OnePlus 8T, a balance game for a great smartphone | Review

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Aina Prat Blasi
@ainapratblasi
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There is no doubt that OnePlus has been having fun experimenting with different mixes of features for its smartphones in recent years. The result is an offer of smartphones for different pockets and tastes, even if it is clearly impossible to find the smartphone that perfectly reflects your needs, at least within the offer of the same manufacturer. Three characteristics to which I refer is the screen, of different resolutions and refresh rates, curved or flat screen, camera compartment with lenses for different needs and creative needs, presence or absence of wireless charging and, more generally, the design same as the device.



OnePlus 8T follows this philosophy of OnePlus, careful to put a new smartphone on the market that offers a specific mix of features, to then understand which are the most popular and move accordingly.

The newcomer is positioned, theoretically, between the OnePlus 8 and the Pro model. We used the adverb "theoretically" because OnePlus 8T is characterized by functions that could position it, for some, on a totally different level. Just mention the presence of a flat screen, which contrasts with the curved one of OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. Before getting to the heart of our review of the new 8T, let's therefore make a direct comparison between the three models of the 8 series.

OnePlus 8 vs. OnePlus 8T vs OnePlus 8Pro

The simplest method for this comparison, which at the same time allows us to discover all the technical characteristics of the newcomer, is to compare its technical characteristics in the following table.

  OnePlus 8 OnePlus 8T OnePlus 8 Pro
Screen 6.55 “AMOLED
2,400 x 1,080 (20: 9)
90Hz refresh rate
Integrated biometric sensor
3D Corning Gorilla Glass
6.55“ Fluid AMOLED
2,400 x 1,080 (20: 9)
120Hz refresh rate
Integrated biometric sensor
3D Corning Gorilla Glass
6.78 "AMOLED
3,168 x 1,440 (19.8: 9)
120Hz refresh rate
Integrated biometric sensor
3D Corning Gorilla Glass
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM 8GB / 12GB LPDDR4X 8GB / 12GB LPDDR4X 8GB / 12GB LPDDR5
Internal Memory 128GB / 256GB UFS 3.0 2-LANE 128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1 128GB / 256GB UFS 3.0
Rear camera 48MP, f / 1.78, 0.8µm, OIS, EIS
2MP macro, f / 2.4, 1.75µm
16MP wide angle, f / 2.2, 116 °
48MP, f / 1.78, 0.8µm, OIS, EIS
5MP macro, f / 2.4, 1.75µm
16MP wide angle, f / 2.2, 123 °
2MP monochrome
48MP, f / 1.78, 1.12µm, OIS, EIS
8MP 3x telephoto lens, f / 2.44, 1.0µm, OIS
48MP wide angle, f / 2.2, 119.7 °
5MP color filter, f / 2.4
Front camera 16MP, f / 2.0, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus 16MP, f / 2.4, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus 16MP, f / 2.45, 1.0µm, EIS, fixed focus
Battery 4.300 mAh
Warp Charge 30T (5V / 6A)
4.500 mAh
Warp Charge 65T (10V / 6,5A)
4.510 mAh
Warp Charge 30T (5V / 6A)
Warp Charge 30 Wireless
IP certification No No IP68
Software Oxygen OS
Android 10
Oxygen OS
Android 11
Oxygen OS
Android 10
Dimensions and weight 160.2 x 72.9 x 8.0 mm
180g
160.7 x 74,1 x 8.4 mm
188g
165.3 x 74.35 x 8.5 mm
199g

8T is closer to the OnePlus 8 in terms of size and physical characteristics, but the flat screen increases its thickness and probably also its weight, placing it halfway between the two models.



The screen is always OLED (OnePlus calls it "Fluid AMOLED), with FHD + resolution, but 120 Hz refresh rate, like the Pro model. We see perfectly the balance sought by OnePlus, using a screen with the same resolution as the base model, but with the refresh rate of the flagship model, which is further distinguished by the higher resolution.

The hardware platform is the same, namely the Snapdragon 865 SoC, combined with two RAM memory cuts (DDR4X, like the base model), 8 or 12 GB depending on the capacity, i.e. 128 or 256 GB. The use of the Snapdragon 865 combined with the X55 modem brings 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6. There is also NFC and extended GPS connectivity (GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, SBAS, A-GPS).

The battery is 4500 mAh, the same equipment as the Pro, from which however it does not inherit wireless charging. In its place OnePlus has implemented the WarpCharge 65T technology, which should offer double the performance, in terms of speed, compared to the WarpCharge 30T, present on the younger and older brothers.

The camera compartment is where OnePlus has taken more liberty, keeping the same main sensor as the other models, but changing the others and adding a monochrome sensor. We will see better later in the chapter dedicated to photography.

Design: flat is better?

The writer does not like smartphones with curved glass on the sides, due to the inputs that we often tend to inadvertently send only by holding them and the difficulty of using the sides of the keyboard. I can only commend OnePlus's choice for this T version of using a flat screen. Otherwise, from the front, it does not change much, the screen frame is reduced to a millimeter or so and the central camera lens is in the upper left corner of the screen.



The rear shell is rounded on the edges, the structure is in metal and the rear panel is in glass. The colors available are “Lunar Silver” and the eclectic “Aquamarine Green”, which you see in our photographs. The power / stand by button is on the right edge, at the thumb port, but only for a few millimeters. A little above we find the usual OnePlus three-position switch that allows you to quickly set the silent mode, vibration or active ringtone. The volume rocker is placed in the opposite edge at the same height as the mechanical selector just mentioned.

In the lower edge we find the trolley for the double SIM and the USB-C port for charging and data transfer. There is no audio jack connector, so you will need the USB-C adapter if you need that.

On the back we see the new element that groups the lenses of the different cameras. OnePlus has abandoned the single elongated central element for a single block moved to the upper corner with the four lenses and two LED flashes.

A matter of taste .. and hands

The opaque glass effect of some smartphones, what OnePlus defines as "matte-frosted glass" is undoubtedly very particular, delicate to the touch, perhaps a little more slippery than classic glass. For 8T we have chosen a classic, glossy glass, more sensitive to fingerprints. The 3D Corning Gorilla Glass still offers a great quality feel and the oleophobic treatment does its duty well. Unless inspected under a direct light source, you will hardly see the fingerprints left by your fingertips.


The grip is not the best, the thin edge requires some attention when you want to grip it and the glass makes it slippery. A case solves these problems by increasing the support area when you handle it and offering a more secure grip.


The screen

The screen with FHD + resolution (2400 x 1080), with a form factor of 20: 9 and diagonal of 6.55 ”results in a pixel density of 402 ppi. This number means that the images will be very sharp, with invisible pixels and highest perceived quality. Probably in the coming months we will have to stop reporting this particular, being the screens of all modern smartphones able to offer similar characteristics, and therefore no longer a real differentiated factor.

Another detail, impossible to see with the naked eye, is the quality of the screen in terms of color accuracy. OnePlus is attentive to this detail and offers very high quality across the entire OnePlus 8 range, the latest addition not excluded. Basically 8T is set to “Vivid” color mode, which saturates the colors a little more than they should. To obtain maximum fidelity, simply select the “Natural” setting, which slightly dampens the tones making them more real.

If you need to, you can go into a submenu to choose additional options and make the colors even brighter, activate reading modes that are less tiring for the eyes or choose what the Always On display will show. However, these are characteristics of Oxygen OS rather than intrinsic functions of the smartphone. Conversely, the 120 Hz mode is a hardware feature set by default, which you can deactivate and set to 60 Hz, should you feel the need. We do not imagine why you should do it, since the double refresh rate compared to classic smartphones only brings advantages.

As we have already specified on other occasions, a higher refresh rate on a smartphone is not easy to appreciate if it is not tried. We have lived with 60 Hz screens for many years without ever considering it a problem or even an area that needed improvement, but once you try a 90 or 120 Hz screen you will realize how much more animations, of any kind, are more. smooth with a higher refresh rate. We repeat, it is not something we would be willing to spend a fortune on, but if there is, you will benefit.

OnePlus has inserted more accurate brightness sensors in the front of the smartphone to improve the ability to adjust the brightness of the screen independently. It's hard to say how much they affect the smartphone's ability, but we can confirm that we never felt the need to manually adjust the brightness during the test.

Performances

There is not much to say about the performance of the smartphone, at the top of the category, thanks also to Oxygen OS that does not weigh down the operating system. The choice of the Snapdragon 865 is common to the other OnePlus of the 8 series, and the FHD + monitor allows you to achieve even better performance than the Pro model which has a higher resolution. Benchmark numbers aside, of which we put some screenshots below, the smartphone is really very fast and always responsive. There is no need to dwell further on this chapter, the performance of the smartphone is no longer a differentiator in this price range.

 

Oxygen OS

Among the features that have allowed OnePlus to win the favors of the community there is undoubtedly OxygenOS, an accurate Android customization that makes the experience very similar to that of basic Android, present on the Pixels, going to make small changes here and with the sole purpose of improving the experience, without upsetting it. It must be said that in the past OxygenOS was able to make a huge difference, whereas all the other brands loved to differentiate themselves with very personalized and not always successful interfaces. Today, manufacturers have realized that Android, in its basic version, is already very good, and therefore they make only marginal changes. Of course, this is not yet the case for everyone, but for the most part. In any case, OxygenOS continues to be a guarantee.

With OnePlus 8T we have, out of the box, already Android 11 with the latest version of OxygenOS. Some news have already been introduced through updates for other smartphones, but we summarize the main news.

A new Dark Mode, with attention to the smallest details, fixes the small defects of the already excellent previous mode and manages to intervene even on those applications that do not offer a Dark mode. The result is excellent, to the point that once you try it you will never go back.

There is the Always On Display, and you can choose between a classic screen where the time, date and notifications are shown, a screen in which a sort of time line is depicted with interruptions that show all the times that you have activated your smartphone, and a screen (Canvas) that creates a sketch of your photo in the gallery.

The on-screen controls of the various applications have been revised to occupy 60% of the lower area of ​​the screen, a solution adopted to facilitate use with one hand. There is also the ZenMode mode (2.0), which once activated prevents you from using the smartphone for a predetermined time. Very useful for engaging in social interactions, for example when you are at dinner.

OnePlus has been a bit undecided in recent months whether to use Shelf (its own screen with shortcuts and widgets) and Discover, and on the OnePlus 8T both are present. A downward swipe opens Shelf, a right swipe opens Discover. You have to get used to it, but in a few days you will have maximum control and maximum benefits. The only slightly awkward action we found is the impossibility of getting out of Shelf using a side swipe. In fact, you will have to make this movement from the edge of the smartphone, which is not very comfortable, especially when there is a protective cover that creates a small step near the edge. In any case, you can deactivate Shelf in favor of Discover, if you don't want to keep both.

In general, the experience with OxygenOS, as already indicated, is really good and painless. After memorizing the gestures to extricate yourself between Shelf and Discover, you will appreciate all the shortcuts that OnePlus has added to the basic screens of Android 11, for a complete, fast and painless experience.

Audio

The audio is stereo, the ear capsule is used as a second speaker. The difference in power, however, is heard, and the loudspeaker placed in the lower edge, more powerful, unbalances the listening experience. In any case, the power of the speakers is more than suitable for any type of use, although the quality is still only decent.

The quality of the microphone is good, our interlocutors did not detect problems in our voice, as well as the audio of the ear capsule. In short, satisfactory audio performance, in the category average.

Heat

OnePlus has adopted a new cooling system with a revised vapor chamber, able to better handle the heat produced by the Snapdragon SoC when put under pressure.

As you can see from the thermal image below, with normal use between email, web browsing and other productivity applications, the body heating is minimal. The heat is hardly felt under the hands.

Below instead you see the same measurements after 15 minutes of stress test, and the result is always surprising. The heating is only a few degrees, and even in the hottest areas there is only a little warmth.

OnePlus has done a really great job of managing the heat.

Autonomy

The 4500 mAh battery, together with the energy saving solutions of the SoC and Android in the latest version, allows to achieve very convincing results. Used during the weekend, so with less intensive use than the classic week, we reached two full days, marking a residual autonomy on Sunday evening of about 10%. On the other hand, during a normal day, made up of emails, web browsing, listening to music and social networks, we arrived in the evening with a residual autonomy of 35/40%. By adding an evening use with more than an hour of video games, we have obtained a percentage of remaining battery of more than 20%. In short, a very good result.

Also interesting is the new Warp Charge 65T recharge, capable of recharging the smartphone, from 0 to 100%, in 39 minutes. OnePlus achieved this by using a dual-cell battery, and recharging the two cells at the same time. In practice it is as if it had implemented a double fast charge Warp Charge 30T that works simultaneously.

Too bad for the lack of wireless charging. OnePlus has chosen not to insert it probably to keep some distance from the OnePlus 8 Pro, but at this price it is a shortcoming that is difficult to forgive.

Camera

Let's analyze the results of the different cameras. Let's start with some shots with the main camera.

Below we see the new night mode. OnePlus told us that it has now implemented the possibility for the camera to independently activate night mode when low light is detected. In our case we tried to take the same photo, in low light conditions, with and without night mode. We have not noticed this automatism and we can in fact see how the two shots, if at a glance they are similar, in reality the shot with active night mode manages to capture more details. Not only is the image brighter, but the shadows have a lot more detail.

Taken without night mode

Taken in night mode

Below you can see some shots taken with the Macro mode. These photographs are decidedly intriguing, however we must note two critical issues: the first concerns the need for a lot of light if you want to avoid blurry shots. Below you see the photo of an eye, which took a few clicks to get a sharp image. Next you see the photo of a plant, taken outside but in a shaded area. Despite the good brightness, the shot did not reach the hoped-for sharpness.

Photos with macro lens, in excellent light conditions

Macro photos, in good lighting conditions. It lacks sharpness.

We show you below the same shot captured with the main camera, wide angle lens and 2X digital zoom. The Wide lens does a great job, while there isn't much to say about the main lens, capable of capturing good shots. Note, above all, the good behavior of the digital zoom. Of course, if you zoom in on the photograph, you see that the sharpness of the other two shots is missing, but the result is not bad considering that it is not the result of a telephoto lens.

Below we see the result of the special monochrome lens. To understand the difference it is able to make, we took the same photo through the special lens, therefore directly in black and white, and compared it with a color photo that was subsequently transformed, by software, into a B&W version. The difference can be seen, the photo taken directly in black and white has a more elaborate structure, greater contrasts, sharper details. Look at the fabric of the Sonos speaker or even the streaks on the surface of the mouse.

Photo taken directly with the monochrome lens

The same photo transformed into a black and white version

Prices

We received the pricing information just a few hours before this review was published. It was legitimate to think of a price positioning that placed OnePlus 8T between the price of the OnePlus 8 (649 euros) and that of the OnePlus 8 Pro (919 euros). However, at the beginning of the review we said that some features of the 8T would place the newcomer on a different range, especially due to the flat screen design. Although it may seem like a minor feature, it affects ergonomics, some prefer it, others don't. In any case, OnePlus surprised, because 8T is sold at a price starting from 599 euros (8GB / 128GB). This radically changes the rules of the game, and makes OnePlus 8T a very attractive smartphone, they are not within the OnePlus family, but also compared to the rest of the market. Competitors with similar smartphones are positioned on a higher price level. It is sold at the same price as the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, which offers something less than the 8T, costs less than all high-end Samsung models, and also ranks very well compared to Oppo, RealMe and the other brands. In short, it seems that OnePlus has chosen the aggressive path, retracing its origins a bit. The only sour note in all of this is that the OnePlus 8 is sold at a higher price, at least for now. We asked OnePlus if we could expect a price repositioning, but we haven't received official information about it. It seems impossible that this will not happen, and when it does it will be the case to also consider the basic version, especially if you like smartphones with curved glass.

Verdict

When you decide to produce only excellent smartphones, creating models that can coexist in such a competitive market becomes a game of balance. OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are both excellent products: on the one hand the Pro model offers the maximum, on the other, OnePlus 8 clearly offers something less, but allows a saving of almost 300 euros, a good amount. It is not easy for the OnePlus 8T to slip between these two products, without making risky choices. And in fact a risky choice, if it can be defined as such, has been made: the starting price of 599 euros, lower than that of OnePlus 8 "base".

In short, the new 8T offers a screen with the resolution of the OnePlus 8, but with the refresh rate of the 8 Pro (120 Hz). A camera capable of taking good quality photos, but loses the telephoto lens, perhaps more comfortable than the macro or monochrome lens. It also renounces the wireless charging, and the curved glass, present on the other two models, opting for a flat glass. Personally I would have wanted a OnePlus 8T as it is, but at least with wireless charging. The telephoto lens is perhaps a better choice than the macro sensor. The monochrome sensor, on the other hand, is a very particular choice, which can only be appreciated by black and white admirers.

Net of this difference, the price of 599 euros weighs heavily on the evaluation of this smartphone, which is able to offer an unparalleled user experience, thanks to the excellent ergonomics, the high quality screen, the good performance camera. and super-fast charging too. OnePlus 8 offers a very high ratio between price, performance and features, and for this reason we give it our award.


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