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OnePlus 8T review: Pay for flagship performance, and not a dollar more

By Liu Hongzuo - 26 Dec 2020
Launch SRP: S$899

Overview, Design, Display & Audio, UI

Note: This review was first published on 23 Nov 2020.

Stripping an 8 Pro down to its core components

Having reviewed the OnePlus 8 series which includes both 8 and 8 Pro, the OnePlus 8T seems like an in-betweener addition to the budget flagship smartphone selection by the brand. If anything, what the 8T pitches in seems like it competes against both OnePlus’s 8 and 8 Pro.

Specifications-wise, the 5G-ready OnePlus 8T offers a flat 6.55-inch, 1080p OLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, a similar quad-rear camera configuration, and a 4,500mAh battery. That’s nearly identical to the OnePlus 8 Pro, although the Pro variant uses a larger OLED curved screen with higher display resolution (1440p). 

The differences lie within the details. The OnePlus 8 Pro packs IP68 water resistance, a 48MP Sony IMX689 sensor for the main rear camera, 30W (5V/6A) fast charging and 30W fast wireless charging. On the other hand, the new OnePlus 8T follows OnePlus 8 with no rated water resistance and a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor for the main rear camera and no wireless charging. Interestingly, it has a bumped up wired charging abilities through 65W (10V/6.5A) fast charging. Other differences are even more minor, such as the lack of Audio Zoom and Audio 3D optimisations on the 8T, which the 8 Pro has.

The OnePlus 8 series
  OnePlus 8 OnePlus 8T OnePlus  8 Pro
Display 6.55-inch (2,400 x 1,080 pixels), 90Hz refresh rate 6.55-inch (2,400 x 1,080 pixels), 120Hz refresh rate 6.78-inch (3,168 x 1,440 pixels), 120Hz refresh rate
Memory 8GB LPDDR4X 8GB LPDDR4X 8GB LPDDR5
Camera Tri-camera system (with 48MP, Sony IMX586 main sensor) Quad-camera system (with 48MP, Sony IMX586 main sensor) Quad-camera system (with 48MP, Sony IMX689 main sensor)
Audio Enhancements -- -- Yes
Battery 4,300mAh 4,500mAh 4,510mAh
Charging 30W Wired Fast Charging 65W Wired Fast Charging 30W Wired and Wireless Fast Charging
Weight 180g 188g 199g
Water/Dust Resistance -- -- IP68 protection

Features - like NFC, in-display fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock, USB Type-C connector with USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds, dual stereo speakers, dual nano-SIM card tray, no physical expandable storage options, and even the processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 865) - stays the same on the 8T.

It looks like the OnePlus 8T has a mixture of specs from both prior models, save for the greatly increased fast-charging profile. That makes the 8T an in-between device for the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, until we look at the official retail prices. 

The OnePlus 8T starts at S$899 for 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, while the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at S$1,198 for 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. There’s the option to get 12GB RAM with 256GB storage on both models at S$1,099 and S$1398 respectively. In fact, with the improved features over the original OnePlus 8 and having a retail price point lower than it (S$998), the OnePlus 8T has essentially made the Oneplus 8  redundant.

So, is the OnePlus 8T a really needed differentiator? Is it a good budget flagship addition to OnePlus’s 2020 lineup to go up against the likes of the recently released Samsung Galaxy S20 FE? Is the heightened fast-charging that huge of a game-changer for its updated release this year? Let’s find out.

  OnePlus 8T
  OnePlus 8T
Launch SRP
  • From S$899
Operating system
  • OxygenOS 11, based on Android 11
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB/12GB RAM
  • LPDDR4X
Display
  • 6.55-inch / 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / Fluid AMOLED Display
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 48MP, Sony IMX586, f/1.78, 4-in-1 pixel binning (1.6µm @ 12MP)
  • 16MP, Ultra-Wide-Angle, f/2.2, 123° FOV
  • 2MP Macro
  • 2MP, Monochrome
  • Front:
  • 16MP, Sony IMX471, f/2.4, 1.0 µm
Connectivity
  • 5G NSA, 5G SA, LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4G, 5G, 2x2 MIMO), NFC, Bluetooth 5.1 (aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC, SBC), A-GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, GPS (L1+L5 Dual Band)
Storage Type
  • 128GB/256GB internal storage
  • UFS 3.1 2-lane
Battery
  • 4,500mAh
  • 65W Fast Charging (10V/6.5A)
Dimensions
  • 160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4mm
Weight
  • 188g

 

Design & Handling

If you’ve seen the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, then you would have seen the OnePlus 8T in spirit. Like its brothers, the OnePlus 8T offers a premium design that’s close enough to compete with top-shelf flagship mobiles. 

Even with a flat screen, the phone’s metal rims are well-rounded with minimal gaps between the display, sides, and rear. The camera housing is barely raised, the call speaker at the top is well-hidden where the display meets the rim, and the punch-hole front camera is tucked neatly to the top left. The rear feels plastic to the touch, but the excellent polish makes it look like glass. 

Other than the flat front, this design language is identical to the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, and it feels undeniably premium when you observe the phone from hole to hole.

Ergonomically, the OnePlus 8T is similar to OnePlus 8 Pro. At 160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4mm, the dimensions offer no significant differences when held, next to the 165.3 x 74.3 x 8.5mm OnePlus 8 Pro.  

 

Display & Audio

The OnePlus 8T has a 6.55-inch flat OLED display rated at 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution (~401 PPI pixel density), with 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and sRGB and DCI-P3 colour profile support. As mentioned, the only real difference it has from the OnePlus 8 Pro is the resolution, with the Pro packing 1440p instead. It’s a pleasant display, as seen in our test image. 

The OnePlus 8T offers a stereo-like dual speaker configuration, with a bottom speaker and the call speaker doubling up in duties. While audio is clear enough for a sub-S$1,000 phone, isn’t exactly well-balanced - the bottom speaker seems to be responsible for the bass while the call speaker fills in the details, providing an asymmetrical audio profile as a whole. It’s noticeable even if you’re not an audio connoisseur, but we don’t think it would bother most users unless they absolutely need loudspeaker parity on their smartphones. 
 

UI & Features

Unlike the OnePlus 8 Pro, the OnePlus 8T comes with Android 11 out of the box, reskinned with OxygenOS 11. We didn’t state this at the start of this review, because chances are a OnePlus 8 phone user is savvy enough to update the firmware to Android 11, too. 

OxygenOS 11 features are mostly cosmetic since OnePlus went with a newly designed interface. It’s sufficiently different from the stock Android experience and closer to Huawei’s EMUI without the garish palette. Despite that, OnePlus still manages to keep the UI clutter-free. There’s a neat option where users can choose the ol’ Roboto font that populated OnePlus’s previous UI, instead of the new proprietary OnePlus Sans system font. It’s primarily an aesthetic preference - you’d likely pick the font that works better for you.

New and practical features include the Always-On Display (AOD), which is a handy and huge quality-of-life upgrade for people who want to quickly check the time or know if the phone has notifications that need your attention. It’s also customisable so you can choose between digital and analogue clock faces. Finally, you can even choose to revert to Ambient Display, which is a lift-to-wake version of the same AOD. Like the system font, choosing either lift-to-wake or AOD is down to preference, so it’s good on OnePlus to make it an option.

There are more OxygenOS 11 features for OnePlus fans to uncover, but we’re reviewing in the context of the 8T. While these OxygenOS 11 features and additions are nice, a compatible OnePlus phone will (eventually) receive OxygenOS 11 updates, so it’s not exclusive to the 8T.

Other hardware-based features, like the in-display fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock, NFC connection, general browsing and gaming, etc. all work as intended. With so many feature commonalities between the 8T and 8 Pro, choosing either device depends on what other features you can or cannot live without. Again, the 8T doesn’t have IP-rated waterproofing that’s on the 8 Pro, so that’s also something to consider besides the difference in display, cameras, and charging profiles.

Of the supported 5G bands on the 8T, they feature 2100MHz and 3.5GHz spectrum support, which is what some (if not all) of our 5G-ready local telcos are using. We’ve tried testing a 5G SIM card, and yes, it recognises and tries to connect to 5G whenever available. As mentioned in previous phone reviews from this year, a 5G-capable device that’s advertised as such will only need to worry about being in a location served with 5G access, since the technology is still nascent for consumers in Singapore.

8.0
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 7.5
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Truly affordable flagship performing phone
Attractive design and comfortable handling
Faster-than-fast fast-charging
Has several flagship features like NFC and AOD
The Bad
No IP rated waterproofing
No microSD slot
Mediocre audio quality
Average camera quality
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