OnePlus 8T review – polished to a T but missing the X factor

OnePlus 8T is here and renders the OnePlus 8 obsolete now.

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I get the feeling that the OnePlus 8T has to be the most underhyped OnePlus phone in a long time. A lot of the lack of chatter can be attributed to the fact that OnePlus shoots itself in the foot by launching its T series phones around the launch of Apple’s next generation iPhone. This year, it is the iPhone 12 that launched a day earlier on October 13. Additionally, OnePlus’ return to the mid-range with the Nord in 2020 has probably exhausted people’s enthusiasm this year. 

But, as far as OnePlus’ half yearly refresh cycles go with the T series, the 8T has a very big role to play this year. Because, OnePlus has confirmed there is not going to be an 8T Pro this year. Moreover, the 8T has big shoes to fill considering it is replacing the ‘still’ excellent OnePlus 7T. Let’s review.

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Design – functionally good but not very unique

So, OnePlus has made a few visible changes to the design of the back panel. You get the phone in two colour options now – Aquamarine Green and Lunar Silver. The finish of the Aquamarine Green OnePlus 8T is different from that of the Glacial Green OnePlus 8 Pro. The 8T’s green variant has a glossy finish but OnePlus has managed to ensure that it doesn’t attract fingerprints easily. I like the finish. 

And, unlike the 8 and the 8 Pro that come with curved glass on the front, you get a flat panel. Therefore, the metal railing is thicker. That combined with the curved 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear makes it easier to grip. Yes, the 8T is slightly wider but it is far more ergonomic and comfortable to use compared to the 8 and the 8 Pro. As per the weight, it sits bang in between the lighter 8 and the heavier 8 Pro. 

The biggest design change, however, is the movement of the centrally-aligned vertical camera strip to the top left on the rear. It now looks like a whole bunch of Samsung phones launched this year with a rectangular camera cutout. While, this means, the design of the OnePlus 8T is not very unique, there are some functional advantages to it. It frees up space for a more efficient thermal performance and stronger connections to 4G and Wi-Fi networks. In fact, the 8T now has a vapour chamber inside for cooling the phone. I will talk about the performance in the performance section of the review. 

Also read: OnePlus 7T Review: Best OnePlus Phone For Most People

The rest of the design is your standard OnePlus affair. And I must say, I can’t get over the awesomeness of the alert slider ever. 

Display: a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED panel with no red flags

OnePlus has made the most changes to the display on the OnePlus 8T. You now get a higher refresh rate 6.55-inch 120Hz Fluid AMOLED flat panel. I genuinely prefer flat panels over curved ones because there is no fear of false touches. 

The first thing I noticed about the display is the new Chip-on-Panel (COP) technology employed by OnePlus. This is similar to the one used by the vivo X50 Pro. What this means is the chin is slimmer now. The extra screen estate is absolutely useful. The icing on the cake is the left-aligned punch-hole camera which gets out of your way when you use the phone. 

And, the other very tangible feature update is the 240Hz touch sampling rate. The display is extremely responsive to the touch and feels smoother than ever before. Plus, you get all of the extra perks such as HDR10+ support, DCI-P3 colour gamut with a low JNCD of 0.55, and Widevine L1 support. 

When displaying HDR10 content, the 8T’s display can hit a peak brightness of 1100nits. The visibility under direct sunlight is phenomenal. Now, I am sure a lot of folks must be wondering if there is any Black Crush or Green Tint issue on the 8T. I am happy to report that the display on my OnePlus 8T was blemish free. Even at the lowest brightness setting, the display didn’t have any Black Crush issue. However, I must say that the lowest brightness setting is brighter than most phones. 

Also read: vivo X50 Pro review

The haptic feedback on the OnePlus 8T is as good as the OnePlus 8 Pro. Which means, it is better than the OnePlus 8. And, the optical in-display fingerprint scanner is super fast at unlocking the phone. 

All things considered, this is one of the most gorgeous displays on a smartphone I’ve used in 2020. Period. 

Camera: has new features but still underwhelming

On the 8T, you get a quad camera setup now. The camera setup includes a primary camera with the same old 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor, a 16MP ultra-wide angle camera with an attached 123-degree super wide lens, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP monochrome camera. There’s also a 16MP camera on the front. You know what, let’s just find out how these cameras perform. 

  1. While I didn’t do a full comparison, I did shoot a couple of quick images to see how the primary cameras on the 8T compares to the 8 and the 8 Pro. And evidently, the IMX 686 on the OnePlus 8 Pro captures far more detailed shots. If you zoom in to the shelves on the bookshelf, you will know what I am talking about. The detail disparity is evident. However, the 8T is slightly sharper than the 8. 
  2. In low light shots, once again the 8 Pro just beats the other two RAW (all pun intended). Especially when you switch on nightscape mode, it is just leagues better. And, between the 8 and the 8T, the 8T has sharper nightscape shots. It is like OnePlus deliberately tuned the 8T to be better than the 8.
  3. Coming to the colour accuracy, the OnePlus 8T keeps it subdued for the most part. It is not a natural representation of the scene or anything but none of the colours are boosted to look unnatural. But yes, it does boost the colour of the Blue sky. And, as for the colour science parity, OnePlus has tried hard but the colours on the ultrawide sample and the main camera sample don’t match if you peer closely. Talking about the ultrawide camera, I really like the wider field-of-view now but it is not as sharp, though. 
  4. The 5MP Macro camera with autofocus is absolutely crisp and maintains the colours well too. It does look pretty impressive, I must say. 
  5. The 2MP monochrome camera helps you capture better black and white photos in tandem with the main camera. You get more details but I expected improved dynamic range but that is not really true.
  6. Now that we are on the topic of the dynamic range performance, I found it slightly underwhelming on the OnePlus 8T’s main camera. It tends to underexpose the darker portions and therefore crushing details in the shadows. 
  7. Selfies from the 16MP front camera do look good and crisp. In fact, I really liked the edge detection and the faux blur created by the portrait mode of the selfies. But yes, low light selfies tend to be soft and lack detail. The screen flash throws harsh white light on the face that tends to make it look very unnatural.
  8. Coming to the portraits from the rear camera, they look extremely sharp and offer very good portrait blur as well. What I’ve noticed is the 8T tends to make human subject shots look good. 
  9. You can shoot up to 4K 60fps video with electronic image stabilisation, which tends to crop the picture a lot. I also noticed some focus hunting but the colours were fine. But yes, the dynamic range performance should be better in 4K 30fps recording. 
  10. There’s a new Super Stable mode that tends to go beyond regular stabilisation but is limited to shooting only 1080p 30fps videos. It looks good but not so much that it makes me want to drop the resolution. Plus, I noticed some jitteriness while panning.
  11. However, I absolutely loved the best new feature of the phone’s camera. It is the new portrait video option that tops out at 1080p 30fps quality, though. The algo does a fantastic job of separating the human face from the background. It looks pretty good. You do, however, notice some flickering in the background. 
  12. I liked the ultra-wide angle video as well. You get good dynamic range and stabilisation at 4K 30fps. But yes, it does bring in a lot of noise in the shadows. 
  13. There’s a new Nightscape mode for video that does improve the noise in the darker portions of the picture but beyond that I couldn’t really tell the difference.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T’s camera is definitely an upgrade over the OnePlus 8, especially when you look at the cool new features. Plus image algorithms are slightly better too. However, it is still pretty underwhelming in many areas. And, if you actually want a great OnePlus camera, I’d suggest you pick up the OnePlus 8 Pro instead.

Software: I don’t mind the changes one bit

The OnePlus 8T comes with Oxygen OS 11 based on Android 11. I know that a lot of people are slightly miffed about the new design language and are complaining it looks too similar to OneUI. I don’t see the harm really. It looks very clean and makes one-handed usage very easy. I really like Oxygen OS 11. And, the best part is, I didn’t encounter a single bug this time compared to when I reviewed the OnePlus 7T.

Plus, there is literally no bloatware to speak of. The only pre-installed third-party app is Netflix and I would hardly call it bloat. In fact, OnePlus has replaced its very own Dialler and Messaging apps with Google’s solution. This trend started first with the OnePlus Nord and the company has no plans of changing that any time soon. Although, I am not really complaining. 

Let me list down the cool new features that I like in the Oxygen OS 11 and Android 11 combination:

  • The new Insight AOD looks very cool. 
  • I like the fact that the -1 page is a Google Feed.
  • The music player being embedded in the notifications shade looks damn cool. I know that is an Android 11 feature but it looks so clean. 
  • Another Android 11 feature imported is the fact that you can control all your iOT devices directly when you long press the power button. 

Oxygen OS 11 is actually pretty great and continues to be my favourite operating system on an Android phone. 

Performance and network quality: stupendously good, as usual

If you were expecting the OnePlus 8T to come with a SD865+ chipset then prepare to be disappointed. It actually comes with a SD865 chip, same as the one inside the 8 and the 8 Pro. But, OnePlus has bumped the storage speeds to UFS 3.1. And yes, in comparison to the OnePlus 8 Pro, the read/write scores on Androbench are faster as you can see on your screen. The AnTuTu and Geekbench scores are also almost on par with other SD865 phones. 

But here’s the thing, thanks to the new vapour chamber you get excellent sustained performance while gaming. The thermal efficiency is excellent too. I played Genshin Impact – which is my new game benchmark for Android phones by the way – for over 30 minutes at a stretch, at 60fps too, and the phone didn’t break a sweat. It didn’t cross 38 degrees in my testing, which is excellent. This game actually brings the Exynos 990-toting Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to its knees, so I am really satisfied with the performance on the OnePlus 8T. 

And, it goes without saying, the daily performance on the 8T is excellent too. 

If you like watching movies and TV shows on your phone, you are going to love the OnePlus 8T. Along with the gorgeous display, the stereo speakers sound great too. Plus, it does a good job if you use a pair of Bluetooth headphones as well. And, you can leverage the Dolby Atmos setting for great audio quality. 

I used the 8T in Gurugram with an Airtel 4G connection and it was rock solid throughout. Plus, the call quality through the earpiece is pretty loud and clear too. 

Battery life: high refresh rate makes a dent

The OnePlus 8T comes with a 4500mAh battery and a new and upgraded Warp Charge 65 charging tech. While that is excellent and reduces charging times drastically, we’ve seen all of it before. In fact, you now get 65W charging on the Realme 7 Pro and that costs under Rs 20,000. Anyway, OnePlus claims that this new Warp Charge 65 tech can charge the phone from 0 to 100 in 39 minutes. In my testing, where I ran the charging test thrice, I got an average charging time of 46 minutes with screen on. Still pretty good. 

Now, coming to battery life. I was slightly disappointed. The OnePlus 8 has excellent battery life but the same is not true for the 8T. I used the phone at 120Hz, without AOD on, and I got only around 5 hours of screen-on-time on more than 4 battery runs. This is not bad but it is not good either. You can expect a day’s worth of battery life from it, though. 

Should you buy the OnePlus 8T?

The OnePlus 8T is definitely a good upgrade over the OnePlus 8, except for the battery life. But yes, the OnePlus 8 Pro does offer IP certification, wireless charging, and far better cameras for more money. Now, if you don’t want to spend too much for a OnePlus 8 Pro, and are worried about the display issues of the phone, then the OnePlus 8T could very well be the best OnePlus phone of 2020. 

Having said that, the landscape is far more competitive now. Especially with Samsung introducing phones such as the S10 Lite, Note 10 Lite and the S20 FE. Plus you get affordable iPhones now such as the iPhone SE 2020, iPhone XR, and the iPhone 11. And then, there are other good alternatives like Xiaomi’s excellent Mi 10. Let’s not forget the Mi 10T Pro is also just around the corner. 

Therefore, OnePlus’ latest flagship cannot be the outright winner here anymore. It is genuinely lacking the X factor now.  Which, in my opinion, could be a cause of concern for the brand. No wonder then, the brand now has renewed focus on making budget and mid-range phones. 

But, as a customer, if you do end up buying the OnePlus 8T, you are bound to love the experience. And, that’s what matters at the end of the day doesn’t it?

What do you guys think? Do let me know in the comments section below. 

 

OnePlus 8T

Rs 42,999
8.6

Design and build quality

8.5/10

Display quality

9.0/10

Camera quality

7.5/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

10.0/10

Battery performance

7.5/10

Value for money

9.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Crazy fast and smooth
  • Ergonomic design
  • Good display
  • Feature rich cameras
  • Blazing fast charging speed

What Is Bad?

  • Average battery life
  • Cameras capture average pictures

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