OnePlus 8T: Some Upgrades and a Robust Charger

This week, OnePlus launched its mid-year refresh model in the OnePlus 8 series, the OnePlus 8T. OnePlus has released “T” models since the OnePlus 3T in 2016. Last year, OnePlus also added a “T Pro” model, but the same has been omitted this year.

OnePlus 8 vs OnePlus 8T

OnePlus 8 vs OnePlus 8T

The OnePlus 8T comes with a fast Snapdragon 865 processor, a 6.55” 120Hz AMOLED display, quad rear camera configuration, 12GB LPDDR4ZX RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage, all for $749 in the US. It is also the first non-Pixel device that will ship with Android 11 via OnePlus’ own OxygenOS. The custom OS features updates to its Zen Mode, Dark Mode, a new Always on Display (AOD), and even a partnership with Bitmoji for custom avatars. While there were no headphones in the box, one of the biggest brags is the new Warp Charge 65 charger that comes with the device promising extremely fast charging.

120Hz displays becoming more prominent

The OnePlus 8T’s AMOLED display is very vibrant, extremely smooth and very responsive, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate display just like its older sibling, the OnePlus 8 Pro. In the US carrier market, there are only five smartphones that come with a 120Hz refresh rate display, and they are all from Samsung. These include the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the S20 series of devices (including the recent S20 Fan Edition). In the unlocked segment, there are gaming devices from Razer, Asus ROG and ZTE Nubia (the first 5G 144Hz smartphone), and lastly the OnePlus 8 Pro. While there are other 120Hz devices in the market, the above smartphones are the ones available in the US market.

Gaming smartphones were the first devices that pushed refresh rates higher than the standard 60Hz. However, they did not garner mainstream attention in the US as they did not perform as well as the “normal” flagship devices in the market. Now, OEMs such as Samsung, OnePlus, Google and Motorola are all incorporating higher refresh rate displays into their smartphones as they improve the overall viewing experience for certain apps, games, and even just scrolling through your home screen. However, not all high refresh rate displays are created equal. Software and processing capabilities both play big role in making the viewing experience as smooth as possible while not compromising on battery life or other factors. OnePlus has partnered with Pixelworks to help create the best possible visual performance for its latest devices.

Warp Charge 65: One charger to rule them all

Warp Charge 65 promises up to 58% battery charging in 15 minutes, and 100% charging in under 40 minutes. In comparison, Warp Charge 30, which was released with the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, reaches 50% in 23 minutes. However, just like the OnePlus 8, the 8T does not include wireless charging, something which was likely done to save on space and price, given the emphasis on the 8.4mm thickness of the device and the sub-$750 price tag. Nevertheless, during the last week of testing the device, the 65W charger delivered blazing fast charging times and even helped in a pinch when my laptop battery was dying. Fast charging smartphones do not need to (and really should not) be plugged in overnight. Instead, these devices can simply be charged in the morning between brushing your teeth and making coffee. OnePlus has developed its own fast charging technology in partnership with Qualcomm. And while it is great that phones are charged at even faster speeds with every iteration, the biggest improvements are really in the charger itself. I am looking forward to having more “universal” chargers that can pull double or even triple charging duty.

OnePlus 8T box packaging

OnePlus 8T with AOD enabled, USB-C cord, Warp Charge 65 power adapter, and cyan bumper case

A phone for gamers

OnePlus has always enjoyed a dedicated fanbase and the company actively fosters this community through heavy engagement and interactions. Gamers are a segment of consumers that OnePlus wants to target with its devices. That is why the 8T has a large vapor cooling chamber to help keep the device from heating up too much while playing games. While I couldn’t confirm it during my testing time, OnePlus promises to have Fortnite run at 90 FPS just like on the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. Playing Fortnite on the OnePlus 8 Pro, the 90 FPS wasn’t consistent and dropped to the 60-70 FPS range at times, but still provided a smoother overall experience. Many other games also cannot run higher than 60 FPS at the moment. Other gaming features include a “Fnatic mode”, which optimizes the gaming performance, and a flat display which helps with visibility compared to the curved displays of the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro. Curved displays, while aesthetically better looking, tend to have slight color distortions at the edges of the screens. OnePlus has been trying to reach a wider base, especially since it has entered carrier channels. It is hard for smaller OEMs to capture mind share in these carrier channels, and OnePlus hopes to carve out some share through this gaming angle.

Fortnite on the OnePlus 8T

Fortnite on the OnePlus 8T at 30 FPS

T-Mobile: Exclusive carrier of OnePlus 8T

T-Mobile is releasing a custom version of the OnePlus 8T, called the OnePlus 8T+ 5G. The device is almost identical to the unlocked version that is selling on the OnePlus website as well as Amazon. The only difference is that the 8T+ has an IP68 rating while the unlocked one doesn’t. T-Mobile is also emphasizing how the device can tap into both the 600 MHz 5G and 2.5 GHz 5G bands. However, both versions of the device support the n41 band. The device costs $749.99, which is just 99 cents more expensive than the unlocked version, despite the added IP68 rating. The 8T will be $150 more expensive than the OnePlus 8 which is also sold at T-Mobile. But it will have a hard time competing against the Samsung S20 FE, which is $50 cheaper at $699.99 and also comes with the same Snapdragon 865 chip and 120Hz refresh rate AMOLED display.

Conclusion: Solid specs but only a minor upgrade from OnePlus 8

Overall, the OnePlus 8T is a solid device that can hold its own compared to other flagship phones sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor. However, the device only has slight upgrades compared to the OnePlus 8, the main differences being the 120 Hz refresh rate, slightly larger battery, an additional monochrome camera, a wider ultra-wide camera lens, and an upgraded 5MP macro camera. At $50 more than the OnePlus 8, arguably the cost difference is low enough that people will just buy the 8T. However, the biggest feature worth the upgrade is the Warp Charge 65 power adapter. Getting a day’s worth of charge in just 15 minutes is a big boast and OnePlus has executed this brilliantly.

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Maurice Klaehne is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based out of Boston, USA. He has spent more than five years working as a market researcher and strategy consultant heavily focused on emerging markets and uncovering new growth opportunities for his clients which include business service, CPG, healthcare, and life science companies. Maurice holds a Master’s in International Development and Management from Sweden’s Lund University, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development from Canada’s McGill University. He is a native German speaker and also speaks fluent French.

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