OnePlus built its brand on low-cost flagships, and while it has risen to the top of the premium market, it has not abandoned its low-cost strategy entirely. After capturing the mid-range segment with the Nord lineup, OnePlus released the R series last year, with the OnePlus 9RT as a follow-up to the OnePlus 9R early this year. It was the first OnePlus smartphone to be released this year, amid a heated debate over the company’s integration with its parent brand, Oppo. The good news is that the phone retains the OnePlus charm of yesteryear, and with a few clever additions, it becomes a great smartphone for aspiring gamers and power users.
I’ve been using the OnePlus 9RT as my daily driver for quite some time now, and this is a long-term review of the budget flagship, which comes after the launch of the OnePlus 10 Pro and the auctioning of 5G spectrum in India. The phone is still quite relevant, thanks to the Snapdragon 888 under the hood, which delivers stable, fast, and smooth performance, but the cameras leave much to be desired. In its defense, the OnePlus 9RT isn’t a camera flagship, and it only has the standard components found in high-end smartphones. It’s designed for performance, particularly in games, and it’s still a compelling option four months after its release.
OnePlus 9RT Review and Specifications
Because of the redesigned camera module, the OnePlus 9RT is more similar to the OnePlus 9 than the OnePlus 9R. The back panel of our review unit was matte black with shimmering particles. It looks nice and feels nice in the hand, almost tempting you to use the phone without a case. Despite the fact that it has Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, it’s a risky proposition. The good news is that a matching rubber case with raised rails and a grippier finish is included in the box. During my long usage, I did drop the phone a few times, but thankfully no damage was done.
Other elements found in OnePlus phones are also present. Stereo speakers, an alert slider, power and volume controls on opposite ends, and a punch-hole selfie camera are all included. This is a flat-screen smartphone with minimal side bezels and equally minimal top and bottom bezels. The in-display fingerprint sensor is now located much lower on the screen, making it far easier to reach and unlock than on the OnePlus 9R.
The phone comes in a tall red box with the Warp Charge 65T charger, USB-A to USB-C cable, manuals and documents, and the matte black case inside. It weighs about 198 grams but feels light in the hand due to even weight distribution. The redesigned camera module elevates the phone’s appearance, and I believe it is one of the best-designed OnePlus smartphones in a long time.
The OnePlus 9RT has a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a resolution of 1080p. It has the same display as the OnePlus 9R, but with a faster touch-response rate that helps with gaming. This is not the LTPO panel found in the Pro series, so it will not switch the refresh rate dynamically like those. The refresh rate remains constant at 120Hz, which may contribute to battery drain but, on the other hand, ensures a consistent experience at all times.
The OLED panel is a competent display with good sharpness and color saturation. When viewed against a white background, there is a slight blue bias, but it is barely noticeable. However, the peak brightness could have been a little higher to make it more legible in direct sunlight.
The audio output is quite good, and the stereo speakers are slightly louder than their predecessor. You get good channel separation, which is useful when gaming, and it’s generally loud enough to listen to while watching YouTube videos with the ceiling fan turned on.
The Snapdragon 888 processor is a significant upgrade over the OnePlus 9R. The Snapdragon 870 in last year’s OnePlus 9R was based on the Snapdragon 865, so a generational improvement in performance is expected in the 9RT. It’s also impressive to see OnePlus use a larger vapor chamber cooling system to keep the Snapdragon 888 under control and prevent overheating. There’s support for up to eight 5G bands and three Wi-Fi antennas, with the latter being more useful, especially when gaming in landscape orientation, where you’d usually cover the antennae with your palms. In this case, an additional third antenna on the side remains unblocked and provides uninterrupted connectivity.
The unfortunate part is that, despite being released in 2022, the OnePlus 9RT still runs OxygenOS 11.3, which is based on Android 11, and even after four months, there is no sign of Android 12. That could be a blessing for long-time OnePlus users accustomed to the OxygenOS experience, because with Android 12, the codebase has been merged with Oppo’s ColorOS, and there are many changes in the UI that previous users may not recognize. The 9RT’s user interface contains almost no bloatware, and the animations are slick and fast, giving the impression of fast usage.
The OnePlus 9RT, like all OnePlus flagships (budget or otherwise), feels blazingly fast from the moment you unlock it. The fingerprint sensor registers quickly, and you are immediately taken to the home screen. There’s also Face Recognition, which works faster than the fingerprint sensor but is rarely used. There is no lag when switching between apps, and apps launch almost instantly, and even with a handful of apps open in the background, it does not become slow or sluggish.
This phone is designed for gaming, and games like COD: Mobile, BGMI, and PUBG: New State ran flawlessly. Because of the cranked-up touch response rate (almost 600Hz in some games) and haptic feedback, playing online games on this was enjoyable. It also didn’t get too hot even after a long session, which bodes well for the power-hungry Snapdragon 888.
OnePlus 9RT Specifications and Prices
|NETWORK||Technology||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE / 5G|
|LAUNCH||Announced||2021, October 13|
|Status||Available. Released 2021, October 19|
|BODY||Dimensions||162.2 x 74.6 x 8.3 mm (6.39 x 2.94 x 0.33 in)|
|Weight||198.5 g (7.02 oz)|
|Build||Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame|
|SIM||Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|DISPLAY||Type||AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10+|
|Size||6.62 inches, 106.3 cm2 (~87.9% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~397 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 5|
|PLATFORM||OS||Android 11, ColorOS 12|
|Chipset||Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm)|
|CPU||Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.42 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55)|
|Internal||128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM|
|MAIN CAMERA||Quad||50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56”, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS
16 MP, f/2.2, 14mm, 123˚ (ultrawide), 1/3.6″, 1.0µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
|Features||Dual-LED flash, HDR, panorama|
|Video||[email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, Auto HDR, gyro-EIS|
|SELFIE CAMERA||Single||16 MP, f/2.4, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm|
|Video||[email protected], gyro-EIS|
|SOUND||Loudspeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||5.2, A2DP, LE|
|GPS||Yes, with dual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO|
|USB||USB Type-C 2.0, USB On-The-Go|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Po 4500 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||Fast charging 65W, 100% in 29 min (advertised)|
|MISC||Colors||Hacker Black, Nano Silver, Blue|
|Price||$ 379.00 / ₹ 36,669|
The OnePlus 9RT comes with a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50MP primary camera with a Sony IMX766 sensor, a 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 2MP depth camera, which is slightly better than the 48MP primary sensor found in the rest of the OnePlus 9 series. The phone has a 16MP selfie camera with a Sony IMX 471 sensor on the front, which it shares with the rest of the OnePlus 9 series. Overall, the OnePlus 9RT is a minor step up from the rest of the OnePlus 9 series.
Aside from that, the OnePlus 9RT has a mixed bag of camera performance when it comes to taking photos with the rear camera. But there is one area where it excels: clarity. Whatever the lighting conditions are inside or outside, the phone captures every detail of the subject with precision. And zooming in on the image or capturing images with the macro camera reveals the amount of detail that the phone manages to capture, which is quite impressive. However, it has its ups and downs. When capturing shadows, it tends to follow a similar pattern, especially when there is enough light.
In low lighting and indoor lighting conditions, the OnePlus 9RT tends to saturate the colors a little, making things a little more dramatic and staged, which is different from what we’ve seen in previous OnePlus models.
The selfie camera is no exception. Images shot in bright outdoor lighting have depth and clarity. However, in both of these departments, the phone tends to fail in low light and indoor light conditions. Despite this, the color reproduction is still accurate.
The OnePlus 9RT has a 4500mAh battery that will easily last the entire day with moderate usage. In my experience, the screen-on-time ranged between 6-7 hours, which is quite good for a Snapdragon 888 smartphone. Heavy usage, such as excessive Instagram scrolling and gameplay, will drain the battery faster, but the 65W Warp Charger is extremely useful. It can charge from 0 to 100 in 30 minutes, which is nearly as fast as some of these 120W fast-charging smartphones.
The OnePlus 9RT retains many of the features and themes that have earned OnePlus a loyal following. It is, without a doubt, a performance flagship designed for speed and gaming. You get a dependable display, a long battery life, and adequate camera performance. It’s a better buy than the OnePlus 9R or even the OnePlus 9, but it’s a little late to the party. By February, you could get the iQOO 9 SE, Mi 11T Pro, and, more recently, the Realme GT 2 Pro with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for under $50,000. While there are plenty of options, buy the OnePlus 9RT purely for the OnePlus charm.
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