OnePlus 9RT First Impressions: A beautifully crafted powerhouse

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OnePlus has had a pretty busy start to 2022. It just launched its latest flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro smartphone, in China. This will eventually be launched in India, likely alongside other versions like the OnePlus 10 and 10R. For now, however, tech enthusiasts in India will have to settle for one final hooray from the 9 Series, namely the OnePlus 9 RT.

Launched in China in October 2021, this phone is only now making its way to India. So what is the 9RT and should it really matter to you? If you’re familiar with OnePlus’ “T” updates, this is exactly that – it’s a OnePlus 9R (Review) with a new design and finish, a faster SoC, and a better primary camera. It’s a slight upgrade, which is to be expected as major changes won’t come until next-gen. What is surprising is that the premium versions OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro have not received an update. In any case, we’ve been playing with the 9RT for a few days and here’s our take on it so far.

The OnePlus 9RT comes in a plain red box with the usual accessories like case and charger. It’s nice to see a company not blindly following unpopular trends in the smartphone space and dropping the charger. OnePlus claims it’s spent a lot of time perfecting the 9RT’s appearance, and it shows. The curved metal frame feels very comfortable in the hand and the smooth surface of the glass back of the Hacker Black variant that I have with me feels very luxurious. It has a soft sheen when light hits it and doesn’t seem to attract fingerprints at all. The OnePlus 9RT is also available in a Nano Silver finish.

This phone has a redesigned camera module with one fewer camera sensor than the 9R, but all the working ones are still there, so no real loss. We’ll get into those details in a moment. The OnePlus 9RT’s display is slightly larger compared to the 9R at 6.62 inches, but it’s still an AMOLED panel with a Full HD+ resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for scratch protection.

The OnePlus 9RT comes with all the necessary accessories, unlike other current flagships

The display is vibrant and the colors are punchy. There is an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is very fast when it comes to authentication. You get the usual OnePlus 9RT buttons and ports, including an alert slider on the right. On the underside you’ll find the dual nano-SIM tray, but again there’s no microSD card slot.

Aside from the new rear design, the OnePlus 9RT gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, which is an upgrade of the 9R’s Snapdragon 870 SoC. This puts the 9RT on par with the more expensive OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro in terms of computing power. The 9RT also supports a lot more 5G bands in India (eight in total) than any other 9-series model, which is good. Two variants of the phone will be available for sale, one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and the other with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. OnePlus has used LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage.

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The OnePlus 9RT’s display is vibrant and very responsive to touch

Other features of the OnePlus 9RT are similar to those we’ve seen on the 9R, notably its stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, NFC, Wi-Fi 6 and 4,500mAh battery capacity with support for 65W fast charging. The 9RT doesn’t have an IP rating, wireless charging, or even the Hasselblad treatment for its cameras.

Speaking of which, the main camera on the back of the OnePlus 9RT has been upgraded to the Sony IMX766 sensor. This is the same 50MP sensor that was used for the ultra-wide camera on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, but here it’s used for the main camera. This camera has a different lens arrangement, optical stabilization and a larger aperture of f/1.8. The 9RT’s ultra-wide camera uses a Sony IMX481 sensor, just like the 9R, and has a 16-megapixel resolution and f/2.2 aperture. The third camera is a 2 megapixel macro shooter. Nothing has changed in the selfie camera, OnePlus is still content with the 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 sensor.

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The OnePlus 9RT’s Hacker Black casing looks and feels luxurious

The OnePlus 9RT ships with OxygenOS 11 but should be among the first OnePlus devices to receive a stable Android 12 update with each release. The OnePlus 9RT also features Hyper Touch 2.0, which claims to boost the standard 300Hz touch response rate to 600Hz when playing certain games. Another gaming-oriented feature is the addition of a third Wi-Fi antenna. OnePlus calls this the “Tri-eSport” antenna system and claims it results in a more stable internet connection when gaming. We will of course test all of these claims during the full review.

The OnePlus 9RT starts at Rs. 42,999 for the 8GB variant and the price increases to Rs. 46,999 for the 12GB variant. These are acceptable bumps over the OnePlus 9R considering what the 9RT offers. The OnePlus 9R will continue to be on sale until stocks run out, but the 9RT makes the OnePlus 9 pretty much obsolete. You also have to keep in mind that the launch of the OnePlus 10 series in India shouldn’t be too far off, judging by recent leaks. From the looks of it, OnePlus could delay its 10 Series launch this year, with a Pro model coming first and then a vanilla OnePlus 10 or even 10R, which would also explain why the 9RT is launching now.

Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360 in our CES 2022 hub.

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