As we head into 2021, we look forward to the democratization of foldable smartphones. We expect them to get more affordable and efficient at the same time. But until then let’s talk about regular phones – the good old slabs of glass, metal, and silicon that rely more on refinements rather than fancy out-of-the-box innovations. Some might consider them ‘boring,’ but there are devices that are taking the regular smartphone experience to the next level. One such device is the OnePlus 8T. I first unboxed it a couple of days after the launch in October, and since then it has grown on me. Fast forward to two months later, the OnePlus 8T is a regular device but a spectacular one.
Designed to last
The OnePlus 8T rocks a glass front and back that is baked into an aluminum frame on the sides. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the curved display is gone, and is replaced by the flat counterpart. In my opinion, this makes the user experience better since there is no side glare while looking at the screen and it is less prone to shattering if you drop the phone. The device itself isn’t bulky as it weighs 188 grams, and it fits well in the hand. I’ve been using the iPhone 12 alongside this, and I’ve got to admit that the curved edges are much nicer to have.
While the OnePlus 8T comes in two color options: Lunar Silver and Aquamarine Green, our unit had the latter colorway. It has a glossy finish but fingerprints aren’t a problem. I’ve been using this phone without a case since it is so comfortable to hold and beautiful to look at, and I’m glad to report that it doesn’t get scratched easily. It is one of the few devices that I can recommend using without a case.
On the back, the camera module has been shifted to the upper left corner from the middle on the OnePlus 8. Other buttons including the volume rockers and power button lie at their usual places where they are comfortably within reach and provide clicky tactile feedback. There is an alert slider above the power button on the right edge. At the bottom lies the SIM-tray, USB-C port, and the speaker.
A joy to view content on
The OnePlus 8T comes equipped with a 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED display with Full-HD+ resolution. It also gets a bump in refresh rate – 120Hz from 90Hz – and the touch sampling rate has been pushed from 180Hz to 240Hz on the latest device. In my experience, these numbers translate to an amazingly smooth overall experience. Now, here’s something you should know if on-paper refresh rate numbers matter a lot to you. If you’ve been using a phone with a 90Hz such as the OnePlus 8, the added 30Hz refresh rate figure doesn’t really translate to a huge difference while using the OnePlus 8T’s display on a day-to-day basis. However, it definitely comes into play while consuming content, especially games that support high FPS gameplay and can take advantage of the high refresh rate panel.
The display houses a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera at the top-left corner, which is minimal and doesn’t come in the way of viewing content. The display is HDR10+ certified as well. It is a sharp and vibrant screen. The colors pop, and you’ll enjoy watching your favorite TV series or playing Genshin Impact on this.
The OnePlus 8T is crazy smooth
OnePlus 8T is powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC, which is the same as the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8. The Qualcomm chip ticks alongside 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage onboard. It also comes in a 256GB variant. Notably, the RAM used here is LPDDR4X and not LPDDR5 which is used in the 8 Pro model. However, the storage has received an upgrade to UFS 3.1 from UFS 3.0 on the OnePlus 8.
In my two months of usage, I’ve never experienced a lag or stutter in the UI or while opening and closing an app. The performance is crazy smooth! I played Asphalt 9, which ran smoothly with consistent frame rates. You shouldn’t face any problems while gaming on this device. Further, the stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos only enhance the experience. They are loud and clear. I enjoy playing music while doing the dishes, and I love the speakers on the OnePlus 8T. They are room-filling, especially in cold weather when there is relatively lesser ambient sound like that of a fan running.
The phone features an in-display fingerprint sensor, which works without issues. There is also an option for face unlock, which is fast but might not be as secure as the fingerprint sensor. Furthermore, the phone comes with 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and NFC. The earpiece located in the slim top bezel is clear as well. There’s not much to dislike here.
Optimized to last long
Without wasting your time, I’ll tell you this – The OnePlus 8T has a solid battery life, which will easily last you an entire day. In my usage, it never had a day where the device ran out of juice within a day. Even if it does, there is support for the amazing Warp Charge 65. It charges the 4,500mAh battery up to 15% in 17 minutes, and up to 85% within 28 minutes. It charges to 100% within 40 minutes.
However, coming from the OnePlus 8 Pro, I do miss wireless charging here. My use case includes browsing, a lot of social media dodging between Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, using Telegram, occasional gaming, and camera usage. If that sounds like a familiar smartphone usage pattern to you, I can assure you that the OnePlus 8T will last you an entire day on a single charge.
Not all is good
The OnePlus 8T sports a quad rear camera setup. There is a 48MP Sony IMX586 optically stabilized sensor, which is a bit old. It’s the same sensor used in the OnePlus 7 series as well as the OnePlus Nord. Additionally, the smartphone comes with a 16MP ultra-wide-angle shooter that has a 123-degree field of view, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP monochrome sensor. Further, there’s a 16MP selfie shooter.
In bright daylight, the OnePlus 8T captures detailed images with HDR implemented very well. The pictures aren’t oversaturated, the dynamic range is very good and there’s a good amount of detail. That said, portrait mode could be better since it misses out on natural skin tones at times.
At night, it captures decent images, thanks to Nightscape. Switching to the ultra-wide camera, the details are less but not drastically different. It captures good colors, and the temperature difference isn’t as drastic as we saw on the OnePlus 8 Pro (review). In my experience, the autofocus was quick.
However, the story remains the same with the 5MP macro camera. It doesn’t capture a lot of details, and the pictures could look a little washed out as well. As for the 2MP monochrome sensor, it wasn’t of much use to me.
Coming to the front camera, it’s been improved a lot over the OnePlus 8 series, which captured soft and low-detailed selfie images. Daylight selfies have plenty of details while the portrait mode at times messes the background blur. On the front camera, there’s no Nightscape to help you in low light either.
The OnePlus 8T can shoot 4K 30fps videos and switch between the primary and ultra-wide-angle cameras. While the quality is very good in daylight, I noticed a lot of shimmers as well as warping. Coming to the front, the 16MP camera can shoot videos at 1080p with no stabilization.
I hope the rumors of the OnePlus and Leica partnership come true and we can get a much more improved camera setup on the OnePlus 9 series.
The most-likeable is not always perfect
The OnePlus 8T runs OxygenOS 11. In fact, it was one of the first devices to come with Android 11 out of the box. I must admit that I was skeptical of the changes when I first used OxygenOS 11 in beta on my OnePlus 8 Pro, but like the phone, the OS has grown on me. The UI might remind some of Samsung’s OneUI, especially the system apps like Settings. t includes is a bold typeface at the top and large icons that make it easier to view information.
While it is getting a lot of criticism saying OnePlus is going away from its roots of “stock Android”, I appreciate the company for trying something new. I like the new changes. I like my clock telling me in big, bold letters that I’ve switched off the alarm and not hit on the snooze button.
There’s the all-new Always-on display (AOD) as well. There’s the option to schedule it or have it enabled throughout the day. Further, there are 12 clock faces that can be implemented on the AOD. One of the clock faces is Insight style, which changes dynamically as you use the phone. The longer the usage, the wider the groove.
Even the most likable stuff has its own limitations, and Oxygen OS 11 has some too. While OnePlus has pushed out several updates to the phone, switching between dark mode and light mode (automatically with sunset and sunrise) is finicky. For instance, have a calendar widget on my homescreen, which switches between dark and light modes as well. Almost always it changes the background but forgets to change the text color, and I’m stuck with white font on a white background and vice versa. It goes away if you switch months but it is irritating. However, it is easily fixable with an update.
OnePlus 8T is an easy recommendation but there’s fierce competition
With a gorgeous display, an amazing performance, a long-lasting battery life with 65W fast charging capabilities, and a snappy UI, the OnePlus 8T is an easy recommendation at INR 42,999. But it faces fierce competition in its segment. The Mi 10T Pro (review) is one of the best value flagships out there, and it undercuts the price of the OnePlus 8T. On the other hand, there is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE that comes with additional features like wireless charging and IP rating. At the end of the day, it’s about where your priorities lie.