Six months after the launch of the OnePlus 8, the company has launched its successor in the form of the OnePlus 8T. The OnePlus 8T arrives in isolation without an accompanying OnePlus 8T Pro, as the existing OnePlus 8 Pro will continue to be the company flagship.

The OnePlus 8T features several changes across the board, including an updated display and camera system along with a radically improved charging system. The OnePlus 8T also launches with the new OxygenOS 11, which is based on the latest Android 11. And it does all of this at a lower price than the outgoing model.

OnePlus 8T specs at a glance:

  • Body: 160.7×74.1×8.4mm, 188g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass), glass back (Gorilla Glass), aluminum frame; Colors: Aquamarine Green, Lunar Silver.
  • Display: 6.55″ Fluid AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 402ppi; Always-on display.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7 nm+): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 585); Adreno 650.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 11, OxygenOS 11.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 16 MP, f/2.2, 14mm, 123˚, 1/3.6″, 1.0µm; Macro: 5 MP, f/2.4; Depth: 2 MP, f/2.4; Dual-LED flash, HDR, panorama.
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.4, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm; Auto-HDR.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, Auto HDR, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS.
  • Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 65W, 100% in 39 min (advertised).
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer (market dependant); NFC.

With the 8T, OnePlus will be competing in the increasingly competitive $700 segment. We have already seen some strong competition in the segment in the past from devices like the iPhone 11 and the recently launched Galaxy S20 FE. Google also just joined the fray with its new Pixel 5. As such, the OnePlus 8T has its work cut out for it.

In this review, we will see how much of an improvement the new OnePlus 8T is over its predecessor, how it compares against its closest rivals, and if it’s worth your money.

The OnePlus 8T features several design changes over its predecessors, some of which can be seen as an upgrade while others feel more like a downgrade.

The first thing you notice about the OnePlus 8T is that the display is no longer curved. The OnePlus 8 had a very subtle curvature to its screen, which wasn’t as bothersome as some of the other curved displays on the market (such as the one on the OnePlus 8 Pro) that pose issues like image distortion and accidental touches.

The OnePlus 8T reneges on that by having a flat display covered in the same Gorilla Glass. As people who are generally not enthused by curved displays, we see this as an improvement even though we didn’t see the curve on the OnePlus 8 as a major issue. This also makes the display on the OnePlus 8T seem just a tad larger than the one on the OnePlus 8T, even though they have the same surface area.

Going around the sides, you will notice there is now a different radius to the curvature. The OnePlus 8 had a very small radius for the side curvature, which made the edges aggressively curved, causing the aluminum frame to jut out slightly. This gave the feeling that you were holding the phone just by the frame alone, which made the phone feel a lot thinner than it was.

The OnePlus 8T, however, has a much larger radius for its side curvature. You feel more of the back glass as it curves towards the metal frame in a larger sweep. This causes the OnePlus 8T to feel much more substantial and thicker in hand, even though the phone is only 0.4mm thicker than the OnePlus 8.

Other than that, the sides are unremarkable. You have the same control positioning as usual for OnePlus phones, with the power and alert slider on the right and volume buttons on the left. The power button is delightfully tactile and the alert slider has an incredibly satisfying movement with precise, audible clicks at every stop. The volume buttons aren’t as enjoyable to use; they are less raised than the power button and a bit too thin. We would have also preferred them to be on the same side as the power key to avoid accidental screenshots, which are extremely common on OnePlus phones.

The back is where you will notice the biggest change. The OnePlus 8T takes a break from the pill-shaped OnePlus camera design (and the strange one-off circular camera of the 7T) and goes for the ‘rectangle in the corner’ approach that everyone is doing these days. The good thing is that OnePlus’ camera bump isn’t ridiculously tall so it doesn’t stick out much from the back of the phone. This means the phone is still relatively stable on a desk. All the camera lenses are covered by the same glass, however, so if you break it somehow, it will affect all the cameras on the phone.

The OnePlus 8T comes in two colors, Aquamarine Green and Lunar Silver. The Lunar Silver model has a matte finish surface with a frosted glass appearance. We didn’t have any hands-on time with this version.

Our review unit came in the Aquamarine Green color, which is quite stunning. The color shifts from a warm fern green to a cool cyan just by adjusting the angle of the light and it’s such a drastic difference they look like two different color options. Unfortunately, this is something you have to see in person as the camera only tends to capture the phone looking mostly blue.

The Aquamarine Green color also has a glossy finish. OnePlus says that it has designed the glass to attract significantly fewer fingerprints. We don’t quite agree with that as we still saw quite a lot of fingerprints on our review unit but they were still easy enough to clean.

One of the things noticeable when going from OnePlus 8 to the OnePlus 8T is the increase in weight. The OnePlus 8T is only 8g heavier than the OnePlus 8 but it feels more than that in hand. As mentioned before, the OnePlus 8T is also thicker, with a more substantial feel in hand. This results in the OnePlus 8T having a worse feeling in hand. If you didn’t know anything about these two phones and just picked up one after the other, you’d be convinced the OnePlus 8 was the newer model because it feels thinner, lighter, and just nicer in hand. The OnePlus 8T has a more generic feel to it, which feels like a downgrade in comparison.

The OnePlus 8 also feels denser, like every square millimeter of internal space was utilized. The OnePlus 8T feels a bit hollow when you tap on the back. We asked OnePlus about the increased thickness and they said it is due to various factors, including a larger battery, bigger heat sinks, and the new display with its controller bent underneath it.

One thing that hasn’t changed from OnePlus 8 is the lack of any dust and water-resistance certification. This doesn’t imply that the OnePlus 8T doesn’t have any protection; OnePlus usually has some level of protection in place that should prevent damage if you were to drop the phone in water. But because the device hasn’t been certified you don’t have the assurance and peace of mind. Of course, if you aren’t the sort of person who constantly uses their phone around pools of water then this probably doesn’t matter much to you but at this price point, we do expect manufacturers to provide this feature.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T is still a relatively well-designed and well-built smartphone. We like the new flat display, the tactile physical switches, and the new Aquamarine Color. However, the OnePlus 8T is also thicker and bulkier than its predecessor with a somewhat generic feel and still has no dust and water-resistance certification.

Battery and charging

The OnePlus 8T has a 4500mAh battery, a modest 5% or so of improvement over the OnePlus 8. However, the bigger change here is the way it is charged.

Before we get to that, here are some preliminary results from using the phone for about a week. From just regular usage, it was easy to go through a full 24 hours with about 6 hours of active use before having to charge the phone again. Nothing special but fairly typical of a device with a powerful chipset and a non-comically large battery.

The OnePlus 8T is the first OnePlus smartphone phone to support 65W of charging. It comes with the new Warp Charge 65 power adapter, so you’re getting everything you need to charge the phone at its top speed right in the box.

The Warp Charger 65 adapter can push out up to 10V 6.5A to a compatible device. The way it can do this safely is by having a two-cell battery built into the phone, which splits the voltage into two 5V streams per cell so neither cell overheats. The charger itself is also equipped with 12 thermal monitors to keep temperatures in check.

The Warp Charger 65 is also capable of fast charging USB-Power Delivery devices. In USB-PD mode, the charger can push out up to 20V/2.25A, which is 45W. This is enough to charge all smartphones and tablets and also laptops with USB-PD charging, such as all modern MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. This means as long as your other devices support USB-PD charging, you can get fast charging from this charger across all your devices, meaning you only have to carry one charger while traveling.

Coming back to the OnePlus 8T, the Warp Charge 65 adapter managed to charge the phone from flat to 100% in 38 minutes. During this entire process, both the phone and the charger were only slightly warm.

Due to its rapid charging speed, it doesn’t make sense to set this phone to charge overnight. If you must charge the phone overnight, we recommend using a standard 5W charger instead of the bundled charger.

Unfortunately, OnePlus does not offer a mode to reduce the charging speed as some other OEMs do. If you must charge with the bundled charger, we recommend setting the phone to charge after you wake up so it would be ready by the time you are about to head out.

Software

The OnePlus 8T is the first OnePlus phone to launch with OxygenOS 11 based on the new Android 11. This also makes it the first new non-Google phone to launch with Android 11 since it was released last month.

The build we tested is OxygenOS 11.KB05DA with September 1 security patch. This is a pre-release build and launch devices will most certainly have a newer build or at least a day one update.

OxygenOS 11 is perhaps the biggest UI overhaul in the history of the OS. Not only does this version deviate from previous versions of the OS in terms of UI design but OnePlus has also ensured no-one will ever call this “stock Android”, even jokingly.

Instead, OnePlus has turned to Samsung for inspiration, with a design that is focused on accessibility by shifting UI items towards the bottom half of the display so you don’t have to adjust your grip or use two hands to access the content at the top of the phone’s tall display. The top half of the screen then is filled with empty space and large typography for the app title.

    
OxygenOS 11

A prime example of this new layout is the Settings app. The first thing you’ll notice is the massive typeface for the app title in the top left corner of the display. That is followed by a considerable amount of empty space while the first menu item appears nearly two thirds down the screen. The advantage of this should be clear; the top-most item on the screen is now right underneath your thumb.

OnePlus uses this design language across several of its first-party apps, including Gallery, Calculator, Clock, Weather, and Recorder. However, some of the other apps don’t receive the same treatment. The File Manager app is still the same as it was before. The Camera app is also largely unchanged. As for the Phone, Contacts, and Messages apps, we will get to those briefly as they have their own story.

    
OxygenOS 11 apps

Another major addition to OxygenOS 11 is an always-on display, a feature that has been a long time coming. The option is slipped into the Ambient display settings where you can now choose to have the ambient display be permanently enabled or within a certain period. You have all the new clock options that were introduced in the recent version of OxygenOS 10 along with a couple of new ones for OxygenOS 11.

One of these is called Insight, which will show you how often you unlocked and used your phone during the day, the aim being to guilt you into using your phone less.

   
Always-on display settings

The other one is Canvas, which creates a simple outline of portrait photos in your gallery. Because it’s just an outline of the person’s face or body, it doesn’t consume many resources. When you wake up the phone, the outline turns into the actual photo. The last one is Bitmoji, which is made in collaboration with Snapchat, and will show an outline of your Bitmoji avatar as AOD and the avatar will change through the course of the day.

Canvas and Bitmoji won’t be available at launch and will be arriving in a later update.

OnePlus has also slightly altered how dark mode works in OxygenOS 11. Instead of being part of the themes menu under Customization, it’s now a straightforward dark mode option under Display settings. This also means you can now set the dark mode to be either on permanently, from sunset to sunrise, and during a custom time range.

You can also force apps that don’t otherwise support dark mode to have a dark UI. This can cause apps to look weird sometimes so it’s not something you’d want to enable for everything. Also, some apps have their own dark mode that doesn’t sync with the option built into the OS, so may want to check for that first and use that instead of forcing it through OxygenOS.

One of the more subtle changes that we noticed is the change to the scrolling behavior. Scrolling in OxygenOS always felt a bit like ice skating. It was smooth and fast but it just glided loosely, which caused scrolls to feel vague rather than having a precise motion.

In OxygenOS 11, the scrolls have increased friction, which causes the scroll to rapidly lose energy after traveling a short distance. This causes the screen to scroll just the right amount instead of just loosely gliding away. The scrolling behavior reminds us of scrolling on iOS, which also has a similarly taught motion for scrolls. Also, like on iOS, the scrolling speed eventually builds up if you scroll a few times in a row.

Those are most of the changes we discovered in OxygenOS 11. As we mentioned before, it is based on Android 11, which means it also carries over many of the features that we discussed in our Android 11 review. This includes things like Conversations, Bubbles, Device controls, notification history, and new permission features.

At the time of writing, there’s still not sufficient support for Bubbles outside of a handful of apps, and even the apps that we enabled the feature for only occasionally showed bubbles.

Finally, we have to note that OnePlus 8T comes with the Google versions of the Phone, Contacts, and Messages apps instead of OnePlus’ own. We have seen OnePlus do this before on the Nord and it makes just as little sense on the OnePlus 8T as it did on the Nord. Google’s versions of these apps are worse across the board and we are sure even Google would admit that. Yet, OnePlus has decided to pick them over its own superior apps.

We do think OxygenOS 11 is a good update overall to an excellent operating system. Sure, it’s not stock Android UI anymore – some may argue that it hasn’t been for a long time now – but it looks great nonetheless. And even though OnePlus may have taken a bit too much inspiration from Samsung’s OneUI, the change is for the better as the new apps are better looking and easier to use. It even looks better than OneUI, so OnePlus was careful to borrow just the good parts. We also like the new font.

Display

The OnePlus 8T has a 6.55-inch, 2400×1080 resolution AMOLED display capable of 120Hz refresh rate. It has a full coverage of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces and also supports HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG content.

For this model, OnePlus is using a chip-on-panel display, where the display controller is placed at the end of the display and then bent underneath it, similar to what Apple does on the OLED iPhones. This has resulted in a reduction in the bottom bezel, which is still not as thin as the top bezel but is one of the thinnest we have seen. OnePlus calls this their Flowscape display.

The OnePlus 8T display has above average brightness that is adequate in most lighting conditions. However, the brightness is not sufficient for a truly impactful HDR performance and the OnePlus 8T display is noticeably dimmer than the more expensive OnePlus 8 Pro while watching HDR content.

This screen also has a variable 120Hz maximum refresh rate. You can choose between a locked 60Hz or a variable 120Hz from the settings. In the 120Hz mode, the display will switch from 120Hz to 60Hz when you stop interacting with the touchscreen regardless of which application you are in unless you are using Dark mode or the brightness is set below 50%.

Despite high refresh rate displays featuring prominently in OnePlus’ marketing, the OnePLus 8T does not support high refresh rate games outside of its partnerships. The only two games that work at high refresh rates (90Hz, to be precise) are PUBG Mobile and Fortnite. None of the other games we tried went beyond 60fps.

Watching HDR content also brings forth two issues with the display on the OnePlus 8T. The first issue is something we also observed on the OnePlus Nord, where the area of the display that is outside the video frame isn’t black as it should be but dark gray. This is noticeable when you are watching HDR content in a dark room and you can see the screen area to the left and right side of the video is noticeably gray when it should be perfectly black and thus completely switched off, considering this is an OLED panel. This issue only surfaces in HDR and not in SDR content.

The other issue is with how the display handles near-black posterization. While OLED panels are capable of displaying perfect blacks, they struggle to display colors that are just above black. This results in noisy or blocky colors in this range, especially while watching compressed content, which manufacturers generally tend to “fix” by just crushing the near-black levels.

On the OnePlus 8T, the near-black levels have a noticeable gray glow with large macroblocking artifacts. This was quite surprising, as we never saw anything similar to other recent OnePlus devices.

Finally, like the Nord, the OnePlus 8T does not offer a DC dimming option.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T has a good display for a phone in its price range. Most of the issues we mentioned here may just be limited to the early software build on our review unit and can potentially be fixed with an update. However, the viewing angle color shifts are inherent to the display and harder to fix in software. We also don’t expect OnePlus to do anything about the lack of high refresh support in games, which is our biggest complaint with the display.

Performance

The OnePlus 8T is powered by the same Snapdragon 865 chipset as the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro. It also offers the same two memory options, 8GB or 12GB of fast LPDDR4X. For storage, however, OnePlus has upgraded to the newer and faster UFS 3.1 from the UFS 3.0 used on the OnePlus 8 series. You get that in a choice of 128GB or 256GB.

UI performance on the OnePlus 8T is excellent across the board. The combination of a powerful chipset, fast storage and memory, and a high refresh rate display is a marriage made in heaven and the phone is an absolute blast to operate.

A lot of credit also goes to the software. OnePlus has always had excellent software optimization but the company keeps finding ways to shave milliseconds from every nook and cranny it can find. The final result is an OS that has lightning-quick animations and transitions. Not once does it feel like the phone is slowing you down or getting in the way of whatever it is you want to do. The only thing that can potentially do that is a badly developed third-party application.

GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 83399
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)3374
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G3322
  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro3302
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE3296
  • Motorola Edge+3295
  • Huawei P40 Pro3197
  • OnePlus 8T3126
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)2703
  • LG Velvet1905

GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro996
  • OnePlus 8919
  • Motorola Edge+910
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE906
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)902
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G895
  • OnePlus 8T893
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)886
  • Huawei P40 Pro780
  • LG Velvet586

AnTuTu 8

  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro602934
  • OnePlus 8T586000
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G578056
  • Motorola Edge+574155
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)573276
  • OnePlus 8564708
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE543986
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)500114
  • Huawei P40 Pro496356
  • LG Velvet297372

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro54
  • OnePlus 8T53
  • OnePlus 852
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE52
  • Motorola Edge+52
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)51
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G50
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)50
  • Huawei P40 Pro44
  • LG Velvet19

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Edge+48
  • OnePlus 846
  • OnePlus 8T46
  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro46
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE45
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G42
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)42
  • Huawei P40 Pro31
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)24
  • LG Velvet16

3DMark SSE OpenGL ES 3.1 1440p

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 7 Pro7687
  • Motorola Edge+7409
  • OnePlus 87290
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE7215
  • OnePlus 8T7194
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G7132
  • OnePlus 8 Pro (120Hz, 1440p)7127
  • Galaxy S20+ (120Hz, 1080p)6819
  • Huawei P40 Pro6062
  • LG Velvet2987

Camera

The Camera app has seen a handful of upgrades in OxygenOS 11. You can now press and hold on the image gallery icon and it will show a new carousel with share options for the last captured image or video. In video mode, you now have the option to record portrait videos and videos with Nightscape. Aside from those additions, the app is largely the same.

     
OxygenOS 11 Camera app

The lack of any further improvements or changes is disappointing. We would have liked to see more features, such as being able to lock exposure and focus separately and manual control over the depth of field in portrait mode. We also hate that OnePlus requires you to tap the tiny lock icon to lock focus and exposure instead of just pressing and holding at a point in the frame.

The video features are especially lacking; there’s no pro mode for video and you still can’t record videos in 24fps. There’s also no wide color support, no HDR PQ for video, and no HEIF format for compressed images. There’s also no audio zoom feature similar to the OnePlus 8 Pro that uses OZO Audio.

Daylight

Alright, now for some image quality analysis. We will start off as usual with the main rear camera. For this, OnePlus is once again using the 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor, the same one we have been seeing since the OnePlus 7. Placed on it is a roughly 26mm equivalent f1.7 lens with OIS.

  
  
Main camera samples

In perfect daylight conditions, the main camera produces above average results. In the default 12MP mode, the level of detail is good on larger objects. However, image processing smears some of the fine details, which makes surfaces lose some of their texture. It also tends to muddle fine, high-frequency details such as grass, which looks like brush strokes on a painting when seen up close and have some ringing artifacts.

Despite the large overall sensor resolution, the 12MP images from this camera lag behind some images from newer sensors such as the Sony IMX689 used on the OnePlus 8 Pro and also some of the native 12MP sensors. The sensor does capture a decent amount of detail on its own but OnePlus’ aggressive image processing tends to smear quite a bit of it, even in well-lit conditions that would require minimal noise-reduction.

  
  
Main camera samples

In terms of color reproduction, the OnePlus 8T goes more for an artistic interpretation rather than accuracy. Some of the colors such as green, orange, and red often get a strong boost in color volume, which makes them unnaturally bright sometimes. Greens, in particular, have a yellowish hue to them that looks distinctly unnatural to anyone who has been outside. Whether you find this appealing is subjective but OnePlus is clearly going for a look here, as it has for the past year or so.

White balance is also a hit or miss at times. The camera often chooses to go for a cooler tone outdoors under the sun but it gets more aggressively cooler in indirect sunlight scenes. This aspect of the image, however, is fairly easy to correct.

  
  
Main camera samples

In terms of dynamic range, the camera does a reasonable job of controlling the highlights. In most conditions, the highlights are usually correctly exposed. Shadow detail isn’t as impressive and the camera will often crush some shadow details.

The overall contrast feels a bit lacking at times. In daylight images, there is often not much of a difference in the intensity between the high and the mid-tones, resulting in a somewhat flat appearance usually associated with tone mapped HDR images. The image processing also doesn’t handle color and light gradation very well so objects often tend to have a somewhat uniform appearance where the entire surface is just a single tone.

To elucidate further on the various shortcomings of the OnePlus 8T camera, here are some examples comparing it against the similarly priced Pixel 5.

  
  
OnePlus 8T vs Pixel 5 main camera comparison

In these examples, you can see how the Pixel 5 scores better across the board. The Pixel 5 has better exposure metering, it has better detail and texture despite having a lower resolution sensor, more accurate color reproduction and white balance, more shadow detail and better highlight recovery, better contrast, and finer gradation across the mid-tones. We know it’s a cliché to say Pixel has the better camera but in these side-by-side comparisons you can see how it is objectively better.

Moving on, the OnePlus 8T also offers a native 48MP capture mode. This is a true 48MP image and not just an upscaled version of the 12MP images. These 48MP images have significantly increased detail and texture throughout. Fine detail in foliage usually comes through much better in these images. The only limiting factors are the compression and lens quality. The images are usually less than 3x the file size despite having 4x the pixels and the lens is clearly at the limits of its resolving power at this resolution.

  
  
Main camera 48MP mode

The full 48MP images have less post-processing. This gives them a slightly more natural appearance at times, especially in the way it captures fine detail and the noise pattern. However, this also means you will get the occasional highlight blowouts. Still, we think this mode is well worth exploring if you don’t mind the slower shot times.

The OnePlus 8T does not have a dedicated zoom lens. The 2x option on the camera and any subsequent zooming is all done digitally. In the 2x mode, the camera is once again shooting in the native resolution of the sensor but then just cropping a 4000×3000 rectangle from the center. This means the 2x mode isn’t digital zoom per se as you are yet to start upscaling the pixels.

  
  
Main camera 2x zoom

Images obtained in the 2x mode look nearly identical to the native 48MP images in terms of detail and resolution but have a more localized exposure, white balance, and tone mapping, so it is preferable to use the 2x mode instead of shooting in the full 48MP if all you want to do is crop afterward unless you also want to retain the full image.

  
  
OnePlus 8T vs Pixel 5 2x zoom comparison

Comparing the 2x zoomed images with the Pixel 5, we see the two are quite comparable in terms of detail. The OnePlus 8T is no slouch when shooting at 1:1 sensor resolution in the 2x mode but Google’s clever Super Res Zoom manages to hang on quite well and actually looks more detailed in several areas. When you add to the fact the generally more mature image processing on the Pixel 5 and once again it comes across as the better camera of the two.

Moving on to the ultra-wide camera, the OnePlus 8T has the same 16MP IMX481 sensor as the OnePlus 8 but with a wider lens.

Ultra-wide camera samples

The ultra-wide camera on the OnePlus 8T is mediocre at best. The resolution isn’t adequate at this focal length and most of the detail looks quite soft and blurry. Quite often, the images look like they have been upscaled from an even lower resolution. The images also have more noise and even less impressive color accuracy than the main camera. The ultra-wide also doesn’t match the main camera in white balance and images can look quite different between the two.

  
  
OnePlus 8T vs Pixel 5 ultra-wide comparison

In comparison, the newly minted 16MP ultra-wide camera on the Pixel 5 fares a lot better. Details are still quite soft but not lacking in definition. The overall image, once again, has a better dynamic range, color accuracy, lower noise, and everything else we mentioned with regards to the main camera.

The OnePlus 8T also features a new 5MP macro camera, which has been upgraded over the 2MP embarrassment on the OnePlus 8. Not that 5MP is anything to brag about but it is a better sensor overall and at least somewhat usable.

  
Macro camera samples

The new macro camera on the OnePlus 8T has reasonable image quality. If you are a fan of taking macro images, you will get more usable images out of this camera. The issue is once again the resolution; you lose out on the advantage of being so close to the subject if your resolution is also a third that of the main camera. This means it effectively ends up being the same and you aren’t really capturing more detail with this camera up close than further away with a higher resolution sensor.

OnePlus had a superior solution on the 7T series and also on the OnePlus 8 Pro, where the phone simply uses the ultra-wide camera in macro. Ultra-wide lenses let you get much closer to the subject and the higher native resolution of the sensor meant you got much better image quality as a result. So the decision to drop that approach and add a dedicated sensor is just a marketing decision to reach that quad-camera stature.

Speaking of marketing decisions, we finally come to what is possibly the greatest marketing gimmick on the OnePlus 8T, the monochrome camera.

The monochrome camera uses a 2MP sensor. This camera presumably has no color filter array over the sensor, so it is quite literally color blind. So far, this is similar to the monochrome cameras we have seen in the past on some other smartphones, and also similar to some monochrome dedicated cameras, such as the Leica M10 Monochrome.

However, unlike those cameras, the monochrome camera on the OnePlus 8T doesn’t actually capture any images. The camera system uses the information from the monochrome camera to generate a monochrome version of an image shot from the main camera.

  
  
Main camera with and without monochrome filter

The resultant image is literally just an image from the main camera, but black and white. You don’t get any of the advantages of shooting from a dedicated monochrome camera, such as low noise, greater detail, and increased dynamic range. That’s because you aren’t shooting with the monochrome camera but the same 48MP main camera described before, just drained of all of its colors.

The monochrome effect is not a straightforward desaturated image but it’s also not something you can’t make yourself in 30 seconds. This is so much worse than the IR color filter camera on the OnePlus 8 Pro. At least that camera offered something unique, even after it was nerfed into the ground with later updates as it’s not easy to create that look by yourself. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 8T monochrome look can be generated with one tap on a filter on Instagram. The only thing the monochrome camera is good at is hiding how bad the colors science is on OnePlus phones.

Conclusion

OnePlus has done a decent job with the new 8T. In the week or so that we have been using the phone, we have come to like it for its many qualities and would have very few issues in continuing to use it even after this review is wrapped up.

In particular, we liked the premium design, the smooth high refresh rate display, superb overall UI performance, great sounding speakers, and stupefying charging speeds.

However, the phone isn’t without its drawbacks. OnePlus has once again chosen to launch a premium smartphone without essential features like an IP68 rating and wireless charging. Features both of its key competitors have. We also don’t like that OnePlus has switched over to using Google’s versions of the Phone, Contacts, and Messages apps. The display on our review unit also had several minor issues across the board. You also can’t game over 60Hz in most titles.

But for us, the biggest drawback is the camera. While the main rear camera is not bad by any means, it also lags behind the competition by a fair bit. The OnePlus 8T camera shows very little progress over the two years since the OnePlus 6T launched in terms of actual image quality and the only thing that has increased is the number of cameras.

We noted this with the Nord as well but OnePlus shifting its focus from working on quality cameras to just more cameras is perhaps the worst aspect of its new phones. Of the four cameras on the back of the 8T, one is underwhelming, the second is mediocre, the third is of dubious value, and the fourth is actually useless.

Because of the camera, there is now a very strong delineation between the 8T and the 8 Pro. The latter actually ships with a really good set of cameras along with a handful of other bells and whistles. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a significant step up in price and we are not sure if we would bother taking that just for the camera.

Moreover, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE makes the jump even harder to justify, as it has a better and more relevant set of features overall than the 8T and also a slightly better set of cameras. And if you really only care about the camera, there’s now also the new Pixel 5.

As such, we only reserve our recommendation of the OnePlus 8T to those for whom the camera isn’t a priority. It has plenty of qualities that still make it a good smartphone. However, it’s not the most well-rounded phone in its price range, and as weird as it feels to say this, the OnePlus 8T is outclassed in value by the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.


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