A OnePlus 9 upgrade could arrive this fall. Here’s what we know so far.
The OnePlus phone release schedule used to be beautifully straightforward: the Chinese phone maker would release a flagship sometime in spring or early summer, followed by a T model with some minor improvements on the original in late fall. Last year’s OnePlus 8T improved on the OnePlus 8 with its 120Hz AMOLED display and 65W charging at a slightly higher price than the 8. Simple!
But recently, OnePlus started shipping its phones in more markets — and made 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. To top it off, the OnePlus 9R launched earlier this year, which our reviewer noted was essentially a rebranded OnePlus 8T.
In the midst of this crowded lineup and a global chip shortage, OnePlus has apparently decided to forego the OnePlus 9T. Android Central‘s Asia Editor Harish Jonnalagadda broke the story that the OnePlus 9 RT is launching in October with OxygenOS 12, exposing the upcoming phone’s specs and availability.
Will the OnePlus 9 RT be one of the best Android phones available today? Unfortunately, not likely; it doesn’t break enough new ground to stand out from OnePlus’s 2021 lineup. But as the last numbered OnePlus of 2021, the 9 RT may appeal to buyers looking for near-flagship specs at a more affordable price. It’s expected to arrive next month in limited markets, so here’s what we know about the upcoming phone.
A great, cheap Android flagship
Don’t wait for affordable quality
The OnePlus 9 RT isn’t the killer phone upgrade we’d hoped for. While it does have some unique perks, anyone interested in a OnePlus phone will be perfectly happy with the 9. It has the cutting-edge Snapdragon 888, a 120Hz display, good camera performance, and more perks at a discounted price.
OnePlus 9 RT Availability
Despite our hopes that OnePlus would launch a new T-branded phone this year, all signs point to it being canceled. Our own sources suggest this, and tweets by frequent OnePlus leaker Max Jambor claim that there’ll be “no 9T” this year, or possibly at all. He suggested that the OnePlus 9 already has all the features one could want in a flagship, leaving the OnePlus 9T no way to improve on its screen, cameras, or charging.
The OnePlus “T” brand is gone, at least for now.
Instead, we know now from our sources that OnePlus will unveil the OnePlus 9 RT this October, with its release date shortly after the reveal. The most recent leak from OnLeaks suggests a “tentative launch date” of October 15. In theory, we’ll see the 9 RT in about a month.
What you may find surprising — and disappointing — is the limited availability of the OnePlus 9 RT. According to our inside information, OnePlus will debut in India and China but will not ship to North America or Europe. Instead, we believe OnePlus will release two more Nord devices this year with wider global releases.
Many of our readers won’t be able to buy the OnePlus 9 RT. 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. As for our readers in Asia, we’ll break down the unique features that separate the 9 RT from the other OnePlus phones.
OnePlus 9 RT: Specs
If you want to know how the OnePlus 9 RT will run, just look to the OnePlus 9R. OnePlus took that phone — already a close copy of the OnePlus 8T — and used it as a template for how it will build the 9 RT.
The 9 RT closely matches the 9R and doesn’t match up to the OnePlus 9 in performance.
Like the 9R, the 9 RT will have a Snapdragon 870 chipset, 6.55-inch display with 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, and a 4500mAh battery with 65W charging. The only change here is that the newer phone’s 870 chip will have higher binning, meaning it’ll clock higher but could also run slightly hotter.
One significant upgrade over the 9R is that the 9 RT 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.
While we don’t have specifics here, you can also expect the phone’s RAM to vary from 8GB to 12GB and its storage from 128GB to 256GB — matching the 9R.
OnePlus 9 RT: 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.
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, we have no information to suggest that the phone will look any different from the OnePlus 9R. After all, our sources suggest the 9 RT will bring back the same flat, 6.55-inch panel as before.
OnePlus T phones used to be trend-setters, but the 9 RT may stick to the status quo.
Like the 9R, expect the OnePlus 9 RT to have a glass back and plastic frame. The 9R is supposedly waterproof but has no water resistance rating, so the 9 RT likely will be another phone with some water protection, but not enough to use safely around a pool. And considering most recent OnePlus phones have had dual stereo speakers and an in-screen fingerprint sensor, expect those to return as well.
If there are any design differences, they are likely to be with the camera module. The 9R camera module is wider and more crowded than most other recent OnePlus phones’ modules. Given the 9 RT is getting a new camera, it’s possible the module will get a facelift. We have no confirmation on this, however.
We also don’t know what color options the 9 RT will get.
OnePlus 9 RT: Software
We know for certain that the OnePlus 9 RT will have Android 12 — or OxygenOS 12 — out of the box when it arrives in late fall. Outside of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, most other OnePlus phones will only have the beta at that point. Nevertheless, that early access could sway some OnePlus fans into buying one.
OxygenOS 12 will bring major changes to how OnePlus phones run, and the 9 RT will be among the first to get a stable build.
Our editor has already tested an internal build of OxygenOS 12, which uses ColorOS as a base for many new features. Some of those include a new theme store, ColorOS’ Private Safe for hiding docs and photos with a password, new privacy alerts when apps access your data, and floating, resizable windows. Otherwise, the OnePlus Launcher, accent color customization, off-screen gestures, Zen Mode, and other popular OxygenOS features will remain accessible despite the foundational changes.
OnePlus has promised three years of Android updates and four years of security updates for its new phones. That would mean the 9 RT would eventually get Android 15 and have full security support through 2025.
Currently, OnePlus is under fire for throttling app performance on its flagships to improve battery life, without letting users know or adding a toggle option. But it will reportedly allow you to turn off throttling with OxygenOS 12, making this instant access to the OxygenOS 12 a useful perk.
OnePlus 9 RT: Price
Our sources haven’t given us any hard pricing information for the OnePlus 9 RT. But there’s an obvious point of comparison here: the OnePlus 9R. Given the 9 RT will crib so much of its hardware from the 9R, it makes sense that their prices would be similar.
The default OnePlus 9R sold for ₹39,999 ($545) in India at launch, while the upgraded 12GB/256GB version sold for ₹43,999 ($600). It’s perfectly fair to assume that the 9 RT will fall somewhere close to these price points.
Twitter tipster Ankit tweeted that the base OnePlus 9 RT will cost ¥2,999 while the upgraded 12GB/256GB phone will cost ¥3,599. That translates to about ₹34,299 / $465 and ₹41,100 / $560. We can’t confirm these prices; but if they prove accurate, it’ll make the OnePlus 9 RT surprisingly affordable, with specs that punch above their weight class.
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 9 RT 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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Author: Michael L Hicks