Earlier this year, the mobile manufacturer OnePlus launched two mobiles, OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, where the latter ran off with all the attention. Both in the good and the bad way. OnePlus 8 Pro was and is the best mobile the Chinese company has ever launched on the market, and we have just named the mobile the Best Mobile of the Year 2020/2021 in the high-end class
On the other hand, many of OnePlus ‘very loyal and committed fans were getting tired of the fact that the company’s mobiles (especially OnePlus 8 Pro) had now become so expensive that what was originally OnePlus’ whole unique advantage – namely that the company produced fat and powerful mobiles at a reasonable price – was close to becoming a thing of the past.
Therefore, it was also difficult to perceive the launch of the significantly cheaper mid-range mobile OnePlus Nord, which came on the market just a few months after the OnePlus 8 series, as anything other than a strategic shift on the part of OnePlus. Or at least a sign that the popular producer had realized the importance of listening to his most enthusiastic fans.
Now the time has come for the OnePlus 8T, and unlike last autumn where we got the outstanding OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition, there is no Pro model in the T-series this time. OnePlus 8 Pro is thus still the expensive flagship, while OnePlus Nord should probably be a kind of budget model. And the OnePlus 8T? Yes, it is a kind of flagship model on a diet, which upgrades last year’s regular OnePlus 8 (which we have not tested) by taking over some of the most important specifications from OnePlus 8 Pro, while saving here and there to keep the price down.
Thus, at the time of writing, a OnePlus Nord can be purchased for approximately 5690 for the most expensive configuration, while OnePlus 8 Pro with top specifications costs NOK 10,690. The new OnePlus 8T with 256 gigabytes of built-in storage and 12 GB of RAM costs 7799 kroner, which places it well and truly in the middle between the two existing models in terms of price.
The question is whether that price is set correctly, and whether OnePlus prioritized correctly when they slimmed down the OnePlus 8 Pro to get to the OnePlus 8T.
Appearance and construction
At first glance, the OnePlus 8T budget model resembles the OnePlus Nord more than it resembles the flagship OnePlus 8 Pro. The back is made of glossy 3D Gorilla Glass, where the 8 Pro has a characteristic metallic and matte back, while the camera module is rectangular and is located at the top left seen from behind when the phone is with the screen down. As on OnePlus North. The camera on the OnePlus 8T is just bigger.
The frame is precisely cut in aluminum, and on both the 8 Pro and Nord sits the on / off button and the small slider button that switches between sound, vibration and silent mode on the right side, while the volume is regulated with the button on the opposite side.
Our test specimen was in the color aquamarine green, but the phone is also available in lunar silver. However, it is only in a configuration of 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage that OnePlus 8T can be purchased in the silver version, so the standard color for most copies will be the green version.
Although the OnePlus 8T is similar to the OnePlus Nord at first glance, it is more reminiscent of the OnePlus 8 Pro in terms of quality. The mobile is of course both light and robust, but in terms of design it has also been made more out of the details. For example, the camera module immediately seems large, but it still protrudes so little from the body that the mobile does not tilt when lying on a table. Delicious.
Screen and sound
When it comes to the screen, the most significant difference between the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8T is that the latter screen is completely flat. OnePlus 8 Pro had a screen with rounded edges, and if you belong to those users who find it annoying and anything but user-friendly, you can enjoy the OnePlus 8T.
For the new mobile phone, in contrast to both its own predecessor OnePlus 8 and the cheaper OnePlus Nord, has the very high refresh rate of 120 Hz as the flagship model 8 Pro. As so often mentioned, it provides an extremely fluid and fast user experience – not least when it comes to menus and animations.
On the other hand, the OnePlus 8T has to settle for the same Full HD screen resolution as the OnePlus Nord, but because the new model also comes with the slightly special 20: 9 screen format, you get some extra pixels for the money.
But even though the OnePlus 8T also has to do without the MEMC technology from the 8 Pro model (motion estimation and motion compensation, which is the design to make videos look better with an increased number of “frames” in the image), there is still talk about an outstanding bright (1100 nits) and razor-sharp screen, which is better than most we have seen in the same price range. Here, in our opinion, OnePlus has made the right decision by prioritizing the refresh rate over the screen resolution.
The OnePlus 8T also delivers an excellent sound experience. The speech quality is decent, and although the built-in stereo speakers lack a bit of the juice and power that the OnePlus 8 Pro delivers, the soundscape is still clear and distinct.
Even with headphones, it will be good for the ears. The built-in Dolby Atmos technology does a fine job, and the mobile delivers a wide sound image with lots of details, where both the high notes and the bass are razor sharp.
Let it be said right away: OnePlus 8T is not a selfie mobile. Here, OnePlus has really saved.
Where the significantly cheaper OnePlus Nord came with a dual front camera (a primary lens of 32 Mp and a supplementary 8 Mp ultra-wide-angle lens), so that you could also get your friends on the selfies, OnePlus 8T has to settle for the same 16 Mp front camera as OnePlus 8 Pro – with fix focus and no noticeable wide angle.
For us, it is completely absurd that it is the cheapest model of OnePlus’ numerous mobiles that has the best front camera. The camera has never been OnePlus’ strong point, but with OnePlus Nord, the company took an important step in the right direction, and therefore it is all the more frustrating that OnePlus 8T has to do without a proper selfie function.
Especially because the OnePlus 8T in most other points surprises positively when it comes to the camera. The primary camera on the OnePlus 8T consists of four lenses: a 48 Mp 5 / 1.7 main lens with Sony IMX586 sensor, a 16 Mp f / 2.0 123 degree ultra-wide angle (OnePlus’ widest ultra-wide angle to date), a 5 Mp macro and a 2 Mp monochrome lens.
There is no telephoto lens, so the camera must do without optical zoom, but in return has 10x digital zoom as well as both optical and electronic image stabilization.
In practice, the OnePlus 8T delivers outstanding image quality in a variety of situations. We have never seen better ultra-wide-angle images from a OnePlus mobile, and in general the monochrome sensor provides a degree of detail and depth in the images that is known from far more expensive mobiles. Images taken in the dark are also really nice, and the macro lens delivers the goods by creating razor-sharp images when you get really close. We also had a lot of fun with a new video function with a bokeh effect when we tested the mobile.
Jonas Gaarn, 2nd Dan Shotokan Karate, performs kata Tekki Shodan. The video was recorded with the OnePlus 8T, and the ‘Video Portrait’ feature is enabled. Notice the obvious bokeh effect in the background. (Video: Peter Gotschalk)
On the other hand, you do not have to zoom much more than 2x before the result is absolutely awful, and if you are very keen on taking many selfies, you should look for a mobile other than OnePlus 8T.
Now it becomes difficult and confusing. Because we have both good and not so good news about OnePlus 8T. We start with the negative.
The thing is that OnePlus with its new mobile has said goodbye to a couple of the most important advances from OnePlus 8 Pro, namely the IP68 certification and wireless charging. OnePlus itself claims that there are good reasons for both.
The phone is supposed to be waterproof anyway, and according to OnePlus has undergone the same stress test as OnePlus 8 Pro. They just did not want to pay the price for the official IP68 certification. And wireless charging has been dropped because it instead delivers the OnePlus 8T with the fastest regular charger from the company to date. A full 65 W fast charging is included this time, which means that the charger can charge the mobile from 0 to 69% in 15 minutes.
Of course, it’s fast – OnePlus 8 Pro can with Warp Charge 30T spend 23 minutes charging the phone from 0 to 50%, while OnePlus Nord charges from 0 to 70% in half an hour – but the question is whether it would not have been more convenient for many users with a slightly slower charge, if you could instead get the wireless charging with the purchase?
Another boring development started with OnePlus Nord, and now continues with OnePlus 8T. OnePlus has in fact moved away from its own OxygenOS apps for phone calls, messages and contacts, instead focusing on Google’s own apps from the pure Android version. It works well in everyday life, but makes the OnePlus 8T more anonymous and a little less OnePlus-like, than you could wish for.
In return, the new version 11 of OxygenOS means a couple of innovations we are happy to welcome. Among other things, various apps and menus have been designed so that they are easier to operate with one hand. The camera app has, for example, been given a lightning-fast sharing function so that you can share the photo or video you have just taken with just a single tap on the element’s thumbnail in the camera app. Smart.
The fingerprint reader is built into the screen, and the camera supports Face Unlock. Both features work well, but security is best served by the fingerprint.
The OnePlus 8T has the same 5G processor as the OnePlus 8 Pro, so it’s hardly any surprise that the mobiles have loads of muscle. It is noticeable both in daily use and when we look at the results from our Benchmark tests. However, the OnePlus 8T has to do without the lightning-fast LPDDR5 RAM from the OnePlus 8 Pro, which is the fastest type of RAM on the market, but still the OnePlus 8T performs better than almost all other mobiles in the same price range.
Well worth noting that you do not have to worry too much about power consumption. Not even with 120 Hz screen update enabled. Please note that the result of our Benchmark test of battery life is measured at 120 Hz. If you can settle for a refresh rate of 60 Hz, the battery naturally lasts even longer.
We fully understand that a mobile phone for almost 8000 kroner can not have the same functions as the absolute flagship model. But has OnePlus made the right decisions when they launched the OnePlus 8 Pro on a diet and designed the OnePlus 8T?
Unfortunately, the answer is not as clear-cut as we had hoped. It clearly detracts from the overall assessment that the mobile must do without wireless charging, and the front camera is also a disappointment now that OnePlus with its hitherto cheapest model OnePlus Nord had otherwise shown how to do it. The complete absence of telephoto lens, and thus the possibility of optical zoom, is also a formidable line in the bill.
On the other hand, it’s great that the OnePlus 8T comes with the market’s probably the fastest charger to date, and when it comes to the screen, OnePlus has made the right decision by prioritizing the refresh rate over the screen resolution. And it’s also difficult to complain about the raw performance that can definitely compete with the most expensive mobiles on the market – and then the mobile even has 5G.
This alone means that the OnePlus 8T is worth all the money, and we give the relatively high rating without shaking hands. Before you possibly buy OnePlus 8T, you just have to be aware of what the phone can not (swim, take good selfies, charge wirelessly) and then make the decision on that basis.