Having literally just posted my review on the OnePlus 7T, I was excited by the email offering the chance to get hands on one of the other newly announced phones, the powerhouse known as the McLaren Edition!
Being at the launch event I was able to get a very brief hands on with this top spec smartphone, but while it is nice getting some time at the event, the real fun is when you have a phone sent to you so you can cover in a real life scenario.
The offer of the McLaren Edition came with a three week loan period over the Christmas and New Year time so I was able to use the phone as my so called daily driver to cover the busy festive time, a true test for the camera and battery performance.
As with the 7T, the McLaren Edition is a dual SIM device so for my testing period I used both SIM slots with two different networks at the same time.
This is not the first phone in partnership with McLaren, you may or may not remember the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition was launched a while ago with some success, this is the 2nd phone combining the 2 companies.
Design and display
If you were to put the OnePlus 7 Pro, the OnePlus 7T Pro and the McLaren Edition next to each other you couldn’t tell any difference from the front because they’re all the same design.
Because of the motorized pop-up camera which will be talked about later, there is no bezel around the screen and no cut out camera meaning you get a full screen to enjoy your videos on as well as taking pictures with no interruptions.
The screen is a decent 6.67 inches in diameter is a Quad HD resolution display and still keeps that 90hz refresh rate which people have come to love on the OnePlus 7 Pro, this is one of the key standout features that make OnePlus different, although others are starting to catch up such as Google with their Pixel 4 and the 4XL too.
It was nice to see the Quad HD resolution was kept on the McLaren where as the 7T I recently covered had a 1080p display.
I said that was pretty decent and more than enough for most people, but considering the McLaren edition costs a fair bit more you would expect to have Quad HD for this price.
As with most recent OnePlus devices there is a fingerprint reader, and this is built into the display, and not only is it fast, it’s very accurate and on the McLaren Edition has a very nice Orange animation when you go to unlock it.
Looking at the top of the device you have one of the dual microphones used for noise cancellation as well as for capturing audio when in video mode.
You also have the 16 megapixel pop up camera using a motor, this is really fast and allows you to do really quick face unlocking which I actually use more than fingerprint unlocking these days.
Within a split second the camera pops up see you are and pops back down again ready to be used, and if you’re worried about how strong the motor is, don’t be as it has been tested under lots of pressure and still stands up to it well.
To put it into context there have been YouTube videos of people opening bottles using this pop up camera.
On the bottom you get the loudspeaker which is actually very decent quality and the only puts out loud volume but very clear as well it sounds very handy when playing games such as Call of Duty and watching videos such as Netflix and YouTube
Next this you get the USB C port which is used for data transfer, it also can been used for charging of course featuring the new 30T Warp Charge technology which charges you from 0% to around 70% in half an hour.
While you get this super fast Warp Charge feature, you do unfortunately lose out on wireless charging which is not built into any of the 7T Series.
Next to the charging port you get the SIM card tray which pops out using a pin, this allows you to access the dual SIM trays where you can use either one or two SIM cards at the same time, however there is no expandable memory support so you’re have to depend on internal or online storage only, but it is nice having two SIMs in one phone which be handy for people like myself who have a work and personal SIM.
Something lacking even in the top of the line McLaren Edition is a headphone jack which seems to be very common these days, however also missing in the box is a USB-C headset, or even an adapter to use your own, instead you either have to use an existing pair if you have or go for a Bluetooth option.
Over on the left side you just get the volume up and down buttons which as you would expect just control the system volume as well as voice call volume when in a call.
Over on the right hand side you get the power button which when double tap quick opens the camera if you need to take a quick photo without pressing the on-screen button
You also get one of the features of a OnePlus phone that many take for granted but is actually really handy to have, and that is a three-way switch allowing you to quickly switch between Normal, Vibrate and Silent mode with a quick flick, and in keeping with the McLaren branding this is bright Orange too.
Over on the back you have the special McLaren branding and look with the Orange surround for the camera as well as a logo near the bottom.
You also get a really nice pattern near the camera which looks almost transparent looking into the internals.
The camera design has stayed with the vertical layout triple camera setup where as the 7T had moved to a circular design instead,
The back is made from glass using Gorilla Glass 5 for extra protection, this is very slippy to hold without a case, thankfully OnePlus give you a free one in the box and it is not just an ordinary clear one, instead there has been a special one made for this version of the phone with carbon fibre design and alcantara fabric.
(The camera specs and experience is exactly the same on both the 7T and the McLaren Edition, as such the written part below has been taken from the 7T summary, however the photos taken are from the McLaren Edition)
Having a good camera on a smartphone can be for some people one of the biggest decision makers when making a purchase, with many out there (myself included) not owning a standalone camera and using their phone for everything.
OnePlus are always improving their camera setup with software updates, but often it is the actual cameras themselves that make the biggest improvements as there is only so much you can do with software.
Looking over on the back you have a triple camera setup which features a main 48 megapixel lens for capturing detail, a 12 megapixel telephoto lens for zooming in to your subject, and finally a large 16 megapixel super wide angle lens with 117 degree field of view for getting even more in to that important photo such as a landscape or group shot.
Having this new updated wide angle camera also adds an all important super macro mode which lets you get really close up for some amazing detail with a simple tap on the mode when in the camera screen.
The camera interface is very easy to understand and navigate through, on the left-hand side you have controls for the flash, timer, changing the camera viewer size and enabling the super macro mode.
On the opposite side you have a slider to navigate through the different modes such as portrait, nightscape, video etc.
You will see in the camera UI screenshot a toggle that has 1 tree on one side, and 3 trees on the other, this is where you tap to switch between the wide angle or telephoto cameras depending which you need.
Night mode has been given a big upgrade in Nightscape with some of the best low light photos I have taken on a phone, although not quite up there with the magic of the Pixel or what Huawei have right now, what OnePlus have managed to produce is a very capable all round camera experience, even in poor lighting.
Overall image quality captured was excellent, in fact one of the best I have had on a smartphone thanks to the impressive sensors used and some clever software.
The front facing camera is 16 megapixels and also includes features such as HDR for better photos as well as using the screen as a selfie flash to help with lighting.
Unlike the 7T which has a small notch with the front facing camera, the McLaren Edition comes with the fancy motorized pop up camera which gives the notch free design found on the older 7 Pro.
Quality is very good and is more than decent enough for social media sharing which will be the main use.
Video mode is also very good and great for video calling services such as Google Duo, WhatsApp or Skype which were all tested with pleasing results.
Video mode is very good when in good lighting, quality does go up to 4K resolution if you want all need to use this however standard HD is good enough for most situations.
Stabilization is also very good as I found when recording video handheld with no tripod and there is even a super steady mode which tops out at 1080p but is great for when you are walking or unsteady.
Below are a few samples to check out.
Performance and battery
As I mentioned on my 7T review, OnePlus never hold back with pushing their phones to the limit when it comes to specs.
With the McLaren Edition you get the top specs possible with the Snapdragon 855+ processor which is great for gaming, a large 4085mAh battery and an insane 12GB of RAM making it the smoothest experience possible.
There will be those who question why on earth you need 12GB of RAM on a smartphone, and while I agree it is a crazy number no one will reach the full potential, it does go with the speedy McLaren brand that many will know of in racing.
I’ve got much more into mobile gaming recently thanks to Pokémon Go and more recently Call of Duty Mobile, these games ran fantastic on the display and smooth as anything thanks for the 90 Hz refresh rate which made everything look so much clearer, so much smoother and a much better experience than I’ve had on other devices.
The processor of choice as mentioned earlier was the Snapdragon 855+ and this brings with it performance improvements as well as battery optimization, and graphic improvements which is great for gamers out there who want the very best.
When it comes to network connectivity this is an area that is up for some debate, the model in the UK and Europe is 4G+ ready with dual SIM card slots for using both networks at the same time, LTE Advanced allowed me to get speeds upwards of 100Mbps at times which was great.
The confusing part for some may be this same phone is now on sale over in America, but as a 5G model on T-Mobile, this is only available over there though so anyone getting in the UK won’t get a 5G version.
With this being the top spec limited edition fastest phone possible, it would have been nice to be 5G ready considering McLaren is all about speed.
The battery is a fixed 4085mah capacity easily lasted me a full day and that was with 2 SIM cards in use as well as quite a bit of Call of Duty Mobile playing online.
The Warp Charge 30T out-of-the-box does a great job at getting you from zero to 68% in around an 30 minutes however as mentioned before, you do lose wireless charging.
When it comes to storage you get 256GB of built-in memory which will be plenty for even the biggest movie download fan, especially when you consider your photos can be put on Google Photos for unlimited storage online.
Considering I said how much I was impressed with the 7T, the same has to be said for the McLaren Edition considering it has a bigger and higher resolution display, more memory, a bigger battery, and a stunning McLaren design with a hint of orange dashed around both hardware and OS.
(The software is exactly the same on both the 7T and the McLaren Edition, as such the written part below has been taken from the 7T summary, with an addition referring to the McLaren Edition extras)
There are many different skin versions of Android available, however it is OnePlus’s version which they call Oxygen OS that often gets great feedback from its users
This is because the company actually listens to feedback and makes improvements based on real life situations that the customers have reported.
The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition comes with Android 10 out of the box which is the most latest version and with it brings all the new security improvements you would expect as well as a new way of navigating called gestures.
There is a whole load of customization options available from changing between light and dark theme as well as changing the accent colours icon packs and font choice just to name a few.
The good thing with OnePlus is they don’t bog the phone down with bloatware, instead only include there switch app allowing you to transfer content from one device to another, they are not fussed about making health apps or well-being apps, instead you can download one of the multiple versions from the play store instead they just give you a clean Android experience.
OnePlus were actually one of the first companies who gave people dark mode and since there are many other manufacturers have jumped on board.
While the Pixel phones run a stock version of Android that many people like including myself, it is actually Oxygen OS on the OnePlus devices that offers most people a better experience, and it’s something I have come to appreciate a lot more since testing newer devices.
Where the McLaren touch comes into play is with the subtle orange extras so for example the orange icon pack only available on this phone, the orange fingerprint unlock animation as well as the slash of orange around the whole OS.
The OnePlus 7T is available on contract direct from Three, the McLaren Edition is not on any network, instead the only way to purchase is direct from OnePlus at the price of £899 unlocked.
The McLaren Edition is a real powerhouse smartphone with the most RAM and storage seen on their phones, as well as the unique orange branding and more premium case in the box.
After being impressed with the 7T, the McLaren Edition was going to take it up a gear (yes pun intended) with the notch less Quad HD 90hz display, popup camera and an insane 12GB RAM.
The biggest feature this phone lacks for someone wanting to future-proof themselves is of course 5G, however with 5G coverage not being widespread at the moment, this is something that the company can look at for the OnePlus 8 or another future device is coming out next year when coverage is much more widely available, for now it helps keep the price down.
With the 7T I just covered, the two areas I was impressed with mostly were the improved camera quality and the stunning 90hz display, and while the McLaren Edition has the same camera as the 7T, the resolution has been bumped up to Quad HD, yet still keeps that 90hz refresh making it an unbelievable experience.
Battery was also very decent, this was having both SIM cards in the device at the same time which drains the battery even faster because it’s looking for two networks, although being 4G instead of 5G does at least save battery when in use.
However using this for both home and personal use I was impressed with the battery performance usually lasting me a day.
If you’re looking for a top end device with great camera great battery, superb user experience and the latest tech and the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is for you without a doubt, especially if you are a mobile gamer or just want the fastest phone around right now.
The only reason not to consider this phone is if you want to have 5G on your current phone and don’t want to wait, however I don’t think that will be many people, and for that reason the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition has to be one of my top 3 phones of 2019, this is joined by the 7T because of the many similarities.
Thanks again to OnePlus for loaning the device and to be able to review here.