OnePlus 8T review: Fast screen, fast charging

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  • Editors' rating
    8.5 Excellent
  • $749.00

Pros

  • 120Hz AMOLED screen
  • 65W fast charging
  • 5G and dual SIMs
  • Very good performance
  • Android 11

Cons

  • No IP rating for dust/water resistance
  • No wireless charging
  • No telephoto camera
  • No 3.5mm headset jack or MicroSD card slot

With the OnePlus 8T, OnePlus is maintaining its product release pattern of recent years, with a flagship handset in the first half of the year and a 'T' release following in the second half. So, in spring we had the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, and now comes the OnePlus 8T. In between (in Europe) we've had the OnePlus Nord, a mid-ranger that took OnePlus back to its roots of providing an attractive combination of high specification and low price. Let's see how the OnePlus 8T fits in.

My review sample of the OnePlus 8T had a pale blue-green back. There's also a silver-grey version, with different storage/RAM configurations for each colour in the UK: the Aquamarine Green model has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, and costs £649 (inc. VAT), while the Lunar Silver model has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs £549 (inc. VAT). In the US, both colours have the same 12GB/256GB configuration, and cost $749.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back is slippery in the hand and prone to sliding off surfaces, while the protruding lozenge that frames the camera array is off-centre (on the left), so the handset rocks when laid flat and the screen prodded. None of this is unusual for a current phone, but it's a pleasant surprise to note that the back seems completely resistant to fingerprints. 

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The 6.55-inch OnePlus 8T runs Android 11 on Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, or 12GB RAM/256GB storage. There are four cameras at the back: 48MP wide angle, 16MP ultra wide angle, 5MP macro and 2MP monochrome. It weighs 188g.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The sides of the phone are aluminium, with the volume rocker on the left and the power button on the right, accompanied by OnePlus's trademark alert slider that's so useful for toggling between vibrate, silent and sound-on modes. The in-screen fingerprint sensor worked quickly and effectively for me. 

Like the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus 8T lacks an IP rating for dust and water resistance. If you want the reassurance of an IP68 rating ('dust tight' and capable of immersion in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes), you'll need to look at the OnePlus 8 Pro (from £799 inc. VAT/$799).

The OnePlus 8T has the same 6.55-inch screen size as the OnePlus 8 and very similar dimensions (74.1mm wide by 160.7mm deep by 8.4mm thick), but is 8g heavier at 188g. 

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The OnePlus 8T has a flat screen. While the company has been a champion of the curved screen, it reverted to a flat screen for the Nord and has also gone with flat here. 

This may be a response to criticisms of the curved screens in the OnePlus 8 and 8T, which were twofold: first, accidental touches can make interaction annoying at times; and second, content that curves around the screen edge is more difficult to read. Curved screens may be showy, but flat ones are more user-friendly.

The OnePlus 8T's 6.55-inch AMOLED panel has a resolution of 2,400 by 1,080 pixels (402ppi) and is sharp and vibrant. Its 120Hz refresh rate (up from 90Hz on the OnePlus 8) makes for fast transitions, and there's virtually no lag as you sweep and swipe around. Although the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G offers a 144Hz refresh rate, 120Hz is still a premium specification. If you select the higher refresh rate in system settings, the handset will dynamically decide when to revert to 60Hz depending on what you're doing at the time.

There's a small punch-hole in the top left of the screen for the 16MP front camera and a tiny all-round bezel. The screen to body ratio is 86.9%.

The OnePlus 8T is one of the first smartphones to ship with Android 11, and OnePlus has taken the opportunity to rework its Oxygen OS overlay which is now also at version 11. The most striking feature in this respect is a design revision that aims to make one-handed use easier. So, for example, on settings screens there's a gap towards the top of the screen with all the tappable elements lower down. This is definitely easier to navigate one-handed, but the convention doesn't follow all the way through settings: digging deeper, and using applications in general, still requires you to reach around the whole screen.

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OnePlus's Oxygen OS 11 overlay has been redesigned to make one-handed operation easier.

Image: OnePlus
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Reading Mode on the OnePlus 8T.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Still, Oxygen OS is one of the better Android overlays -- unobtrusive, with some useful extras. I remain a fan of OnePlus's Reading Mode, for example, which provides both a monochrome screen and a washed-out chromatic effect screen. Importantly, Reading Mode can be set to kick in automatically when specific apps are started.

Like the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, the OnePlus 8T runs on Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 865 chipset. CPU performance under Geekbench 5 was strong, with scores of 869 (single core) and 3144 (multi core). The OnePlus Nord, which runs on the mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset scored 620 (single core) and 1951 (multi core) under Geekbench 5.

The OnePlus 8T supports 5G and can accommodate two SIMs at once. There is no provision for storage expansion via MicroSD.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The 4,500mAh battery lasted for 13 hours 45 minutes under the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 battery life test. When asked to play video for three hours non-stop at full screen it lost 11% from a 100% charge. On this basis, it's probably going to get you through a day -- but if it doesn't you can always take advantage of the very impressive 65W Warp Charge 65. You'll need to use the provided power adapter and cable, but if you do, charging capability is exceptional.

I tested Warp Charge 65 from a near-standing start, with the handset at 5% charge. In 10 minutes the battery was at 47%. After 20 minutes it had reached 76%, and after half an hour it was at 96%. This is pretty consistent with OnePlus's claims (from 1% to 58% in 15 minutes and full charge in 39 minutes) and is a big step up from the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro's 30W fast charging. If you want (30W) wireless charging, you'll need to look at the OnePlus 8 Pro.

There are four rear cameras, three of which are the same as those on the OnePlus 8: 48MP f/1.7 wide angle with OIS; 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (123° FoV); and 5MP f/2.4 macro. I found that the main and ultrawide cameras produced good shots, but the macro camera, which lacks autofocus, could be better. 

The fourth camera is a monochrome 2MP f/2.4 unit that comes into play as you flick through colour filter options, but it's not the same as having a black-and-white camera that functions independently. As with the OnePlus 8, there's no telephoto camera -- for that, again, you'll need the OnePlus 8 Pro. The 8T's 16MP f/2.4 selfie camera performed perfectly well.

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Image: OnePlus

Conclusions

The OnePlus 8T is a solid mid-range 5G smartphone with two standout features: a superbly sharp and vibrant 6.55-inch AMOLED screen with a fast 120Hz refresh rate; and 65W fast charging that can fully charge the 4,500mAh battery in just under 40 minutes.

The addition of these features adds £50/$50 to the price of the otherwise very similar OnePlus 8 (with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage). If you don't need them, the earlier 2020 handset remains an excellent choice.

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Where To Buy

Price
$749.00

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Where To Buy

OnePlus 8T

Part Number: 5011101276
Price
$749.00