OnePlus 8T Second Impressions

Posted on November 4, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 8 Comments

Between a blatant theft at a FedEx warehouse and having to finish my iPhone 12 review first, I’m a bit behind on the OnePlus 8T. So let’s get caught up.

As I wrote last week, I was originally scheduled to get the OnePlus 8T ahead of the iPhone 12, but it was stolen while at FedEx and the replacement review unit didn’t arrive until a week later. In the interim, I wrote about my concerns with the OnePlus 8T’s camera system—which is tied to this handset being an upgrade to the OnePlus 8 and not the OnePlus 8 Pro for some reason—and some other related topics. And, of course, I did review the iPhone 12, which I found to be an excellent smartphone, albeit with a few typical Appleisms, as expected.

This morning, I woke up, had some coffee and skimmed the news, and then set out to move my Mint Mobile SIM over to the OnePlus 8T. This is generally an easy-enough process, but one of the issues with moving from the iPhone to Android is that you need to be careful to decouple your phone number from both iMessage and Facetime. If you don’t, you’ll still get messages on your i-devices, and if they’re not around anymore, that means you could just lose them. (Google has some good information about this process, but they skip the Facetime step. So be sure to disable Facetime on all your i-devices as well.)

Crazy case that OnePlus supplied for the review

With that out of the way, I worked to move my Samsung Galaxy Buds+ wireless earbuds and Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatch off of iPhone 12 and over to the OnePlus 8T. This involves removing each from Bluetooth settings on the former and then pairing them to the latter and it was painfully predictable that the Buds+ transferred over seamlessly and the Versa 3 did not. F’ing Fitbit. As of right now, the thing won’t sync with anything. I’ll keep at it.

Anyway, I have of course been using the OnePlus 8T on the side since it arrived a week ago Monday, and my early observations are positive. I love the display size and tall aspect ratio, and that it has flat and not curved edges, which I prefer. The performance is astonishing, just lightning quick. OxygenOS 11, even more so than the Android 11 on which it is based, is so much more customizable than iOS. It’s almost laughable.

Default home screen (left), my customized home screen (right)

I also really appreciate that OnePlus is now using the stock Google apps for Phone and Messages. I’ll report back if I keep getting the phone and text messaging spam that dogged me with iPhone, but I was very happy to launch Messages for the first time after configuring the phone for Mint Mobile and seeing a message about spam protection. Google just does a much better job at this than Apple does.

Sometime last week, I mentioned to Brad on First Ring Daily that one could easily play a game called “this smartphone would be perfect if …” and you could just plug in the specific model and then list out its couple of issues. For the OnePlus 8T, the issues are obvious enough: It doesn’t include wireless charging, which is inexcusable at this price point, and there are still valid, open questions about the camera system.

I can’t fix the former problem, obviously, but I will point out that the 65-watt charging on this phone is amazing: I recently charged it from 40 percent to 84 percent in just 15 minutes, and to 100 percent in less than 25 minutes. There is nothing like it on the market.

As to the camera system issue, I took some test shots last week, mostly outdoors, and I took several more this morning on our morning walk. This is actually a pretty good comparison, given that I didn’t take any back-to-back with the iPhone, but I’d been using the iPhone on previous walks and have some similar shots to compare.

And, honestly, they’re decent overall if not exceptional in any way. They seem color accurate, and similar to what Apple is trying to achieve with snapshots, where the resulting photo pretty closely matches what you’re looking at in real life. OnePlus achieves a bit of HDR/color pop in certain conditions, but it’s not consistent, and many pictures are too washed out. And that’s kind of my problem with technology in general: I’d rather have something not work at all than be inconsistent.

I can use a vivid filter with the OnePlus 8T as I did with the iPhone, but I’m going to test it more, and in more conditions, first. But it handles some things better than the iPhone, like sun and light flares. And some much worse: Zoom is unusable. I’ll keep testing.

Anyway, since I already customized and configured the OnePlus 8T last week, I’m free to just use the thing and see how it goes. You know, assuming I can figure out the Fitbit sync issue. Sigh.

More soon.

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