The ‘T’ edition by Chinese smartphone brand bring incremental upgrades over predecessors. It is the same case with the new 9RT Though the upgrades bring it closer to the 9 (review), it being cheaper is the result of cost cutting measures such as replacing the megapixel-rich and distortion free ultra-wide-angle camera sensor with a regular one, and shedding the Hasselblad colour calibration system entirely. I will come to it later in the camera section of the review, let’s first know what is new in the OnePlus 9RT


Design





The OnePlus 9RT is a cross between OnePlus 9R and OnePlus 9. The noticeable change here is the new colour themes on the back cover. The phone looks dazzling in the new ‘hacker black’ (review unit) colour theme, reminiscent of sandstone back covers of the early OnePlus models. However, it is not the same in terms of touch and feel. Instead of the grainy and matte texture of the original sandstone back covers, the new iteration feels silky smooth to touch. It also has some glitter to it, which shines differently in different light settings. Apart from new colour themes, the phone’s design is similar to the OnePlus 9R. It is on the heavier side but not unwieldy, has comfortable ergonomics, and boasts sturdy build with Gorilla Glass 5 protection and aluminium frame.


Display


The OnePlus 9RT 5G has a familiar punch-hole display with thin bezels on sides. It is a tad bigger 6.61-inch fullHD+ AMOLED panel of 120Hz refresh rate and up to 600Hz touch response rate. Though the screen lacks variable refresh rate, it does not break up and renders most content types smoothly. Moreover, its impact on the phone’s on-battery time is minimal with about an hour margin in battery efficiency when the screen is set to 60Hz. Besides the smooth experience, the screen is bright and vivid. Thanks to OnePlus for retaining the always-on display here, and for integrating its video enhancement-related features such as ‘AI resolution boost’ and ‘video color enhancer’. These value-added features enhance the low-quality videos, thus adding up to good display experience with regard to entertainment.


Camera


In the OnePlus 9 series, the OnePlus 9R is the only smartphone sans Hasselblad branding and the megapixel-rich and distortion free ultra-wide-angle camera sensor. These two imaging-related enhancements were expected to be included in the phone’s successor, but no. The OnePlus 9RT 5G is here and it does get a new camera system, but not the same as the OnePlus 9. On paper, it seems to be a compromise but the experience shows otherwise.


The OnePlus 9RT 5G’s primary 50-megapixel sensor is a flagship-grade performer. It is a huge improvement over the predecessor, and captures more details with better dynamic range than the OnePlus 9’s 48MP primary sensor. The sensor’s low-light performance is on-par with the OnePlus 9, thanks to optical image stabilisation. Though the sensor captures warm and saturated tones, its overall picture quality and performance compensate for the lack of Hasselblad’s colour calibration algorithms. Besides, it is quick in fixing focus and captures the frame with almost zero shutter lag.

OnePlus 9RT 5G


While the primary sensor is an improvement, the phone’s 16MP ultra-wide-angle sensor seems old school. Not that it is bad, there is not enough improvement here over the predecessor to write home about. The third sensor in the rear camera set-up is for macro photography, and it is a basic one. This sensor lacks autofocus, which makes it tricky to get the perfect shot. On the front, there is a 16MP sensor carried forward from the predecessor. It is decent for selfies and video calls, and works surprisingly well for phone unlock mechanism. However, it is not the best you get in the mid-premium segment.


As for videos, the OnePlus 9RT 5G is capable of recording up to 4K resolution videos at 60 frames per second. However, the 4K 60fps video can be recorded only through the primary and ultra-wide-angle sensor. The front camera sensor peaks at 1080p 30fps.


Performance


The OnePlus 9RT 5G ships with Android 11-based OxygenOS 11.3 operating system. It is a heavily-customised user interface with some OPPO’s ColorOS features baked right into it. Rounding up the package is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 system-on-chip, paired with up to 12GB RAM (LPDDR5) and 256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1). From graphic-intensive games to multimedia editing, there is nothing that the phone could not handle. Moreover, there are dedicated settings to improve in-game performance. The OnePlus 9RT supports 5G networks, both standalone and non-standalone, and WiFi 6. Though both could not be tested at present, these make for a future-ready smartphone which you might not have to upgrade for connectivity benefits in times to come. The phone also has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support.


Battery


The OnePlus 9RT 5G is powered by a dual-cell battery of a combined capacity of 4,500mAh. It keeps the show going for a day on a regular usage, it depletes quickly when the phone is used for power tasks like video recording, gaming, video editing, video streaming, etc. Charging the battery is quick. It takes about 40 min for a completely drained battery to go 100 per cent through the supplied 65W fast wired charger. Though not industry-leading, it is still one of the best charging techs you get out of the box. However, it is a proprietary fast-charge tech and the adaptor does not fast charge other devices. As for the OnePlus 9RT, it supports fast-charge (up to 33W) through other supported adaptors (PPS charging protocol).


Verdict


The OnePlus 9RT 5G is a mid-premium smartphone that fits somewhere in between the OnePlus 9R and OnePlus 9. Priced at Rs 46,999 (12GB + 256GB: review unit), it seems to be a cheaper variant of the OnePlus 9 without the Hasselblad camera system. The lack of Hasselblad branding, however, does not hamper the phone’s imaging performance. The phone, instead, does better with its new primary camera sensor compared to the predecessor and elder sibling. That said, the OnePlus 9RT makes a compelling smartphone in the OnePlus smartphone ecosystem. Otherwise, there are like the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (review) you might like to consider. Though a tad expensive, this smartphone is a complete package loaded with features like wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, ingress protection from water and dust damages (IP68), telephoto lens for optical zoom, etc. On the lower side of the price spectrum, there is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G (review). Though not equal, it shares fundamental with the OnePlus 9RT 5G and makes a solid package for its price.





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