OnePlus 8T Review: A Powerful Phone With Lacking Cameras


Rating:
7/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $749

OnePlus 8T on a tree
Peter Cao

The OnePlus 8T is a great phone. It packs in all the essential features without making too many compromises. It has a great display, long battery life with super-fast charging, and OxygenOS grants you a smooth experience that closely resembles pure Android.

Here’s What We Like

  • 120 Hz display
  • Long battery life
  • Fast charging w/ 65 W Warp Charge
  • Reliable fingerprint sensor

And What We Don’t

  • Cameras are decent at best
  • 1080p display
  • Lacks wireless charging
  • Lacks official IP rating

However, the 8T is only a great phone in a vacuum. $750 is a hard asking price when phones such as the outgoing OnePlus 7 Pro, which can now be found for half the price new, and the OnePlus 8 Pro pack in greater features such as an actual IP rating, better cameras, higher resolution displays, and wireless charging.

1080p Is Fine and Warp Charge 65 Is Awesome

Let’s start with the good. While “only” at 1080p, the 8T’s screen is beautiful, vibrant, and accurate. Despite its lower resolution, everything remains sharp and easy to read. Quite honestly, most people probably won’t notice the lack of a higher resolution display. It also features a 120Hz refresh rate, making the experience super-smooth.

I chose to keep the phone’s display in the “natural” mode versus having it in the “vibrant” mode, which is the default. I found this mode to be more accurate and true to life. The vibrant mode will probably appeal to you more if you’re used to how Samsung displays look.

Battery life is something you won’t have to worry about. On a typical day, I was looking at five and a half to six hours of screen on time, ending the day with 25 to 30 percent left. On heavier days (heavy video watching, gaming, and turn-by-turn navigation), I am still able to hit a full day without any issues.

Grid of orange hexagons
Peter Cao

And if the battery was dying faster than anticipated? The included 65W Warp Charger comes to the rescue. It netted me a full charge from dead in just under 45 minutes. I was able to achieve a 50 percent charge in 15 minutes.

Of course, other USB-C enabled chargers worked just fine, albeit not as fast.

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256GB (no microSD)
  • Display: 6.5-inch 2400×1080 AMOLED, 120 Hz, hole-punch front camera
  • Cameras: 48 MP main camera, 16 MP wide-angle camera, 5 MP macro camera, 2 MP monochrome camera
  • Ports and charging: USB-C
  • Headphone jack: No
  • Battery: 4500 mAh
  • Fingerprint sensor: In-display
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax; Wi-Fi 6; 2×2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.1; NFC; AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint support
  • 5G bands: NSA: N1, 5, 25, 41, 66, 71; SA: N1, 3, 41, 71, 2, 25, 66
  • Water resistance: None
  • Colors: Aquamarine Green, Lunar Silver
  • Dimensions: 1160.7mm x 74.mm x 8.4mm, 188 grams
  • Price: $750

Performance is stellar thanks to the Snapdragon 865 processor. Pair that with the X55 cellular modem, and you have a super-responsive phone and 5G capabilities. My carrier doesn’t currently support 5G, but the 8T’s LTE performance was nothing shy of exceptional.

A bush of flowers
Peter Cao

The 8T also has support for dual SIM by way of two physical SIMs rather than the usual one eSIM and physical SIM setup found in most other phones. However, you won’t be able to use 5G with two SIM cards inserted. Which is fine, because 5G is mostly irrelevant right now.

Something that OnePlus does to try to mitigate burn-in with its Always-On Display is moving the screen elements every few minutes. It’s a nice touch and will likely reduce the likelihood of burn-in over the course of several years.

The Cameras Are Meh

The cameras on the 8T are the phone’s weakest link. They get the job done but don’t expect Pixel or iPhone levels of camera performance—you can see examples sprinkled throughout this review.

The main wide camera is really good, especially with decent to great lighting. Colors were punchy and the sensor was able to retain great detail. When there was some lighting, but not much, the wide camera was still able to hold its ground, though you did start to lose some detail.

Heart-shaped rock
Peter Cao

The phone doesn’t have a telephoto lens, but the ultra-wide camera falls in line with other phones that have it. It’s a genuine joy to use, and I’m glad the 8T has it, but the corners are often soft and lack in detail. It’s great for landscape shots where there’s not a ton going on. But it struggles with cityscapes a bit.

Ultra-wide shot of a park Wide shot of a park

While I didn’t have much time to test the 8T’s night mode (NightScape), I can confidently say that you should avoid the 8T if you want a phone that takes great night shots. With the limited time I had with it, I constantly got shots with a ton of noise and not a whole lot of detail. Colors looked washed out, and photos were either overexposed or underexposed.

Video mode is pretty decent as well. You can shoot up to 4K at 60 frames per second with options for 16:9 or 21:9 aspect ratios. The phone was able to compensate for my shaky hands, and the overall video was really good. The audio, however, could be categorized as “good enough” especially in louder environments where everything sounded like a jumbled mess.

The 8T has a portrait mode that works in videos that blurs the background giving you a bokeh effect while shooting video. This…. is straight-up garbage and should be avoided at all costs. Under no circumstances did I want to shoot video in this mode. The camera constantly struggled with keeping the subject in focus while also blurring the background.

OxygenOS Is Great

OnePlus 8T on a ledge
Peter Cao

In terms of software experience, I’ve come to love the small tweaks OnePlus has done to Android. If you can’t have the stock Android experience from the Pixel line of devices, OxygenOS is the next best thing. Things such as the ability to hide the hole punch cutout natively, and hide certain status bar icons, are very nice touches.

For the most part, everything is where you expect. There are no duplicate messages or phone apps or anything like that.

With that said, not everything is perfect. I’ve had a few issues with USB-C headphones and earbuds. I realize that most people have moved on to wireless headphones, but this issue seems to be specific to OnePlus devices as I’ve had no issues with these headphones on other non-OnePlus devices.

Close up of some bushes
Peter Cao

Out of the four USB-C headphones I’ve tried, two of them did not play any audio. The phone detects the headphones as apparent by the headphone indicator in the status bar, and the “wired headphones” label in the quick settings panel. This only happens when I plug the headphones in via a USB-C to USB-C cable. It works fine if I use these headphones via a 3.5mm cable and a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle. Of course, Bluetooth headphones work just fine.

A peculiar issue I’ve faced that might not necessarily be the fault of OxygenOS but my review unit specifically, is that I’m unable to register my left thumb with the fingerprint sensor. I’ve had zero issues with this finger on any other device, but it’s worth mentioning here.

I’ve also noticed that the fingerprint sensor seems to take a beat longer than I’ve come to expect from other flagships with in-display fingerprint sensors like ones found in the Samsung Galaxy S20, and much slower then non-screen fingerprint sensors found in the Google Pixel 4a or the iPhone SE (2020). Not a deal-breaker, but something worth noting.

Missing a Few Flagship Features

OnePlus 8T versus iPhone 12 Pro
Peter Cao

While I think the color and feel of the 8T feels great, the back is very slippery, making it hard to grip. The finish is also a fingerprint magnet, making it hard to enjoy the color. If you’re like me and don’t use a case, you’ll want to be extra careful handling this phone. Obviously, putting the thing in a case will solve this.

Fast wired charging is nice, especially when you’re able to go from dead to 100 percent in under 45 minutes. However, the lack of wireless charging is a hard pill to swallow, especially at this price. The majority of other smartphones on the market support the feature. It may not be the fastest way to charge your phone, but boy is it convenient.

The 8T also lacks any sort of IP rating, which doesn’t necessarily mean the phone isn’t water-resistant. But you will have to be extra careful around liquids with the device because any sort of accidental spill could be the end.

Conclusion

Seattle sky view
Peter Cao

The OnePlus 8T is a solid phone. It’s missing some key features from other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE such as wireless charging and a high-resolution display. But that won’t matter to most people. The trade-off is a smooth 120Hz display that’s plenty sharp, and super-fast wired charging that can get you from dead to 100 in under an hour.

The biggest drawback is in the camera department. It’s simply not as good as other cameras in its price range.

Warp Charge 65 is super nice, especially if you’re in a pinch. But I’m not sure it’s something that would have me choose the 8T over another phone. Plus, battery capacity and health are questionable given faster charging could potentially lead to shorter battery life in the long term.

I just wish it would’ve given up 5G to squeeze in a better camera, wireless charging, an IP rating, and maybe even a 1440p screen.

Here’s What We Like

  • 120 Hz display
  • Long battery life
  • Fast charging w/ 65 W Warp Charge
  • Reliable fingerprint sensor

And What We Don’t

  • Cameras are decent at best
  • 1080p display
  • Lacks wireless charging
  • Lacks official IP rating





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