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OnePlus 8T review second opinion: A long-time OnePlus fan weighs in
The OnePlus 8T is the latest flagship from OnePlus. It acts as a subtle refinement of the OnePlus 8, which launched a little over six months ago. Android Authority has already done its OnePlus 8T review, headed up by our own Ryan-Thomas Shaw. You can check that out at the link below.
Our verdict: The Android Authority review of the OnePlus 8T
Ryan did a terrific review of the device and gave a lot of great insight. He examined the specs and design elements, objectively tested them out, and took a broad, consumer-centric look at how the phone stacks up against the competition.
In this second opinion review, though, I am not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to approach the phone from my own perspective, that of a long-time OnePlus fan. I’ve owned multiple OnePlus phones going all the way back to the first, the OnePlus One. As such, I look at the OnePlus 8T through a very different lens than Ryan or other folks on our team might.
I used the OnePlus 8T as my daily driver for a little under a week before writing this. Here are my thoughts.
120Hz and 65W charging are the star upgrades
In our original OnePlus 8T review, we went over all the integral aspects of the phone, including battery life, display quality, processing speeds, etc. There’s a lot to cover when it comes to the average smartphone! However, I’ll save you some time and let you know that there are only two substantial upgrades for the OnePlus 8T compared to the OnePlus 8: the 120Hz display refresh rate and the Warp Charge 65 charging speeds.
Yes, there are other upgrades, too. There’s an extra camera sensor on the rear (a 2MP monochrome one) and the macro sensor got a slight upgrade to 5MP over the OnePlus 8’s 2MP sensor. This extra lens necessitated OnePlus to redesign the rear camera module. The battery capacity went up by 200mAh and the internal storage is now UFS 3.1 instead of UFS 3.0. These and a few other little things are all incredibly minor tweaks, though.
The bottom line is when you stack the OnePlus 8T against the OnePlus 8, the display refresh rate and wired charging speeds are the only major differences. These are great additions to the lineup, no doubt about it. A 120Hz refresh rate allows for silky-smooth scrolling and a 65W wired charging speed is fast enough to charge your phone to full in just over half-an-hour. That’s awesome!
But is that enough to warrant a T-series upgrade? Not by OnePlus’ standards.
Two upgrades? That’s not very OnePlus
Originally, the T-series existed as a way for OnePlus to subtly refine its prior flagships. The first T-series device, the OnePlus 3T, upgraded a few internal specs — including the processor — but left everything else unchanged, including the overall design.
That all went out the window starting the following year with the OnePlus 5T. Not only did the 5T feature a few upgraded internals compared to the OnePlus 5, but it was also radically redesigned. The OnePlus 6T also featured a whole new design (and many upgraded specs) when compared to the OnePlus 6. Once again, the same thing goes for the OnePlus 7T when compared to the OnePlus 7.
Now, with the OnePlus 8T, the company appears to be going back to the ethos of the OnePlus 3T. Aside from the redesigned camera module and the two big upgrades, there really isn’t all that much difference between the 8T and the OnePlus 8.
Honestly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. However, during my time working on this OnePlus 8T review, I kept remembering how the company is asking for more money for the 8T as compared to the 8. It seems a bit incongruous to offer only two substantial upgrades and then ask for $50 more.
Some older OnePlus phones are still better overall
It’s pretty easy to argue that the OnePlus 8T is better than the OnePlus 8, even if only by a marginal amount. It’s also pretty easy to see that both phones aren’t as good as the OnePlus 8 Pro. That phone already had the 120Hz refresh rate, but it also sports a better rear camera system, a higher-resolution display, an IP rating, and wireless charging.
However, if you go further back or head into the new Nord series, things get murkier. The OnePlus Nord offers a very similar experience — albeit with significant spec downgrades — for half the price. The OnePlus 7 Pro from 17 months ago offers a better camera system than both the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8T, while also bringing in a higher-resolution display with no selfie camera cutout. You can easily find that phone for half the price of the OnePlus 8T, brand new.
Even the year-old OnePlus 7T offers a lot when compared to the 8T (a telephoto lens, hello!). You can get a 7T for half the price of the 8T, brand new.
Obviously, none of these older phones will have 5G connections and the processors won’t be as good. However, 5G is likely meaningless for most people at the moment. The differences in processing will be negligible for the average user too — if they even notice any differences at all.
The value of the OnePlus 8T stops being murky and becomes crystal clear once you look at the competition. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE offers similar specs and more features across the board (with the notable exception of included RAM). That phone is $50 cheaper. The Google Pixel 5 will have weaker specs, but a better camera and faster Android updates. It is also $50 cheaper. Even the iPhone 12 is only $50 more expensive than the 8T.
The point I’m trying to make here is that the OnePlus 8T is a great phone only in a vacuum. Once you start comparing it to other phones — even those within the company’s own lineup — its reputation crumbles.
OnePlus 8T review second opinion: Phoning it in
When I started using the OnePlus 8T, I had to put aside my daily driver: the OnePlus 7 Pro. Honestly, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t miss that phone. The OnePlus 8T’s display cutout drove me nuts, the weaker camera gave me very unimpressive results, and I saw no noticeable upgrades in speed or stability. Meanwhile, Warp Charge 65 — an admittedly very cool feature — didn’t mean much to me, since battery life on OnePlus phones has never been an issue and Warp Charge 30 is already plenty fast.
OnePlus 8T: Hot or not?
Ultimately, the OnePlus 8T felt like a lateral move as far as specs and a downgrade as far as design. When I think about the fact that I paid $749 for the top-of-the-line 7 Pro in May 2019, and the OnePlus 8T costs the same in October 2020, it makes my head spin.
Let me once again reiterate that the OnePlus 8T isn’t objectively a bad phone. If you have $750 to spend and you want a good phone, the 8T is a decent option. However, the only reason I would actually suggest someone spend $750 on it is if they absolutely needed a OnePlus phone with 65W charging. If you don’t need 65W charging, you can choose from many other OnePlus phones for half the price and a similar experience. If you aren’t already sold on buying a OnePlus phone, well — there are a whole lot of competitor phones you should check out before you commit.
With everything going on in the world and the state of the smartphone industry at the moment, this was the exact wrong time for a “good enough” phone from OnePlus for $750. Even I, a OnePlus fan for years, am finding it difficult to get excited about it.
Nevertheless, I have high hopes that OnePlus will up its game again for the OnePlus 9 series.
The OnePlus 8T is available to buy from today. Let us know your thoughts on the phone in the poll above, or grab yours below!