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There is a lot to like about the new OnePlus 8T, just like there was a lot to like about the original OnePlus 8. As you’d expect the 8T is an incredibly similar smartphone when compared with the model it’s iterating on. Much of what I said in the original review still remains the same, and if you read that a few months ago, or take a quick look now, you’ll see that I liked that phone a lot. So for this review rather than go over many of the similarities between the two phones I’m going to focus on the few small, but meaningful, differences.
The first and most obvious difference is the new design. The front of the phone looks pretty much exactly the same; it’s a 6.55-inch display with a hole-punch camera, but when you flip it over the difference is obvious. The camera module has moved from the original position down the middle of the phone, to a rectangular box at the top left of the phone. I’m not a big fan of this change. I get they had to make it looks somewhat different to differentiate the two phones, but I think the old style looked way better. The back of the phone is quite big, and to my eyes the camera bump looks a bit small when dropped in all that empty space.
The biggest difference you’ll notice when actually using the OnePlus 8T is the excellent new screen. It’s still a flat panel, like the one on the OnePlus 8, so you don’t get all those annoying accidental touches that come with a curved display. The refresh rate has also been bumped up from the 90Hz on the base OnePlus 8, to a faster and smoother 120Hz – the same as the refresh rate on the OnePlus 8 Pro. It’s actually the first-ever flat 120Hz display to get an A+ rating from display mate. It’s a joy to use, no matter what it is you’re doing. The 120Hz really shines when gaming, but just navigating the operating system or scrolling through your social media feels as fast and as great as ever.
The feeling of speed is helped by the super-fast hardware. The OnePlus 8T is still using the Snapdragon 865, the very same chip that the 8 and the 8 Pro use. It’s an extremely fast and capable processor, but there is a part of me that’s a bit disappointed that OnePlus didn’t go right to the cutting edge and use a Snapdragon 865+. I’m sure during everyday use I wouldn’t even notice, but when I’m using a OnePlus I want to know I’m using the fastest hardware possible. This chip does enable 5G connectivity though, so that’s nice. It comes in two different versions, one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and one with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The storage has also been upgraded to speedy UFS 3.1 flash storage. The upgrade to OxygenOS 11, which is running on top of Android 11, is also a welcome addition. Lots of subtle tweaks to things like animations and design make the phone feel so much better to use. Other than Google, OnePlus makes the best version of Android without a doubt.
This is all powered by a 4500mAh battery which is an adequate size for a 6.55-inch, 120Hz, 1080p display. It’ll last you for most of a day on one charge which for a phone with these kinds of specs, is to be expected. This stuff is quite unremarkable. What is remarkable though is the speed which it charges at. The modest battery performance literally doesn’t matter when your phone charges at 65 watts. The 65-watt charger included in the box will charge the phone from 0% to 100% in just 39 minutes. You read that right, thirty-nine minutes. You genuinely get an entire day of general usage with just 15 minutes of charge. It’s incredible. It makes me question what I value more in my smartphones. A massive battery that will go all day and then some which I have to charge once overnight, or an average battery which can charge from 0% to 80% in 15 minutes.
So far so good. This is a pretty amazing phone. Up until this point, there are very few downsides, which makes it very easy to recommend. But unfortunately, now we have to talk about the cameras. On the box, OnePlus are calling the 8T a four-camera smartphone. I personally would call the OnePlus 8T a two and a bit camera smartphone. The main sensor and ultrawide sensor are very similar to the ones on the OnePlus 8. This is fine, they are decent cameras which take decent pictures, but they aren’t anything special. What I said in the review of the 8 remains the same, they’re colourful, vibrant pictures, which capture a good amount of detail, but they won’t be winning any awards.
Now let’s talk about the other two ‘cameras’. One of them is a macro camera, and it’s awful. The pictures it takes are pixelated, completely washed of all colour, and just generally horrible. There was a macro camera on the OnePlus 8, and maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t remember it being this bad… The other new ‘camera’ is the monochrome camera which is meant to improve your black and white pictures. Long story short, it doesn’t. My iPhone 11 Pro with a black and white filter switched on takes much better black and white pictures than the ones on this. Even the black and white filter on the OnePlus 8T that doesn’t use the monochrome camera takes pictures which, to my eye, are indistinguishable from the ones which are using this new monochrome camera. These two borderline useless cameras are stuck on the back of the phone so OnePlus can sell it to you as a four-camera smartphone rather than a two camera smartphone, it’s that simple. I would much rather that time and money spent designing the phone to accommodate two extra camera lenses was spent on improving the two lenses that people actually use every day.
And finally, the main difference between the OnePlus 8T and the OnePlus 8. The OnePlus 8T is a better smartphone than the OnePlus 8 in almost every way, and it starts at £50 cheaper than the OnePlus 8 did when it was launched. In the UK, you can get the Lunar Silver model which comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for £549, and the Aquamarine Green model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £649. Whichever way you look at it, that is a fantastic deal. With phones like the Samsung S20 FE and Pixel 5 coming out at a starting price of £599, OnePlus have entered the game with an incredible mid-range phone of their own for less money. If you want an incredibly fast mid-range phone that feels great to use, and aren’t too fussed about cameras, the 8T might be the smartphone for you.
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