OnePlus 8T review: Fine upgrade, but not yet there as a premium smartphone

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The 8T is here and like the company’s previous ‘T’ series it is a seasonal refresh packed with big and small upgrades. From an AMOLED screen of 120Hz refresh rate to a 65W charging solution, this smartphone brings several improvement over predecessor 8.


In this 8T review, let’s find out if the upgrades bring any positive change in the overall user experience:



Design


The OnePlus 8T continues with the premium glass-metal construction we are used to seeing in OnePlus As for upgrades, the glass back cover gets a glossy profile with a new rectangular camera module placed at the top-left corner. The new design theme, especially the rear-camera module, looks generic and similar to that you get at much lower price points, like the Realme 7 Pro (review). So, though made of premium materials, the OnePlus 8T lacks the touch of novelty. Its new colour themes, however, add some zing to its otherwise generic design.

OnePlus 8T


On the positive side, the OnePlus 8T has a compact form factor and lightweight built. It is easy to hold and comfortable to operate. It has great ergonomics and nothing seems extra or out of place in the smartphone. That said, the OnePlus 8T may not have a great design but it is a smartphone that feels just right in your hands and otherwise.


Display


This is one area where the upgrades are apparent, and for better. The OnePlus 8T sports a 6.55-inch fluid AMOLED screen, which is exactly the same size as that of the predecessor, but it is flat instead of the two-side curved profile seen in the OnePlus 8. While the move to use a flat display on the OnePlus 8T might seem a step back, there is not much you lose here in terms of utility. Instead, you get a screen that is less susceptible to accidental touches, an issue that plagues most two-side curved screen smartphones, including the OnePlus ones. Moreover, there is no screen glaring here and the viewing angles are as good as you get in any premium smartphone. Aside from a flat profile, the screen on the OnePlus 8T gets a bumped-up refresh rate of 120Hz, against the predecessor’s 90Hz. It is difficult to perceive a difference between 90Hz and 120Hz screen panels, but howsoever tiny the upgrade, it is still an upgrade and a worthy one.


Camera


The OnePlus 8T gets the same camera set-up available in the OnePlus 8, but the former has gained a new 5-megapixel macro sensor to take the optics tally to four on the rear module. It is a minor camera upgrade which results in little to no improvement in imaging experience. Therefore, the camera performance is mediocre and seems miles behind what you get in other smartphones in the same segment.

OnePlus 8T camera sample

OnePlus 8T camera sample

OnePlus 8T camera sample


The phone’s primary 48MP sensor takes detailed shots with a satisfactory dynamic range, good amount of highlights and shadow details, and minimal noise. The 16MP ultra-wide sensor is good for landscape shots but the output is generally soft looking with noise and colour distractions visible across frame. The 2MP monochrome sensor does not have an independent utility and it works in tandem with primary sensor in the portrait mode for edge detection and bokeh effect. The dedicated 5MP macro sensor, which is a new addition to the camera set-up, fails to impress. In contrast, the OnePlus 8 Pro does a lot better job of capturing macro shots even without a dedicated macro sensor.

OnePlus 8T camera sample

OnePlus 8T camera sample


On the front, the phone has a 16MP selfie camera, which is good for single-person portrait shots and selfies. However, it suffers in lowlight conditions and the selfies show a blue tint across frames.


Performance


The OnePlus 8T has got the same specifications as those in the OnePlus 8. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 system-on-chip, paired with up to 12GB RAM (LPDDR4x) and 256GB internal storage (UFS 3.0 dual-lane). The phone, however, ships with Google’s latest Android 11-based OxygenOS 11 operating system, which looks and works entirely differently when compared with previous iterations. Though still easy to use and navigate, the new UI makes a departure from the stock experience which may not go down well with people who like vanilla Android experience more than custom skins. Moreover, there are some apps that are not optimised for Android 11 which causes some anomalies. For example, some apps crash repeatedly while others just do not go beyond the log-in screen. These issues seem to stem from the app’s side and may get addressed through updates in future.


As for the performance, the OnePlus 8T works great all across, be it for regular everyday use or power use for graphic- and processor-intensive tasks. One must give it to OnePlus for delivering exceptionally on the hardware-software synergy; the phone’s top-notch specifications translate into enhanced user experience.


Battery


The OnePlus 8T is powered by a 4,500 mAh battery. It is the first time that a OnePlus smartphone has come with a dual-cell design, supported by the 65W fast-charge technology. The phone easily works for a day even when its screen is set to 120Hz refresh rate. Important to note that there is no adaptive refresh rate mode here and a one-day on-battery time on 120Hz refresh rate means you experience smooth user experience all across without compromising much on the phone’s on-battery time. Complementing the package is a 65W fast charger, which replenishes a completely drained out battery in about 40 minutes when the phone is not in use.


Verdict


Priced Rs 42,999 onwards, the OnePlus 8T goes for a cheaper price tag than the OnePlus 8, despite bringing several major upgrades over predecessor. It makes a good value-for-money smartphone in the OnePlus line-up, but not when compared with other smartphones in the same segment. The OnePlus 8T’s generic design, mediocre cameras, and lack of wireless charging and ingress protection rating pull it behind competing smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (review). Though the upgrades make it a worthy seasonal refresh, which is also apparently cheaper, the phone still does not seem to plug the midrange-premium gap.





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