OnePlus 8T review: more power, more features
OnePlus phones have rarely let us down for the past seven years. I was very impressed by the OnePlus 8 Pro flagship when it launched in April, and it even became my primary phone for a while. But for most OnePlus fans, the 8 Pro had an obvious problem: It was a costly device for the company, on par with Samsung’s Galaxy S20. It was a bold move but perhaps necessary to cover the increasingly expensive production and marketing of OnePlus.
Still, the company finally returned to its budget roots with the mid-range Nord three months later. While it offered an equally stylish overall experience, OnePlus took shortcuts in performance and body materials. That is not to say that the Nord was a lousy phone; It was great for its price, but some of us always yearn for a more powerful smartphone at a more affordable cost, like the original $ 300 OnePlus One of yesteryear.
Beautiful 120Hz display
39-minute quick charge
Excellent specs for the price
Average camera performance
No wireless charging
The latest OnePlus phone is the OnePlus 8 Pro’s top-tier screen refresh rate and battery in a more petite body. Then there’s the incredible 39-minute fast-charge tech to sweeten the deal. The OnePlus 8T is only marred by poor cameras and a less exclusive design.
This is where the OnePlus 8T comes in. It’s essentially the OnePlus 8 with extras, some of which match or even exceed what the 8 Pro offered. In the US, you’ll get the device with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of the newest UFS 3.1 storage for $ 750. That puts it right between the OnePlus 8 (starting at $ 699) and the 8 Pro (starting at $ 899) with the same configuration. In other words, for an extra $ 50, you get a device that looks more like a flagship phone but is still noticeably cheaper than the competition.
Despite all this, it is not the most powerful phone out there. The 8T still uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor and LPDDR4x RAM seen in the OnePlus 8. Don’t worry – this is perfectly fine for most people. You’d only need the 865 Plus if you want that extra oomph for more intense games, and the OnePlus’ RAM Boost seems to guarantee a fast load time for frequently used apps, even if you’re not using the newer and faster LPDDR5 RAM. My biggest concern was that my OnePlus 8T couldn’t connect to Hong Kong’s 5G networks due to some bands missing from the US model.
When it comes to colours, there are only two options: “aquamarine green” and “moon silver.” OnePlus sent me the first one, and while I tend to prefer frosted glass bodies like on the OnePlus 8 Pro and LG Wing, the 8T’s ceramic-enamel-like glossy finish got the better of me.
OnePlus also claims that its new coating method makes fingerprints less visible through some optical tricks. In real life, it worked a bit, but usually only when looking straight ahead. Not that I cared too much, as I like to keep my phones in their cases. With my review sample, OnePlus provided a ‘cyborg cyan’ case and a cyan sandstone case, and I chose the former for its silly translucent circuitry look.
To my surprise, the OnePlus 8T received a significant redesign on the back, and I have mixed feelings about it. From the OnePlus 6 to the OnePlus eight series, I like how the phones have kept the rear cameras vertically aligned along the center. This required more engineering work, but I think it gave the OnePlus phones a unique design identity at a time when most smartphones have never been so similar.
With the 8T, OnePlus crammed everything into an increasingly common rectangular island in the upper left corner to make more room for other parts. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ugly, but when placed alongside other OnePlus 8 phones, the 8T doesn’t look that good. The camera island bears a solid resemblance to the modules in Samsung’s Galaxy S20 + and its cheaper cousins.
Another significant change on the 8T is the display. It’s still a fluent 2,400 x 1,080-inch 6.55-inch AMOLED panel, but now with a smoother 120Hz refresh rate, matching the 8 Pro’s more prominent and sharper display. This makes the 8Tone of the most affordable flagships with such a fast screen, along with the Galaxy S20 FE. Como bonus, the OnePlus 8T has 8,192 brightness levels (doubling what the 8 offered), with a maximum brightness of 1,100 nits, making it a bit easier for me to read outdoors, more than my other phones. There are also environmental sensors on both sides of the phone to help maintain a more accurate automatic brightness.
When it comes to charging, the OnePlus jumped from 30W to 65W for its latest Warp Charge adapter that comes with the OnePlus 8T. This takes the battery from zero to 42 percent in just 10 minutes or up to a full charge in 39 minutes. Yes, this charging technology is the same as Oppo’s 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 and Realme’s 65W SuperDart; Both chargers were identified as “Warp Charge 65” on my 8T when plugged in, provided VOOC type certified cables were part of the combination. It is fast and incredibly convenient.
With the 4,500 mAh battery in the OnePlus 8T, I generally get between 13 and 15 hours per charge, which sounds reasonable compared to Chris Velazco’s 12-hour battery life in the 8 Pro, which had a sharper screen. If you want to get more battery out of the 8T, you can drop the screen refresh rate to 60Hz, but I never had to, given adequate battery life. And again, I can’t stress enough how convenient the Warp Charge 65 is – you could comfortably leave the house with the phone after just a 15-minute emergency charge.
I also kept an eye on power consumption while playing PUBG Mobile: With HDR graphics and ‘extreme’ frame rate manually enabled, a 40-minute session drained about 20 percent of battery juice. That’s a lot. I then turned off HDR and lowered the frame rate one level to ‘ultra .’ My subsequent 40-minute playback consumed about half the battery without heating the phone as much.
The OnePlus version of Android 11, OxygenOS 11, doesn’t look that different from the previous one; it’s just as clean and straightforward, but it has some useful new features. My favourite is the Insight AOD (Always On Display), a collaboration between OnePlus and Parsons School of Design to visualize a user’s digital well-being. Once enabled, you’ll see a thin gradient column, with a clock moving slowly downward throughout the day, occasionally changing position on the black screen. Every time you unlock the phone, you create a space on the bar; the idea is that you realize how dependent you are on your phone. You would probably even feel guilty for ruining this beautiful, horrible, horrible person digital artwork.
If you want to do something about your mobile addiction, OxygenOS 11 offers a new Zen Mode 2.0. As before, this can lock your phone for a set period, but now, there is a “Group Zen Mode” that allows you to invite friends to install the app (also works on non-OnePlus phones) and “zone out” together – think dinners or get-togethers. But because of COVID-19, it probably happens.