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OnePlus 8T review in progress: Return to a winning formula

The OnePlus 8T couldn’t have come at a better time. When OnePlus launched the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro earlier this year, they were the company’s most expensive phones ever, and they came amidst a premium smartphone slump fueled by economic uncertainty and a global pandemic. In short, people needed the Samsung Galaxy A71 but got the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

With the 8T, OnePlus has returned to its roots. At $750 from OnePlus, not only is it $50 cheaper than a comparably specced OnePlus 8, but it also brings the kind of high-end features and innovations that fans expect without cutting too many corners. You’re still not getting wireless charging, which is almost a running gag for OnePlus at this point, but you are getting stupendous 65W Warp charging out of the box. 

While you’re missing out on a few other “pro” features like a curved Quad HD display and the newer Snapdragon 865+ processor, nothing about the OnePlus 8T feels inferior to phones costing upward of $1,200. Stacked up against the $700 Galaxy S20 FE and $799 iPhone 12, the OnePlus 8T is once again a true competitor.

Editor’s note: We’re still testing the OnePlus 8T and will update this review accordingly.

This story is part of our ongoing roundup of the best Android phones. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

A beautiful design all around

Like every other phone in 2020, the OnePlus 8T doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It has a 6.55-inch display with a hole-punch camera and rounded corners, and a glass back that isn’t too glossy or slippery. It feels good in my hand and pocket, and likely hits the sweet spot for most people looking for a larger-screen phone.

oneplus 8t buttons Michael Simon/IDG

The OnePlus 8T keeps the excellent alert slider.

OnePlus sent me the Aquamarine Green colorway, and I was instantly smitten. Like a chameleon, it changes between green and blue based on the lighting, and the color-matched sides create a nice contrast with the display. The camera array on the back is derivative of the flagship Galaxy phones and thus loses some of OnePlus uniqueness—particularly compared to the circular array on the 7T—but the 8T definitely ranks as one of the nicest phones OnePlus has ever made.

The niceness continues to the front as well. While at first glance the 8T has the same overall look as the 8 and 8 Pro, with a left-aligned hole-punch camera and slim bezels, a closer inspection will reveal that the bezels are more balanced. It’s a small thing, but OnePlus’s use of a bendable chip-on-panel OLED allows the top and bottom bezels to be symmetrical, which makes a subtle but meaningful difference.

It’s not quite as uniform as the iPhone 11, but it’s very close, and it’s an engineering feat that portends great things for the OnePlus 9. The OnePlus 8T is one of the few Android phones that feels like it was designed inside and out with a purpose, rather than assembled using pieces that somehow had to fit.

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