OnePlus 8T Review : Around the curve and back on track

Chris Burns - Oct 14, 2020, 9:43am CDT
3
OnePlus 8T Review : Around the curve and back on track
Editors' Rating: 9/10
Pros
  • Bright, sharp, colorful display (flat, too!)
  • Display 120Hz image refresh rate
  • Fast wired charging (with included charger)
  • Simple software with great potential for advance users
  • Cameras capture great photos in most conditions
Cons
  • Punch hole seems like less of a problem with a flat display
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 5G limited to N41, N78, N79 (no mmWave)

This is the official OnePlus 8T review as conducted by SlashGear. The OnePlus 8T may not agree with you if you’ve become accustomed to living the “Pro” smartphone life. Over the past few years, smartphones with “premium” features have clobbered our pocketbooks and looked to capitalize on the latest trends in “new for the sake of newness” in ways I’ve not been particularly pumped about. With the OnePlus 8T, it feels to me that OnePlus has returned from a brief stint of wild indulgence in over-the-top flashy features – back, here, to a place where the company’s delivered a smartphone that’s solid for all the right reasons.

The right reasons

Over the past few OnePlus smartphone releases, the company’s participated in some of the most visually obvious trends in hardware. They moved their front-facing camera to a notch. They moved their front-facing camera to a pop-up mechanism. They moved their front-facing camera to a circular cut-out in the display.

OnePlus removed their 3.5mm standard headphone jack, and they participated in the significantly curved front display panel glass trend. They’ve released phones with display aspect ratios that were very, very tall (or long, however you want to look at it). They’ve gone ahead and implemented some of the most spectacular spectrum-of-colors backside panels for their phones.

The OnePlus 7T was a fine device, but the water drop front-facing camera made the experience feel sub-par. The OnePlus 8 was great in almost every way, but the curved glass made the edges of the display feel like wasted space. The OnePlus 8 Pro also had a curved-edge display, but a longer body – which ended up being a tiny bit wasted in apps that don’t consider the less-common aspect ratio.

With the OnePlus Nord (the first one, the international release from July, 2020), we saw a solid phone with some compromises. The design was fantastic, the phone seemed to be a winner, but the device wasn’t made available for sale inside the USA.

Nothing was so wrong with these devices that I considered them unworthy of their prices. OnePlus is very good at creating smartphones that I’d be hard-pressed to recommend against. As such, it’s exciting to see, with the OnePlus 8T, that they’ve delivered an experience that’s done away with all of my most nit-picking gripes about the most recent several generations of devices.

Display and Performance

Gone are the unnecessary flashy features like curved glass and pop-up cameras. Here for the betterment of the experience are the best additions to the line: 120Hz image refresh rate, a flat display panel, and a punch-hole front-facing camera design (with all the software options that allow it to remain hidden if you wish, and unobtrusive most of the time).

This device has a 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED display with 2400 x 1080 pixels (that’s 402PPI). The display has a 20:9 aspect ratio and support for sRGB, Display P3 tech, and is covered with a pane of Corning Gorilla Glass.

There’s also a pane of Gorilla Glass on the back along with a very wild, yet soothing, shade of Aquamarine. There’s also a Silver version that’ll be available at launch. The edges of the device, buttons, switch, and accents are all slightly different tones in the Aquamarine family.

Under the hood you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G modem as well as an Adreno 650 GPU. There’ll be at least two iterations of the device, one with 8GB RAM/ 128GB internal storage, the other with 12GB RAM/ 256GB internal storage. RAM is LPDDR4X, while storage is provided with UFS 3.1 tech.

Up front is an in-display Fingerprint Sensor that works exceedingly well, at least as well as previously-released OnePlus devices. This isn’t always true of in-display fingerprint sensors – some don’t fare very well if they’ve not been implemented well – this is one of the best in-display fingerprint sensors we’ve tested.

There’s an Ambient Light Sensor up front, proximity sensor, flicker-detect sensor, and several sensors inside. There’s an accelerometer, electronic compass, gyroscope, and Sensor Core. Exclusive to the North American version of this smartphone, there’s also a barometer sensor.

Software Experience

With the OnePlus 8T you’ve got a smartphone that’s as solid as any Samsung phone, without the overzealous push of company-branded software. OnePlus doesn’t seem to be pushing nearly as hard as either Samsung or Apple to get you, their patron, locked in to their brand ecosystem.

The most “pure” Android experience remains Google’s own, with their Pixel smartphone lineup. But even Google’s gone a bit off when it comes to attempting to lock their users in – a bit more than they’ve always been with Gmail and Google Photos and whatnot…

OnePlus doesn’t seem to be pushing as hard as Google, Apple, Huawei and Samsung to be a do-everything company that grows with your dependence on their services. OnePlus might well be the future of the non-subscription smartphone market if the industry continues down the path it’s on right this minute.

OnePlus 8T was released in October of 2020 with Android 11 and Oxygen OS 11 right out the gate. At the moment, it would seem that the OnePlus 8T will get 2 major software OS upgrades (so we’re probably talking Android 12 and Android 13), as well as 3 years of security updates.

The speakers on this device aren’t forward-facing, but they do the trick. Audio in this device supports Dolby Atmos, and we’ve got haptic vibration to boot. Vibration on this device seems to be the same quality it was on the OnePlus 8 Pro – more than good enough.

Camera

The camera array on the OnePlus 8T looks extravagant, but doesn’t really provide any sort of features that are going to blow your socks off or… let you see through semitransparent materials… The camera will, however, allow you to capture some impressive bits of media.

There’s a 48-megapixel main camera on the back of the OnePlus 8T with a Sony IMX586 sensor, f/1.7 aperture, and 0.8um pixel size. This camera works with EIS and OIS for the stabilization of all your image and video capture. There’s also a 16-megapixel camera with a 123-degree field of view for ultra-wide angle photos. That camera has an f/2.2 aperture and works with a Sony IMX481 sensor.

There’s also a dedicated 2-megapixel monochrome lens, and a 5-megapixel macro camera with a focal length of 3cm. Important to note, here, is the fact that when you’re capturing photos in macro, you’re truly getting a 2MP photo, not a 48MP photo magically sharpened by the macro lens. The same is true of the monochrome photos – 5MP max.

Each of the various lenses has produced fine – if not great – results in our tests with the device. While we would, for example, love to have as high-definition as possible for macro photography, this device does the trick for hobbyist captures, for sure.

Above and below you’ll see examples of what the OnePlus 8T is capable of capturing with its back-facing camera array. Let us know if there are any other environments or specific setups you’d like us to try with the camera array on this device, and we’ll see what we can do!

Battery

The battery in the OnePlus 8T is 4500mAh in capacity, and it is non-removable. The battery can be charged with OnePlus’ own Warp Charge 65 Fast Charging (10V/6.5A) charger, which is included in the box.

NOTE: The photograph above shows the OnePlus 8T inside the official OnePlus 8T protective case I’ve been using for the duration of this review. This case will be limited edition, similar to the vast majority of protective cases made by OnePlus for OnePlus smartphones. This case also appears in the photo above, in the “Display and Performance” section just below the paragraph that ends with a mention of Corning Gorilla Glass.**

Because of various battery life-aimed optimizations present in this device, I’ve hot had an easy time of testing the phone’s maximum battery life – while using the phone for my average, everyday activities. That’d include checking email several times a day, social networking apps more times than I’d care to admit, and the reading of the tech news in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night.

While this device does have an AMOLED panel, and does run at 120Hz image refresh rate, it’s surprisingly conservative when it comes to battery drain. If I turn the brightness up to max and do nothing but play video games non-stop, this phone still delivers hours of wireless play.

Wrap-up

The OnePlus 8T is a masterpiece of a smartphone. The OnePlus 8T persists in delivering the positive features found in the last several OnePlus smartphones we’ve reviewed here on SlashGear at the same time as it does away with the few negative elements present in those same devices. If you’re looking for a new smartphone that’s more than just the basics, but won’t annihilate your wallet, the OnePlus 8T is a good candidate.

The OnePlus 8T had a pre-order date of October 14, 2020, at 11AM ET. The full OnePlus 8T release date was October 23, 2020, and the price was the same regardless of which launch iteration with Amazon. The OnePlus 8T price was $749 USD ($1,099 CAD) at launch with 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage.

This device was made available at launch in Aquamarine Green (that’s the color you see in this review,) and Lunar Silver. This device will also be available from T-Mobile USA with very similar pricing and release dates.

**OnePlus released a variety of accessories for the OnePlus 8T at launch, including a 65w charger for $34.99, a screen protector for approximately $30, and a set of cases. The phone comes with a screen protector pre-installed, and you DO get a charger in the box (with a USB-C cord, too). There’s a Karbon case for around $40, a Sandstone case for $25, and the case you see above (my favorite) the Cyborg Cyan for $35 USD.


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