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OnePlus 9T: why there's no T-series OnePlus phone this year

OnePlus 9 Pro is likely to look similar to OnePlus 9T
The OnePlus 9 Pro from earlier in 2021 (Image credit: TechRadar)

While OnePlus usually ends the year with a T-series variant of its early-year release, the OnePlus 9T isn't coming in 2021 - this is something the company itself has confirmed, it's not just a rumor.

We were expecting the OnePlus 9T to be a mid-range version of the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro from earlier in the year, as the T phones generally are, but we'll apparently have to wait until the next OnePlus Nord phone to get a non-flagship device from the company.

Given the OnePlus 9R launched alongside the 9 series, we can see why the company opted not to put out the 9T, but given that mid-ranger was only available in a select few countries, many people around the world might be left wanting as a result of this news.

The next big phone we expect from the company, then, is the OnePlus 10 which will probably come in early 2022.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A mid-range version of the OnePlus 9
  • When is it out? It's confirmed to be canceled
  • How much will it cost? You'll never be able to buy it

Why the OnePlus 9T isn't happening

When it confirmed the OnePlus 9T had been canceled, it didn't give a reason for this, leading us to speculate.

It's possible that the emergence of the popular OnePlus Nord line has meant OnePlus no longer needs a mid-year low-cost counterpart to its flagship line, as people who want an inexpensive device from the company can just pick up a Nord.

Alternatively, the ongoing chipset shortage may have resulted in OnePlus simply not being able to acquire enough silicon to produce the OnePlus 9T in bulk.

Another possibility is the ongoing Oppo merger. OnePlus is currently in the process of merging with its bigger sibling-company Oppo, and in fact press was being briefed on this merger and its ramifications when the OnePlus 9T news broke.

It's possible that a company shake-up means OnePlus simply can't focus on putting out a new main-series phone right now.

OnePlus 9 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

OnePlus 9T news and rumors

Before the OnePlus 9T was canceled, certain rumors and leaks emerged around the phone. We've kept them below, so you can understand how the device was shaping up.

One leak from Weibo has suggested there won't be a OnePlus 9T Pro in 2021, and it also gave us a hint at the screen technology we can expect in the coming phone. The leak below suggests it'll be a 120Hz LTPO panel with a Full HD+ resolution.

See more

If Qualcomm launches a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset later this year then that will probably be used based on past form, otherwise we’d expect the Snapdragon 888 like the OnePlus 9 range.

Changes to some combination of the camera, screen, and battery are also likely, but exactly what remains to be seen – though in the case of the camera it’s likely to further benefit from OnePlus’s ongoing partnership with Hasselblad.

Finally, OnePlus has announced it will be further merging its business with smartphone manufacturer Oppo. That may mean we see some changes to the OnePlus formula, and it could include a switch to ColorOS software rather than OxygenOS.

This is all speculation for now, but it may be we hear more from OnePlus in the next few months. 

What we wanted to see

Before the OnePlus 9T cancelation, we drew up a wish-list of features and specs we'd like to see for the phone, and you can find the list below.

1. A longer telephoto range

OnePlus 9

The OnePlus 9 doesn't have a telephoto camera (Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus 9 doesn’t have a telephoto camera at all, and even the OnePlus 9 Pro tops out at 3.3x optical zoom, which isn’t terrible, but is a long way short of the 10x optical zoom offered on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or even the 5x on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

So for the OnePlus 9T range we want any and all models to have a telephoto camera, and we’d love for it to offer at least 5x optical zoom.

2. A great macro camera

While we’re on the subject of cameras, we’d love to see a dedicated macro lens on the OnePlus 9T range.

In fairness, the ultra-wide snapper on the OnePlus 9 range can already do a reasonable job of macro shots, but with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Oppo Find X3 Pro we’re starting to see genuinely good, dedicated macro lenses on phones, and we’d like to see OnePlus join that club.

The company’s partnership with Hasselblad suggests it’s serious about upping its camera game, so these wishes aren’t out of the question.

3. Better battery life

OnePlus 9 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

One area where spending more doesn’t necessarily lead to improvements is battery life, and that’s definitely true of the OnePlus 9 range. While both phones should last a day, their life is fairly middling, so for the OnePlus 9T range we want to see improvements.

One change that should be easy to make is putting a bigger battery in the phone, since at 4,500mAh the one in the OnePlus 9 range isn’t huge, but one way or another we hope OnePlus works on the 9T’s longevity.

4. A microSD card slot

The OnePlus 9 range includes a decent amount of storage, with a choice of 128GB or 256GB, but with no microSD card slot that’s all you get.

This isn’t a premium feature – in fact as with headphone ports it’s more often premium phones that lack this than cheap ones, so we’d really like to see it make a return for the OnePlus 9T.

Or failing that we’d settle for even more storage being built in, but only if that doesn’t push the price up too much.

5. Water resistance on all models

OnePlus 9

The OnePlus 9 has no water resistance rating (Image credit: Future)

In recent years OnePlus has started offering an IP68 rating on its Pro handsets, which is a level of waterproofing that’s in line with other high-end phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 range, but the standard models still lack this.

So for the OnePlus 9T we want this to be offered across the range, as it’s a reassuring feature to have.