Such is the speed and accuracy of OnePlus smartphone launches through the year, every year, that you are never really too far away from the next OnePlus phone launch. That is a good thing, and a bad thing. Mostly a good thing, because it is choices aplenty for customers. Bad, because that can be equally confusing at some stage. Nevertheless, the bandwagon keeps rolling on and the year that has already seen the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord, now gives us the OnePlus 8T. The logical successor to the OnePlus 8.
The OnePlus 8T is priced at Rs 42,999 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage option and Rs 45,999 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant. Straightaway, there are significant upgrades compared with the OnePlus 8, and not just a new design language. The OnePlus 8T gets a 120Hz display, which is genuine upgrade over the 90Hz display of the OnePlus 8. The OnePlus 8T also gets the upgrade from the Warp Charge 30T to the even faster Warp Charge 65. There is also the quad camera setup at the back, which is more than the triple cameras that the OnePlus 8 has. Interestingly enough, the OnePlus 8T also gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chugging away under the hood, the same processor which also does diligent duty in the OnePlus 8. It will up to you, as in how important the fourth camera sensor is or how critical is the faster charging, which will decide whether the OnePlus 8T is an incremental update over the OnePlus 8, or more than that.
A Dash Of Green And A Somewhat New Design Language
There is a new colorway in town, and it is called Aquamarine Green. That has to be the single biggest distinguishing factor, at first glance, for the OnePlus 8T. At the front, the OnePlus 8T carries forward the sort of resemblance that is undeniable for OnePlus phones. Alternatively, flip the phone over and the redesigned camera module and its placement at the back is the big design change. To be honest, I quite liked the central camera placement of the predecessor, but then again, that’s just a subjective thing. To be fair, it is important to understand OnePlus’ perspective on this. By moving the camera module, a bit to the side, they got access to real estate inside the phone that allowed them to further optimize cooling and also the antennas for network connectivity. These are changes that you will appreciate when the phone heats up that much lesser as you play a game or when you are able to send an email attachment even when the 4G network is dodgy.
There is Gorilla Glass at the front and the back for added protection against accidental dings and slips, and the very slight curve on the spines just goes well with the contours of the hand as you hold the phone. The OnePlus 8T weighs 188 grams, which is at par for a phone with a large 6.55-inch display.
The OnePlus 8T has gained a bit of girth compared to the OnePlus 8, and it is very slightly taller, wider and thicker in comparison. At 160.7mm x 74.1mm x 8.4mm, this is a very pocketable phone and comfortable to use—and just 0.5mm taller, 1.2mm wider and 0.4mm thicker. It is just that the combination of these generational changes means the cases of OnePlus 8 will not work with the OnePlus 8T. Minor observation, but just had to put it out there. Not that it really makes any difference.
I have to come back to the OnePlus 8T’s Aquamarine Green colour. It genuinely adds freshness to the overall scheme of things, much like what OnePlus had tried and succeeded with the Blue Marble finish on the OnePlus Nord. Even though it is a matte finish in many ways, this finish does a very subtle diffused reflection of the light that falls on it. Sometimes it looks a bit like light blue, and sometimes an even lighter shade of green. That being said, fingerprints still remain very visible on the glass at the back, and you will have to wipe it regularly to retain the pristine clean look.
Yet another OnePlus phone that doesn’t have the formal IP ratings for dust and water resistance. Here and now, that is one of those essentials on a spec sheet, with phone purchases that aren’t exactly budget phones. However, OnePlus says the phone has water and dust resistance even without an IP rating, and you can be rest assured that a sharp shower will not damage your OnePlus 8T.
In Tune With The Times, at 120Hz
What has not changed between the OnePlus 8T and the OnePlus 8 is the display size. It is still the 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED with the 2400 x 1080 resolution. There are more similarities, with the support for sRGB and Display P3 colour standards. However, that is where things get a serious upgrade in the OnePlus 8T’s display. The 120Hz refresh rate makes a world of difference, now that our eyes have seen it. The OnePlus 8 had to make do with 90Hz, which while more than 60Hz, doesn’t visually cut it since you know that there is something called 120Hz out there in smartphones. It is as much a visual upgrade as it is something that sits actively in the back of your mind.
This display is what OnePlus calls the FHD+ 2.5D flexible Flowscape, and there are hardware as well as software improvements. For instance, this display is 28% thinner than the predecessor, and can clock up 1,100 nits of brightness. OnePlus also says that this screen has reduced the emission of the harmful blue light by 40%, which will be great news for you if you use the phone a lot, right up to the time your head hits the pillow. While OnePlus doesn’t specifically say which Corning Gorilla Glass is being used in the OnePlus 8T, let us remind you that the OnePlus 8 had the Gorilla Glass 5.
There is no doubt that at 120Hz, everything that you see and scroll through just looks better. And smoother. And slicker. Videos, games, web pages and the interface in general all look significantly better than 60Hz. There is no doubt that this is a bright screen, though you’ll not get a rude shock because it doesn’t assault your eyes with illumination like some other phones, such as some LG Android phones. Outdoors in the fairly bright late summer sunlight and under a gorgeous Dyson Lightcycle at its brightest setting, this screen remained the most comfortable to use. With the Dark Mode enabled, even the parts of the interface with the black backdrop didn’t get overshadowed by reflections. Add really good colour reproduction to that, and you have a smartphone display that effortlessly ticks off the checklist.
Those who like to read a lot on their phone screen may want to try the new Chromatic effect reading mode that arrives with the OnePlus 8T. You can select apps which will trigger the reading mode setting. The display will automatically switch to the reading mode you select when you open the predefined app and seamlessly transition out when you close it.
More Of The Same With Performance But OxygenOS 11 Makes It Better Too
OnePlus have stuck with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 instead of going for the Snapdragon 865+ chip. The costs are no secret, and to be fair, there was no need to upgrade from the SD865 anyway. What you get are two variants—8GB RAM and 128GB storage or 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. The OnePlus 8T line-up is simpler as far as the variants go, and that is a welcome change. These are flagship specs, and the OnePlus 8T also responds in the same manner. Performance is mighty quick, and a lot of the effort is also put in by the fast UFS 3.1 type storage. This phone also has the Qualcomm X55 5G modem, which means the OnePlus 8T is 5G when the networks do become available in India. I had mentioned it earlier, and I’ll say it again—the extra space that moving the camera module has opened up, has been well utilized for the larger vapour chamber and the cooling system. Even when stressed, the back of the OnePlus 8T barely gives a whiff of any lukewarm temperature.
There is also the software side of things that has made a world of difference. With OxygenOS 11 and Android 11 on board, the OnePlus 8T becomes one of the first phones to run the latest Android iteration out of the box. The interface pf OxygenOS has been given a significant overhaul. You may not realise the changes at first glance on the home screen or the app drawer but delve a bit deeper and you’ll see what is new. There are new animations that’ll show up, there is more of white (or black, depending on the theme) space in the OnePlus apps and there is also the new Always On Display mode. The changes in the layout and the more breathing space for the on-screen elements can be seen in the Gallery app, that now shows new larger font sizes and tabs for photos, collections and the explore curations. Go to the clock app to set an alarm, and a newer and cleaner interface awaits you there. The Settings app also gets a new interior design.
Always on Display isn’t exactly a new thing, but since OnePlus took their time with this, expectations were high. It is a good start to see as many as 11 AOD options that you can choose from. There is the Insight option too, which shows you how many times you have unlocked the phone recently. This is a gentle nudge to worry about your wellbeing, digital or real. The options that you have, are visually quite appealing for sure.
Since this is Android 11, long pressing the power button opens the power options screen that lets you power down the OnePlus 8T or control your smart home devices—smart lights, smart speakers, smart air purifiers and so on. Convenient, and this was one of Android 11’s big UI changes this year. But to be honest, that’s not really where you’d expect to go to control smart home devices.
You’ll Not Find Many Chances To Criticize The Camera
The OnePlus 8T gets a quad camera setup at the back. There is the 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor, paired with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera which is a Sony IMX141, a 5-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel monochrome lens. The addition, compared with the OnePlus 8, is the new 5-megapixel macro camera. As a foundation, this is as solid as it gets for phones in this price range. Incidentally, the ultra-wide camera at 123-degrees is the widest there has ever been on a OnePlus phone, thus far. The OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro covered 116-degrees while the OnePlus Nord did 119-degrees. More is better, isn’t it?
As for the camera, the camera app and the interface remain largely what we have seen on OnePlus phones thus far, which means you will have most options and settings where you knew they’d be. For me, it was more about reaching out and switching from the default 12-megapixel mode to the 48-megapixel mode. Yes, the compromise is the loss of zoom, but I’d take that any day for the additional detailing that is on offer. I noticed that the whites are also purer in this mode compared with the default 12-megapixel mode, which in turns happens to be slightly warmer in a lot of photos. Neither is a problem, and with so much detailing available, you will have a lot of flexibility with edits and filters later.
The highlight of Nightscape on the OnePlus 8T is that it doesn’t have that single-minded determination to add more light to the low light photos that you take. Isn’t that how most phones and their night modes or low light modes work? The result is that while you get a perhaps unnaturally bright sky, for instance, the details often don’t keep up. With the OnePlus 8T, the stacking of multiple images results in the two-pronged reaction where brightness as well as detailing get equal weightage and importance. I have to say that colours also look well for the most part, without any unnecessary addition of vividness. That being said, you will have to content with some grain in low light photos, a lot depending on how you framed it too. Colours are well distinguished though there is some aggressive dynamic range processing particularly in landscape photos that may involve a blue sky with clouds floating across.
At the time of writing this review, the OnePlus 8T camera most certainly takes some time to process when you are clicking images in the 48-megapixel mode and in Nightscape, which requires you to hold for that extra second too.
Longer And Faster, That’s The Battery Life And Charging For You
For what is a larger battery than before, the OnePlus 8T’s 4500mAh battery most certainly is a step ahead of the OnePlus 8’s 4300mAh battery as far as stamina is concerned. Not only is it the larger capacity but also the optimizations with software which make a lot of difference. The OnePlus 8T lasted me a day and a half with medium usage interspersed with some heavy usage that saw quite a bit of video recordings as well spread through the charge cycle. For most users, the OnePlus 8T will effortlessly last the day while for others, they may be able to get to lunchtime the next day before they need to plug in their phone again.
That in itself will be a fun activity with the OnePlus 8T. This phone brings the Warp Charge 65, which now sees a faster 65-watt adapter bundled with the phone. And that is where a lot of thought has gone into how to make the faster charging better optimized. You’d have probably never imagined a charger would be this smart. But it is. The Warp Charge 65 adapter that is bundled with the OnePlus 8T has as many as 12 individual thermal sensors inside, that constantly monitor the temperatures.
OnePlus calls this the Twin-battery Charging technology, and a lot of the mystery is cleared out by the name itself. We have seen something similar on the Oppo Find X2 Pro which also features the 65-watt SuperVOOC 2.0 flash charging. What this basically means is that the OnePlus 8T gets the dual battery design that still works as one standard chunk of 4500mAh capacity, but the twol connected cells can handle the 65-watt charging speeds without heating up.
OnePlus says the OnePlus 8T can fully charge in just 39 minutes. In our test, of course with conditions such as ambient temperatures varying and the screen being in use often during that time, a fully discharged OnePlus 8T battery was fully charged in 41 minutes. That is the difference in a lab and real world situation, and I have to say OnePlus have done a great job with the Warp Charge 65 that should really help you in the splash and dash situations as you need to rush for work and have a few minutes on the clock to juice up the phone.
The Last Word: An Android Flagship That Doesn’t Empty The Bank Account
When the OnePlus 8 arrived earlier this year, it has a few missing elements. The attractive price did mean you could overlook those, but there was always the risk of the phone falling behind once the rivals upped their game. And they have. Chief among the limiting pieces of the puzzle was the display—90Hz, and pretty soon phones much less expensive than the OnePlus 8 also went the 120Hz way.
The OnePlus 8T solves all that by really upping the spec sheet stakes. The new 120Hz display brings it right in the thick of the flagship smartphone battles, and the Fluid AMOLED has had tweaks that really improve usability. The fourth camera adds its bit to what is a very good photography experience. The super powerful charger and the good battery stamina make this a good workhorse. And with that, a very nicely redone OxygenOS 11 that ties in with Android 11 quite seamlessly. This is properly futureproof.