OnePlus 7T Pro & 7T Pro McLaren Edition review: are we missing the point?

Let me tell you upfront, the OnePlus 7T Pro, when compared to its predecessor – the OnePlus 7 Pro – could feel like a phone that shouldn’t exist. And, that feeling could be doubly amplified by the fact that the OnePlus 7T was a stupendous upgrade over the OnePlus 7. But here’s the thing, I’m sure OnePlus didn’t make the OnePlus 7T Pro expecting current OnePlus 7 Pro users to upgrade. The 7T Pro is the aspirational, premium OnePlus smartphone meant for those on the T upgrade. The ones who are on the 6T or the 5T or even the 3T for that matter. 

Having said that, I still think you are still better off with a OnePlus 7T instead of the 7T Pro. 

Hi, I’m Ershad from Mr. Phone and let’s discuss this, in detail, in our review of the OnePlus 7T Pro and 7T Pro McLaren Edition. 

The Good

Okay, this time lets keep it short shall we? So yeah, the OnePlus 7T Pro is possibly the fastest, smoothest, and most responsive phone in the world. Period. With SD855+ and up to 12GB of RAM on the McLaren edition, you can blaze through sessions of PUBG and Call of Duty with ease. And, the built-in gaming mode with the Fnatic mode also comes in handy to keep you distraction-free when gaming.

What’s also improved is the battery life. With the OnePlus 7 Pro, I’d struggle to get 4 hours of SoT with 90Hz refresh rate turned on, but with the OnePlus 7T Pro that number has jumped up to 5 hours and 30 mins. Now, I could use the phone all day during my recent trip to London and not worry about the battery dying on me. Now, is this because the 7T Pro has a slightly larger 4085mAh battery compared to the 4000mAh battery on the OnePlus 7 Pro? Definitely not. It is because of Android 10 and SD855+ optimizations across the board.

The new OnePlus 7T series comes with Warp Charge 30T that is supposedly 23% faster than Warp Charge 30. I charged the OnePlus 7T Pro’s 4085mAh battery using the new charger and 0 to 100% battery took 1 hour and 14 minutes. Warp Charge is another reason why a lot of folks love OnePlus phones. 

The other reason why I’d recommend the OnePlus 7T Pro to everyone is the smooth and silky 90Hz display. This 6.65-inch 2K AMOLED curved panel is also brighter than the OnePlus 7 Pro now. In fact, even the haptic feedback motor is also more precise and improved now. 

Now, there’s not much to discuss the design. You get the same curved front panel with no notch. A pop-up selfie camera. And, an in-display fingerprint scanner. However, the front panel is now protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 compared to Gorilla Glass 5 on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Moreover, while OnePlus hasn’t said it explicitly, I have a feeling that the 7T Pro’s rear curves have been flattened out slightly more, which makes it easier to grip. But, this could also be a placebo considering I can’t really prove it. 

Also, by design, the earpiece doubles up as the second speaker in the stereo setup. You get a loud and crisp sound with Dolby Atmos, which is a bit of stretch anyway for such tiny drivers.

Coming to the cameras, the hardware is the same as the one we saw on the OnePlus 7 Pro. You get the 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor, 16MP wide-angle camera, and the 8MP 3x optical zoom telephoto camera. Yup, there was this huge controversy that OnePlus is doing 2.2x optical zoom and not 3x. But, you know what? Those concerns are unfounded. I will link to a SomeGadgetGuy reading material below for you to understand the whole concept of crop factor a little better. 

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The new features on the OnePlus 7T Pro are the wide-angle video recording capability and the new Macro mode. Both of which should come to the OnePlus 7 Pro with an update. Therefore, camera-wise, there’s not much different. Anyway, OnePlus has been slowly but steadily improving the camera algorithm. And, the good thing is the significant improvement in dynamic range and contrast. Selfies look great and true-to-life and the Nightscape mode is great too. But, I really like the 3x optical zoom camera and I particularly prefer it for portraits. It shoots a true-to-size face size thanks to the 81mm focal length. The new Macro mode can take good shots too but you need to get the focus right. 

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Obviously, the one reason why everyone buys a OnePlus phone is the Oxygen OS skin on top of Android. With Android 10, we have Oxygen OS 10 running on OnePlus 7T Pro. There is a lot to like about this software but it is those tiny tweaks that make me happy. From the Zen mode to loads of customization options, Oxygen OS definitely adds a lot of value to the end-user. Also, I read a lot of articles that didn’t like OnePlus’ new gestures but I kinda love it. It is thoughtfully done and easy to use as well. In fact, it can even pull up the side panel in apps that follow the material design.

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Anyway, there were a few bugs in our review unit. For example, Netflix wasn’t compatible for some odd reason. But, it always happens with OnePlus phones. The review software is never as polished as retail software. So, by the time the end-user gets a phone, it is pretty damn polished. Anyway, a few days after launch OnePlus issued an update that fixed most of the issues. So, no worries there. 

The not so good

But, not everything is hunky-dory. For one, the phone continues to be heavy at 206g especially when you compare it to a similarly massive phone such as the Galaxy Note 10+. You can clearly tell the difference in weight. Moreover, the curvature of the display is far more pronounced on the OnePlus 7T Pro than it is on the Note 10+. This means that you will have to protect it using a case with a lip so that it doesn’t break easily when it falls. Also, if you notice the display at a certain angle, you can see a green fade at the point of curvature. 

Another design flaw is that you still don’t get wireless charging. Considering the cost, I think that is a major letdown. And, I know that expecting a 3.5mm jack is a bit much but at least OnePlus could’ve included the dongle in the box. From Apple to Samsung to OnePlus, every single brand is guilty of this crime. 

The other problem with the phone is related to the cameras. Not that it is bad but there is still a lot of scope for improvement. OnePlus continues to exaggerate the Blues and the Reds in a picture. And, the color science disparity between the three cameras is a bit much. Also, the camera cannot shoot a wide-angle video at 4K res. You gave us wide-angle video OnePlus, but you could’ve pushed it past the finish line!

By the way, I was in London for the launch and I ended up using the iPhone 11 Pro more for capturing sights. 

Differences between the 7T Pro and 7T Pro McLaren Edition

I’ve been talking all this while without highlighting the differences between the 7T Pro and the McLaren Edition. Because there is very little to begin with. 

Well, the McLaren Edition has 12GB of RAM, which is top-of-the-line specs. And, of course, it is more expensive as well. But most importantly, it has a completely different design that will appeal to McLaren fans. The Papaya Orange streaks run around the sides on the rear and the horizon light is also available in that colour. But the new patterns on the Black-coloured back are extremely whacky but look cool as well. You also get a case that is a mix of Kevlar and Alcantara material, in the box. And, there are these customisation options – including an icon pack – that sets the McLaren Edition apart from the regular OnePlus 7T Pro. It is all very well done and could convince a McLaren fan to lust for one. 

Should you buy the OnePlus 7T Pro?

 You could get underwhelmed if you take a look at the differences between the OnePlus 7T Pro and the 7 Pro. In fact, you can still get the OnePlus 7 Pro for a much lower price and not lose out on much. If you ask me, I’d go for the flat panel OnePlus 7T with a 90Hz display and a very similar camera setup. Yeah, I know that you only get 2x instead of 3x optical zoom with the telephoto camera. However, I guess that is a tradeoff most people can live with. Especially considering, you are paying 10s of thousands less. Let’s not forget the ASUS ROG Phone 2 either, which is available for around the same price as the OnePlus 7T. Honestly, the law of diminishing marginal returns hits the OnePlus 7T Pro really hard here. 

That’s not to say the OnePlus 7T Pro is a bad phone. Not even remotely. It is OnePlus’ best work till date. But, I doubt if that’s enough to convince people. I’d, in fact, ask you to go for the McLaren Edition instead. At least, there is the whole angle of the phone being a collector’s edition unit. And, the price bump could be worth it. If you think about it deeply, this could be OnePlus’ ploy here. Sell more of the McLaren phones and make a better markup. 

All in all, the OnePlus 7T Pro is a tepid update to the OnePlus 7 Pro. And, even for folks with a 6T, 5T, or a 3T, the 7T seems like a far better value proposition. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?