Highlights

  • Snapdragon 888 chipset, up to 12GB RAM
  • 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor on the primary camera
  • 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging

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OnePlus 9RT Review: pretty much as good as it gets!

With top-shelf hardware for less than ₹50,000, is the OnePlus 9RT the king of the segment?

If you're looking for a phone with a flagship chipset, a strong set of cameras and every other top-notch spec in the book, then there's good news for you--you don't have to settle because this is the OnePlus 9RT, and I'm going to tell you why I think it's the best phone for less than ₹50,000.

Design

Now I'm going to start with the design because I honestly believe OnePlus has nailed the look of the 9RT. In this Hacker Black colour variant, it looks super stealthy, almost like something you'd see James Bond carrying around. The back is finished in matte which means there's no fingerprints or smudges on it, but it does make the phone quite slippery. It's a shame that I had to hide that beautiful design and use it with the included phone cover during my usage, and I think a little more texture on the back would have helped with grip while still retaining the look.

In terms of weight, the 9RT is just shy of 200g, making it feel just right in the hand for me at least. I like phones with a bit of heft, it feels like I'm using a real phone and not a dummy unit, but if you want something lighter then you may want to look elsewhere. The 9RT is also pretty slim at 8.2mm, especially since it packs in so much flagship hardware.

Display

The 9RT's display is fantastic, it's an E4 AMOLED panel, around 6.6-inch diagonally, and comes with an FHD+ resolution. Colours are vibrant and punchy, and the screen gets quite bright at maximum brightness as well. Watching content on this screen is a great experience, and the corner hole-punch is small enough to stay out of the way.

Now, while it does support a high refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the 9RT display doesn't come with LTPO technology like the OnePlus 9 Pro. LTPO tech lets the screen lower its refresh rate to below the standard 60Hz, and go up to 120Hz only when required for certain tasks, which helps when it comes to battery life. It's not a deal-breaker, but it is something I hope OnePlus brings to this price segment down the line.

This display also gets Hyper Touch 2.0, which enables faster touch sampling during gaming sessions. It's also worth noting that the 9RT gets HDR 10 - HEVC support for Netflix. Supporting HDR isn't out of the ordinary for a phone at this price point, but it's good to see that there's support for HDR content on Netflix specifically, which some other phones do miss out on.

Rear Cameras

The rear cameras on the 9RT are quite impressive, especially since it doesn't get any of the Hasselblad branding like the 9 series. It's a triple camera system, with the 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor doing primary duty, a 16MP sensor for ultra-wide shots and a 2MP sensor for macro shots.

With the main sensor, images are crisp, clear and full of colour. In well-lit, outdoor scenarios pictures are about as good as you can get from a smartphone these days. HDR is well balanced, details come through clearly, and shadows have a nice softness to them.

Even in mixed lighting conditions, the main sensor balances darker areas pretty decently, without blowing out the highlights.

Portrait images came out quite nicely, with accurate edge detection, and good HDR.

In low-light scenarios, the main sensor carries forward OnePlus' strong night photography chops, with good colour accuracy, ample detail and overall pleasing results. Shadows are boosted just enough, with light sources and brighter areas being managed intelligently.

The 16MP ultra-wide sensor performs well in well-lit situations, offering quite a lot of detail and good colour accuracy. What's surprising is that there's not a whole lot of difference in colour reproduction between the ultra-wide and main sensor, except that I noticed slightly higher contrast levels in ultra-wide shots. In low-light conditions, this sensor needs all the help it gets from the Night Mode processing, but once processed, results look pretty decent.

The 2MP macro sensor unfortunately seems like an afterthought, and results from it look over-sharpened and lack colour accuracy and depth. If you really want up-close shots, I would suggest using the main sensor at 2X for better results.

When it comes to videos, the 9RT is actually quite impressive. In outdoor situations, there was good colour reproduction, minimal frame stutter and ample detail on offer. What impressed me more was how well it handled auto-exposure in mixed lighting conditions indoors, something that's quite challenging for any smartphone. In fact, in this test clip against the Galaxy S21+ and iPhone 12, you can see for yourself how much more composed the 9RT was with respect to exposure and white-balance.

All this is further enhanced with optical image stabilisation on the main sensor, which ensures shake-free footage, even at 4K 60fps, which is the highest this phone will shoot.

Also watch: OnePlus 9 Pro Review: the best just got better!

Front Camera

The selfie camera on the 9RT is a 16MP Sony IMX471 sensor, and it performed quite well in outdoor situations, managing highlights well even on bright, sunny days. Selfies taken indoors came out decently too, with good colours and just about enough detail. In low-light situations, there was a visible lack of detail and quite a bit of noise, but the Night Mode improved things significantly the moment I turned it on.

Portrait pictures taken with the front camera featured strong edge detection and good colour overall, but there was a noticeable tendency to blow out highlights.

It is worth noting though, that the front camera can't shoot 4K videos, which is something I wish OnePlus had provided at this price point.

Performance

When it comes to performance, there's really nothing you can fault on the OnePlus 9RT. It gets a Snapdragon 888 chipset, and 12GB RAM on this model, which is more than enough to crunch through absolutely any task. Multi-tasking and app-switching is an absolute breeze, and there's no day-to-day task that this phone can't handle.

While gaming on graphic heavy titles like Call of Duty: Mobile, there's no real dropped frames or lag, even at the very highest graphic settings. Even when playing for long periods of time, the 9RT didn't get very hot to the touch, which is good to see. The Game Assistant is also quite useful, with quick access to the Pro-gaming mode, voice modulator and touch-optimisation settings.

The 9RT also gets 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage on the model I have with me, but if you need more, you will have to rely on Cloud storage or an OTG drive.

It's worth mentioning that unlike the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, the 9RT gets support for a wide variety of 5G bands, so it's good to see the company respond positively to prior criticism.

Also watch: OnePlus 9 Review: it’s better than you think!

Software

Now software on OnePlus phones has become a bit of a contentious point, with both fans and critics unhappy with the way OxygenOS has taken on more of ColorOS ever since the merger between the two firms.

I will say this though, that for most users, OxygenOS is still a very neat and clean skin to use with big bright buttons, plenty of minimal touches and very little bloatware, all of which make it stand out from other smartphone makers. There's plenty of customisation options for the Ambient Display and the rest of the UI, along with previous halo features like the Canvas AOD.

I'll admit that it is a bit disappointing to see this phone ship with Android 11 out of the box, but I'm hoping OnePlus course corrects in the future with respect to software updates.

Utility

The OnePlus 9RT gets all the expected forms of utility we've seen previously from the brand, like good stereo speakers and that signature alert slider.
There's no wireless charging, which isn't surprising, but still feels like something that should have been included at this price point by a company that's known to offer out-of-segment features.
Another miss is the lack of an IP rating, something that buyers have begun to expect when spending this kind of cash.

Still, it's good to see that the in-display fingerprint scanner OnePlus uses is as fast as ever.

Also watch: OnePlus Nord 2 review: the most phone you’ll ever need?

Battery

When it comes to battery life, the 9RT was honestly really impressive, I got on average around 7 hours of screen on time with moderate to heavy usage, with 120Hz and the Ambient Display both turned on.

With mild to moderate usage, you'll easily last more than a day with the 4,500mAh unit, but even if you run out of juice, the 9RT gets 65W Warp Charge 65T. It was quick enough to get me from 1% to 100% in under 30 minutes, which is really impressive.

Verdict

So if you've got around 45-50,000 rupees to spend on a phone, and you just want something that offers top-notch hardware, look no further than the OnePlus 9RT. With flagship specs, a clean interface and surprisingly impressive camera performance, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

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