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OnePlus 10T review: Speed is the name of the game, but is it enough?
With a $649 starting price and flagship specs, OnePlus is back to challenging industry flagships for a spot in your hand. There's a lot to like in this mid-year model -- with years of support ahead, too.
After putting its T-series smartphones off for a year -- in the US, at least -- OnePlus is back with the launch of the OnePlus 10T. The device marks the company's highly-demanded return to its roots of churning out snappy handsets with flagship specifications -- at a mid-range price of $649. For $100 more, you can double the 10T's RAM and internal storage, making the phone an attractive option for folks who demand more power. In fact, OnePlus says that if you make your purchase during select days in August, you get the upgraded model for the same $649 base price. More details on that towards the end.
For a phone that starts at $649, there are some notable compromises that you should be aware of, especially when comparing the 10T to the company's flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro. But the 10T is a serious competitor in the Qualcomm Snapdragon flagship processor market, and OnePlus believes that it's found the middle ground between power, speed, and value.
Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 Mobile Platform
6.7-inch, 2412 x 1080 pixels resolution LCD (394 ppi)
4800 mAh non-removable with 125W fast wired charging
163 x 75.37 x 8.75 mm and 203.5g
Moonstone Black and Jade Green
Latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ processor
No Alert Slider
Three rear cameras
One specification that OnePlus has been showboating is the integration of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. The Plus version of this processor is advertised as having 30% improved CPU power efficiency with a 30% improvement in GPU power efficiency. The processor also integrates a fourth-generation Snapdragon X65 5G modem system that supports 5G speeds up to 10 Gbps. In short: expect a phone that's faster, more powerful, and more efficient than its early-year competition.
The display on the OnePlus 10T is AMOLED, made of a flat Gorilla Glass 5 material. The 6.7-inch display has a resolution of 2412 x 1080 pixels, with a small hole-punch front-facing camera at the center. It's not the most inspiring design, but one that I, and many people, have no complaints about. The 10T display also has a 10-bit color depth with HDR10 Plus support, and it looks great. The display supports a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz with adaptive options to shift between 120 Hz, 90 Hz, or 60 Hz, depending on the application in use.
The latest generation under-display fingerprint sensor is present, and it has worked flawlessly. I used it in combination with the face unlock feature for a speedy and consistent biometric experience. I just wish I didn't have to scan my fingers so many times to setup the sensor in the first place.
The volume button is on the left, with the power button on the right. The iconic OnePlus Alert Slider, however, is not present, and you can read more about that design decision in the following section. Microphones are positioned at the top and bottom, along with a USB-C port and SIM card tray. It's the usual bunch of ports and trinkets. Lastly, the top and bottom have a flat matte-finish center, while the sides are glossy plastic.
About that Alert Slider
After revealing that the OnePlus 10T was coming and openly sharing some of its features, we read quite a bit about community disappointment in removing the iconic Alert Slider. OnePlus incorporated this three-position slider since the 3T in 2016 and confirmed to ZDNet that removing the brand-specific feature was hopefully not the path forward for all OnePlus phones.
OnePlus issued a statement on this compromise, stating that the trade-off was made to provide super-fast wired charging, the largest capacity battery possible (300 mAh more, to be exact), and an improved antenna system for gaming that provides better signals when holding the device in landscape orientation.
With 10 days of use under my belt, I do miss the Alert Slider's convenience. However, the volume control slider in Android is still miles ahead of the terrible iOS volume controls, so I'm willing to give up the slider for improvements in battery life and cellular performance. With the super fast charging support, I'm not convinced we needed the extra 300 mAh battery capacity provided by dropping the Alert Slider.
Wireless charging is not supported on the 10T; however, incredibly fast wired charging is, and unlike Apple, Samsung, and Google, OnePlus includes the charger in the box. A 160W charger is supplied with 125W wired charging supported in the US and 150W in other countries. At 125W, the OnePlus 10T can be charged from 1 to 100% in just 20 minutes. At that rate, even fast wireless charging makes little sense, and it's pretty simple to stay charged up with a quick hit from the included charging system.
OnePlus also incorporates a Battery Health Engine and a customized smart charging chip to help extend the battery's lifespan and preserve its capacity. An algorithm tracks and controls the maximum charging current to make sure charging is safe, especially at the speeds that it's receiving. Electrodes are also continuously repaired during charging cycles to reduce the damage done to anodes and cathodes. Battery health is also conditioned by the 13 internal temperature sensors throughout the 10T.
Improved cellular reception
Cellular reception strength has always been an area where Samsung stood out from Apple and Google. OnePlus was the one contender in this area and remains one of the best when it comes to coverage and speeds. I've enjoyed superb connectivity with the OnePlus 10T, even in areas with weak signal strength. Phone calls sounded crystal clear on both ends of the call. As usual, when I use OnePlus phones on T-Mobile, I still cannot get the native visual voicemail to function. I'm glad to see it integrated like Apple and Google, but disappointed I can never get it working.
On the back of the OnePlus 10T, we find three camera lenses and a flashlight in a stovetop design similar to the OnePlus 10 Pro. The cameras are headlined by the main 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor with OIS and EIS and an aperture of f/1.8. The default shooting mode does not utilize all the megapixels, so you'll want to toggle on the full 50MP option within the camera app. Besides the main lens is an 8MP ultra-wide that supports a 119.9-degree field-of-view, with the last camera supporting macro photography through a 2MP shooter. You'll notice that there is no Hasselblad integration (or branding) in the OnePlus 10T cameras or smartphone software, so that is one compromise made to reduce the price of the 10T.
The camera software is a OnePlus feature with modes for the night, video, photo, portrait, panoramic, macro, movie, slow motion, time-lapse, long exposure, dual-view video, tilt shift, and manual, so it is very easy to get creative with your subject on the OnePlus 10T. I particularly enjoy long exposure shooting when I fly fish on rivers, macro mode for flower shots, and portrait for photos of my family.
Oxygen OS 12.1
The OnePlus 10T launches with Android 12 and Oxygen OS 12.1. The July 5 Android security update is present on our review unit, but given the release timing, we will likely see another security update on retail units. OnePlus has a good track record of timely security updates, so I'm not worried.
OnePlus says it will provide three major Android version updates and four years of security updates for the OnePlus 10T. Android 13 is said to be coming soon so the first major update will appear on the OnePlus 10T before the end of 2022.
Still, there are some useful utilities in OxygenOS 12, such as quick launch features, quick gestures, and gaming mode. The gaming mode settings help provide an optimal experience for those who play games after work is done. Some may also find the OnePlus Shelf, Work Life Balance 2.0, and other utilities useful too. The native Photos app, in my opinion, has better editing tools than Google Photos, the voice recorder is handy for quick audio notes, and the cloning utility supports quick setup of a new phone. Oxygen OS 12.1 has been around for several months now and offers a sound experience. There's even OnePlus Scout, which searches files across your entire device, including content in your contacts, documents, and music tracks.
We look forward to seeing Android 13 with the next generation of Oxygen OS appear on both the 10T and older 10 Pro in the next few months. If you're split between the company's 2022 models, here's a brief comparison of the two.
The OnePlus 10T offers a couple of improvements over the 10 Pro, but if you want everything OnePlus has to offer and can do without the latest processor, the 10 Pro is still the better device in almost all respects.
With the $100 price drop in the OnePlus 10 Pro (from $899 to $799), there is now a $150 price difference between the 8/128GB models. For $150, you gain an Alert Slider, a telephoto camera, Hasselblad camera software enhancements, metal frame, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, better front glass material, and a higher resolution front-facing camera that is tucked away in the left front corner.
However, the OnePlus 10T offers the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and faster-wired charging. The OnePlus 10T also has a flat glass display, which calls for fewer accidental touches and palm presses compared to the 10 Pro's curved display.
At the global press briefing, OnePlus stated that a customer who wants the fastest available charging system and enjoys gaming on their phone should look to the 10T. Those potential customers who want the very best OnePlus camera experience should choose the discounted OnePlus 10 Pro.
OnePlus also stated that the OnePlus 10 Pro would be getting the Android 13 upgrade before the OnePlus 10T, so if you want the official Android software update sooner, then the OnePlus 10 Pro may be a better choice. OnePlus is part of the Android beta program so you could always upgrade early with a beta version of the software.
OnePlus was asked about upgrading the 10 Pro before the newest 10T and stated that the company has had the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in-house for longer, so it's able to optimize the older chipset sooner for Android 13. Still, the OnePlus 10T will get the upgrade sometime this year.
OnePlus 10T vs 10 Pro
OnePlus 10 Pro
Snapdragon 8 Gen1+ Mobile Platform
Snapdragon 8 Gen1 Mobile Platform
50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro
48MP main, 50MP ultra-wide, 8MP telephoto
Display glass material
Gorilla Glass 5, flat
Gorilla Glass Victus, curved
Price for 8/128
New 3D cooling system for gaming support
Early access special and car charger
The 8GB/128GB OnePlus 10T will be available for $649 in Moonstone Black and Jade Green, while the 16GB/256GB variant is $100 more at $749. Pre-orders start on September 1st, with official availability on September 29th.
If you are interested in purchasing the OnePlus 10T, then you should definitely consider ordering one during one of the four special early-access periods: August 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, and 24-27. Early access customers will receive a free upgrade to the 16GB/256GB model, so for the $649 price, you get the higher-end model that is perfect for power users. OnePlus also says that purchases made during the sales events will receive 0% APR with 24 monthly installments, a free case, and 50% off the protection plan, alongside the free RAM and storage upgrade.
OnePlus will also be offering a SuperVOOC 80W car charger with USB-A and USB-C ports for $39. This will be available starting September 1st at OnePlus.com.
I've been using the OnePlus 10T for about 2 weeks and it's made me question whether it was worth spending $400 more for my iPhone 13 Pro Max.
There were clearly a few compromises made with the OnePlus 10T as OnePlus focused primarily on performance upgrades and not upgrades across the board on a T series device. For the $649 price, $749 for this particular review unit, OnePlus offers a lot to like when looking at Android flagship devices, and it's the first generally available Android smartphone we have seen with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. If you don't care about the Alert Slider or Hasselblad camera enhancements, the OnePlus 10T may be the device for you.