OnePlus has no plans to release a mainstream T phone this year. Instead, it has launched the OnePlus 9RT, a slight variation on the mid-range OnePlus 9R that shipped earlier this year. Likely OnePlus’s final major phone of 2021, the 9RT is worth considering — if you live somewhere where it’s available.
OnePlus has released a T-model phone every fall from 2016 to 2020, offering similar specs to that year’s main flagship, plus some slight variations that often ended up in next year’s flagship. OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei chose the naming scheme to emulate the iPhone S-series, except that S + One(Plus) = T.
But recently, OnePlus started shipping its phones in more markets, therefore making its lineup more complicated. “Pro” phones appeared in 2019, followed by a surge of mid-range phones like the OnePlus Nord 2 and budget handsets like the OnePlus Nord N200 5G. Then, of course, there was the 9R, which was a step back as an “entry-level flagship,” as OnePlus describes it.
In the midst of this crowded lineup and a global chip shortage, the OnePlus 9RT launched in limited markets this month as an upgrade on the 9R. For buyers looking for near-flagship specs at a more affordable price, the weirdly-named 9RT could be the right fit for you. Here’s everything you need to know about the phone.
A great, cheap Android flagship
Don’t wait for affordable quality
The OnePlus 9RT has some unique perks that makes it worth considering if you live in the right territory. But for everyone else, you should be perfectly happy with the 9. It still has great CPU and camera performance, at a discounted price from where it was at launch.
OnePlus 9RT Release date, price, and availability
OnePlus officially announced the OnePlus 9RT on October 13. During its livestream event, it unveiled the phone’s release date, price and specs. The main 8GB/128GB version of the 9RT will cost 3,299 yuan (about $512 / ₹38,500), while the upgraded 12GB/256GB model costs 3,799 yuan (about $589 / ₹44,400). For comparison, the original OnePlus 9 costs 3,799 yuan.
The phone will ship out in China starting on October 19. So far, OnePlus hasn’t announced availability for any other countries. Based on information from a source, we believe it will also come to India at some point, but not to other countries in North America or Europe. Instead, you’ll have to choose between the OnePlus 9 series or OnePlus Nord N200 5G in North America, or try the Nord 2 in Europe.
In terms of pricing and availability in India, tipset @heyitsyogesh claims the 9RT should cost “between 40-44k” and that it’ll be available “before Diwali,” which begins November 4.
OnePlus 9RT: Specs
The OnePlus 9RT shares many features and specifications with the 9R. However, it’s also receiving some significant upgrades that makes the phone more attractive than we originally guessed.
First, the phone uses a Snapdragon 888 processor. Tons of other Android phones this year have it, but the 9R used a downgraded 870, and the 888 is nice to see at this price point. Plus, while it has the same 8GB/12GB of RAM as before, it will now have 7GB of virtual RAM that’ll come into play for demanding apps and games.
One other significant upgrade over the 9R is that the 9RT will get the same main camera sensor as the OnePlus Nord 2: the 50MP Sony IMX766 lens with image stabilization. The 9R had a 48MP main lens, but this new lens gives you a wider shot. You’ll also get a 16MP ultra-wide lens, 2MP macro camera, and 16MP selfie cam with a hole-punch cutout.
Turning to the display, the OnePlus 9RT will have a 6.62-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, a 600Hz touch sampling rate, and an in-screen fingerprint sensor.
For battery life, you’ll have the same 4,500mAh battery with 65W charging found in most other OnePlus flagships this year.
OnePlus 9RT: Design
In previous generations, OnePlus T phones were used to experiment with new designs that often ended up appearing in the next numbered flagship. The OnePlus 8T, for instance, flattened the 8’s display while thickening the device itself to fit a larger battery and better cooling vents. Then, the OnePlus 9 essentially kept the 8T’s design except for adjusting the camera module.
OnePlus T phones used to be trendsetters, but the 9RT will stick to the status quo.
So we had hoped that the OnePlus 9T would give us a new design that would herald what to expect in the OnePlus 10. Instead, the OnePlus 9RT has a fairly consistent appearance, with a similar display size and the same glass back and plastic frame as most other OnePlus 9 phones.
In terms of differences, the OnePlus 9RT ships in silver, light green, and black, and its camera module has been redesigned with more of a vertical appearance, compared to the 9R’s prominent L shape.
our source suggested OnePlus would bring back the same flat, 6.55-inch panel as before. And based on leaked renders of the phone and the launch page, the 9RT does appear to have a very consistent look with the 9R, though the silver back is new. It will ship in either silver or black.
OnePlus 9RT: Software
A source initially told us the OnePlus 9RT would have Android 12 — or OxygenOS 12 — out of the box. Instead, we learned the OnePlus 9RT would have ColorOS 12 instead — though based on Android 11, not 12.
OxygenOS and ColorOS will merge into a unified OS in 2022, starting with the OnePlus 10. But the OnePlus 9RT is ahead of the curve on this front, and will have ColorOS ahead of schedule. However, when the phone launches in India, it may have OxygenOS installed instead, as is the case with other OnePlus phones. We suspect it will start with OxygenOS 11, but should quickly receive the OxygenOS 12 beta.
The best you can hope for in 2021
Don’t wait for anything better
We’d hoped that the OnePlus 9T would offer some small upgrades on the OnePlus 9, but that never materialized. Given the OnePlus 9RT isn’t a major upgrade and won’t even ship to North America or Europe, OnePlus phone fans should bite the bullet and snag one of the best Android phones available. The 10 is months away, and the 9 still holds up as a great option.
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