of Nightscape mode, which combines information from multiple frames with various exposures to create a brighter photo in low light. It’s similar to Night Mode on the iPhone or Night Sight on the Pixel phones.
OnePlus still hasn’t bundled wireless charging into the 7T but has kept its famous ‘Warp Charge’ feature. It juices up the phone’s 3,800mAh battery to 70% in half an hour. Any battery improvements that can be made are welcome because I found both on the 7 Pro and on the 7T that the battery life wasn’t great.
Because of the big screens and their 90Hz refresh rate (not to mention I have the brightness all the way up and Bluetooth on all the time) I was regularly having to charge up twice a day. Not a problem if you’ve got Warp Charge, but that may require you to have two separate chargers – one at home and one at the office.
There’s no way I could make it through 24 hours without charging, and that’s with fairly standard usage.
Perhaps part of the battery issue comes from the stellar performance of the phone. With 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, I was constantly using the phone to pull documents and videos from the web for either editing or watching.
That performance is bound to suffer over the three or four year lifespan of the phone, but that’s going to be the case whatever handset you go for.
Are there drawbacks to the OnePlus 7T? Yes, there are.
As I mentioned there’s no wireless charging and there’s also no microSD expansion and no IP waterproof certification. It’s also a big phone which makes it uncomfortable for those wanting something smaller for pockets or handbags.
But you can’t accuse OnePlus of not putting extras in there for its (extremely vocal) fans.
There’s Zen Mode, which locks down certain parts of the phone to give you a break from the vortex of technology. There’s Gaming Mode, which disables certain background features and optimises the graphics for gaming. There’s Reading Mode, which turns the display monochrome for a more comfortable, e-reader-like reading experience and can be set to come on automatically when, for example, you open the Kindle app.
Best of all is the price. At just £549, the OnePlus 7T stakes a great claim as the phone to beat for those of us with pockets not-quite-deep enough for an iPhone 11 or Samsung Galaxy S10.
In my opinion, the only real competition the OnePlus 7T has for your hard-earned cash is the Google Pixel 3a. Both phones are great Android devices, but the 90Hz screen of the 7T along with its power and storage options mean it edges it over Google’s offering for me.
There’s not quite enough here to merit the jump from a year or two-year-old phone but if you’ve got a device that’s older than that and are looking for a phone that punches above its weight, you could do a lot worse than the OnePlus 7T.
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