OnePlus 9RT Review: Preserves That Good ‘ol OnePlus Charm

One last hurrah for the old OnePlus.

OnePlus built its brand around budget flagships, and while it has climbed up the ladder to sit plum in the premium segment, it hasn’t given up its budget play altogether. With the Nord lineup capturing the mid-range segment, OnePlus came out with 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 launch this year, amidst a raging controversy around the company’s integration with its parent brand, Oppo. The good thing is, the phone still has the charm of OnePlus of the yore, and with a nifty few additions, becomes a great smartphones for budding 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, that comes after the OnePlus 10 Pro has launched, and 5G spectrum about to be auctioned in India. The phone remains quite relevant still, with the Snapdragon 888 under the hood, delivering stable, fast and smooth performance, but it’s cameras leave a lot to be desired. In it’s defense, the OnePlus 9RT is hardly a camera flagship, packing the usual components seen in high-end smartphones. It’s geared towards performance, especially in games, and there, it’s still a compelling option, four months after its release. Here’s our review — 

Design and Build

The OnePlus 9RT takes after the OnePlus 9, more than the OnePlus 9R, thanks to the redesigned camera module. Our review unit had a matte black finish with shimmering particles in the rear panel. It both looks good, and feels smooth in the hand, almost tempting you to use the phone without a case. Although, you have Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, it’s a risky proposition. Good thing is you get a matching rubber case right in the box, that has raised rails and a grippier finish. I did drop the phone a few times during my long usage, but thankfully no damage was done. 
Other elements commonly found in OnePlus phones are present. Stereo speakers, alert slider, power and volume buttons on the opposite ends, and a punch-hole selfie camera. This one’s a flat-screen smartphone with minimal side bezels, and equally less on the top and the bottom. An improvement I noted is the in-display fingerprint sensor is now positioned much lower on the screen, making it far easier to reach and unlock than the OnePlus 9R. 
The phone comes in tall, red box, inside which you’ll find the Warp Charge 65T charger, USB-A to USB-C cable, manuals and documents, and the matte black case. It weighs around 198 grams, but doesn’t feel too heavy in the hand, thanks to an equitable weight distribution. The redesigned camera module makes the phone look a lot classier, and frankly, I found it to be one of the best designed OnePlus smartphones in a long time. 

Display and Audio

The OnePlus 9RT rocks a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate and 1080p resolution. It’s essentially the same display as the OnePlus 9R, but supercharged with a higher touch-response rate that helps in gaming. This isn’t the LTPO panel you get in the Pro series, so it won’t be switching the refresh rate dynamically as them. The refesh rate stays constant at 120Hz, which may contribute to battery drain, but on the flipside, it makes the experience stay consistent at all times. 
The OLED panel is a fairly capable display with high sharpness and colour saturation. There is a slight blue bias if you look at a white background, but it’s something you’d hardly notice. The peak brightness could have been a little higher, though, to make it more legible under direct sunlight. 
The audio output is quite good, and the stereo speakers are louder than its predecessor, but only by a hairline. You get a good channel separation that comes handy while gaming, and is generally loud enough to listen to watch YouTube videos with the ceiling fan on. 

Performance

A big change from the OnePlus 9R is the inclusion of the Snapdragon 888 under the hood. Last year’s OnePlus 9R came with the Snapdragon 870 that was modelled around the Snapdragon 865, so there’s an expected generational improvement in performance in the 9RT. It’s also impressive to see OnePlus using a larger vapour chamber cooling system to reign the Snapdragon 888 in, and prevent it from overheating. There’s support for as many as 8 5G bands, and three Wi-Fi antenneas, and here the latter is actually more useful, especially while gaming as you’d usually keep the antennaes covered with your palms while gaming in landscape orientation. In this case, there’s an additional third antenna located on the side, that remains unjammed and delivers uniterrupted connectivity. 
The sad bit is, for a phone launched in 2022, the OnePlus 9RT still runs on OxygenOS 11.3, based on Android 11, and even after four months of launch, there’s no sign of Android 12 on this. That could actually be a blessing for entrenched OnePlus users, habituated with the OxygenOS experience, because from Android 12, the codebase have been merged with Oppo’s ColorOS and there’s a lot of changes in the UI that may not seem familiar to previous users. The 9RT’s UI has almost no bloatware, and the animations are slick and fast, giving an impression of high speed usage. 
Like all OnePlus flagships (budget or otherwise), the OnePlus 9RT feels blazing fast, right from the moment you unlock. The fingerprint sensor is quick to register, and you’re taken to the homescreen instantly. There’s also Face Recognition that works faster than the fingerprint sensor, so you’ll hardly get to use it much. There’s no lag in switching between apps, and apps launch near instantly, and even after a handful of apps open in the background, it hardly became slow and sluggish, 
This phone is meant for gaming, and games like COD: Mobile, BGMI and PUBG: New State ran without a hitch. It was fun to play online games on this thanks to the cranked up touch response rate (almost 600Hz in some games), and haptic feedback. It also barely got warm even after a long session, boding well for the power-hungry Snapdragon 888. 

Camera Performance

The OnePlus 9RT packs the same 50MP Sony IMX766 camera as the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, an upgrade from the camera system on the OnePlus 9R. The company claims to have improved low-light performance, with the sensor featuring a native ability to capture HDR footage. But it’s only the primary camera that’s different. The 16MP ultrawide camera is the same as the OnePlus 9R, and so is the 16MP selfie camera. Only, the 2MP macro camera is a downgrade. 
The camera app itself is lifted straight off Oppo’s ColorOS, marking a sharp deviation from the older aesthetics. But the features are all in there, including AI enhancement for both photos and videos, portrait video, long exposure and the likes. 
The camera does well to capture images in the day. If you have AI enhancement turned off, the colours will look a little washed out, but if turn it on, the colours look too saturated. There’s enough details in the shots, though, and the dynamic range is good enough to brighten up dark shadows. 
Lacking a zoom lens, you have digital zoom up to 10X, where the photos come out decent enough knowing its being digitally cropped. Shoot maximum at 3X for best results. 
The ultrawide camera widens the perspective, but brings down the details. It’s good enough to use when there’s ample light, especially in the day, but not so much after the sun sets. 
In low light, the primary camera works the best, and is good enough for the price. The Night Mode is faster than most other smartphones, and brightens the scene to a high extent, sometimes a little too much. But it also does a good job in extracting details out of near darkness. The ultrawide camera in night mode isn’t of much use. There’s a lot of noise, and despite multi-frame processing, there’s not enough light. 
As for videos, you get the option for 4K 60FPS, where the output looks sharp and crisp. Native HDR does well to minimize exposure clipping from the subject. There’s also a Portrait video mode that isn’t the most accurate in blurring out objects, but sadly no night mode video. 

Battery Life

The OnePlus 9RT packs a 4500mAh battery that easily lasts the day under moderate usage. In my usage, the screen-on-time varied around 6-7 hours which is quite decent for a Snapdragon 888 smartphone. Heavy usage like scrolling too much Instagram, playing games will drain the battery quicker, but the 65W Warp Charger is super handy. It can do naught-to-hundred in 30 minutes flat, which is almost as good as some of these 120W fast charging smartphones. 

Should you buy the OnePlus 9RT?

The OnePlus 9RT preserves a lot of the features and themes that gave OnePlus its staunch following. It’s a performance flagship through and through, that’s optimised for speed and gaming. You get a reliable display and long battery, and decent enough camera performance. It offers better value than the OnePlus 9R, and even the OnePlus 9, but this one comes a little too late to the party. By February, you had the likes of the iQOO 9 SE, Mi 11T Pro and more recently, the Realme GT 2 Pro with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, around that price range of just under 50k. So while there’s a lot of options out there, buy the OnePlus 9RT purely for that good ‘ol OnePlus charm.  

OnePlus 9RT

42,999
8.6

Design and Build

8.5/10

Performance

9.0/10

Display Quality

8.0/10

Camera Quality

7.5/10

Software

9.0/10

Battery Performance

9.0/10

Audio Performance

8.0/10

Day to Day Usage

9.0/10

Network Performance

9.0/10

Value For Money

8.5/10

What Is Good?

  • Slim build
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • 30 minutes to full charge

What Is Bad?

  • Disappointing camera
  • No IP rating
  • Still on Android 11

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