Back in the day, if you were to ask me what the characteristic traits of a OnePlus phone are, I would’ve said something along the lines of a wallet-friendly, performance-focused device that boots a near-stock Android skin. Fast forward to 2022 and the scenery has changed quite a bit. For one, OnePlus has been steadily increasing the price of its flagships, with the marquee OnePlus 9 Pro (review) retailing for as much as Rs 64,999 in India. OnePlus also let go of the reins in the software department. To wit, the company has merged the codebase for OxygenOS with OPPO’s ColorOS, and consequently, buyers opting for a new OnePlus phone will undoubtedly find bits of the latter thrown in here or there.
Take the recently-launched OnePlus 9RT, for instance, which does little to set itself apart from the brand’s year-old 9-series lineup. Also, the company recently announced the flagship OnePlus 10 Pro in China, which begs the question – should you even consider buying the OnePlus 9RT? Further, is the device an improvement over the more VFM OnePlus 9R (review), or the similarly-specced OnePlus 9 (review) which – per the brand – will continue to sell alongside the 9RT? Well, let’s find out in this review.
The OnePlus 9RT is a solid contender in the flagship-killer space, scoring high on most aspects like performance, display capabilities, charging speeds etc. That said, it might be a tad difficult to recommend outright, given the presence of a bunch of compelling alternatives in this price segment.
I am in two minds about the OnePlus 9RT’s design. On one hand, the smartphone looks undeniably stunning, especially in the ‘Hacker Black’ colourway sent to me for review. In fact, the back of the phone is made of glass and the pane features a velvety finish that is as smooth, as it is slippery. Thankfully, the company bundles a stylish matte black case with the phone which should keep scratches and scuffs at bay. What’s more, the device comes layered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass v5 on the back as well as the front too, which should safeguard your investment to a certain degree as well.
But, coming back to the design of the phone, the Hacker Black hue features a gradient of sorts that mimics a starry night at certain angles. I also like how the back of the phone curves into the unit’s frame, thereby lending the smartphone a sleek appearance. Add to that the handset’s angular camera module and the OnePlus 9RT will undoubtedly turn heads every time you take it out of your pocket. On the flip side, the smartphone is a tad unwieldy, which can be accredited to its tall frame. In fact, the OnePlus 9RT is the biggest 9-series phone and at 198.5 grams, the device weighs a good chunk too. Despite that, the smartphone doesn’t ship with a headphone jack, which is a bummer.
On a cheerful note, the OnePlus 9RT touts a clicky power button and volume rocker on its right and left spine respectively. You’ll also get the company’s iconic alert slider with the 9RT along with a dual-speaker setup that gets plenty loud for watching movies or videos when you’re out and about. As for biometrics, I had no issues unlocking the phone via its in-display fingerprint sensor, or the smartphone’s baked-in facial recognition tech. I’d also like to add that the handset hits the nail on the head with its haptics and the unit’s x-axis linear motor delivers excellent feedback whilst typing on the phone.
The OnePlus 9RT ships with a sizable 6.62-inch display which is a godsend for gamers and movie-buffs. Specs-wise, the screen ships with FHD+ resolution and is backed by AMOLED technology. Consequently, the panel exhibits punchy, vibrant colours with deep blacks and touts excellent viewing angles. What’s more, the screen can get quite bright too and boasts a peak brightness of 1,300 nits. Ipso facto, you’ll seldom face any issues using the phone outdoors, under the sun. That’s not all, as the display is extremely snappy and features a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 600Hz touch sampling rate. To cut a long story short, the OnePlus 9RT’s screen doesn’t just render animations smoothly, but the smartphone’s display can pick up on a user’s faintest touches and gestures seamlessly as well.
During my stint with the device, I played a lot of BR games on the phone and I will admit – the 9RT’s display will assuredly improve the user’s gaming experience. The panel is extremely quick to respond to inputs, so you’ll find yourself landing more and more trick shots, among other things. The display is bordered by sleek bezels and ships with a tiny punch hole notch too, ensuring your eyes are focussed on the enemy at all times. I’d also like to add that the smartphone comes with WideVine L1 certification and the display can even relay HDR content via OTT services like Netflix. Rest assured, you will be able to stream your favourite movies and TV shows at the best possible quality on the OnePlus 9RT.
The OnePlus 9RT is backed by a 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor which works alongside a 16MP ultra-wide angle lens and a 2MP macro sensor. For selfies, the device gets a 16MP front-facing camera. Now, I have already spoken in length about the smartphone’s camera prowess in my comparison article between the OnePlus 9RT and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (review), so do check it out. That said, I’ve penned down the talking points from the comparison below, so take a gander –
- The OnePlus 9RT clicks detail-laden photos during the day with ample dynamic range. The images look pleasing to the eyes and exhibit slightly saturated tones. Consequently, you’ll notice that the blues and the greens in a composition appear vibrant and punchy. That said, unlike some competing devices, the smartphone doesn’t blotch the colour red, which is great.
- I was particularly impressed by the corner-sharpness in the images snapped by the phone’s main sensor. In fact, unlike the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, the OnePlus 9RT retains the definition of objects positioned around the edges of the frame.
- Buyers looking to shoot detailed landscapes will find plenty to like about the phone’s hi-res mode too. Now, I should add that at a 100 percent crop, the images do appear a tad oversharpened, but that’s the case with most, if not all high-resolution sensors.
- The ultra wide-angle sensor clicks reasonably detailed images too. In fact, the handset one-ups Samsung’s offering and the 9RT outputs shots with better corner details and superior sharpness towards the centre of the frame as well. I should add that there is a slight colour temperature disparity when switching from the main to the wide-angle lens but, it’s not a dealbreaker.
- On the flip side, I wasn’t quite sold on the selfies shot by the phone’s front camera. To wit, try as I might, I couldn’t get the phone’s front-facing camera to click tonally accurate images.
- The lowlight images from the phone offer serviceable details. With the night mode enabled, the device usually snaps a sharp image, though it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the noise in the composition.
To sum up, the OnePlus 9RT is a capable camera phone that can click good-looking photos during most times of the day. That said, the smartphone’s selfie camera leaves a lot to be desired. Furthermore, I would’ve liked to see a telephoto sensor with the phone as opposed to its 2MP macro snapper, which rarely got any use during my time with the phone.
Performance, Software, and Battery Life
The OnePlus 9RT is among the fastest phones you can buy at the moment. Specs-wise, the handset is backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor that has been paired with speedy UFS 3.1 storage and LPDDR5 memory. Interestingly, unlike its pricier sibling – the OnePlus 9 Pro, the OnePlus 9RT doesn’t heat up all that much under strenuous loads. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the handset’s performance and I, for one, couldn’t push the phone to its knees. Be it gaming, or juggling a handful of apps simultaneously, the OnePlus 9RT didn’t break a sweat irrespective of what I had to throw at it. Now, I did run a slew of benchmarks on the phone so you can refer to the slider attached below to get a number on the phone’s performance chops.
Notably, the handset’s CPU throttle test outputted stellar results, with the device throttling to just 81 percent of its peak performance. The same can be accredited to the phone’s massive vapour cooling chamber which, per the brand, is almost 59 percent larger than the one on the OnePlus 9 Pro. As for gaming, I could max out the graphics and FPS settings in demanding Android games on the phone easily. To wit, BGMI ran flawlessly with the graphics set to HDR and the FPS locked to the Extreme or 60fps preset. Similarly, I could run Call of Duty Mobile at Very High graphics and Max FPS presets too.
I should point out that buyers opting for the handset can enable visual presets like Depth of Field, Anti-Aliasing, etc for the game’s BR mode too. With that said, I am yet to figure out which titles leverage the handset’s snappy 600Hz touch sampling rate. I have reached out to the brand for more insights on the same and I will be updating this review accordingly.
During the product briefing, OnePlus was quick to point out that the 9RT is the only phone under the company’s umbrella that features a Tri-eSports antenna, which should better the user’s connectivity experience, especially during competitive gaming sessions. While I didn’t run into any networking issues during my time with the phone, I didn’t observe any immediate benefits either. Moving on, the OnePlus 9RT sips juice from a 4,500mAh battery which, with moderate usage, should last you a full day off a single charge. That said, if you tend to play a lot of games on your phone, you will plateau at about five hours of screen-on-time with the phone. Thankfully, the device ships with a 65W fast charger that can top up the phone completely in around forty minutes.
A big part of OnePlus’ success in India boils down to its smartphone’s software experience. OnePlus phones have, for long, offered a near-stock Android experience with a few quality refinements thrown in here and there. The 9RT’s interface is quite clean too and the device doesn’t ship with a ton of bloatware either. Unfortunately, it’s hard to overlook ColorOS additions to the phone’s custom skin. For instance, the smartphone’s camera app, as well as the custom launcher has taken a page from OPPO’s books. To wit, you’ll find a wealth of beautification features bundled with the phone’s camera app. Furthermore, the smartphone still boots Android 11 out of the box, which is a bummer.
On the bright side, I didn’t run into any major software glitches during my time with the phone. The notification drawer did freeze at times, however, I could fix the same by simply locking and unlocking the device. Furthermore, OxygenOS features a truckload of customisation utilities and the custom launcher even supports third-party icon packs, which is great. What’s more, the device also offers an array of utilities, including an app lock to encrypt the installed apps on the phone, as well as numerous screen on and off gestures.
The OnePlus 9RT starts at Rs 42,999 for the 8GB RAM variant. For the price, the smartphone cuts a handsome package and touts excellent performance, along with a capable camera setup. However, the smartphone’s pricing pits it against the OnePlus 9, which for Rs 2K more, offers better cameras and a more ergonomic design. Furthermore, while the OnePlus 9RT is a fantastic gaming phone, the smartphone can’t quite hold a candle to the iQOO 7 Legend (review), which offers similar performance for less. That’s not all as iQOO’s offering even ships with a pressure-sensitive screen which allows gamers to map certain in-game commands to a 3D touch of sorts.
Consequently, while the OnePlus 9RT is a solid phone in its own right, the handset seems a little late to the party. Do let us know if you would pick the OnePlus 9RT over the OnePlus 9 and the iQOO 7 Legend in the comments below and stay tuned to our blog for more in-depth tech reviews.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Stunning display
- Excellent performer
- Good-looking design
- Rapid wired charging
- Overshadowed by the OnePlus 9
- No headphone jack
- Sub-par selfie camera