OnePlus 8T Hands-On Impressions

A phone even this Apple fan can love

Key Takeaways

  • The OnePlus 8T feels as good (or better) than my current iPhone XS.
  • The specifications rival those of the iPhone 12 for $50 less.
  • It’s still an Android phone, but maybe my favorite one so far.
The OnePlus 8T facedown, showing its silver back and OnePlus logo
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre

Look, I’ve been a die-hard Apple user for the better part of three decades. I bought the very first iPhone when it came out in 2007 and I’ve never used an Android phone for more than a few minutes here or there to write about it.

This OnePlus 8T, however, has me wondering if I could switch.

It’s not innovative in a folding-phone way, no, but it makes my iPhone XS feel kinda sad and slow. I honestly could see myself using the OnePlus 8T for day to day life, personal and professional, thanks to its speedy responsiveness, gorgeous screen, and long-lasting battery.

Will I, though? Probably not, since I’m pretty committed to using AirPods, iMessages and FaceTime (my folks can only handle so many different apps to stay in touch), and my massive collection of apps and games that also show up on my iPad Pro.

"If I had to jump into Android waters, I’d dive in with both feet with this OnePlus 8T."

Still, though. The OnePlus 8T, graciously sent to me by the company itself (along with a lovely big-type “reviewer’s manual” and a beautiful hot red origami-style box) feels surprisingly premium in my hand. It’s fast and responsive; screens flick by super quick, apps launch in no time at all; and even downloading a game or app feels a lot faster than on my current iPhone (granted, it’s a couple of generations back).

Specificity

The specs of a phone don’t usually excite me, except perhaps in broad strokes. The OnePlus 8T has a ton of great specs, though, and you can read all about them on the manufacturer’s site.

What matters to most of us, however, is how this thing performs. The OnePlus 8T is gorgeous to look at and lovely to hold. It’s bright, has a high contrast but a solid sense of realistic color, and makes everything—from swiping to gaming—a pure joy. The under-screen fingerprint scanner is lovely, as well, allowing for a Touch ID-style authentication, whether you’re wearing a mask or not.

"It’s not innovative in a folding-phone way, no, but it makes my iPhone XS feel kinda sad and slow."

The handset is easy to use one-handed, thanks to intuitive button placements, and the rounded edges and thinner/taller profile make it a joy to grasp in your hand. It comes with a 65W power brick (take note, Apple) that can use a USB-C (also included) cable to fully charge the massive battery in a stunningly quick 39 minutes. That’s fast.

Better yet, the USB-C standard makes it completely compatible with the rest of my gadgets, like the Oculus Quest 2, Nintendo Switch, and (yes) iPad Pro. It just fits right into what I’m already using. That’s a great thing.

The OnePlus 8T phone resting on it's box with charging block nearby
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre

The camera square on the back has ultra-wide, wide, macro, and monochrome lenses, which will let you take lots of pictures in lots of different settings. I’m not a photographer by any means, but I was able to take some nice photos of things around the house with ease. The resulting pictures look a little more contrast-laden, perhaps more artificial than those I take on my iPhone XS, but that could also just be what I’m used to. The camera is perfectly capable and shoots nice photos and video.

Android is as Android Does

The phone uses OxygenOS 11, which is OnePlus’s version of Android. As a fan of the Pixel 3 and iOS gestures, being able to swipe back and into multitasking feels super familiar and comfortable. I spent far less time searching for how to do something on the OnePlus, meaning I could actually see myself getting stuff done with it more often than I have when using Android in the past.

There’s a nice always-on display mode, too, which does my iPhone one better by leaving time, date, and various notifications on-screen for whenever I glance over. No more tapping the screen to see what time it is.

The OnePlus 8T resting on its back, showing its lockscreen and notification.
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre

Still, it’s Android, with Android features and conventions, so there’s still a little learning curve for iOS-fans like myself. I’m not overly conscious of any benefit OxygenOS 11 brings to the table, but it’s a nice, simplified Android 11 look and feel.

There are some extras, like putting a Bitmoji or a sketch made from one of your photos on that always-on display, straightening text you take photos of, and some digital wellbeing features like Zen Mode 2.0, that add to the experience, but aren’t anything I’d purchase a phone for.

Will I switch to the OnePlus 8T? Without my devotion to the Apple hardware and software ecosystems, I could see it happening. I’m a fairly robust Google user, so having a phone that just easily works with those systems would be pretty fantastic.

If I had to jump into Android waters, I’d dive in with both feet (attached, of course) with this OnePlus 8T. It’s a phone even an Apple fan can love.