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OnePlus 8T review: Good device, but doesn't steal the show

The OnePlus 8T is a great phone in its own right and worth every penny that it demands.

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T (HT Tech)

Product: OnePlus 8T

Key specs: 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 865, 48MP primary camera, 16MP front camera, 4,500mAh battery with Warp Charge 65 fast charger

Price: 42,900

Rating: 4/5

OnePlus is a name that pops up in every conversation involving a ‘good’ Android phone. Over the years, the company has created a name for itself among the people who are looking for mid-range Android phones that, despite being easy on the pocket, offer premium performance. Keeping up with this trend, OnePlus recently launched the OnePlus 8T, the company’s fourth smartphone for 2020.

The OnePlus 8T sits comfortably between the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro that was launched back in April this year. In terms of features, it has the best of both worlds...err...phones. Then there are features that are unique to it. For instance, it has OnePlus 8’s 6.55-inch display and OnePlus 8 Pro’s 120Hz display (OnePlus 8 has a 90Hz display). The OnePlus 8T also has a 48MP primary camera, like the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, but it uses the same sensor that is present in the former, that is, Sony IMX586.

The point of difference, however, is the battery and the charger. The OnePlus 8 features a 4,300mAh battery, the OnePlus 8 Pro features 4,510mAh battery. Both these phones come with Warp Charge 30T fast charging technology. By contrast, the OnePlus 8T comes with a 4,500mAh battery with Warp Charge 65 fast charging technology. Needless to say that it is faster than the marginally older OnePlus 8 series smartphones.

Now, the question is: Is OnePlus 8T any good? Is it worth all the money it is asking for? And what is so special about it?

Design

The OnePlus 8T measures 16.07x7.41x0.84cms and it weighs 188grams. This is marginally heavier and bigger than the OnePlus 8 that measures 16.02x7.29x0.8cm and weighs 180grams but lighter and smaller than the OnePlus 8 Pro that measures 16.53x7.43x0.85cm and weighs 199grams.

Numbers aside, the OnePlus 8T is comfortable to hold and work with even when you are using it with a single hand. The issue with a lot of Android phones these days is that they are slightly wider, which makes it difficult to be used by people with small hands like mine. Unlike those phones, the OnePlus 8T sits comfortably in the palm of my hand such that I was able to perform almost all tasks like tweaking controls, scrolling through social media and using other apps easily with just my thumb.

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T (HT Tech)

That said, it does lean towards the heavier side of phones. Sure, it is lighter than the OnePlus 8 Pro, but the OnePlus 8T is heavy in its own right. While I didn’t feel the weight during the everyday usage, it did weigh down on the back pocket of my jeans, especially with the silicone cover that ships inside the box.

Coming to the front of the phone, the OnePlus 8T has an AMOLED display in the front along with a punch-hole display that is placed on the left side of the screen. More on that later. It has an earpiece on the top that is carefully hidden inside the phone’s top bezels. On the back, the OnePlus 8T is all glass with Corning Gorilla Glass protection. It has a quad-rear camera setup with dual-LED flash that is placed vertically on the left side of the back inside a black-coloured camera module.

Admittedly, the back of the phone looks gorgeous. The Aquamarine Green (the colour variant that I used) on the back looks absolutely stunning. What I like about the back of the is the sheer simplicity and cleanliness of the design, which I might add is accentuated by the phone’s colour. What acts as a cherry on top is the fact is that unlike a lot of phones with a glass back, this one doesn’t attract fingerprints. Besides, I did mention there is a silicon cover that ships with the phone.

On the left side, it has a long-ish button that can be used for controlling the phone’s volume. And on the right side, it has a slider button that can be used for snapping the phone to either ringer, vibrate or silent modes. Right under the slider button, there is another button that can be used to turn the phone (or the display) on or off. At the bottom, it has a dual nano-SIM card slot. This sits right next to the USB Type-C port that can be used for charging. This can also be used to plug in USB Type-C headphones. There are two microphones that sit right next to the USB Type-C port. And in case you weren’t certain, no, you don’t get that headphone jack.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T looks good and is comfortable to use.

Display

The OnePlus 8T comes with a 6.55-inch AMOLED display with a screen refresh rate of 120Hz. It offers a resolution of 2,400x1080 pixels, an aspect ratio of 20:9 and a peak brightness of 402ppi. By comparison, the OnePlus 8 comes with a similar display but with a 90Hz refresh rate. The OnePlus 8 Pro, on the other hand, comes with a bigger 6.78-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 3,168x1,440 pixels and a 120Hz display. It’s like I said, best of both worlds.

Specifications aside, the screen of the OnePlus 8T is one of the phone’s standout features. It is optimum in size, comfortable to use and it produces vivid colours.

The OnePlus 8T comes with a 120Hz display. What this does, compared to other smartphones with plain and simple 60Hz display, is that it makes the phone feel silk smooth while being used. Whether you are endlessly scrolling through your social media feed, deleting tons of emails, playing games like Temple Run (you can judge me for that later!), the phone’s response time is extremely fast and efficient.

What adds to this experience is the phone’s colour reproduction. If you have been working from home during the pandemic, you must have gotten adept at watching videos (music or even TV shows) simultaneously while working like me (sorry boss, please don’t kill me!).

During my time with the OnePlus 8T, I have watched everything right from dark (literally) and twisty vampire shows to bright and light travel shows while working. This gave me a dynamic range of colours to test the performance of the display in and I must say, never for once did the OnePlus 8T disappoint me. Even while stepping in the meek sunlight, which happens rarely these days, OnePlus 8T’s adaptive display lit up the screen. The colours of this phone are sharp and always on point.

Another feature that I like about the OnePlus 8T is its customisable Always on Display. Unlike a number of other Android smartphones that offer the old and repetitive version of this feature, the OnePlus 8T offers a customisable version of the ever-so-helpful Always-on-Display. You can pick the 24-hour time style, or simple day and 12-hour time style that is stacked towards the left, or a clock or something with a little bit of more colour. I picked the 12-hour time style for its big, bold and simple style.

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T (HT Tech)

Camera

The OnePlus 8T comes with a quad-rear camera setup with dual-LED flash that is stacked vertically towards the left in a rectangular camera module. This camera module contains a 48MP primary camera with Sony IMX586 sensor, which is the same as the one available on the OnePlus 8. The OnePlus 8 Pro, on the other hand, uses a Sony IMX689 sensor.

The phone has a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens, a 5MP macro lens and a 2MP monochrome lens. The OnePlus 8, by comparison, has a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens and a 2MP macro lens. The OnePlus 8 Pro, on the other hand, has an 8MP telephoto lens, which remains missing in the OnePlus 8T, a 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 5MP colour filter lens.

Put together, the OnePlus 8T performs well under most circumstances. It captures sharp images both in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions. Photos taken with both the primary and the ultra-wide-angle cameras are sharp, especially when clicked in well-lit situations. There is ample depth and detailing and the colours are equally vibrant. While the monochrome lens can’t really be used for clicking images, the 5MP macro lens helps capture close up shots with all the details with ease.

What I particularly like about the rear camera setup of the OnePlus 8T is its low-light photography skills. It snaps crystal clear Insta-worthy images full of depth and details in the evening light. Using Nightscape only makes the images better. It’s almost magical. The real magic, however, happens at night when there is barely any light around. While the OnePlus 8T pulls off good images in regular shooting mode, using Nightscape makes the scene come alive. And this it does without adding noise to the image.

While I am all praises for the rear camera setup, the front camera isn’t as impressive. The images are clear and they have ample depth and detail, but the colours aren’t vibrant enough. Things aren’t any different in case of the images clicked in low-light settings either.

Performance

Talking about the performance, the OnePlus 8T is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset and the Adreno 650 GPU. These are the same chips that power both the OnePlus 8 smartphones. In terms of the space, the OnePlus 8T, just like the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, comes with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage space. If you have gotten your hands on either one of the OnePlus 8 series smartphones and you know how they feel, the OnePlus 8T won’t feel any different.

It’s fast and it never falters. Whether you are browsing endlessly through your social media feed trying to cure your boredom, juggling between apps while working, watching videos or playing games. It’s fast, flawlessly smooth and almost addictive.

The OnePlus 8T runs on Android 11 out-of-the-box based OxygenOS. With this setup, you get a bunch of interesting features, such as the customizable Always-on-Display mode, which I had mentioned before. You also get a native Note app along with the Zen Mode, which lets you take a break from your digital life. This mode comes in addition to Google’s Digital Wellbeing features. What I found interesting is the Zen Mode apart from the regular timer comes with a group mode in which you can use this feature with a select bunch of friends. While that may not make sense to a lot of people, including me, it may help a lot of people to...well...achieve unified goals.

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T (HT Tech)

As far as the battery is concerned, the OnePlus 8T comes with a 4,500mAh battery, which is slightly bigger than OnePlus 8’s 4,300mAh battery but slightly smaller than OnePlus 8 Pro’s 4,510mAh battery. Technicalities aside, the OnePlus 8T is a solid performer in terms of the battery. On an average workday, which involved checking emails and social media, texting and calling throughout the day and watching videos simultaneously for a good four to five hours, the battery lasted for a little over a day. And on the lazy weekends, which mostly involved watching videos for the better part of the day and texting occasionally, the phone came to provide almost two days of run time.

While this is good, what’s even better is its charging capabilities. The OnePlus 8T comes with Warp Charge 65 technology, which makes it extremely fast at juicing up the phone. It charges the phone to nearly 80% in just 30 minutes and it goes from 0 to 100% in around 40 mins, which sure saves a lot of time. What I feel could have added more punch to the entire charging tech of the phone is wireless charging technology. In its absence, the phone feels one step short of greatness.

Beyond these features, the OnePlus 8T comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is extremely efficient at its job. It works flawlessly without a single hiccup each time. What I like about it is that it takes a fraction of a second to unlock the phone using the fingerprint sensor. In practice, it feels almost instantaneous.

The audio of the phone, however, is a different tale. Sure, it is loud but it’s also quite unimpressive. Remember I said that I keep watching videos throughout the day? Well, a lot of those videos are music videos. While the phone is loud enough to be used as a speaker in a cosy get-together, the sound isn’t clear at all and it just gets pitchy as the volume goes up, which I certainly am not a fan of.

Now, you can blame it on the video quality or the internet connectivity but the situation remains unchanged even when you stream music from a music streaming app, which for me was Amazon Music. Safe to say that external factors are not to be blamed in this case.

Conclusion

Now the million-dollar question: Is the OnePlus 8T worth buying? Well, the answer to that question isn’t as simple as there are several key points to factor in here. Let’s start with the pros.

The OnePlus 8T has a great design. It is simple yet stylish and extremely comfortable to hold. The display of the phone is equally impressive. It’s bright, vibrant and smooth. Similarly, the camera does a great job too particularly, if you are looking for a phone with impressive night photography skills. The battery and biometric security of the phone get an equally big thumbs up.

Now the cons.

The OnePlus 8T lacks an IP rating. The front camera isn’t as impressive as the rear camera. It lacks wireless charging technology and the phone’s audio is a flop. Admittedly, these are not dealbreakers. The pros easily outweigh the cons and the cons for most parts can be easily ignored. But an interesting question here is: what exactly is OnePlus trying to achieve with this phone?

The OnePlus 8T sits between the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8T both in terms of the price and in terms of the specifications. In fact, it shares a lot of features with its slightly older siblings, case in point - the RAM and the storage space. And in case of the factors where it does differ, the difference isn’t exactly that noticeable, which makes it sort of redundant.

I get that the phone does carry a certain allure as it takes people one step closer to the OnePlus 8 Pro, without crossing the 50K threshold, but again, the difference aside from the price, isn’t that much. That said, the OnePlus 8T is a great phone in its own right and worth every penny that it demands.

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