What does a OnePlus phone mean to you? For me, it is a no-nonsense tool you can depend on every day. It is a phone made for one who loves smartphones. Ever since the OnePlus 5T, which was the first OnePlus device I used and reviewed, I have suggested OnePlus phones to everyone seeking a fast and reliable Android phone. In the last few years though, OnePlus focused on aiming for the premium segment and hence, its phones became a little “non-sensy”. Take the OnePlus 8 Pro and 7 Pro as an example – great phones but not what OnePlus used to stand for. Also Read - OnePlus Nord Review: The thunder strikes again, almost
As I hold the OnePlus 8T in my hands now, a big smile has taken control of my face. The OnePlus 8T has the essence of the OnePlus 5T that I first used. It does not feel like it’s made to impress your dad or mom. Instead, it is built for the younger self within you who does not want to compromise where it matters, i.e. speed, design, and reliability. OnePlus may advertise the Nord as the phone that marks their going back to roots but in reality, this is the one that brings back the old OnePlus – the OnePlus we were actually fans of. Also Read - OnePlus 8 Pro review: Great deal for your money
Of course, it has its own set of issues, like all other smartphones. It isn’t perfection in any way, as other reviewers would like you to believe. However, in a world that’s destined to keep going, the OnePlus 8T is that phone that’s always ready for you. After living with it for more than a week, it is hard to move to a different phone. Also Read - OnePlus 8 review: Buy the phone if quality and performance matters
Like its motto, OnePlus never settles for a particular design for long. It keeps experimenting with adventurous designs, and often ends up drawing our attention. Last year’s OnePlus 7T had a distinct design that made it unique in a sea of similar-looking phones. Exactly a year after, OnePlus goes for another new design. Although this time, it isn’t unique.
The OnePlus 8T looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S20 from the back, especially with its rectangular camera hump. Unlike the OnePlus 7T’s circular blob, this one looks more civilized. It falls in sync with the overall elegant design theme that’s going on around the entire phone. The camera hump does not protrude much and the tasteful accents around it keep grabbing attention.
The camera module itself resembles a hexa-camera setup but you actually get just four cameras – the other two are LED flashlights. The choice of design elements is tasty and appeals to people who care for details. The new Aquamarine Green color looks stunning and depending on light, it changes its hue from sea green to the “Nord Blue”. The glossy finish on the 8T somehow helps to conceal the fingerprints but oily hands will still leave their mark.
Hence, you can opt for the two new OnePlus cases available. My personal favorite is the sandstone blue bumper case, although my brother likes the silicon case that imparts a sense of giving a peek into the internals of the phone.
Rest of the 8T has the same OnePlus affair. You get a flat display this time instead of the curved edge display on the OnePlus 8. The bezels are slim and so is the chin. OnePlus says it has managed to bend the display chips underneath it to cut down the chin. There’s a small punch-hole cutout for the front camera in the top corner. The flat edges along with the matte aluminum frame help with a good grip in-hand. Everyone’s favorite Alert Slider is present and is as easy to slide like the ones on the previous phones.
A couple of things to note: the display gets Corning’s Gorilla Glass protection but the version number isn’t revealed at the time of writing this piece. There’s no IP certified water and dust resistance but OnePlus says it can survive splashes. As always, OnePlus pre-installs a screen guard and clubs a transparent bumper case in the box.
The 8T has got the biggest display upgrade since the OnePlus 7T from last year. OnePlus is still using a 1080p AMOLED display that measures 6.5-inches across the canvas. As stated, the bezels are extremely slim and the flat edges make for comfortable user experience. The AMOLED panel is itself of high quality and throws up the trademark “punchy” colors. Pictures and videos carry a lot of contrast due to the deep blacks. Hence, whether you are watching HD content on Prime Video or playing Call of Duty Mobile, it looks good.
The headline feature for the Oneplus 8T’s display the 120Hz refresh rate. Similar to the OnePlus 8 Pro’s display, all the transitions and scrolls appear naturally smooth. Add to this the extremely optimized animations of Oxygen OS 11 and you get an experience that is simply unrivaled (as of now). The higher touch sampling rate helps with quicker responses while gaming and makes scrolling seem natural.
Performance and user experience
This is the section where a OnePlus device has seldom got complaints. However, unlike the traditions of OnePlus stuffing in the latest, the 8T makes sensible decisions. Thumping inside the Aquamarine Green body is the Snapdragon 865 chip, which is the same chip from the OnePlus 8. This is paired with up to 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The RAM isn’t of the fastest type but this is a killer combination for performance seekers.
Now, the reason OnePlus did not choose the Snapdragon 865 Plus is for you to ponder on. Personally, I feel the Snapdragon 865 is more than capable of handling anything Android can throw at it. Right now, the most demanding tasks I could do on it were to play Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends. Both of these games ran at their best, with the highest graphics settings available. In long sessions of COD Mobile, the phone did warm up towards the camera but it never dropped frames or showed signs of struggle.
Gaming is not the only thing you are going to do on the OnePlus 8T. I used it as my daily office phone and I can confidently say it is a joy to use. The 8T runs on Oxygen OS 11 based on Android 11 – the latest version of Android. Oxygen OS 11 has divided opinions on its layout and design, and I will leave that upon you to judge. I like the new interface and its upmarket design elements. The animations are smoother and multitasking with up to five apps at once does not stress the phone.
Most of the days, I was handling emails on Outlook and Gmail apps, reading on Chrome browser, co-working with my colleagues on Slack, sharing photos and texts on WhatsApp, streaming music from Amazon Music, and JioSaavn, and browsing Twitter for updates. I did some of these simultaneously and the OnePlus 8T was like, “Is that all you got? I am still hungry.”
Like most custom Android skins, Oxygen OS does have lots of pre-loaded first-party extras. There’s a new Zen Mode with a better ability to disconnect from the digital world – something that I did not have a chance to try out in this device launch season. The OnePlus Gallery gets an updated design and a new Stories feature similar to the ones from Instagram and Facebook. With Oxygen OS 11, new AOD options are available finally on a OnePlus device. There are some interesting designs already available but OnePlus will be adding more exciting AOD styles, including a Bitmoji AOD.
What’s important to know is that despite all the additional stuff, Oxygen OS keeps working as intended. Never did I find all the additional stuff forcing their way into my user experience.
Audio performance is decent via the stereo speaker setup. Whether you are watching YouTube or playing games, these speakers are loud enough in a small room filled with fellow gamers. The audio quality is decent, not great. Call quality via VoWiFi and VoLTE was loud and clear. Similar to OnePlus phones of the past, the 8T was able to latch on to the Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks reliably – the only phone in recent months I did not see dropping calls.
The OnePlus 8T gets a new quad-camera system at the back. Although OnePlus says it is new, 80 percent of the components are over a year older. It uses the same 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor for the primary lens, a 16-megapixel camera for the ultra-wide lens, and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera. OnePlus says this monochrome camera activates in the B&W filter mode of the camera app. The macro camera from the OnePlus 8 is now upgraded to 5-megapixels.
I will be honest herer – the cameras are still the weakest part of this OnePlus phone. The main camera is good enough for most conditions but it falls behind the newer sensors found on the Xiaomi Mi 10 5G and the OnePlus 8 Pro. Even compared to the iPhone SE’s 12-megapixel camera, the bigger sensor lacks good tuning to make the most out of it.
In daylight, you get vibrant photos with good brightness and high levels of sharpness. I witnessed the traditional “OnePlus oversaturation of colors” in almost all the photos I took. However, most people like the look and feel of the photos the 8T takes, and OnePlus says it takes consumer feedback for its camera tuning. Hence, it is obliging to what its fans and customers want. I still wish there was a mode for users who want more natural color tones with realistic contrasts.
At night, the camera loses sharpness but keeps noise under control. Nightscape performs better than before and is able to shoot good looking photos when your eyes don’t see much. The ultrawide camera is just fine for taking photos under daylight but you do see a mismatch in the color tones, sharpness, and saturation when compared to the main camera. At night, I was unwilling to use it but the Nightscape mode still managed to offer useable photos, although lacking details and sharpness.
The portrait mode photos come out looking great, with excellent subject separation and ample details. Colors are enhanced with heightened contrasts most of the time. The 5-megapixel macro camera is average at best only in daylight. I could produce better macro shots using the main camera in any lighting condition. The 2-megapixel monochrome sensor is just a gimmick and it only activates in the B&W filter. The OnePlus 8T essentially has a dual-camera setup, with the other two being placeholders.
You can record up to 4K videos and 60 fps and in all these modes, I found the video quality to be impressive. The OIS makes for decent levels of stability and in the 1080p modes, the EIS kicks in to add an extra layer of handholding. In daylight, I found the videos to possess lively colors and good retention of details. Sadly, I did not get the chance to shoot a video at night.
The 16-megapixel selfie camera doesn’t offer many improvements when compared to the same on the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 8. It took good looking portraits in daylight and bright indoor lighting. However, as light levels fall, the details become softer. That said, selfie lovers will be fine with the camera performance on the 8T.
OnePlus is utilizing the twin-battery technology from Oppo to offer the 65W fast charging on the 8T. OnePlus claims 40 minutes of average time to fill up the battery from dead, which is slightly longer than the same on Oppo phones. It works as advertised and on the daily run, it comes across as extremely convenient to spend lesser time at the sockets. The Warp Charge 65 adapter now uses a USB-C to USB-C cable. Additionally, the 8T also supports 27W of fast charging with fast chargers of other make.
On the daily run, the OnePlus 8T easily lasted me more than a day. In fact, on days with moderate usage involving emailing, texting, social media browsing, and streaming music via wireless earphones, I was charging the phone after a day and a half. This was with the 120Hz refresh rate enabled. Once I involved light gaming and camera usage, I had to charge it every morning, although still having 30 percent juice. Not bad, eh?
Should you buy the OnePlus 8T?
The OnePlus 8T is an awesome phone by all means. Based on the time I spent with it, it falls in my list of the phones to “buy and recommend.” The refinements OnePlus made over the older OnePlus 8 are definitely worth the asking price of Rs 42,999. I love watching YouTube videos and browsing social media on this phone. I love playing games without lags on this one. I love the fact that I do not have to wait for an eternity to fill up the battery. I love the way it looks and feels in the hand.
That said, the OnePlus 8T isn’t perfect and as always, it due to the cameras. The aging hardware shows its weakness at times. It takes good looking photos and video most of the time – don’t get me wrong. But it is those few times when it falls flat when compared to the competition. Additionally, I would prefer OnePlus to give us a mode for shooting natural-looking photos. I guess GCam mods will come up soon for enthusiasts to push the cameras to their limits.
As a package, however, the OnePlus 8T is a solid phone for what it costs. It is fast, reliable and now looks elegant to flaunt. It is an easy recommendation for anyone seeking a value flagship, at least for now.