Reviews

OnePlus 8T beats the iPhone 12 in some mega ways

For $50 less than an iPhone 12, the OnePlus 8T has many features Apple's newest phone doesn't including a 120Hz display, insanely fast charging, 4x the storage, and a really fun macro camera.

I reviewed quite a few OnePlus phones this year — the 8/8 Pro and the Nord — and most recently, I've been using the 8T. At first glance, I wasn't expecting much. It's a "T" phone so it's not supposed to be a major upgrade over the regular 8. But after using the 8T for a few weeks, I'm now sure it's a much bigger leap from the regular 8 than I expected. I even like it more than the iPhone 12 in some ways.

$749

Price of the OnePlus 8T with 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM.

The price alone makes the 8T a very attractive value. The 8T costs $50 less than an entry-level iPhone 12 and comes with 4x the storage and 3x the RAM. This phone is still gonna feel fast years from now.

Hyper smooth

Like the OnePlus 8 Pro, the 8T is also crazy fast and smooth. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip and runs OxygenOS 11 (based on Android 11) and everything flies. OnePlus phones rarely lag because performance is so on point.

Flat screen

Curved screens are so over. While a display with sloping edges looks really futuristic, a flat screen is better in basically every way. I never experienced accidental touches with my palm using the 8T's 6.55-inch OLED display as I did with the 8 Pro.

120Hz

The refresh rate of the 8T's display.

The best feature the 8T has that the iPhone 12 doesn't is a fast refresh rate display. Compared to the iPhone 12's 60Hz OLED display, the 8T's 120Hz OLED blows past it when it comes to responsiveness. Scrolling and swiping around is perceivably snappier and adds to the speediness of the phone. The 8T's 120Hz is also a jump over the 8's 90Hz, though the difference between them is less noticeable.

The 8T supports 5G, but I wouldn't get too excited for it. 5G is still a hot mess in most places like the U.S. Not to mention "regular" 5G isn't even that much faster than 4G LTE. 5G shouldn't be a top reason to buy any phone, let alone the 8T.

Lasts all day

Battery life is very respectable on the 8T. With 4,500 mAh, I easily got through entire days without plugging in and still had 10 to 25 percent battery left over most of the time. The 8T doesn't have wireless charging, but it makes it up with Warp Charge 65 fast charging (yes, the charger is included unlike the iPhone 12).

39

The number of minutes it takes to fully charge the 8T with the included 65-watt charger.

A- camera

OnePlus stepped up its camera game this year with the 8 Pro. I had doubts the 8T's camera could be better than the regular 8's, which was absolutely middle of the road. I was wrong to doubt it because the main 48-megapixel camera and 16-megapixel ultra-wide are quite good. Not iPhone 12 level, but much better than I was expecting.

The 8T also has two additional cameras: a 5-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel "monochrome sensor" that's supposed to help with details. I don't know how much it really helps, but the photos look good from the main camera so I've got no complaints.

Nice sharp details for close-ups.

There's something film-like about this camera that I really like.

There's no oversaturation like on Samsung phones. Colors could use just a little more vibrancy, but I don't hate it TBH. Nothing a little editing can't spruce up.

The ultra-wide camera

The thing that surprised me the most was night mode ("Nightscape" as OnePlus calls it). Here's a shot I took at almost midnight. It's dark and you can't really see the details in the shadows.

And here's the same shot with night mode turned on. It's noticeably brighter, but still retains good sharpness and colors. Night mode on the 8T is far better at low-light/night photos than the previous OnePlus 8 and many other Android phones at this price.

Portrait mode photos are fine. The 16-megapixel selfie camera does a better-than-expected job at blurring out the background. Like portrait mode on other phones, the toughest part to get right is always around the edges of hair and fur.

A lot of people think macro cameras on phones are dumb. I disagree. Sure, it's lower resolution than the main camera, but it's not going to matter when you post them to Instagram anyway. The details you can get from mere centimeters away is insane.

What's missing?

  • Wireless charging: No big deal since the 8T has 65-watt charging.
  • IP68 water-resistance: The phone's water repellant and many unofficial tests show it can survive water submersion. OnePlus just didn't pay for the certification, which would have added to the cost.

Other niceties

  • Fast biometrics: The in-display fingerprint reader is one of the best and there's a super quick face unlock.
  • Good haptics: It's strong and feels good.
  • Alert Slider: OnePlus's signature slider remains for quickly controlling notifications.
  • Stereo speakers: There's one in the bottom and one in the earpiece. It's not the best-sounding speaker, but it does get loud and it beats a mono one.
  • No Facebook crapware: Thank god!

The competition

For $50 less, you could get a Pixel 5, but it also comes with a mid-range chip. The iPhone 12 Mini's also cheaper, but it's got a way smaller 5.4-inch display. The iPhone 12 costs $50 more and has 1/4th the storage. That really only leaves the Galaxy S20 FE. To be honest, the S20 FE edges it out with wireless charging and water resistance, but it's also got half the storage and is made of plastic. I like that 8T is made of glass and metal — feels premium.

The 8T is one of the most underrated phones of the year. If you're looking for a mega value outside of iOS, this is as good as it gets. Looking for more reviews?

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