Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus’ “T” edition smartphones bring incremental upgrades over the predecessors. This is the case with the new OnePlus 9RT 5G. Although upgrades bring it closer to the OnePlus 9 (review), it’s cheaper is the result of cost-saving measures such as replacing the megapixel-rich, distortion-free ultra-wide-angle camera sensor with a standard sensor, and the complete removal of the Hasselblad color calibration system . I’ll get to that later in the camera section of the review, let’s first know what’s new in the OnePlus 9RT 5G.
The OnePlus 9RT 5G is a cross between OnePlus 9R and OnePlus 9. The notable change here is the new color themes on the back cover. The phone is dazzling in the new ‘hacker black’ color theme (review unit), reminiscent of the sandstone back covers of early OnePlus models. However, it is not the same in terms of touch and feel. Instead of the grainy, matte texture of the original sandstone back covers, the new iteration is silky smooth and soft to the touch. It also contains glitter, which shimmers differently depending on the lighting settings. Apart from the new color themes, the design of the phone is similar to that of the OnePlus 9R. It’s heavier but not bulky, has comfortable ergonomics, and a sturdy build with Gorilla Glass 5 protection and an aluminum frame.
The OnePlus 9RT 5G features a familiar perforated display with thin bezels around the sides. It is a slightly larger 6.61-inch FullHD+ AMOLED panel with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a touch response rate of up to 600Hz. variable, it doesn’t break down and renders most types of content smoothly. Additionally, its impact on the phone’s battery runtime is minimal with about an hour margin on battery efficiency when the screen is set to 60Hz. Besides the smooth experience, the screen is bright and vivid. Thanks to OnePlus for keeping the always-on display here, and to OPPO for integrating its video enhancement related features such as “AI resolution boost” and “video color enhancer”. These value-added features improve low-quality videos, contributing to a good viewing experience in entertainment.
In the OnePlus 9 series, the OnePlus 9R is the only smartphone without Hasselblad branding and the distortion-free, megapixel-rich ultra-wide-angle camera sensor. Both of these imaging-related improvements were supposed to be included in the phone’s successor, but they weren’t. The OnePlus 9RT 5G is here and it gets a new camera system, but not the same as the OnePlus 9. On paper it seems like a compromise but experience shows otherwise.
The OnePlus 9RT 5G’s 50-megapixel main sensor is a standout. It’s a huge improvement over the predecessor and captures more detail with better dynamic range than the OnePlus 9’s 48MP main sensor. Low-light sensor performance is on par with the OnePlus 9, thanks to optical stabilization of the image. Although the sensor captures warm, saturated tones, its overall image quality and performance make up for Hasselblad’s lack of color grading algorithms. Also, it quickly fixes focus and captures the frame with almost zero shutter lag.
While the main sensor is an improvement, the phone’s 16MP ultra-wide-angle sensor feels dated. Not that it’s bad, there’s not enough improvement here over the predecessor to talk about. The third sensor in the rear camera setup is for macro photography, and it’s a basic sensor. This sensor lacks autofocus, which makes it difficult to get the perfect shot. On the front, there’s a 16MP sensor carried over from the predecessor. It’s decent for selfies and video calls, and works surprisingly well for the phone’s unlock mechanism. However, it’s not the best you get in the mid-premium segment.
As for videos, the OnePlus 9RT 5G is capable of recording videos in up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. However, 4K 60fps video can only be recorded through the main and ultra-wide angle sensor. The front camera sensor peaks at 1080p 30fps.
The OnePlus 9RT 5G comes with OxygenOS 11.3 operating system based on Android 11. It is a heavily customized user interface with some ColorOS features from OPPO integrated directly. Rounding out the package is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 system-on-chip, paired with up to 12GB of RAM (LPDDR5) and 256GB of internal storage (UFS 3.1). From graphics-intensive games to media editing, there’s nothing the phone can’t handle. Additionally, there are dedicated settings to improve in-game performance. The OnePlus 9RT supports 5G networks, both standalone and non-standalone, and WiFi 6. Although both cannot be tested for the moment, they are a future-ready smartphone that you may not have to upgrade to experience the benefits of connectivity in times to come. The phone also has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support.
The OnePlus 9RT 5G is powered by a two-cell battery with a combined capacity of 4,500mAh. It keeps the show going for a day with regular use, it runs out quickly when the phone is used for power tasks like video recording, gaming, video editing, video streaming, etc. Battery charging is fast. It takes around 40 minutes for a fully discharged battery to go to 100% through the supplied 65W fast wired charger. Although not industry leading, it is still one of the best charging technologies out of the box. However, this is proprietary fast charging technology and the adapter does not fast charge other devices. As for the OnePlus 9RT, it supports fast charging (up to 33W) via other supported adapters (PPS charging protocol).
The OnePlus 9RT 5G is a mid-range smartphone that sits somewhere between the OnePlus 9R and the OnePlus 9. Priced at Rs 46,999 (12GB + 256GB: test unit), it appears to be a cheaper variant of the OnePlus 9 without the Hasselblad camera. system. The lack of Hasselblad branding, however, doesn’t hamper the phone’s imaging performance. The phone, on the contrary, does better with its new main camera sensor compared to the predecessor and older brother. That said, the OnePlus 9RT is a compelling smartphone in the OnePlus smartphone ecosystem. Otherwise, there are smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (review) you might like to consider. Although a bit pricey, this smartphone is a complete package with features such as wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, protection against water and dust damage (IP68), telephoto lens for the optical zoom, etc there is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G (review). While not equal, it shares the fundamentals of the OnePlus 9RT 5G and is a solid package for its price.