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OnePlus 8T review: Not enough to stand out
What we like
What we don't like
The OnePlus 8T arrived in late 2020 with the tagline, “Ultra Stops At Nothing.” For a phone that brings no performance jump over its predecessor, those are bold words. Can the 120Hz OLED display and Warp Charge 65 charging tech be enough? Find out in Android Authority’s OnePlus 8T review.
Update, April 2021: Added comparisons to more up-to-date devices and addressed the phone’s price drop.
OnePlus 8T review: Who is this phone for?
The OnePlus 8T is a 2020 affordable flagship smartphone with a top-tier chipset. Its speed, made possible by the clean software experience and flagship processor, is among the best of its generation. It lacks crazy good cameras, an IP rating, and a unique design, instead focusing more on pure speed and fluidity.
Launched at $749 but now permanently reduced to $599, the OnePlus 8T is competing with the Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. These are devices with plenty of power for the dollar, but OnePlus has had success in this area. The OnePlus 8T also goes against OnePlus’ own Nord and OnePlus 9.
Design: Flagship or mid-ranger?
- 160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4mm
- Glass and metal build
- Optical in-display fingerprint scanner
- Stereo speakers
If you’ve ever held a OnePlus Nord in your hand, you’ll feel right at home with the OnePlus 8T. From the curved rear glass to the flat display, to the shiny metal rails, the two feel very similar. What has changed from the OnePlus 8? The rear camera module has been relocated to the left-hand top corner, and the buttons have moved down ever so slightly.
These small changes add up to make the OnePlus 8T feel more generic. It doesn’t stand out as its own design. Instead, it blends into the hundreds of other smartphones from the mid-range to the high-end. Not to say that this is a poorly designed phone by any stretch, but it won’t stand out on a shop display next to the competition. More importantly, it won’t stand out compared to the significantly cheaper OnePlus Nord.
Taking a tour of the device, there’s a single microphone on the top. On the bottom, there’s a dual-SIM tray, a USB-C port, a microphone, and a speaker. On the left side, there’s a volume rocker. The right side presents the signature OnePlus mute toggle and the power button. On the rear, in the top left-hand corner, there’s a rectangular quad-camera bump. It doesn’t protrude all that much, though is the first from the firm to sport a wider rectangle shape.
The OnePlus 8T feels great in the hand. The frosted glass back is very smooth and can be slippery if you’re not careful. That said, it’s great at keeping fingerprints off. The shiny side rails are fairly grippy and nicely offset the satin back. The buttons are very tactile, the mute toggle is as satisfying as ever, and the optical in-display fingerprint scanner is quick and accurate.
The OnePlus 8T feels great in the hand, but sports a generic design and no IP rating.
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 8T doesn’t have an IP rating. At this price point, OnePlus should have included it, especially given that this device costs $50 more than its predecessor. It’s not all bad news, though. The haptics are crisp and tight, which is crucial in giving a flagship phone a premium feel.
The OnePlus 8T’s stereo speaker setup, comprised of an amplified earpiece and a bottom speaker, sounds rather good. It gets loud and doesn’t distort until the last two ticks of volume. Even then, it’s not as much as you’d think. The sound signature is full, with plenty of detail.
Display: Balancing speed and quality
- 6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED
- 2,400 x 1,080 pixels
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Supports sRGB and Display P3
- 20:9 aspect ratio
The 6.55-inch Full HD Fluid AMOLED display hasn’t increased in size or resolution compared to the OnePlus 8, but it has enjoyed a nice jump in refresh rate to 120Hz. Finding a perceivable speed difference between this and a 90Hz panel is tricky, but compared to a 60Hz display, the OnePlus 8T’s feels especially fast. This is most noticeable in scrolling, and Oxygen OS 11’s animations accentuate it.
The display balances speed, sharpness, and accuracy brilliantly.
The AMOLED screen packs plenty of punch and great contrast. The panel gets quite bright at 471 nits, which makes it easily viewable outdoors. Thanks to the switch to a flat display, glare is less of a problem on the 8T than the OnePlus 8, too. I noticed this under direct indoor-light as well as out in the sun.
The phone ships with the screen set to Vivid mode. This is the best all-around mode as it keeps colors saturated but doesn’t go overboard. Other options include Natural and Advanced. Within the Advanced menu, you can pick between wide gamut, sRGB, and Display P3 color spaces.
Overall, the OnePlus 8T’s panel is a well-rounded offering. It’s not the sharpest, fastest, or most color-accurate. However, it does a good job of balancing the three and it’s one of the better screens in its class.
Performance: No need for a chipset upgrade
- Snapdragon 865
- Adreno 650
- 8/12GB LPDDR4X
- 128/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- 4,500mAh battery
- Warp Charge 65 charging
Processor: Super snappy
OnePlus decided not to upgrade its T-series device to a Plus-series chipset. This means that the OnePlus 8T is not faster or more powerful than the OnePlus 8. However, I never felt like the OnePlus 8T needed a faster chipset.
It’s also worth noting that others in this price range — the Asus Zenfone 7 and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro — took the same approach by opting out of the Plus-model chipset. That’s not really surprising considering the fairly minimal, GPU-focused updates the Snapdragon 865 Plus brings over the Snapdragon 865.
Even compared to the Snapdragon 765G-equipped OnePlus Nord, you’re not going to notice much of a day-to-day speed increase, unless you regularly push your phone. This isn’t to say that the Snapdragon 865 isn’t fast. If you’re a power user or a mobile gamer, however, the 865 will deliver more frames and more power.
Snapdragon SoC guide: All of Qualcomm’s smartphone processors explained
The OnePlus 8T is plenty fast for anything and everything you’d use it for. Our OnePlus 8T review unit was the lesser 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model. It felt silky smooth throughout the review period. I played a combination of 2D and 3D games, scrolled endlessly through social media, and took a load of photos. Nothing was able to slow the OnePlus 8T down.
Of course, there are now Snapdragon 888-powered phones to choose from, all of which technically outperform the OnePlus 8T. That said, the real-world differences will only really be noticed by die-hard power users. The Snapdragon 865 chip is still plenty powerful for a modern phone.
Battery: A day and a half on a charge
The battery has been bumped to a 4,500mAh cell, which provides solid battery life throughout. On heavier days, I saw almost six hours of screen-on time with 20% of the battery left over. On lighter days, this phone was a two-day device. My usage included a mix of LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, 50-100% brightness, and a solid half-hour of video consumption per day.
Warp Charge has enjoyed an upgrade, too. The OnePlus 8T ships with a Warp Charge 65 USB-C charger in the box. This brick was able to charge the phone from zero to 100% in 39 minutes in our testing. This isn’t the fastest we’ve ever tested, but it’s an improvement over the OnePlus 8’s 63-minute top-up time. Sadly, the OnePlus 8T does not feature wireless charging, which is a real knock against it.
The OnePlus 8T also supports 5G connectivity of the sub-6GHz variety but not mmWave.
Software: A breath of fresh air
- Android 11
- Oxygen OS 11
OnePlus’ Oxygen OS is beloved for its balance of stock smoothness and third-party features. However, with the OnePlus 8T, the firm has changed the skin’s layout and appearance.
The OnePlus 8T ships with Oxygen OS 11, based on Android 11. The skin takes a new direction with a minimal look and some tweaked animations. The first standout change is the new Always On Display. Instead of a plain, centered setup, the new version is offset with new clocks and a battery percentage logo. There are three new modes coming — Bitmoji AOD, Canvas AOD, and Insight AOD. Unfortunately, only the latter was available on our OnePlus 8T review unit. Insight AOD shows you a breakdown of how many times you’ve unlocked your phone throughout the day in a funky graph.
Continue reading: Everything you need to know about Oxygen OS 11
The new animations within Oxygen OS 11 include scrolling to the bottom of a page and it bouncing at the end. OnePlus has also made one-hand optimizations to accommodate smaller hands. This mostly includes moving the notification shade and settings menus further down the screen.
One new feature that I found annoying is the new smooth brightness update. It attempts to smoothen out the transition from bright to dim and vice versa when using the manual brightness slider. It sounds great on paper, but in reality, there’s a massive delay. This makes it hard to set the brightness level just the way you want it. This seems like a ridiculous “feature” and it feels like OnePlus is trying to reinvent the wheel. You know what they say: If it ain’t broke…
Oxygen OS 11's new features are great. All apart from the reinvented brightness slider.
Oxygen OS 11 looks and feels great to use with some cool new features and a clean new look. It’s a shame that the brightness slider mars an otherwise great experience.
For more on new features added in updates and new builds released by OnePlus, be sure to check out our OnePlus 8T update tracker.
Camera: Long in the tooth
- 48MP, f/1.7, IMX586, OIS
- 16MP, f/2.2, IMX481, 123-degrees FOV, ultrawide
- 5MP, f/2.4, macro
- 2MP, f/2.4, monochrome
- 4K 60fps, FHD 240fps
- 16MP, f/2.4, IMX471
- 4K 60fps
The OnePlus 8T improves on its predecessor with a new, higher-resolution macro sensor, and the addition of a monochrome sensor to round out the quad rear setup.
Related: The best camera phones you can get
The first thing you notice when taking photos with the OnePlus 8T is how much contrast is being forced into each photo. It doesn’t affect every photo, but the majority of mine came out overly contrast-heavy — like someone had messed up the structure slider. This results in rather moody-looking images even on sunny days.
Camera shootout: OnePlus 8T vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
There’s not a lot of dynamic range since the camera processing seems to want to crush shaded areas at any given opportunity. This carries over to the ultra-wide sensor, which while still a good camera, is softer than the main setup. Colors look rather realistic if a tad oversaturated. This means that you end up with photos that are fun to look at as opposed to being hyper-realistic.
There’s an okay amount of sharpness, but nothing crazy. Digital sharpening is evident in a couple of the outdoor pictures that I took in a garden center. Thankfully, noise reduction hasn’t been overdone. That means that images come out looking clean, rather than like oil paintings. The Nord suffered from this issue quite a bit.
Night mode photos were rather soft due to poor focus. The OnePlus 8T managed to capture a lot of light, even in extremely challenging lighting conditions. I took these in the middle of the night and there’s still a surprising amount of detail. In areas like foliage, however, there does seem to be a lot of denoising to the point of blurring objects together. Overall, a mixed night mode experience.
The OnePlus 8T takes portraits and selfies adequately. The former have a realistic focus roll-off from the front to the back of the image. There were a few hiccups with edge-detection — particularly of my friend’s hair where the camera couldn’t work out if it was part of the foliage or not!
Selfies come out clean with minimal noise, and without overdoing the noise reduction. Similarly, my skin wasn’t smoothened out, though I did have to disable skin smoothening in the settings menu first. Selfie portrait mode photos also suffered a bit from poor edge-detection. That said, the realistic focus roll-off continues here.
The Ultra HD 60fps video footage came out very contrast-heavy. Saturation and contrast are pushed to the max. As a result, the footage isn’t particularly clean nor realistic. The image stabilization worked pretty well, though, so it’s not all bad news.
The OnePlus 8T does better than the OnePlus Nord in that it doesn’t mush out noise. It distorts far less, too. That said, I wasn’t overly impressed with the OnePlus 8T’s camera. It certainly doesn’t help that OnePlus would go on to fix a lot of these issues with the OnePlus 9 series. It’s a shame because the phone feels very much like a flagship in every other regard.
The OnePlus 8T's camera system is still lagging behind the competition at this price point.
Check out the full-resolution OnePlus 8T camera samples in this Google Drive folder.
OnePlus 8T specs
2,400 x 1,080 (20:9)
120Hz refresh rate
In-display fingerprint sensor
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|RAM||8GB / 12GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1|
|Cameras||Rear Quad Camera:|
48MP, ƒ/1.7, 0.8µm, OIS, EIS
5MP macro, 3cm focal length
16MP ultrawide, ƒ/2.2, 123° FOV
16MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus
Warp Charge 65 (10V/6.5A)
No wireless charging
|IP Rating||None for unlocked model|
IP68 rating for T-Mobile version
|Software||Oxygen OS 11|
|Dimensions and weight||160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4mm|
Value and competition
- OnePlus 8T (8GB/128GB): £549/Rs 42,999
- OnePlus 8T (12GB/256GB): $749/£649/Rs 45,999
The OnePlus 8T launched in Europe, the US, and India, though the 8GB/128GB model is not available in the States. Initially priced at $749, the more powerful OnePlus 8T competes with the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20 FE, and the iPhone 12 in the US. This is rather stiff competition for the OnePlus 8T, especially with the price increase from OnePlus 8’s $699 price tag. However, the OnePlus 8T has seen a permanent price drop to $599. This makes it a much sweeter deal, though some of its competition has also received price drops too.
Those aforementioned Android rivals sport significantly better camera systems. The Pixel 5 will give you the best camera system but will leave you with a lesser processor and display. The Galaxy S20 FE will be the better package deal with a more rounded feature set and will even match OnePlus’ three years of software support. The iPhone 12 has a more powerful camera setup and processor.
In India, the OnePlus 8T competes with the iPhone SE, Realme X50 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro. The Apple device is going to give you better long-term software support, wireless charging, a superior camera, and a more pocket-friendly size, but features an aged design. The Realme device will deliver similar performance, build quality, and cameras, but for slightly less money. The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro offers a faster display, a better main camera, similar performance, and a bigger battery for a little less cash also.
OnePlus 8T compared:
- OnePlus 8T vs iPhone 12
- OnePlus 8T vs Google Pixel 5
- OnePlus 8T vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
- OnePlus 8T vs Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
In the UK, the OnePlus 8T has fierce competition. Since the UK gets the cheaper model, it’s cheaper than the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20 FE, and the iPhone 12. This puts it a lot closer to the OnePlus Nord — OnePlus’ mid-range offering. If you’re in the UK and you’re eager to pick up a OnePlus 8T, I urge you to pick the 8GB RAM model over the 12GB one. Unless you really need 256GB storage, the money saved is hard to argue with.
Overall, the OnePlus 8T feels more like a boosted Nord than a cut-back OnePlus 8 Pro. With that in mind, the OnePlus 8T is a great deal in India and the UK, but not so much in the US even with the price cut. It’s a shame that the lesser option isn’t available in the US, but OnePlus, for whatever reason, fragments its product stack across regions.
The other thing to consider is the arrival of the OnePlus 9. Priced at $729/£629/€699/Rs. 49,999, the vanilla OnePlus 9 is a big upgrade over the OnePlus 8T, especially in regard to the camera. If you can afford the extra, it’s well worth paying.
OnePlus 8T: The verdict
OnePlus 8T is a quick, solidly-made flagship smartphone. It’s got a great display, fast charging, and brilliant software. Unfortunately, its uninspiring design and middling camera performance make it feel rather incomplete.
If you’re not too fussed about the cameras, the rest of the phone is solid. The jump in price seems to have gone towards the 120Hz display and 65W charging — both of which are valuable additions.
Long-term review: OnePlus 8T revisited six months later
However, if you don’t desire either of those, the far cheaper OnePlus Nord is the significantly better buy. For half the price, you get a capable display, good battery life, okay camera, and solid speed. As prices creep up, so does the stiffness of the competition. With the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20 FE, iPhone 12, and the brand’s own OnePlus 9 available for similar prices, it’s increasingly hard to recommend the OnePlus 8T.