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Friday, October 18, 2019

OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition hands-on review

Introduction

The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is the company's flagship smartphone for 2019. It is the second model in the McLaren series after the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition of last year.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
By now you may be familiar with the McLaren Edition M.O. These devices come loaded with the highest features and specifications that OnePlus has to offer, along with some special design elements, packaging and software customizations. That's pretty much the story this year as well but let's look a bit more closely to see what we are getting.

Packaging

The unique packaging for the McLaren Edition devices is one of the things that set them apart from the regular OnePlus smartphones. Last year, the company had a large orange square box, which was a departure from the usual white boxes that OnePlus phones came in. This year, the company has used the same tall box design it has used for its new T-series phones and taken it further.
The 7T Pro McLaren Edition comes in a tall box that almost looks like something you'd get with a bottle of premium liquor. The box is even taller than the packaging for the standard 7T Pro, which itself comes in a rather tall red box.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
The box is covered in orange paper wrapping with a repeating parallelogram pattern embossed on it. The orange isn't just any orange but rather Papaya Orange, or the company color for McLaren that has been used in their cars and branding for years. On the front of the box are small OnePlus and McLaren logos. Gone is the 'Salute to Speed' text of last year, which we didn't think much of anyway.
The rest of the box is pretty nondescript, except for the shipload of regulatory stickers on the back. They do spoil the look but then again, you can't ship anything without them. Also found here is a small sticker from McLaren announcing this is official McLaren-branded merchandise.
What we see on the outside is actually just the cover. The actual box for the phone is inside the orange wrapping paper and features the same carbon fiber pattern from last year.
Inside the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review Inside the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review Inside the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
Inside the box
Inside, the packaging is quite familiar. You get a thin sleeve containing all the paperwork. Normally you'd also find a clear case here as with other OnePlus phones, but you won't find that here. Below the sleeve sits the phone, which we'll get to later.
One of the cooler things about the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition packaging last year were the color themed charger and cable. They are back again this year and look just as good. The charging cable is braided unlike the rubberized cable on other OnePlus phones and has a sweet Papaya Orange color with black and orange connectors. The charger is all black except for the area around the plugs and the USB connector, which are orange.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
Last year, the charger was a bit special, as it supported Warp Charge, a rebranded and faster version of the DASH charge that OnePlus shipped until that point. However, the 30W charger you get with the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is identical to the one you get with the 7T Pro and the 7T in terms of charging speed.
A OnePlus package isn't complete without a case, and especially not a McLaren Edition. Last year, the company included a fairly basic case with a carbon fiber design. It looked decent but wasn't anything special. This year, OnePlus has decided to take it up a notch.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
The case is placed in almost a hidden panel below the box. You have to grab on to the orange base of the box and then lift the rest of it to access the case underneath. It reminds us a bit of the Easter egg that OnePlus had hidden underneath the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Limited Edition, although this is far more obvious and less cryptic.
The case is hidden under the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review The case is hidden under the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review The case is hidden under the box - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
The case is hidden under the box
The case is a clear step-up over what we usually see in these special editions. It's a hard plastic case with a rubberized texture. The back has a carbon fiber pattern around the sides. In the middle sits the plush Alcantara, which feels great to touch. Also found in the middle are chrome-finished McLaren and OnePlus logos as well as a cutout for the camera, including the awkward cutout for the relocated laser autofocus system.
The case is easily one of the nicest things about this entire package. It looks great and thanks to a combination of smooth rubberized plastic and soft Alcantara it also feels great. We do have some reservations about the durability of Alcantara on a phone case but the material has been successfully used in car upholstery for years now and is known to age well so perhaps we don't need to worry too much.
The Alcantara McLaren Protective case - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review The Alcantara McLaren Protective case - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
The Alcantara McLaren Protective case - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review The Alcantara McLaren Protective case - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
The Alcantara McLaren Protective case
Being a first party case, it obviously has perfectly placed cutouts for all the bits around and the buttons on the side feel great to operate. The case has raised edges on the front that prevent the display from getting in contact with a hard surface. The case is also not particularly thick or heavy and doesn't add much bulk to the phone. Overall, it's a really nicely made case.
The case is the last aspect of this phone's packaging. As usual, there are no earphones here and this year there's also no audio adapter. Last year's phone also came with a clear plastic frame with a piece of carbon fiber shaped in the McLaren logo but this year there's none of that, either. It seems all the work and creativity went into the case and there wasn't much else left for anything else. We would have liked to see at least one extra bit like all previous special editions but it seems OnePlus has decided to keep it simple this year.

Design

Right off the bat we should mention that the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is the same phone as the standard 7T Pro, so all the changes are merely cosmetic.
The most notable thing is that the phone comes in black. Previously, this wouldn't have been a big deal as black was always an option for the standard model but this year the standard 7T Pro only comes in blue. This means if you want something darker, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is basically your only option now.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
Of course, the phone isn't just black. As with the 6T, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition has a strip of orange running around the edge on the back of the phone. It's a subtle color and only really glows when hit by a bright light.
Front - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review Back - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
Front • Back
There are other orange accents on the phone as well. The camera module now has an orange ring surrounding it. The alert slider is also once again decked in orange. It looks nice and the knurled finish on the button really makes it stand out. We would have liked to see a bit of orange in the USB port as well to match the cable but it's just black.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
Now we get to the controversial part. The back of the 7T Pro McLaren Edition has a pattern underneath the glass, which lights up gradually as light hits it. At first glance it resembles wood grain but it's actually based on the carbon fiber print used in the interiors of the McLaren Speedtail. The interesting thing about this pattern is that it starts at the top of the phone and goes all the way to the McLaren logo at the bottom, but depending upon how you look at it or how light hits it, you may only see a very small part of it or not see it at all.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
But here's the controversial part; based on the people we have asked in the time since we have had this phone, very few have admitted to liking the pattern on the back. Most people, this reviewer included, either don't like it or really don't like it.
The thing is, we get what it is. We know it's not wood grain, we know where the inspiration came from and looking at the interiors of the Speedtail, it does seem to work reasonably well there. And even if it didn't, it would be fine because the Speedtail is a crazy, limited-edition hypercar that is meant to be evocative. But on the 7T Pro, it just doesn't work.
What looks jarring is that the pattern is primarily silver. This works fine on the Speedtail, which is a silver car with white and silver interiors. The 7T Pro McLaren Edition is a black and orange phone so a silver pattern stands out, and not necessarily in a good way.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson reviewInteriors of the McLaren Speedtail
To us it seems like the designers were grasping at straws to cram in one more McLaren reference into the design and possibly went for the least suitable one. All of us did say last year that the carbon fiber finish and an orange strip weren't nearly McLaren enough for the 6T but that still looked more appealing than the 7T Pro. This other carbon fiber finish is far more obscure of a reference and more importantly, doesn't seem to work with the rest of the phone's design. Do you know how it would have really worked? If the phone was white and blue. Like the car it's based on.
It's easy to write off the design of the 7T Pro McLaren Edition as subjective and give it a pass. But looking at it a bit more objectively, it just doesn't work and feels like two different design ideas clashing together. We would have liked OnePlus to move away from the black and orange design that it used last year; even McLaren isn't as obsessed with that color scheme as they make cars in all sorts of colors, many of which aren't even marketed in the company's orange theme. And while making something black and orange is the easiest way to market and sell it as McLaren Edition, we would have actually liked to see OnePlus fully commit fully to the Speedtail branding and just make a silver and blue Speedtail Edition, complete with that psychedelic pattern on the back. And why not? After all, the Speedtail is a special edition hyper quick flagship McLaren. Isn't that exactly what this phone is supposed to be?

Hardware

As mentioned before, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is basically the same phone as the 7T Pro. The differences are much smaller this year compared to the 6T; in fact, there's just one difference, and that is the RAM.
The 7T Pro McLaren Edition comes with 12GB LPDDR4X memory instead of 8GB on the standard 7T Pro. Literally - and we mean literally - everything else is identical to the standard 7T Pro.
So does the extra RAM make a difference in performance? Nope.

Software

The final piece of this McLaren puzzle is the software. Again, it's basically the same OxygenOS 10 running on top of the latest Android 10 as on the standard 7T Pro. They are essentially on the same release cycle so they will get all updates simultaneously and the updates themselves will be the same since they are - and we cannot stress this enough - the same phone.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
However, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition does have a few extra things in there. It's really just four things: theme, icons, wallpapers and clock.
The McLaren theme was something we saw last year. It's basically a dark theme with orange accents. If you look closely, you will also see the same repeating parallelogram pattern on the notification shade as the one found on the outside of the box. You can, of course, choose a different theme or accent color on this phone if you get tired of the black and orange.
McLaren Theme - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren Theme - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren Theme - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren Theme - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren Theme - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
McLaren Theme
The icons are new this year. OnePlus has included an icon pack that turns all the stock app icons dark. It follows the same black and orange theme and where it works it looks good.
Unfortunately, this is also possibly the laziest icon pack in history. Only OnePlus' own apps that come pre-installed on the phone, along with Chrome, get a proper icon. The rest of the apps, including the ones that also come pre-installed on the phone, get a black circle surrounding their icon. This includes most of Google's apps and Netflix.
And then it gets worse. The icon pack does absolutely nothing for any app that you install, so they just have their default icons. No custom icon, not even a black border. Just a bright icon looking like a swan in a murder of crows.
This just defeats the purpose of an icon pack. Even $1 icon pack you buy off the Google Play Store will come with more custom icons than this. And the icons aren't all that great either so eventually we just switched back to the default icon pack so they all look uniformly different. Of course, you can always install a different icon pack, which works just fine with the default launcher.
McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review McLaren edition exclusive features - Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
McLaren edition exclusive features
Next, there are the wallpapers. We have four from last year and four new ones, including an animated one. They are decent but there's nothing particularly McLaren about them other than the orange color. The animated one does look nice though.
Lastly, there's a new clock face that appears on OnePlus' half-hearted always-on display implementation that they call Ambient display. The clock has a glowing orange ring around the clock face and orange hands and looks stunning. You can easily imagine this being on the dashboard of a McLaren and is one of the coolest things that they added to this phone.
There are actually a few more things unique to the McLaren Edition that are too small to get a special shoutout but worth noting anyway. The fingerprint sensor animation is carried over from last year's McLaren Edition and is unique to these phones. The clock widgets have different typeface as does the text on the Ambient display mode. The Horizon light color strip gets a special McLaren orange option. Lastly, when you bootup the phone, you get a special McLaren animation with a honeycomb pattern often seen on the company's grilles.

Conclusion

The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is a fair bit more expensive than the standard OnePlus 7T Pro, which itself is more expensive than the phone before it. We are not in the cutthroat OnePlus pricing era anymore so let's not even talk about why it costs as much as it does and let's focus on whether or not it brings any additional value over the standard 7T Pro.
The reasons why you would want to get this phone over the standard 7T Pro is if you want something different that stands out or if you're a McLaren fan. If you want something that stands out then this does, for better or for worse. The design might not be to everyone's taste but it's unique and we really do like the case (especially since it covers up the pattern on the back). Even the little things like the black charger and the bright orange cable are excellent touches.
Oneplus 7t Pro Mclaren Edition Handson review
As a McLaren fan, this is tougher to sell. We think the black and orange colorway is a very timid and derivative way to represent this iconic brand and wish OnePlus had done something more representative and focused, like a Speedtail edition or a Senna edition. The new phone seems like a rehash of last year's model and somehow it now comes with even less McLaren memorabilia in the box. As it stands, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is a very wishy-washy way of making a McLaren branded phone and we don't think McLaren fans would be quite thrilled with this.
However, as underwhelming as it is, we think the 7T Pro McLaren Edition is actually the 7T Pro to get. The standard 7T Pro by itself doesn't really make a strong case for itself next to the standard 7T, which is way too buff to get bullied by its bigger brother anymore. However, the 7T Pro McLaren Edition does add a few extra bells and whistles and makes spending extra money over the 7T worthwhile. If you must have a 7T Pro, we think you should just spend a bit extra and go all out for the McLaren Edition instead.

 
Design by Ushitha Kariyawasam | Bloggerized by Ushitha | United Business and Services Co. (PVT) Ltd, Mobile Phones in Sri Lanka