OnePlus has launched its fourth major handset of 2019 with the OnePlus 7T Pro. What’s changed in six months since the OnePlus 7 Pro was launched? How does this fit with the Shenzhen-based company’s strategy? And is it a premium smartphone you should consider?
Remember that over the last few years OnePlus has a frantic release schedule of hardware, with the flagship handset updating every six months. This year saw the introduction of a ‘Pro’ model alongside the regular release in May, and both lines are maintaining the six month cycle.
Which means that, unless you are a collector or a serious OnePlus fan, if you already have the OnePlus 7 Pro there’s not a huge amount of difference in the hardware here to justify a purchase – a very slightly larger battery and a macro lens standing out. The software will be back-ported to your handset so all of the digital benefits will be with you through an over the air update.
But if you are looking for an upgrade, there are three areas of the OnePlus 7T Pro that stand out… the screen, the battery charging, and the Oxygen OS software that ties everything together.
OnePlus managed to leapfrog much of the competition with the 90Hz refresh on the OnePlus 7 Pro screen when it launched in the summer. Since then a number of other smartphones have matched the the manufacturer, but the OnePlus 7T Pro screen is still a fantastic screen. OnePlus also has more feedback and experience from its install base that allows the screen to be much more user friendly compared to say the brand new Pixel 4.
In use the screen is a delight to behold. The faster refresh rate makes scrolling look smoother, allows games to feel more fluid with HD gaming supported, and the HDR10+ compatibility brings a better experience for streaming apps such as Netflix.
It’s also notchless, on account of the pop-up selfie camera mounted along the top edge of the smartphone. The bezels are reduced to such a small extent at the top and bottom that this feels as close to a full screen display without being impractical (because you still need to grip the device and your finger will sneak into the front of the display.
The OnePlus 7T Pro also has the curved edges seen on the OnePlus 7 Pro and other competing handsets. It’s not a huge amount of curvature away from the main plane of the screen but it is noticeable in some circumstances. Navigating timelines and information based apps and the curve is essentially the scroll bar or the selvedge edge of the display, but when you go fullscreen video (say in YouTube) the same problems of light reflection that many will be familiar with are present. The 7T Pro doesn’t do this any better or worse than others, but this style of screen may be a dealbreaker for some
OnePlus has bumped up the battery capacity very slightly – from 4000mAh on the 7 Pro to 4085 mAh on the 7T Pro. Practically it is hard to see the difference here. What is noticeably different is the rapid charging system. Now going by the name Warp Charge 30T, OnePlus suggests that the charging rate is 23 percent faster than the summer’s charger.
I found that topping up 25 percent in fifteen minutes was a good rule of thumb, so an hour from empty to almost full is pretty impressive going. A quick sip of power for confidence is all well and good, but the OnePlus 7T Pro gets through a working day and into the next day if needed with ease.
Do note that OnePlus has offloaded part of the quick charging system to the AC adaptor, so you won’t always get the full benefit of this charging system – something that I found awkwardly painful when I was left to charge the phone via my laptop’s USB port on a recent trip. That’s when you realise the invisible benefit of quick charging.
I still have a personal preference for wireless charging, mostly because I am at a desk most days so slow sips are more in keeping with my lifestyle than sprints between power pitstops, but it looks like OnePLus are investigating both forms of charging so there’s hope for me in 2020!
Much as Warp Charge is a benefit that is not noticed until you don’t have it, the same goes for Oxygen OS. Rather than work on a pure implementation of Google’s flavor of Android, OnePlus has worked on a clean implementation of the platform. There’s very little cruft or excess in the system, it receives timely updates, and you’re looking at two years of full software support and maintenance patches beyond that for security.
You get the same additions to the OS as you saw in the OnePlus 7T, and o course these will show up on the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro in short order. It’s worth highlighting OnePlus’ support for dark mode in Android. Naturally OnePlus’s own ‘Zen Mode’ to limit your phone to core functionality so you can take time out is here as well, with some tweaks to the length of time that it can be active added in following user feedback.
The OnePlus 7T Pro pushes itself as a flagship handset, polishing the edges of the OnePlus 7 Pro to reach even higher. It’s an improvement on the 7 Pro, but as noted earlier it’s only a marginal improvement. If you are coming from the OnePlus 6 family it’s probably good value, and if you are upgrading from the OnePlus 5 or earlier then this is a good choice to make.
It’s complicated slightly by the OnePlus 7T offering a very similar feature set (notably the 90Hz screen, and the camera’s macro mode), and I still would like to see OnePlus go through the procedures for an IP certification to quantify the waterproofing on the device, but this is certainly a premium device with the absolute latest chip specifications and in demand features in this class.